Nearly half of U.S. adults have high blood pressure, but the burden of disease is disproportionately higher in Black and Hispanic/Latino people. Research shows social determinants  of health — defined as the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age — including the lack of access to quality health care, are contributing factors to hypertension prevalence and poor control rates.

The American Heart Association (AHA) and Providence, a national nonprofit health care organization that delivers health and social services, are collaborating on a three-year initiative to narrow the disparities and reduce uncontrolled high blood pressure by improving awareness, diagnosis and treatment, particularly among Black and Hispanic/Latino people in Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino Counties.

The expanded collaboration will focus on:

•  Placing blood pressure kiosks in accessible locations, which will provide community members a convenient way to check their blood pressure regularly and learn the importance of changing habits and keeping their blood pressure numbers under control 

•  Hosting community conversations throughout the year to share trusted information on such key health issues as high blood pressure, cardiovascular health, mental well-being and health equity

•  Facilitating social support circles that will bring at-risk community members together in small group settings to foster social connections, reduce isolation and encourage sharing of health resources

•  Ensuring that the people who care for patients are also taking care of themselves by providing Providence’s network of 33,000 caregivers in Southern California with resources to encourage cardiovascular health

“Providence is developing health equity strategies that build trust in communities where disparities exist at a very high rate,” said Kevin Manemann, chief executive, Providence South. 

“By partnering with the American Heart Association, we will bring nationally recognized education and resources to Black and Latinx communities,” he added. “Providence caregivers will also benefit from our AHA partnership through education and resources that will help identify and reduce personal risk. These resources can be lifesaving and will help us achieve our vision of health for a better world.”

This collective effort builds on work that began in 2021 when the AHA and Providence teamed up to support 30 health centers and clinics that serve under-resourced communities with evidence-based guidelines, training and tools to promote better blood pressure measurement, diagnosis and treatment for more than 245,000 patients. 

The two organizations worked with several community organizations and faith-based groups to teach members how to self-measure and manage their blood pressure. Weekly online health lessons were also made available to the community.

“The American Heart Association believes every person deserves the opportunity for a full, healthy life,” said Kathy Rogers, executive vice president, American Heart Association Western States. “But longer, healthier lives for all cannot be achieved without addressing a major source of poor cardiovascular health – uncontrolled high blood pressure and the structural inequities that make healthy choices difficult for many.

In the U.S., hypertension rates among Black adults are among the highest in the world, affecting more than half of both men and women. Due to a history of systemic racism and structural inequities, Black communities have lower trust in the health care system, which necessitates a different approach to care.

Learn more about high blood pressure at heart.org/HighBloodPressure.

Our Weekly coverage of local news in Los Angeles County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support minority-owned-and-operated community newspapers across California.

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