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American Heart Association and Washington Regional Partner to Deliver Blood Pressure Cuffs to Rural Clinics in Harrison and Eureka Springs

The American Heart Association, the world’s leading nonprofit organization focused on heart and brain health for all, and Washington Regional have partnered to provide home blood pressure monitoring kits to the health system’s rural clinics. On Wednesday, November 2, the American Heart Association and Washington Regional delivered blood pressure cuffs to Washington Regional’s Harrison Family Practice and Eureka Springs Family Clinic. The clinics will distribute the cuffs to patients who need additional resources to learn about blood pressure control and the role hypertension, or high blood pressure, plays in the risk of stroke.

The effort is part of the Association’s Adopt-a-Clinic program, which provides blood pressure cuffs and educational resources directly to individuals for use at home.

Nearly half of all Americans are living with high blood pressure, increasing their risk for premature death. The Association mobilized its Adopt-a-Clinic program during the COVID-19 public health crisis to reach patients in rural areas who may have neglected their regular checkups and blood pressure monitoring while sheltering at home.

“Blood pressure control is a national public health priority,” said Deven Daehn, executive director of the American Heart Association’s Northwest Arkansas office. “The pandemic has disrupted both daily life and routine medical care, including the treatment of chronic diseases such as hypertension. It could be some time before we know the full impact of the pandemic on blood pressure.”

Dr. Mark Thomas, Washington Regional’s vice president of population health, said high blood pressure has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly for people in under-resourced communities. As an expert in population health, Thomas assesses the health status in a group of people – usually within a geographic region – rather than considering the well-being of any one individual.

“Community outreach and education, as well as a shift in research and training, can help to address health inequities,” he said.

Patients will be given a recording log on which they will record their blood pressure in the morning and evening and return their results to their clinic. Another document lays out the seven steps to getting an accurate blood pressure reading.

The Association and Washington Regional previously delivered blood pressure cuffs to Washington Regional’s West Washington County Clinic in Lincoln, Daehn said.

Hypertension is a leading cause of stroke – the fifth leading cause of death in Washington County and the U.S. Stroke, a disease that affects the arteries leading to and within the brain, is also a leading cause of disability. With proper diet and exercise, 80% of strokes are preventable.