OAKLAND, CA — Kaiser Permanente, the nation’s largest integrated health care system, will support the American Heart Association in a broad effort to improve blood pressure control for African-Americans in two U.S. cities over three years. The program will depend upon community-based efforts, as well as doctors and patients, to help decrease the burden of the so called “silent killer,” aiming to create a model that can be replicated in communities across the country.
The initiative is a collaboration among clinics, health care providers, community organizations, volunteer health mentors and technology. The goal is to help patients track their blood pressure readings, share them with their caregivers and physicians, and monitor their progress over time. Through the grant from the Kaiser Permanente National Community Benefit Fund at the East Bay Community Foundation, AHA will launch the Community to Clinic, Clinic to Community (C2C2): Improving Hypertension Control in Blacks and African-Americans initiative. It will initially roll out in Atlanta and San Diego.
“As a recognized leader in identifying, measuring and eliminating health care disparities, Kaiser Permanente has a long history of investing in research and programs that help improve the health and well-being of individuals and distinct populations,” said Bernard J. Tyson, chairman and CEO of Kaiser Permanente. “We are proud to be a part of this effort, which will help raise awareness about the dangers of high blood pressure and ultimately help reduce the prevalence of heart attacks and strokes in the African-American community.”
“In the scheme of what we can do to address preventable heart disease, strokes and other health problems, taking on and bringing down uncontrolled high blood pressure can prevent heart disease and strokes and save lives. It is that simple,” said AHA Deputy Chief Science Officer Eduardo Sanchez, MD, MPH.
“Kaiser Permanente has shown that a clinic-based program works to control blood pressure better and the American Heart Association has shown that a community-based program works to control blood pressure better. It only makes sense to combine clinical care and community programs to build a comprehensive approach to control blood pressure,” Dr. Sanchez said.
Regular blood pressure checks are a key component of the program because high blood pressure often does not have symptoms. Patients will be offered an opportunity to enroll in the program, which will include access to the AHA’s Heart360 online health management program. They can use Heart360 to track their blood pressure as well as other related health factors. The data will be accessible to the patient, a volunteer health mentor and a health care provider.
“This unprecedented initiative will connect the African-American community to patient-centered, culturally competent tools and resources that meet them where they live, work and pray,” said Winston F. Wong, MD, MS, medical director, Community Benefit, and director of Disparities and Quality Initiatives at Kaiser Permanente. “Our goal is to advance access to high-quality care for individuals typically not engaged with the health system, thereby reducing disparities of morbidity and mortality.”
The community location, which may include retail pharmacies, churches or community centers, will work in tandem with the clinic, reinforcing doctors’ orders, and even serving as a liaison between patient and clinic. In turn, clinic staff will reinforce the patient’s relationship with the health mentor and community site, where they’ll be receiving encouragement and accountability for making healthy choices and staying on their medication.
The prevalence of high blood pressure in African-Americans in the United States is among the highest in the world. More than 40 percent of the black population in the U.S. has hypertension, with disproportionate rates among younger individuals. Higher rates of untreated high blood pressure contribute to rates of kidney failure, strokes and heart attacks in the black population that well exceed the U.S. average.
The initiative will also seek to raise public awareness of this issue through public service announcements, social media and community-based campaigns which stress that controlling blood pressure is a matter of life and death.
Community-based blood pressure programs have a proven track record for success. A Kaiser Permanente program doubled hypertension control over eight years among health plan participants in Northern California. The American Heart Association, working with Durham Health Innovations in Durham, North Carolina, improved blood pressure control by 12 percent over six months.
About the American Heart Association
The American Heart Association is devoted to saving people from heart disease and stroke. We team with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies, and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat these diseases. The Dallas-based association is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. To learn more or to get involved, call 1-800-AHA-USA1, visit heart.org or call any of our offices around the country. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
About Kaiser Permanente
Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, our mission is to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve approximately 9.5 million members in eight states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal physicians, specialists and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education and the support of community health. For more information, go to: kp.org/share.