Volunteer Voices: Boston’s “borrow-a-cuff” hypertension control program meets people where they are

By Dr. Spencer Rittner
Primary Care Physician and Medical Director of Population Health
Beth Israel Lahey Health Primary Care

In Boston, living just two miles apart could result in a 23-year disparity in life expectancy.

While there are many reasons for this, one key factor is uncontrolled blood pressure.

High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. And, for systemic and historical reasons, Black people have disproportionately high blood pressure rates nationwide.

Boston is not impervious to this trend. In our city, 39% of Black adults have high blood pressure, compared to 27% of Latino adults and 23% of white adults.

This is why Beth Israel Lahey Health Primary Care is working with the American Heart Association to increase awareness about the effects of high blood pressure and give people tools to control it.

With the Association’s help, we launched a “Borrow-a-cuff” program at all 80 of our primary care sites. Through this program, we lend patients blood pressure monitors so they can accurately check their blood pressure at home. Follow-up visits are then scheduled to help patients achieve optimal blood pressure control.

The American Heart Association has been a terrific partner as we work to improve blood pressure rates with a health equity approach.