American Heart Association teams with Boston WIC clinics for blood pressure screenings for pregnant and postpartum women

The American Heart Association is working to improve the health of pregnant and postpartum women in Boston by offering free blood pressure screenings, health referrals, and educational materials at local WIC clinics.

This initiative, known as WIC With Heart, is a collaborative effort aimed at addressing high blood pressure, a critical health issue that disproportionately affects Black and Hispanic adults in Boston.

The American Heart Association has trained staff at four WIC clinics in Dorchester, Mattapan, and Hyde Park to take blood pressure readings for women during their appointments.

An employee at a Boston WIC clinic receives training from Patricia Nunn, a registered nurse and American Heart Association volunteer, on how to take accurate blood pressure readings.

The federal Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, commonly known as WIC, provides nutritional assistance to low-income pregnant and postpartum women, as well as children under five. By integrating blood pressure screenings into WIC services, WIC With Heart aims to identify women at risk and connect them to local health care providers for necessary medical care.

“Identifying individuals who may have high blood pressure, particularly during pregnancy, would be huge,” said Elisa Cardoso, WIC program director at Upham’s Corner Health Center in Dorchester. “This is especially important since many participants may not be able to visit the doctor regularly.”

High blood pressure, if left untreated, can lead to serious chronic illnesses such as heart disease and stroke. However, early detection and intervention can significantly improve health outcomes, enabling individuals to take proactive steps to manage their health.

This initiative has the potential to reach as many as 3,700 people served by the four participating clinics, said Cardoso.

Elisa Cardoso, WIC program director at Upham’s Corner Health Center in Dorchester, meeting with Sage Therapeutics CEO Barry Greene to discuss this new initiative.

In addition to training staff to take blood pressure readings, the American Heart Association has equipped each WIC clinic with blood pressure monitors. They are also providing resources focused on maternal health, hypertension, and mental health for patients to take home.

This program has been made possible through generous funding from Sage Therapeutics, a sponsor of the American Heart Association’s Heart of Boston campaign. Barry Greene, CEO of Sage Therapeutics, recently joined representatives from the American Heart Association and WIC staff at the program’s launch at Upham’s Corner Health Center.

Elisa Cardoso and Barry Greene proudly present a plaque that will be showcased at each WIC clinic involved in the WIC With Heart program.

“All of us have witnessed countless examples of the incredible potential that arises when communities unite to support one another,” said Greene. “When women are provided with resources and support, the entire family and community benefit. I’m tremendously excited to see initiatives such as this one recognize that physical and mental health are deeply connected and that by promoting women’s health, we’re fostering healthier communities.”