High blood pressure (BP) remains a leading cause of cardiovascular disease, impacting nearly half of U.S. adults, and many people with hypertension do not have it under control. Together with the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing (APAH), the Greater Washington Region of the American Heart Association established a systematic community-based BP screening and referral program, reaching over 4,000 individuals and families across the DC metropolitan area.
Since 1989, APAH has served individuals and families living in Northern Virginia and recently expanded to meet the housing needs of neighboring communities across the Greater Washington Region. Every day, they provide affordable housing and critical resident services to ensure every resident has the resources they need to thrive. To support the health of community members, APAH received over 20 automated blood pressure devices and initiated an equipment loaner program in which residents across their 21 locations can borrow devices to monitor their BP levels at home. The Association also equipped APAH with resources for accurately recording blood pressure and training for resident services managers administering the program.
“We have to consider the background of our residents, many of whom would not otherwise have these resources easily accessible,” Danielle Johnson, APAH resident services manager said. “If we did not have blood pressure devices available, and they were not able to go get it from their insurance or their doctor, where would they have gone?”
Self-measured blood pressure (SMBP) monitoring is associated with a reduction in hypertension and improved BP control. It is considered a cost-effective solution for identifying and managing hypertension, but the lack of coverage for BP devices remains a barrier to SMBP monitoring with relatively few private and commercial payers and Medicaid plans providing SMBP coverage for hypertension management.
Since the program’s introduction, increased access to blood pressure monitoring devices has benefited the health of people across Arlington County.
“One resident shared that she went to the pharmacy in search of a blood pressure monitor but was told they did not have any in stock and that she would have to wait a few weeks for them to come in from backorder. She saw a poster at an APAH site and was able to retrieve one of the monitors,” Johnson shared regarding the impact of the program. “I am so proud that we are able to implement something like this, where we can now say we have devices in the pantry at any time if anyone needs one.”
To learn more about monitoring your blood pressure at home, visit Heart.org. The following chart represents the American Heart Association’s recommendations for healthy and unhealthy blood pressure levels. For information regarding your specific blood pressure levels, consult a medical professional.
Expanding self-measured blood pressure coverage for Medicaid patients with hypertension is a priority in the Greater Washington Region. The Association is committed to working alongside community organizations and lawmakers to ensure all people have access to the tools and resources they need to live healthier lives! Learn more about our 2023 policy priorities and see how you can get involved at https://www.yourethecure.org/.
For questions and to learn more about the program, contact Community Impact Director Lucia Zegarra at Lucia.Zegarra@Heart.org.
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