High blood pressure remains a leading cause of cardiovascular disease and stroke, impacting over 121 million U.S. adults. In the Greater Washington Region, nearly 25% of adults have high blood pressure, and many do not have it under control.
Since 2020, Greater Prince William Community Health Center (GPW Health Center) has worked alongside the American Heart Association to improve hypertension outcomes for patients across Prince William County, the cities of Manassas and Manassas Park and surrounding areas of Northern Virginia. Through an integrated care model, GPW Health Center provides comprehensive medical, pediatric, dental, OB/GYN and behavioral health services across facilities in Manassas, Woodbridge and Dumfries. In upholding its mission, GPW Health Center is committed to keeping health services accessible, ensuring no patient has to choose between quality and affordable care.
A proven method for tracking and controlling hypertension, GPW Health Center introduced a self-measured blood pressure (SMBP) monitoring program in which patients can receive wireless Bluetooth hypertension monitors that connect to their email or smartphone. For those who are uninsured or do not qualify for the SMBP Hypertension Initiative, GPW Health Center offers 30 blood pressure monitoring devices through a loaner program that launched in the fall of 2022 with the support of the Association.
Patients can sign out a blood pressure monitor from GPW Health Center locations across Northern Virginia and log BP numbers weekly with a clinician. In addition to supplying BP monitors, the Association also assisted GPW Health Centers in implementing evidence-based policies and practices through the program to include annual calibration of BP devices, blood pressure measurement protocols and yearly training and skills testing for clinical team members.
“Monitoring blood pressure at home is not only convenient for patients – it’s essential to help diagnose and manage hypertension so that all people can live their healthiest lives,” said American Heart Association Greater Washington Region Board President Kelly Epps-Anderson M.D. “It is a cost-effective solution to improving blood pressure control, especially across historically marginalized and medically under-resourced communities. This program fills the gap for patients who otherwise would not have access to these services and resources.”
More widespread use of SMBP monitoring could yield fewer cardiovascular events as a result of improved blood pressure control and less overtreatment of patients according to a policy statement from the American Heart Association, but many people in our community lack access to the resources they need to track blood pressure at home.
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. Expanding self-measured blood pressure coverage for Medicaid patients with hypertension is a top priority in the Greater Washington Region and will ensure more people have the tools necessary to identify and reduce high blood pressure. The Association is committed to working alongside community organizations and lawmakers to ensure all people have the resources and support they need to live long, healthy lives. See how you can support our 2023 policy priorities at https://www.yourethecure.org/.
In addition to the SMBP loaner program, GPW Health Center continues to collaborate with the Association through the National Hypertension Control Initiatives to reduce high blood pressure and is also enrolled in the Target: BP and Target: Type 2 Diabetes programs. For questions and to learn more, contact Community Impact Director Lucia Zegarra at Lucia.Zegarra@Heart.org.
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