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Waco YMCA launches program to help people control high blood pressure

Posted at 3:37 PM, Jan 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-21 16:37:02-05

The Waco YMCA is starting an initiative to help people get their blood pressure under control.

According to the American Heart Association, more than half of Americans have high blood pressure and many of them don’t know it. The YMCA is trying to change these statistics in Central Texas by encouraging people to start monitoring their numbers from home.

“They’ve been habits for years which makes it really hard to change it,” explained Waco YMCA Program Director Crystal Hernandez. “Hopefully as we start taking our blood pressure regularly we’ll start seeing what’s making it go up and can change it.”

As part of the program, participants will take their blood pressure at least twice a month, attend two one-on-one consultations a month, and attend a monthly nutrition class. Hernandez says the key to the program is accountability.

“What makes this program special is that with this one I love that our assistants and our presence is consistent," Hernandez said.

Hernandez said they already have 60 monitors for community members to take home, but they’re anticipating the need to order more.

The American Heart Association and the American Medical Association have also been encouraging home self-monitoring as a vital step in the fight against high blood pressure. In a November interview, American Heart Association board trustee Dr. Willie Underwood explained why home monitoring is the focus of their latest campaign.

“We know that there are more than 120 million people in the United States with high blood pressure, and less than half of those people have their blood pressure under control,” explained Dr. Underwood. “We also know that African Americans, Hispanics, and Indigenous populations are at greater risk of having high blood pressure and at greater risk of having it not controlled as well. So this is what makes this a very important issue for the United States and for all of us.

Many people only take their blood pressure every six months at their doctor's checkups. But for people with high blood pressure, their numbers could change dramatically in that amount of time.

“We know that home self-monitoring means you’re not just getting it checked when you go to the doctor once or twice a year,” said Dr. Underwood. “By doing at-home monitoring we can know what our true blood pressure is and connect with your provider.”

According to the CDC, uncontrolled blood pressure costs the United States about 131 billion dollars a year. According to 2019 data, high blood pressure was either the primary or secondary cause of death for more than half a million people. According to the CDC, that’s more than the number of people who died from COVID in either 2020 or 2021.

At the Waco YMCA, Crystal Hernandez is hoping their new program will help improve these statistics in Central Texas.

“I just love to be in that place where I can help people make the behavior changes that they need to,” said Hernandez.

You can find more information about price and class times on the YMCA’s website. You can also buy your own blood pressure monitor to use at home. Most major retailers sell them and cost less than $50. Many insurance companies cover blood pressure monitors as well.

You can find more tips and information on how to monitor your blood pressure at home on the American Heart Association’s website: https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood-pressure/understanding-blood-pressure-readings/monitoring-your-blood-pressure-at-home.