(KXAN) — New partnership between the American Heart Association in Central Texas and Lone Star Circle of Care is helping to make sure that people get more accurate blood pressure readings and access to home monitors.

Community Impact Director Catalina Berry joined KXAN Thursday to provide some insight on the partnership and why accurate blood pressure readings are so important.

Talk about the partnership and why this is so important and really helping central Texans who are dealing with hypertension and maybe don’t have access to resources.

Berry: Lone Star Circle of Care is one of three FQHCs, federally qualified health centers, within Central Texas, and this partnership with them updated their policies to make a systematic change. So 21 clinics are now going to be able to impact almost 100,000 patients so that their staff is being trained regularly and checked in to make sure that they are measuring blood pressure as accurately as possible. There’s so many different factors to take into account with measuring blood pressure accurately, such as having your back supported your feet on the ground, making sure you have right fit, it’s on bare skin, not over clothing, there’s so many things that we need to take into consideration, we’re getting our blood pressure measured. So we’re making sure the staff is doing as accurately as possible with these populations that need it most.

Who are the populations that need it most? I mean, there’s a great need already in the community., but are there certain demographics that you all are seeing are at higher risk or in need?

Berry: We definitely know there are a lot of factors at play in hypertension. One in two Americans have hypertension, it’s known as a silent killer, because half of those individuals don’t even know they have hypertension. So that’s a big red flag for us to make sure that we’re educating as much as possible, and we’re providing the resources and tools. I want to give a shout out to Abbott, because thanks to them, we are able to provide over 500 blood pressure monitors and cuffs to Lone Star Circle of Care so that patients can go home, feel empowered to take control of their health themselves, to know their numbers to not have white coat syndrome, which is a real thing — you know, when you go to a doctor’s office, and sometimes you’re a little nervous to be in there? So this is great for them to do it at home, in the comfort of their own home. So that way, we’re getting the most accurate numbers as possible.

Who will have access to the benefits of this partnership? Who will be able to take advantage of it?

Berry: Lone Star Circle of Care, like I said, is a federally qualified health center, so all of their patients will have access to this. And as a federally qualified health center, they’re helping the most vulnerable, the most in need patients. So we’re hoping to replicate this, we hope this is just the jumpstart and be able to do this and other clinics, even beyond the FQHCs. Where else can we do this, we’re very open to do this. You know, our mission is to be a relentless force for longer, healthier lives. So wherever we can do it, we’re open and, and willing to spread the message and make sure that we are saving lives as much as we can.

Sometimes people take their blood pressure, and they might be doing it wrong. You mentioned a few ways that people might need to not do it. So what are some other ways that people can really make sure that they’re getting the most accurate reading?

Berry: Well, one thing to control the hypertension is also to make these lifestyle changes. So we all know, eating healthier, getting physical activity, knowing your numbers. I think step number one is just knowing your numbers and going to the doctor and making sure that you know where your blood pressure lies, and if you need to take action to make changes. And then like I said, sitting down, take multiple readings. So two in the morning and two in the evening, if you can. We also provided tracking logs for everyone that got a blood pressure monitors. So there’s lots of little things that we can do. It’s really simple. So sometimes I feel like it can be a little daunting to people. But just going to the doctor for your annual checkup can make such a difference to know where you are and what you can do to control your health.