Both Lola Okunade, M.D. and Catalina Berry joined Studio 512 Co-Host Stephanie Gilbert to talk about the Simple Health partnership between the American Heart Association, Lone Star Circle of Care clinics and Abbott Laboratories.
Together, they are working to identify about 45,000 Central Texans with uncontrolled high blood pressure and to help them lower it.
Okunade is the medical director of the Family and Adult Service Line at Lone Star Circle of Care, while Berry is the community impact director at the American Heart Association.
As champions for health equity, the American Heart Association has been taking a deeper dive into the root causes of cardiovascular disease and stroke, like the social determinants of health, structural racism, and inequity. Can you tell us a little bit about the program and why it was created?
“Thank you, Stephanie. We are excited by the opportunity to work alongside the team at LoneStar Circle of Care and Abbott to accomplish this important goal and to truly make an impact. As you know, the COVID-19 pandemic has drawn attention to many longstanding disparities in our healthcare systems. This program will seek to close gaps and provide life-saving information and resources to the people that need it the most.”
“Lone Star Circle of Care was selected by the American Heart Association and Abbott because of the population it serves as a federally-qualified health care clinic, which means it serves people who do not have insurance, as well as has locations in underserved areas of Central Texas.”
Berry said the goal is to help 40,000 to 50,000 people lower their blood pressure in order to have a population effect, creating a notable change in the community.
We know that chronic diseases are a leading cause of death in the United States and account for nearly one in four deaths. Dr. Okunade, can you share why this type of program is so important, especially where we are now the COVID-19 pandemic?
“In the patients LoneStar sees, 66.1% of its Black patients with high blood pressure have it under control, compared with 75% of its white patients and 74.9% of its Hispanic patients with high blood pressure. Regular blood pressure checks at a doctor’s office were not only difficult for many but also scary.”
“Empowering and engaging patients to monitor their health at home could ultimately save their lives. However, they may not have the resources to purchase at-home blood pressure monitors or be overwhelmed by the choices. Our work with the American Heart Association will look to reduce the number of patients living with uncontrolled hypertension by providing blood pressure monitoring devices and resources at no cost to them. With this program, we can meet more people where they are (in the comfort and safety of home) and empower them to check their numbers every day and potentially get in front of any health issues that may occur.”
Hypertensive or not, what are some things we should all be doing to better manage our blood pressure and brain health?
“Whatever your age, all of us can take steps each day to keep our blood pressure in a healthy range, but the first thing I would suggest is to get to know what normal blood pressure is in general by going yearly, at minimum, to your clinician. Reduce the amount of sodium and saturated fats in your diet and maintain a healthy weight through regular physical activity. Cut back on alcohol and cut out smoking. And last, but certainly not least, manage chronic stress. If you find that you are under a lot of stress, talking to someone or practicing self-care can make a huge difference in the body.”
Learn more about the American Heart Association of Central Texas by visiting Heart.org/Austin and by following the organization on social media at @AmericanHeartTX.
Learn more about Lone Star Circle of Care at LoneStarCares.org and on Facebook and Twitter at @LoneStarCares.
This segment is paid for by the American Heart Association and is intended as an advertisement. Opinions expressed by the guest(s) on this program are solely those of the guest(s) and are not endorsed by this television station.