6 low-income neighborhood centers prioritizing health of residents

AUSTIN, October 3, 2023 — Over 25% of Austinites have high blood pressure and many don’t know how to take and track their numbers in order to accurately monitor their health. A new initiative with the American Heart Association, a global force for healthier lives for all, and Austin Public Health is aimed at resourcing and educating residents to ensure longer, healthier lives in Central Texas.

Through the Association’s Screen, Educate & Refer program, six Austin Public Health Neighborhood Centers have blood pressure cuffs available for checkout, allowing residents to take and track their numbers at home. Those who are out of range are referred to a local clinic to seek follow-up care and provided educational resources about managing their blood pressure.

“We are relentlessly focused on addressing the life expectancy gap that exists between east and west Austin,” said Kelsey Williams, community impact director for the American Heart Association. “Hypertension rates play a large roll in that disparity. Initiatives such as this allows us to reach residents at the highest risk and resource those that historically have not been supported.”

The six Neighborhood Centers, located throughout north, south and east Austin, provide emergency rent and utility help, short-term counseling, basic health services and food assistance to low- and moderate-income families while also serving as a resource hub to connect residents to other local services not provided.

“This is an important service to our community members who are not connected to a medical home and may be unaware of their development of, or risk of developing, hypertension,” said Emily Tolle, registered nurse at Austin Public Health. “The option to provide these loaner monitors to appropriate clients will aid greatly in filling the gap between our screenings and getting established with a medical home.”

A 2017 study done by Austin Public Health brought to light challenges community members in Austin are facing. Focus group participants identified not understanding what having diabetes or high blood pressure means, and therefore, not knowing how to manage their condition as challenges to their health.

High blood pressure has long been a significant source of concern for the health of Americans with more than 100 million facing some level of hypertension. Hypertension is the second leading cause of preventable death, leading the Association to develop the Screen, Educate and Refer program. Contact Community Impact Director Kelsey Williams at kelsey.williams@heart.org to learn more about self-managed blood pressure opportunities in Austin. 

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About the American Heart Association

The American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. We are dedicated to ensuring equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with numerous organizations, and powered by millions of volunteers, we fund innovative research, advocate for the public’s health and share lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for nearly a century. Connect with us on heart.orgFacebookX or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.

For Media Inquiries: 214-706-1173

Megan Jameson: 512-639-4366; megan.jameson@heart.org

For Public Inquiries: 1-800-AHA-USA1 (242-8721)

heart.org and stroke.org

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