ESPANOLA, N.M., July 10, 2023 — Northern New Mexico is a highly rural and frontier region where access to healthcare is well below the national average and there is high prevalence of high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. The American Heart Association, the world's leading nonprofit organization focused on heart and brain health for all, provides training, technical assistance and resources to Espanola-based El Centro Family Health to help patients bring their hypertension under control.

El Centro is a federally qualified health center offering affordable, accessible health care through 25 clinics situated among northern New Mexico’s most vulnerable populations. El Centro launched a Self-Measured Blood Pressure (SMBP) initiative at its Espanola Clinic in March of 2022 and has since added clinics in Coyote, Embudo, Taos and Las Vegas, New Mexico.

High blood pressure is a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases, such as stroke, and kidney failure. About one in three U.S. adults with high blood pressure aren’t even aware they have it. Once diagnosed, high blood pressure is treatable and preventable.

El Centro’s self-measured-blood-pressure initiative is driven by Christine Martinez-Vigil, RPh PhC, Director of Pharmacy Services. She leads a clinical team of providers, nursing staff and others to identify people who are at moderate to high risk of hypertension. Those patients then receive a blood pressure measuring device and instruction on how to properly take and track their blood pressure. They also receive educational materials on how to manage blood pressure and make healthier lifestyle choices.

El Centro has hired four full-time/permanent community health workers to support the blood pressure management initiative in its five participating clinics.

“The community health workers play critical roles in supporting patient success in meeting treatment goals and objectives by providing clinical support as well as connecting them to community resources needed by their patients,” said Martinez-Vigil.

In addition to the self-blood-pressure monitoring devices, the American Heart Association gives access to evidence-based trainings for clinical staff on an on-going basis to assure consistent, quality blood pressure measurements.

Supported by funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), the Office of Minority Health (OMH) and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), the Association provides training and technical assistance to about 350 HRSA-sponsored community health centers nationwide through the National Hypertension Control Initiative (NHCI).

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, Facebook, Twitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.  

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