High blood pressure initiative aimed at addressing rise in maternal deaths from cardiovascular disease

AUSTIN, Texas, May 11, 2023 – Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of new moms, causing more than 25% of pregnancy-related deaths in the U.S. Cardiovascular disease during pregnancy is on the rise, and it can  leave women and their children at a higher risk of facing a lifetime of heart-related issues. A new initiative set forth by the American Heart Association, in conjunction with St. David’s HealthCare, is providing Central Texas organizations with resources to implement screening, education and referrals for pregnant and peripartum women.

“Caring for mothers is imperative if we hope to improve the direction of health in Central Texas,” said Community Impact Director Kelsey Williams from the American Heart Association. “By educating and resourcing our mothers, we are not only positively impacting their lives, but the lives and health of their entire family for generations.”

Through the Screen, Educate & Refer program, trained staff at participating maternal health organizations will screen women for high blood pressure during their initial visit. Women with elevated blood pressure will receive a maternal health basket that includes a blood pressure monitor, educational materials and various tools to help control blood pressure. Additionally, mothers will be referred to a local clinic to receive continuing patient care.

“St. David’s HealthCare is proud to partner with the American Heart Association to provide mothers the information and resources needed to take control of their health,” Denise Bradley, vice president of communications and community affairs at St. David’s HealthCare, said. “We see many high-risk pregnancies in our hospitals, and we know that outcomes improve when women have the knowledge to make informed decisions about their care.”

A high-risk pregnancy indicates that there is a greater likelihood of a disease or condition that may put the mother or baby at risk. High blood pressure during pregnancy increases a mother’s risk for complications such as preeclampsia, preterm birth, heart disease and stroke.

“We have been concerned about maternal health outcomes for years and have designed our programs to address the issue,” said Executive Director Jo Markham of Agape Pregnancy Resource Center. “But these maternal health baskets from the American Heart Association are a game-changer,” continued Markham. “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to provide these to the women we serve. This amazing resource will motivate and empower women to take charge of their health, leading to healthier moms and babies.”

“As an organization that's always looking for ways to educate and empower, we are thrilled to partner with the American Heart Association to distribute maternal health baskets,” said Brittany Green of Radiance Women’s Center. “The tools in these baskets will help our clients take greater care of themselves during pregnancy, leading to healthier birth outcomes for mom and baby. Regular blood pressure monitoring can help reduce risks associated with hypertension during pregnancy, such as preeclampsia and maternal strokes.”

Supported by St. David’s HealthCare, the maternal health hypertension program is part of a three-year community impact initiative. The Association has goals to grow beyond the two pregnancy resource centers currently instituting the Screen, Educate & Refer program. To learn more, please contact Kelsey Williams at Kelsey.Williams@heart.org.


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.orgFacebookTwitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.

About St. David’s HealthCare

St. David’s HealthCare includes eight of the area’s leading hospitals and is one of the largest health systems in Texas. The organization has been recognized with a Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award—the nation’s highest presidential honor for performance excellence. St. David’s HealthCare is the fourth-largest private employer in the Austin area, with more than 10,700 colleagues across more than 180 sites of care.

St. David’s HealthCare is a unique partnership between hospital management company HCA Healthcare and two local nonprofits—St. David’s Foundation and Georgetown Health Foundation. The proceeds from the operations of the hospitals fund the foundations, which, in turn, invest those dollars back into the community. Since the inception of St. David’s HealthCare in 1996, more than $772 million has been given back to the community to improve the health and healthcare of Central Texans. 

For Media Inquiries:

American Heart Association

Megan Jameson, 512-639-4366, megan.jameson@heart.org
For Public Inquiries: 1-800-AHA-USA1 (242-8721)
heart.org and stroke.org

St. David’s HealthCare

Kat Griffith: 512-797-4002; kgriffith@ecprtexas.com

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