HOUSTON, July 11, 2023 – The American Heart Association, the world’s leading nonprofit organization focused on heart and brain health for all, in collaboration with the Houston Health Department, is working to address health disparities by engaging with the most vulnerable communities in Houston to decrease risks around hypertension heart disease.

The Houston Health Department Office of Chronic Disease, Health Education and Wellness is directly increasing opportunities for chronic disease prevention by going into Houston’s socially vulnerable neighborhoods through its Community Self-Monitoring Blood Pressure (SMBP) Initiative.

The SMBP Initiative is working to help residents take a more “hands-on” approach to managing their blood pressure. Through the AHA grant, the Health Department provided 40 blood pressure kits to begin the program in five communities in Houston, reaching a total of 51,230 households and 133,189 residents. The communities include:

  • Sunnyside – Sunnyside is located on the southside of Houston and 51.2% of its residents report high blood pressure. 31.2% live below the poverty level and the area is classified as a food desert.
  • Eastex/Jensen, La Nueva Casa de Amigos – Eastex/Jensen is near downtown Houston and has a population of around 13,400 households. 35.5% of its residents have a prevalence of high blood pressure.
  • Gulfton/Sharpstown – This southwest Houston neighborhood is diverse and dense and has a population of 42,003 with 36% living below the poverty level. 28.3% of Gulfton/Sharpstown residents have a prevalence of high blood pressure.
  • Third Ward, DAWN Center – The Third Ward is inside 610 and borders Downtown. The area contains over 4,700 households, and 38.7% of its population reports high blood pressure.
  • Acres Homes – With a population of 9,069, almost half, 42.5%, have a prevalence of high blood pressure. 21.2% live below the poverty line. Acres Homes is located around 10 miles northwest of Houston.

The community events in these Houston neighborhoods began to roll out last fall and are being led by trained staff within the Health Department’s Office of Chronic Disease, Health Education and Wellness division. As per the program protocol, citizen participants with an elevated blood pressure reading are referred to local medical clinics if they don’t already have a personal doctor or medical home. Additionally, participants are equipped with AHA resources for their benefit.

Over 100 million Americans are impacted by heart disease and hundreds of thousands die every year from complications related to hypertension, diabetes, obesity and poor diet. Hypertension is ranked as the most significant risk factor.

The AHA and Houston Health Department are both aiming to increase awareness about the risks of high blood pressure in underserved communities. Through the SMBP Initiative patients and their families will now be able to take an active role in staying heart healthy, participating in these clinical blood pressure measurements and by learning more about monitoring their own blood pressure at home.

For more information about the SMBP Initiative and the partnership between AHA and the Houston Health Department, please contact Veronica Sanchez at veronica.sanchez@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.org, Facebook, Twitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.


Media Inquires:

Katharine Perrow: M: 202-280-9210 ; Katharine.Perrow@heart.org

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

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