To improve heart health through blood pressure control in Sacramento, California, the American Heart Association (AHA) and Health Services Advisory Group (HSAG) – the Quality Innovation Network-Quality Improvement Organization (QIN-QIO) for Arizona, California, Florida, Ohio and the U.S. Virgin Islands – partnered to offer an eight-week health education program called Check. Change. Control™. The weekly one-hour classes covered a variety of health topics related to hypertension and cardiac disease, including the importance of healthy eating and the benefits of physical activity. Classes featured weekly guest speakers from the health care community.
HSAG served as the facilitator of the program’s workshops, answering participant questions, coordinating speakers and agenda topics, and conducting the classes. In addition, the QIN-QIO provided participants with information about community resources, including local AHA offices, cooking classes, exercise facilities and walking trails. Qualified HSAG team members assisted in performing blood pressure screenings for participants and coordinated regular status calls with providers whose patients attended the workshops. Upon completion of the classes, participants were rewarded with their own blood pressure machines to continue monitoring their progress at home.
LaTonya, who initially hosted the program at her local church, decided to participate in the initial blood pressure screening and learned that her blood pressure was 174/94. After confirming the hypertension diagnosis with her physician, she enrolled in the program the next day. LaTonya also called her mother, who had recently survived a stroke, and encouraged her to attend the class. LaTonya described herself as a “functioning illiterate” when it came to heart health prior to the class. Now, she describes herself as an active participant in health discussions with her doctor.
Deborah, another participant, appreciated the hands-on approach and the variety of teaching methods provided by the classes. Because of the lifestyle changes she made – including switching her medication – her blood pressure is now lower.
Another participant, Daryl, said that the class has motivated him to adopt a low-salt diet and has built his self-esteem to the point that he feels confident and knows how to speak to the doctor when he goes in for an appointment. “It’s about me. It’s not about the doctor,” he says.