Reducing High Blood Pressure through Patient Education

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Known as the silent killer,” high blood pressure often goes undetected until it causes heart disease or a stroke. One of the ways to reduce the severe health consequences of high blood pressure is by educating patients about the risks. 

MPRO, the Quality Improvement Organization for Michigan, is addressing high blood pressure in two counties by educating patients through its Disparities and Cardiac Health (DACH) program. Since October 2012, DACH staff have been working to improve rates of aspirin use, blood pressure control, cholesterol management and smoking cessation, tasks that also align with Million Hearts®

To reach patient populations in Genesee and Wayne Counties, MPRO connected with local organizations such as faith-based organizations, religious centers, food banks and more by partnering with Million Hearts®, the American Heart Association and the National Kidney Foundation.

Using these connections, MPRO has recruited providers and has held community events to educate patients about high blood pressure and its effect on their health. MPRO also provides tools and resources to educate patients about the importance of blood pressure control, managing cholesterol and improving their overall health. For example, MPRO created posters for physician exam rooms that remind patients to mention to their doctors the medications they are taking, including over-the-counter drugs. Physicians and medical staff also receive education from the DACH team on correct documentation of medications within their EHR.

MPRO staff also provide in-depth classes on cardiac health, hypertension and lifestyle changes, and provide resources to members of local faith-based organizations, senior centers and temporary shelters once a week for six weeks. 

Overall, the patients like the classes,” said Sylvia Roemer, DACH Project Manager. They are very engaging, and people always have good questions.”

The program has faced some challenges including limited provider engagement in Genesee County. To overcome this challenge, MPRO sends tools and resources about high blood pressure from Million Hearts® along with tools the QIO has developed to providers in Genesee. When possible, MPRO reaches out to patients by conducting blood pressure screenings at local community events. 

To improve outreach and communication among the Hispanic community, MPRO hired a part-time bilingual specialist to bridge the language gap with the Hispanic community. In addition, DACH resources have been translated into Spanish to help and improve the community’s knowledge of heart health and healthy living. 

Additionally, the QIO promotes a consumer-driven website that uses videos, images and articles to explain various cardiac health topics is also available to all consumers. 

So far, the DACH team has screened over 1,600 people at 125 events in both Wayne and Genesee counties. Half of the physicians who have been recruited to participate in the program will be receiving the Governor’s Award of Excellence for health care quality in Michigan. 

Arkansas and California have also piloted the program since its launch in 2012, and it will come to a close in July.