Nevada: Helping Low-Income Residents Fight High Blood Pressure and Heart Disease
In Nevada, low-income residents living in areas with too few primary care providers are twice as likely to have high blood pressure compared to the general population. High blood pressure raises the risk for heart disease and stroke, causing nearly one in three deaths among Nevadans. Because high blood pressure is common, dangerous, and has no warning signs or symptoms, people need monitoring to know if they have it and get treatment if they do. The Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health (DPBH) used a portion of its Preventive Health and Health Services (PHHS) Block Grant funds to help low-income and rural residents control high blood pressure and reduce their risk for heart disease and stroke.
DPBH joined forces with Nevada Health Centers to pilot a Self-Monitoring Blood Pressure Program for low-income Nevadans. This free program helps patients keep their high blood pressure under control between doctor visits. Self-monitoring means patients check their blood pressure at home daily, record their readings, and regularly see a primary care provider to discuss their results. The purpose of the pilot was to test whether adding self-monitoring to routine patient care could help manage high blood pressure, reduce cardiovascular disease, and improve overall health.
During office visits, primary care providers refer patients who have high blood pressure and are at high risk for heart disease and stroke to a program-funded community health worker (CHW). At this appointment, patients are also given information and education on the importance of eating a heart-healthy diet, exercising regularly, and taking medications as directed. Further, patients who use tobacco are referred to the Tobacco Quitline.
The CHW enrolls patients in the Self-Monitoring Blood Pressure Program and teaches them about the importance of taking accurate blood pressure readings and recording their numbers daily. Patients receive a free blood pressure monitor and a demonstration on how to use it at home. The CHW regularly checks on patients’ progress, collects blood pressure readings, and enters this information into a database. During follow-up visits, primary care providers review patients’ blood pressure measures taken at home and adjust their treatment plans as needed.
In 2016, the pilot program followed 147 patients for 9 months at three Nevada Health Center locations. Initial results showed the pilot was well received by patients and primary care providers. The program was expanded to an additional facility in 2017; DPBH plans to add a fifth location in 2018. By October 2017, 192 participants had enrolled in the Self-Monitoring Blood Pressure Program, and enrollment was projected to reach 350 participants by the end of 2018.
With PHHS Block Grant support, DPBH can continue to help improve cardiovascular health for low-income and rural Nevadans.
Story year: 2017