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American Heart Association says Control Blood Pressure, get Vaccinated to reduce COVID-19, Heart Disease. Stroke

American Heart Association provides community resources to curb High Blood Pressure, COVID-19 Coronavirus outcomes

American Heart AssociationNashville, TN – Since COVID-19 Coronavirus vaccine distribution began, people have ventured out, but rises in the Delta variant may be causing people to retreat home and delay important doctor’s visits.

The American Heart Association, the leading voluntary health organization devoted to a world of longer, healthier lives, encourages people to wear a mask and visit their doctors.


While at the doctor’s office, do two things to help control heart disease, stroke and worse COVID-19 Coronavirus outcomes: 

  1. Know the proper technique for the most accurate blood pressure reading.
  2. Get a COVID-19 Coronavirus vaccination, especially important for those with uncontrolled blood pressure.

Close to half of American adults have high blood pressure. Of those, about 75% don’t have it controlled and many don’t even know they have it, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

In Nashville, 25% of adults have high blood pressure. It’s a leading cause and controllable risk factor for heart disease and stroke and it can contribute to worse outcomes for people who contract COVID-19 Coronavirus.

“Now, more than ever, it is important for people to pay attention to their blood pressure, know their numbers and work with a health care professional to control the levels and manage the risks,” said Annie Thornhill, Executive Director of the American Heart Association in Middle Tennessee.

“The best way for a person to know his or her blood pressure numbers is to have it measured at least once per year by a healthcare professional, regularly monitor it at home and discuss the numbers with a doctor. For most people, normal blood pressure should be 120/80 or less. Knowing how to get the most accurate blood pressure reading helps to ensure the most appropriate treatment,” she said.

Whether blood pressure is being measured in the doctor’s office, at home or somewhere else, it’s important that it is measured with a validated device and these tips are followed for the most accurate reading:

  • Don’t smoke, eat or drink foods with caffeine, or exercise within 30 minutes of a blood pressure check.
  • Empty your bladder, and rest quietly for at least five minutes before having it measured.
  • Sit up straight on a firm chair with a back with feet flat on the floor with legs uncrossed.
  • Rest your arm on a flat surface with your upper arm at the level of your heart.
  • Place the bottom of the blood pressure cuff just above the bend of the elbow directly on your skin, not over clothing.
  • Take your blood pressure measurement at about the same time each day. Take two or three readings one minute apart and record the results on paper. Some blood pressure monitors will save results or let you upload them to a secure website. Share your results with your doctor. If the top number is consistently 130 or higher, or the bottom number is consistently 80 or higher, that’s considered high blood pressure.

Chronic conditions like uncontrolled blood pressure and COVID-19 are hitting historically under-resourced communities at disproportionate rates, resulting in heart and blood vessel damage causing more heart disease, heart attacks and strokes in those areas. The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed that a history of structural racism and social determinants of health causing lack of access to health care and healthy living options contribute to these outcomes.


According to the American Heart Association’s 2017 Guideline for the Prevention, Detection, Evaluation and Management of High Blood Pressure, quality improvement strategies for health systems, health care providers and patients, and working with community organizations dedicated to blood pressure control could be effective in helping to control blood pressure in under-resourced communities.

Because of this, the American Heart Association is collaborating with community-based organizations and Federally Qualified Heath Centers (FQHCs) in 10 under-resourced communities across the country, including Matthew Walker Comprehensive Health Center in Nashville to provide free clinical training, blood pressure monitors, and other resources to health center professionals and patients to improve blood pressure control and reduce heart disease and stroke. This blood pressure and COVID-19 Coronavirus initiative is made possible by generous support from the Amerigroup Foundation.

“We continue to find innovative ways to support those communities most adversely impacted by COVID-19,” said Chad Pendleton, plan president, Amerigroup Tennessee. “As we work together with AHA, we will provide resources and tools to support more standardized assessment and treatment of chronic conditions like high blood pressure as well as COVID-19 access and care at local FQHCs and community clinics.”

“Through these initiatives, we will continue to be a source for mental, physical and spiritual health and well-being during the pandemic and beyond,”  Pendleton stated.

In addition to properly monitoring your blood pressure, maintaining a healthy weight, being physically active, eating healthfully, reducing or eliminating alcohol or tobacco will help with blood pressure control. However, if you do develop high blood pressure, working with a health care professional on a plan to keep it controlled can help you to stay healthy.

For more information visit empoweredtoserve.org/COVID19response.


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.   

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