The American Heart Association and the American Medical Association recently recognized the City’s public health system for its commitment to achieving better blood pressure control
Edited by: JV Staff
NYC Health + Hospitals last week announced that between January 2018 and June 2019, the public hospital system increased the number of patients with high blood pressure under control by 3,971 more patients. During this timeframe, patients ages 18 to 75 being treated for hypertension who got their blood pressure under control improved from 72.6 percent to 76.4 percent. It is estimated that this will result in over 100 additional prevented deaths, strokes, and heart attacks.
Today more than 73,000 patients receiving care for high blood pressure within NYC Health + Hospitals have their blood pressure under control. Nationally, 54 percent of people with high blood pressure have their condition under control, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The American Heart Association and the American Medical Association recently recognized the City’s public health system for its commitment to achieving better blood pressure control, with the ultimate goal of reducing the number of Americans who have heart attacks and strokes.
“Taking care of chronic diseases, such as hypertension, saves lives and limbs, and keeps hearts and minds healthy,” said Dave Chokshi, MD, Chief Population Health Officer at NYC Health + Hospitals. “I am grateful to our excellent nurses for supporting patients in managing their blood pressure.”
“At NYC Health + Hospitals, we have a goal to help our patients live their healthiest lives and controlling blood pressure is critical to that goal,” said Nichola Davis, MD, MS, Senior Assistant Vice President of Chronic Diseases and Prevention at NYC Health + Hospitals’ Office of Population Health. “Heart disease is a leading cause of death for both men and women. Patients with hypertension are at higher risk for having heart disease and helping them to control their blood pressure is one of the most important things we can do to reduce their risk.”
“We are excited by the impact this investment in chronic disease nurses is having for patients. By investing in the workforce, DSRIP funding can enhance the services provided in our hospitals, resulting in better outcomes for our patients,” said Israel Rocha, CEO of OneCity Health and Vice President, NYC Health + Hospitals.
To support the hypertension intervention initiative the public health system hired 29 chronic disease nurses with $3.5 million in DSRIP funding. One way in which this improvement occurred is through NYC Health + Hospitals’ “Treat-to-Target” program. In this program, nurses work closely and consistently with patients. For hypertension patients with elevated blood pressure, nurses follow up with patients every two to four weeks, in the clinic or by phone, until the blood pressure is controlled. Nurses assess whether the problem is due to challenges with medication adherence, a need for a change in the medication regimen, or some other social factor. The nurses work with patients and their providers as needed to adjust the care plan and assist the patient in controlling their blood pressure.
“I like the “Treat-to-Target” program because the nurse has been so nice and helpful in helping me lower my blood pressure,” said Sumintra S., a patient at NYC Health + Hospitals and participant of the “Treat-to-Target” program. “My feet were swollen because of my high blood pressure, but the nurse has helped me adjust my medication and now I have no more swelling.”
“My doctor sent me to speak with a nurse after my blood pressure was very high,” said McKenlye E., a patient at NYC Health + Hospitals and participant of the “Treat-to-Target” program. “The nurse gave me a plate planner and also spoke to me about cutting out added salt in my food. With her guidance, I’ve changed my diet and have been able to control my blood pressure.”
“Thanks to NYC Health + Hospitals, New Yorkers are going to need more birthday candles. NYC Health + Hospitals is doing even better than before to help people get their high blood pressure under control. That means fewer strokes and heart attacks, longer lives, and better quality of life,” said Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard N. Gottfried. “Expanding access to blood pressure treatment through increased nurse staffing and targeted patient follow-up is a model for integrated physical and behavioral health care and medication management.”
“By ensuring that a significant number of patients in public hospitals properly monitor and control their blood pressure, NYC Health + Hospitals has successfully made progress in improving the health of many New Yorkers, especially in minority communities,” said State Senator Gustavo Rivera, Chair of the Senate Health Committee. “I applaud their efforts to hire exceptional nurses who are diligently supporting New Yorkers in managing their blood pressure and avoid unnecessary complications related to this condition.”
NYC Health + Hospitals also sends monthly performance data to each facility, broken down by provider and by clinic. Data are used to plan and monitor performance improvement. The regular feedback leads to greater uniformity of care and optimal practice throughout the system.
Hypertension control rates are defined as a systolic pressure of 140 and below and diastolic pressure of 90 and below. Improving blood pressure control means reducing risk for stroke, heart attack, kidney damage, vision loss, erectile dysfunction, and memory loss.