According to the American Heart Association, nearly 80 million adults in the U.S. have high blood pressure, and less than half have it under control. In response to this need, the YMCA of Central New Mexico created the Blood Pressure Self-Monitoring Program, in collaboration with the New Mexico Department of Health, to help participants reduce their blood pressure and develop healthier eating habits.
According to Lynn Umbreit, an association nutritionist, one in every three New Mexicans have high blood pressure and when the CDC revealed people with hypertension might have an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19, the Y knew they had to do something.
“The YMCA Blood Pressure Self-Monitoring Program helps participants learn how to self-monitor their blood pressure, and make simple dietary changes for better blood pressure and health,” said Umbreit. “In New Mexico, the majority of people dying of COVID-19 are known to have pre-existing medical conditions, with high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease being the top three.”
Working with trained Healthy Heart Ambassadors, participants will learn to properly take their own blood pressure at home and how to make healthy nutrition changes to help lower their blood pressure for four months. According to Umbreit, it is one of the few national evidence-based programs shown to help people better manage and control their blood pressure issues.
Currently, the program is successfully being run online due to COVID-19 restrictions. However, Umbreit said they plan to also resume in-person programming once the governor gives the OK to do so. “Since high blood pressure is the No. 3 comorbidity associated with death from COVID-19 in New Mexico, it is more important than ever for people to take charge of their blood pressure,” she explained.
Members and non-members can join the program in October with no registration fee, giving more people access to a healthier life.
“With so many things going on in our world right now that we can’t control, making better eating choices, as well as taking steps to better understand and care for our bodies and our health is empowering,” said Umbreit.
You can learn more about the Blood Pressure Self-Monitoring Program here.