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North Oaks Health System and the American Heart Association launch program to make high blood pressure a health priority on the Northshore

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  • Written By: Melanie Zaffuto

A free community-based program is making a difference for participants battling a top health threat — high blood pressure, the second-leading cause of death in the United States.

“Only cigarettes kill more people than high blood pressure,” says Dr. Jherie Ducombs, a Cardiologist and Vice President/Assistant Chief Medical Officer of North Oaks Health System. “You can’t see or feel high blood pressure, so regularly check your numbers and be accountable in a program like Check. Change. Control. This program can help motivate people to make life-saving changes. And we encourage the community to participate in this free program.”

Participants in the free, science-based program have seen an average drop in systolic blood pressure of 11 mmHg, according to the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association.

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On hand for the announcement, from left, are: North Oaks President/CEO Michele Sutton; North Oaks Cardiologist and Assistant Chief Medical Officer Jherie Ducombs, MD; American Heart Association Greater New Orleans Area Executive Director Brittany Gay; and American Heart Association Northshore Heart Walk Director Stephanie Chastain.

Sponsored locally by North Oaks Health System, anyone can participate in the free online program and track and manage their blood pressure by signing up at The Northshore community campaign code is NOHS1.

“We are excited to begin this program because high blood pressure is a key health issue. Nearly half of American adults have high blood pressure,” says Brittany Gay, American Heart Association Greater New Orleans Area Executive Director. “Getting on the front lines of preventative care can help prevent the damage that high blood pressure does to the circulatory system. This is a significant contributing factor to heart attack, stroke and other health threats.”

Such programs need more extensive use because more than 100 million American adults have high blood pressure, defined as a blood pressure reading of 130/80 or higher. High blood pressure increases the risk of heart attack, stroke and heart failure, as well as contributing to vision loss and kidney disease.

View an informative chart here.

African Americans are more likely to have high blood pressure at younger ages, and along with Hispanic Americans, are less likely to have their blood pressure under control, according to recent research.

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Louisiana has high rates of obesity, physical inactivity and hypertension. Just over 39 percent of adults in Louisiana have high blood pressure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But support from Check. Change. Control. can help local residents keep their blood pressure in check with monitoring, group activities and mentoring. Nationwide, more than 65,000 people have enrolled in Check. Change. Control.