facebook Eskenazi Health Offers Free Group Hypertension Education Program
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According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 1 in 3 adults in the United States have high blood pressure. With these staggering numbers, there is a good chance you may be living with high blood pressure, know someone who is or maybe even both!  

Of the many people living with and trying to manage high blood pressure, the CDC estimates only about half are meeting their treatment goals which is consistent with similar rates of well controlled blood pressure among patients at Eskenazi Health Forest Manor Health Center prior to the addition of a group hypertension education program. Any individual managing a chronic illness like diabetes or hypertension can probably share it can be challenging when asked to adhere to medication routines, make diet changes, and find ways to be more active. Support from others sharing similar experiences and a healthcare team dedicated to finding real-world strategies can make all of the difference.

In 2017 a pilot group education curriculum was developed with grant support from the Indiana State Department of Health to provide hypertension self-management tools. The goals of the program are to help patients with hypertension to further foster engagement with their health care team, ensure the availability of appropriate educational opportunities, influence quality measures and improve health outcomes. Eskenazi Health had been experiencing increased positive outcomes with diabetes management among participants in the accredited Diabetes Self-Management Education Support (DSMES) program compared with those who had not enrolled in this program and the interest in applying this group education model to hypertension education and management was born.

Each hypertension group interacts with a multidisciplinary instructor team that includes a registered nurse, registered dietitian, lifestyle wellness coach and pharmacist. Curriculum is discussion based and references materials from organizations such as the American Heart Association, American College of Cardiology and Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Information is delivered interactively through games, activities and roleplaying.  Participants have the opportunity to cook and sample healthy and flavorful recipes each week. The class favorite recipe is always the oven-fried chicken and the meeting space smells of garlic on class days! To reinforce class material, participants make their own spice blends to take home and are provided resistance bands to replicate exercises done in group outside of class. An additional incentive provided by Eskenazi Health pharmacy to recognize participants’ time investment and reduce barriers to medication adherence, is a pharmacy voucher that can be used to cover out of pocket costs for antihypertensive medication.  

Since the hypertension group education program launched in 2017 at Forest Manor, the program has been expanded to include two more Eskenazi Health sites: Eskenazi Health Center Blackburn and Eskenazi Health Center Grassy Creek. Thus far the additional sites are experiencing positive outcomes consistent with the pilot location. Additionally, compared with patients not enrolled in the program, graduates achieve and maintain better blood pressure control not only at time of graduation but at 6 and 12 months following completion!

Participating in the hypertension program has brought benefits to both the participants and instructors. Patients who completed the program found themselves with a strong support network, lower blood pressure levels and the tools to continue to live well with high blood pressure.  Group instructors share feeling an increased sense of job satisfaction and professional growth through the chance to interact and learn from the participants while also having fun. The hypertension group education program is offered at no cost to participants. You can learn more about the program at http://www.eskenazihealth.edu/programs/nutrition-education or by calling (317) 541- 3431. 

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