Enhancing hypertension awareness and management in the elderly: Lessons learned from the Airdrie Community Hypertension Awareness and Management Program (A-CHAMP)
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BACKGROUND: High blood pressure (BP) is an established and modifiable cardiovascular risk factor; however, awareness and management of this primarily asymptomatic disease remains suboptimal. OBJECTIVES: The Airdrie Community Hypertension Awareness and Management Program (A-CHAMP) was a community-based BP program for seniors designed to improve public and health care provider awareness and management of hypertension. METHODS: Volunteer peer health educators (VPHEs) were recruited from the community and trained to manage BP screening sessions in local pharmacies. Airdrie (Alberta) residents 65 years of age and older were invited by their family physicians (FPs) to attend the A-CHAMP sessions. VPHEs identified participants' cardiovascular risk factors, assessed BP with a validated automated device and implemented a management algorithm. Participants with BP higher than 159/99 mmHg were directed to their pharmacists and FPs. All participants with elevated BP at the initial A-CHAMP session were invited to return to a follow-up session four to six months later. RESULTS: Thirty VPHEs were recruited and trained. All 15 FPs and all six pharmacies in Airdrie participated. VPHEs assessed 406 seniors (approximately 40% of Airdrie seniors) during the three-month program. One hundred forty-eight participants (36.5%) had elevated BP at their first session. Of these, 71% returned for the follow-up session four to six months later. The mean (+/- SD) systolic BP decreased by 16.9+/-17.2 mmHg (P<0.05, n=105) compared with their first visit, and 56% of participants (59 of 105) reached Canadian targets for BP. CONCLUSIONS: A-CHAMP raised awareness, and identified and managed seniors with hypertension. At follow-up, BP showed statistically and clinically significant and sustained improvement. Participating health care providers and VPHEs indicated that A-CHAMP was effective and feasible in improving awareness and control of hypertension.
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