Uncontrolled blood pressure is the number one killer locally, according to Millennium Collaborative Care, a five-year, state-funded effort to prevent and treat the major health problems confronting our region. The effort was made necessary because Western New York has a number of problem areas, including heart health.
In 2012, the national Million Hearts campaign established a goal of preventing 1 million heart attacks and strokes in five years by controlling blood pressure.
"But what the goal really is to control blood pressure, because blood pressure is one of the key drivers of heart attacks and strokes," said Priti Bangia, Millennium population health manager. "So bring those with high blood pressure under control and have 70 percent of those with blood pressure controlled across the U.S."
However, Bangia said, we are far from meeting that 70 percent goal locally. She said only 50 percent of New York's Medicaid population have their blood pressure under control, so there is a lot of work still to do - even if the goal is eventually met.
"It's not something that we can say, 'Oh, we've reached our five-year goal. That's the end, then stop,'" she said. "The goal really is to continue to push for improving our heart health, to continue to recognize that blood pressure is the number one killer, to continue to screen people, so they're not having heart attacks and strokes in their 40s to 60s."
Bangia said heart attacks and strokes are largely preventable, by watching what we eat, whether we smoke, whether we exercise and how regularly we see a physician. To help with that, Millennium and the University at Buffalo School of Nursing are holding a health fair that will feature free blood pressure checks on Wednesday from 5 p.m.-7 p.m. on the lawn of Hayes Hall on the South Campus.