BMS Family Health and Wellness Centers in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn on Feb. 20 held what it described as “a very successful” blood pressure screening and social media event to raise awareness during American Heart Month.
Assembly Member Latrice Walker, BMS Chief Executive Officer Harvey Lawrence and BMS medical staff took their blood pressure at the BMS Main health center, along with 100 patients.
The center said selfies and Facebook live streaming of the activity were posted on different social media networks, using the hashtag, #HeartHealthyNYC.
This hashtag was developed by the NYC Health Department and members of the “Take the Pressure Off, NYC! Coalition (TPO),” BMS said.
“This coalition of more than 100 organizations, including BMS, is committed to an objective of reducing the number of New Yorkers with raised blood pressure by 150,000 by 2022L,” the statement said.
It said that, in 2016, more than one in four adult New Yorkers reported having high blood pressure (HBP).
BMS said that the Feb. 20 event included many lively activities, in addition to blood pressure screenings.
They comprised: BMS and Teens for Food Justice (TFFJ), food demonstrations for BMS patients; distribution of fresh vegetables to BMS patients from the TFFJ Hydroponic farm at Brownsville Collaborative Middle School, operated by TFFJ and BMS staff; and a lecture on HBP by BMS Chief Medical Officer Dr. Camille Taylor-Mullings.
BMS said 14 patients were trained on how to do screenings at home.
“I took my blood pressure at this event in order to help set an example that we need to be more proactive about preventable causes of death and disease such as high blood pressure,” Walker said. “This partnership with BMS and other community organizations is a powerful way to take charge of our health.
“Using social media is a creative means to reach out and educate many different people, across all age groups,” she added.
BMS said high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, has no symptoms, “so an individual may not realize they have it.
“High blood pressure is dangerous and a major risk factor for heart disease as well as stroke – both are leading causes of early death in NYC (ages 18-64),” it said.
“This awareness campaign aims to encourage everyone to check their blood pressure and become more aware of related risk factors such as obesity, poor diet, smoking and lack of exercise,” BMS added.
Lawrence said: “We face significant racial disparities in our community for premature death due to heart disease and stroke.
“We are committed to the TPO campaign so we can help reduce the risk factors for high blood pressure in our community,” he said. “Improving access to healthy food and other lifestyle changes are also important to this campaign.”
BMS said that, according to the NYC Health Department report on “Premature Heart Disease and Stroke Deaths among Adults in NYC,” (Nov. 2017), Black adults overall had a premature death rate due to HEART DISEASE (77.6 per 100,000) that was 1.8 times that of White adults (42.2 per 100,000), 2.1 times that of Latinos (36.1 per 100,000), and 3.8 times that of Asian/Pacific Islander adults (20.2 per 100,000).
In Brownsville, the rate was 81.5, higher than the 77.6 overall rate for Blacks, BMC said.
It said that, according to this same report, Black adults have more than three times the premature death rate due to STROKE than Whites, “and this finding is even more pronounced in Black women.”
Among Black adults, BMS said the rate of premature death due to stroke (10.5 per 100,000) was 3.2 times that of White (3.3 per 100,000), 1.8 times that of Latino (6.0 per 100,000), and 2.4 times that of Asian/Pacific Islander adults (4.4 per 100,000).
Among Black women, BMS said the rate was 3.5 times the rate of White women (8.8 vs. 2.5 per 100,000) and 2.8 times the rate of Asian/Pacific Islander women (8.8 vs. 3.2 per 100,000).
Brownsville Community Development Corporation (BCDC) is a private 501(c) (3) non-profit incorporated in 1974.
In 1982, it established the BMS Family Health and Wellness Centers, with just one National Health Services Corps physician.
BMS said it has since grown dramatically in correlation with the increasing needs of community residents.
Today, BMS said it is a comprehensive Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC), offering primary care, dental, specialists, WIC, and Health Homes, regardless of ability to pay, “at nine strategically located, easily accessible service sites, while also implementing Community Wellness programs and operating a School Based Health Center at Jefferson High School in Brooklyn.”
The Health Center said it is the second largest non-governmental employer in Brownsville and offers a wide range of high-quality primary care and preventive services.
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