ECU Physicians earns Gold Status from American Heart Association

ECU Physicians has been honored for its dedication to improving patients’ blood pressures.

The practice’s Adult Medicine and Pediatrics Clinic recently earned a Gold Status designation from the Target: BP initiative for achieving blood pressure control rates at or above 70 percent within its patient population.

Dr. Lacy Hobgood and Erica Turner, nurse, of ECU Physicians Adult Medicine and Pediatrics Clinic, check patient Lewanda Jones’ blood pressure during a routine office visit.

Dr. Lacy Hobgood and Erica Turner, nurse, of ECU Physicians Adult Medicine and Pediatrics Clinic, check patient Lewanda Jones’ blood pressure during a routine office visit. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

Target: BP is a joint effort between the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American Medical Association that’s aimed at reducing the number of Americans who have heart attacks and strokes by urging medical practices, health service organizations and patients to prioritize blood pressure control.

“We at ECU Physicians are passionate about providing high quality care to our patients,” said Dr. Jason Foltz, medical director for ECU Physicians. “Helping our patients achieve their blood pressure goals is a top priority for us that has direct impact on the health outcomes of each individual patient.”

Target: BP supports physicians and care teams by offering access to the latest research, tools and resources to successfully achieve blood pressure goals in patients.

“East Carolina University’s dedication to helping eastern North Carolinians better manage high blood pressure is critical to the American Heart Association’s mission to create a world of longer, healthier lives,” said Rachel Urban, vice president of development for the AHA. “We are proud to recognize their efforts through Target: BP, efforts that will ensure more people in this community will have the gift of more time with loved ones and friends.”

To help improve patient blood pressure outcomes through Target: BP, participating health care organizations and medical practices first create a plan for improving patient blood pressure rates, including establishing correct protocol for taking readings with the least margin of error. The plan also includes education to help patients understand the importance of maintaining healthy blood pressure levels.

High blood pressure is one of the most prevalent health issues in eastern North Carolina; several counties in the region rank near the top nationally for heart attack, stroke and hypertension.

“We’re doing a lot of things here at the school to try to change that,” said Dr. Paul Bolin, chair of the Department of Internal Medicine at the ECU Brody School of Medicine, adding that many local patients take part in national hypertension studies through ECU.

“That’s the reason this school was built,” Bolin said, “to try to improve the health of this region.”

ECU Physicians’ Adult Medicine and Pediatrics Clinic was honored for achieving blood pressure control goals in its patients.

ECU Physicians’ Adult Medicine and Pediatrics Clinic was honored for achieving blood pressure control goals in its patients. (ECU file photo)

While the Adult Medicine and Pediatrics Clinic was highlighted for its compliance with AHA standards of measuring and treating blood pressure, Bolin said all ECU Physicians clinics are focused on educating patients about the importance of maintaining a healthy blood pressure and on using proper methods of taking blood pressure and reporting numbers, making it likely that all ECU clinics will achieve Gold Status in the near future.

The focus on education is key, Bolin said. Not only is it important that patients understand how blood pressure affects overall health, but it’s vital that they know the factors that play into hypertension. Patients, he said, have been overall receptive to even minor changes in lifestyle that contribute to better health. For example, one patient altered his go-to breakfast from crackers to pecans and noticed significant changes in his health and well-being.

“I am blown away by how many people really want to change their lives,” he said. “The biggest thing we can do is try to educate them about the importance of lifestyle, and we have to reach people where they are.”

 

-by Spaine Stephens, University Communications