Take Action for Health

Heart health: Act

Get regular blood pressure screenings. Have a health care provider check your blood pressure at least once each year. If you know you have high blood pressure, check it more often at your doctor’s office, neighborhood clinic, local drug store, or a health fair. Below are some things that can make it hard to get regular blood pressure screenings, and what you can do about them.

Learn more about heart health and blood pressure screenings at www.heart.org.

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Here are some online tools to help you find a doctor or nurse in your community.

  • National Medical Association (NMA) Physician Locator. The NMA represents African American doctors, and can help you find an African American doctor in your area.
  • HRSA Health Centers. Contact HRSA to make an appointment or get a blood pressure screenings (877-464-4772). HRSA provides care even if you have no health insurance. Open weekdays 8am to 8pm Eastern Time (except federal holidays).
  • Visit your insurance plan’s website to find a doctor in your area. Most health insurance providers have a “Find a Doctor” feature on their websites.

Finding time can be hard. Luckily, a blood pressure screening doesn’t take long. Many local drug stores offer screenings in their pharmacy section, including Walgreens, CVS, and Krogers. So, the next time you’re at the drugstore, stop by the pharmacy and see if they’ll check your blood pressure.

Chances are you’re not the only one in your family, circle of friends or community with high blood pressure (hypertension). But if you’re feeling alone, the American Heart Association has a Support Network to connect you with other people affected by heart disease. The American Heart Association offers a free magazine for heart patients and their families called Heart Insight.

Your family doctor or nurse can provide blood pressure screenings. If you don’t have a doctor or don’t have time to get to a doctor’s appointment, many local drug stores offer screenings in their pharmacy section, including Walgreens, CVS and Kroger. HRSA Health Centers can do blood pressure screenings even if you have no health insurance. (877-464-4772) HRSA centers are open weekdays, 8am to 8pm Eastern Time (except federal holidays).

Getting to your blood pressure screening can be a hard, but don’t let this stop you. It’s important. If public transportation is not practical, mobile apps like Uber and Lyft may provide door-to-door service to and from your appointment for less than the cost of a taxi. Or, ask a friend or family member for help! See if someone you know can give you a ride.

Medicaid patients also have the option of using NEMT (Non-Emergency Medical Transportation). The NEMT program ensures transportation to eligible fee-for-service and managed care health plan participants who do not have access to free appropriate transportation to and from scheduled covered services. The NEMT program may use public transportation or bus tokens, vans, taxi, ambulance, or even an airplane if necessary to get you to your health care appointment. You may also be able to get help with gas costs if you have a car, or have a friend or a neighbor who can take you. The NEMT program must approve this before your appointment. Benefits and program types vary by market.

Blood pressure tests have been covered by insurance since 2010. Depending on your insurance, you may be able to have a doctor or nurse check your blood pressure for free. There are also drug stores, local health fairs and community events that often offer free blood pressure screenings. Search “upcoming health events” online. If your doctor recommends a prescription medicine to help lower your blood pressure and you are concerned about the cost, you may be able to find financial help at Partnership for Prescription Assistance (PPA) or Needy Meds.

The good news is that blood pressure screenings usually don’t hurt. If you are concerned about any pain during your screening, ask your provider before your visit what you can expect during the screening.

Heart disease happens over many years. When blood pressure stays high over time, it can damage the body and cause serious problems—even death. So, it’s better to know if you have high blood pressure as early as possible. To learn more, visit www.heart.org.

National Urban League affiliates around the country offer in-person wellness seminars to help you understand your health risk and what you can do to stay healthy and prevent serious issues. Check your local NUL affiliate for a schedule.

You can find many free smoking cessation resources on the web like SmokeFree.gov or WebMD's Smoking Cessation Health Center.