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New blood pressure technology coming to Grant Parish, makes monitoring health more simple

Published: Jul. 21, 2021 at 4:25 PM CDT
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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - Heart disease is a huge problem in Louisiana, including here in Cenla. However, one local organization, with the help of Rapides Regional Medical Center, is making it easier to keep up with your health.

The “Central Louisiana Area Health Education Center,” otherwise known as Central Louisiana AHEC, is bringing blood pressure monitoring equipment straight to the community.

“We’re working to get these in all the communities around Central Louisiana so that way people aren’t just seeing their doctor for their blood pressure. They’re out in the community. We have champions who can help people maintain their blood pressure, or prevent them from having high blood pressure at all,” said Nicole Lee, Community Resource Director at Central Louisiana AHEC.

The goal is to place the monitors in convenient locations people frequently visit every single day.

“We want to put the technology in grocery stores, your local barbershop or hair salon, anything like that. We want to get it anywhere where people go regularly. They could just get a quick check and go home and know their risk,” said Lee.

Central Louisiana AHEC just purchased twenty monitors that will be available for use throughout the community. Through the new program, individuals will be able to get their blood pressure checked free of charge. The results will then be recorded and entered into a database system that goes directly to a local health clinic so that those who don’t normally see the doctor, or may have skipped their wellness visit during the pandemic, know their risk.

“What we’re looking to do is to serve those people who may not see their doctor regularly, they don’t know they have high blood pressure, they may have been experiencing symptoms for a long time, but didn’t really think anything of it,” said Lee.

This is especially the case in rural parishes like Grant, where transportation may not be as accessible.

“In rural areas, people aren’t going to their doctor as much, they have to travel pretty far usually to see their regular primary care physician or their specialist that they see every year, so what we’re looking to do with this is have more health awareness in the community.”

Nicole Lee, Community Resource Director at Central Louisiana AHEC.

Since the results are entered into a database, doctors will then have the ability to contact you directly if you’re at risk.

“If you’re at risk, it sends that to the clinic and the clinic can call you and say hey, you’re at risk, we should see you and make an appointment,” said Lee.

Because of the pandemic, many people missed appointments with their primary care physicians. Health experts say now is the time to get back on track.

“People are coming back but they still need to catch up from that missed year, so it’s very important for them to do multiple, different kinds of monitoring and screenings,” said Charla Ducote, Vice President of Marketing, Public Relations and Business Development at Rapides Regional Medical Center. Because at the end of the day, health officials say it’s all about knowing your own body to avoid poor health outcomes and chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and even obesity.

“So many people, it’s all of a sudden, you have a heart attack, you have a stroke, you had no idea anything was wrong. It’s so, so important to get your risk under control and to know your body,” said Lee.

“One of the things that people don’t like to find out is if something’s going on, but if you don’t know what’s going on, you can’t address it. What you don’t know, you can’t help. So it’s important to have all of your health monitored,” said Ducote.

The program will start in Grant Parish and then expand to Sabine and Vernon. Rapides Regional Medical Center donated all of the money for the new equipment. Central Louisiana AHEC hopes to have the program up and running by the end of August.

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