Taking Action for Our Health

Heart health: Act

Get regular blood pressure measurements or screenings. Have a doctor 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.

Helpful Resources for Getting Screened

It can be hard to find social services to help with your physical and emotional health. TakeAction is a social care network that connects people and programs – making it easy for you to find the social services you need in your community.

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

  • HRSA Community Health Centers. Contact HRSA to make an appointment or get a blood pressure screening (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 companies 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 give 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 hard. Don’t let this stop you. It’s important. If public transportation is a challenge, a mobile ride app 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 get you to your health care appointment using:

  • public transportation or bus tokens
  • vans
  • taxi
  • ambulance
  • or even an airplane if necessary

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 county.

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 suggests a prescription medicine to help lower your blood pressure and you are worried 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 and take just a few minutes. A rubber belt is put around your arm, and air is blown into it until it is tight. A monitor is connected to the belt that tells you your blood pressure.

Heart disease happens over many years. When blood pressure stays high over time, it can damage the body and cause big 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.

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