For nearly five years, Jack Cohen did not check his blood pressure on his own for fear of the inevitable. Laborious breathing, a pounding chest, ringing ears — all were signs to him that he would soon have a heart attack.
His Sharp Rees-Stealy doctor was also concerned with Cohen’s high blood pressure readings at appointments. In June 2015, Cohen’s doctor referred him to a Sharp Rees-Stealy hypertension risk reduction program, designed to prevent heart attack and stroke.
“I was in despair and willing to do whatever I was told,” Cohen says. “I couldn’t tell how much my anxiety was controlling my blood pressure. I just wanted to bring my blood pressure under control and I would have considered Voodoo magic, if that would have worked.”
Thankfully, his care team didn’t have to take such extreme measures. Through frequent phone calls focused on education, support and goal setting, health coaches encouraged Jack, advised him on nutrition, monitored his medications, and counseled him through his anxiety. Each week, the nurse case manager would run through a list of Cohen’s symptoms to chart his progress.
By working with his coaches over two years, Cohen, 69, improved his blood pressure from 199 over 90 (severe hypertension) to a current rate of 134 over 71, considered ideal.
“I’ve evolved into someone who is in control of my fears,” he says. “I’m able to now separate the anxiety. I consider this a huge, huge benefit and contribute it to the coaching I received.”
Cohen is one of 19,600 Sharp Rees-Stealy patients with hypertension — blood pressure above 140 over 90 — to get their blood pressure under control, resulting in improved health and quality of life.
It’s one of the reasons why Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Group has been selected as a 2017 Million Hearts® Hypertension Control Champion by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC received more than 100 applications for the 2017 Hypertension Control Challenge, and Sharp Rees-Stealy was one of 24 Champions selected nationwide — and one of just two in California.
High blood pressure is a nationwide concern — nearly 1 in 3 Americans has high blood pressure, which is a leading cause of heart disease and stroke, according to the CDC.
Each of the Champions, including Sharp Rees-Stealy, focused on proven strategies to help their patients achieve blood pressure control at rates at or above the Million Hearts® target of 70 percent.
“Our mission as physicians is to provide our patients with high-quality, compassionate care that helps improve the health of each person we treat,” says Dr. Parag Agnihotri, medical director of population health and post-acute care for Sharp Rees-Stealy.
Sharp Rees-Stealy uses a multispecialty approach of evidence-based treatment guidelines, enlisting doctors, case managers, nurses and staff to assist patients with improving their blood pressure.
Cohen says his health has improved so much since going through the hypertension program.
“I’m so much more relaxed now. My breathing is under control, I have few, if any, panic attacks and I sleep soundly now,” he says.