MINNETONKA, MINN – February 16, 2022 – UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), the Detroit Association of Black Organizations (DABO) and Resolve to Save Lives (RTSL) announced an initiative to address uncontrolled and undiagnosed hypertension among Black adults in Detroit. According to the CDC, Hypertension, more commonly known as high blood pressure, is the leading driver of the shorter life expectancy of Black Americans and is a leading cause of race-based health disparities.
Addressing heart health in underserved communities is one of many actions taken by UnitedHealth Group in its commitment to build a more equitable, effective, and affordable health care system. By working closely with communities and organizations UnitedHealth Group can listen, learn, collaborate, and create the most effective ways to deliver successful programs.
As critical partners in the heart health initiative, DABO and RTSL will focus their efforts on community and educational events to increase awareness, grow knowledge and provide preventative measures to address hypertension. The intent of deploying this model in Detroit is to immediately address heart health needs locally and to serve as a model to treat people with chronic conditions in communities throughout the United States.
The heart health program will launch this month with the enrollment of 500 adults who have either undiagnosed and/or uncontrolled hypertension. Enrollment will be conducted in the community, including places of worship and at the DABO wellness center. All participants will receive kits to self-monitor their blood pressure and will be supported by health care professionals and community leaders throughout the program to manage blood pressure and prevent complications. The program will use a novel health delivery model that is centered on a medically supervised community of health workers and technology-based protocols for faster and more efficient blood pressure control. Participation is free.
“Our goal is to build a scalable program to help people identify and manage heart health risks,” said Dr. Jaime Murillo, Senior Vice President and Chief Cardiometabolic Health Officer at UnitedHealth Group. “We believe this program will help create a framework to build healthier communities by deploying a health care model that provides access to both detection and control of high blood pressure in underserved communities.”
“The pandemic has drastically exposed the longstanding health disparities in communities that have been under resourced and marginalized,” said Rev. Horace Sheffield III, DABO Executive Director. “Hypertension is one of the many pre-existing conditions that makes people of color more likely to experience severe illness from COVID-19. Nearly 50% of adults in Detroit have hypertension, and it’s time we bring more attention to how serious of an issue this is in our community.”
“Although the COVID-19 pandemic is not yet behind us, we need to take action now to empower people to control hypertension," said Dr. Tom Frieden, President and CEO of Resolve to Save Lives. "Hypertension is a silent killer, resulting in more than 500,000 deaths a year in this country. One of every four Black adults in the U.S. has uncontrolled hypertension and is therefore at great and preventable risk of heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, or other serious health problems. Improved blood pressure control can save more lives than any other clinical intervention. We must develop and scale up simple, fast, and sustainable community-based integrated care models, such as this one, to control hypertension and reduce health disparities. We hope this program will be a national model."