CHICAGO — The American Medical Association Foundation (AMAF) today announced a $100,000 donation to support patients and care teams working together to manage blood pressure (BP) in Chicago’s west side communities. This funding helps to expand the American Medical Association (AMA) and American Heart Association (AHA)’s current work with West Side United (WSU) to support local health care organizations (HCOs) and their efforts to help patients with hypertension better manage their BP remotely.

High BP is an important modifiable risk factor for cardiovascular disease, which is the leading cause of death on the west side. The AMA and AHA are working with WSU to help close the large life expectancy gap of up to 16 years between the west side of Chicago and Chicago’s downtown neighborhoods, as identified by WSU. The organizations are committed to a long-term goal of working with west side clinics and patients to lower systolic BP by ≥10mmHg or attain BP control in patients with hypertension.

“The AMA and our AMA Foundation are committed to optimizing patient care in vulnerable communities across the nation,” said AMA President Susan R. Bailey, M.D. “This partnership with West Side United is an important step to achieving this goal. These neighborhoods have long been impacted by social, economic, and health inequities, and through our work with local care teams and the patients they serve, we are making strides to improve health outcomes in our own backyard.”

As part of their current work with three HCOs on the west side, the AMA and AHA most recently provided 1,000 validated BP measurement devices and educational resources to patients with hypertension.

“Through the AMAF funds, underserved patients within the west side community will gain access to BP measurement devices, with the provision of vital equipment and wrap-around support to enable effective hypertension management at home,” said AMAF President Jacqueline Bello, M.D., FACR. “The funds will also help facilitate future initiatives such as a community-wide summit that will bring together west side HCOs and other community organizations to improve BP control.”

“High blood pressure is the leading cause of heart attack and stroke, and it may be a contributing factor for poor outcomes in people who have contracted COVID-19,” said Lisa Hinton, the American Heart Association’s Metro Chicago executive director. “This investment from the AMA Foundation comes at a critical time for patients on Chicago’s west side, many of whom are managing chronic conditions at home during the pandemic. These resources will help members of the community improve their blood pressure control and live longer, healthier lives.”

“Support from the AMA Foundation allows West Side United to deepen our commitment to dismantling the life expectancy gap for west side residents by supporting hypertension management efforts in communities that are greatly impacted,” added Ayesha Jaco, West Side United’s executive director. “One of our goals for community-based hypertension interventions is to equip residents with resources and tools that allow them to successfully manage their care beyond the walls of hospitals and health clinics. Our collaboration with the AMA and AHA expedites our ability to reach this goal.”

The AMAF donation is timely and needed, following the Surgeon General’s Call-to-Action to prioritize hypertension control in the U.S. and  research in JAMA showing that despite years of previous improvement, overall rates of BP control have declined in recent years, particularly for those in vulnerable communities.

Learn more about the AMA’s collaboration with West Side United to address health inequities on Chicago’s west side.

Media Contact:

Kelly Jakubek

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About the American Medical Association

The American Medical Association is the physicians’ powerful ally in patient care. As the only medical association that convenes 190+ state and specialty medical societies and other critical stakeholders, the AMA represents physicians with a unified voice to all key players in health care.  The AMA leverages its strength by removing the obstacles that interfere with patient care, leading the charge to prevent chronic disease and confront public health crises and, driving the future of medicine to tackle the biggest challenges in health care.