UAB Epiphany highlights blood pressure issues of the Black Belt

Published 3:36 pm Tuesday, July 11, 2023

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UAB Epiphany recently held a Family Health and Fun Day at New Birth Outreach Ministry in Demopolis. The event was meant to entice people to get their blood pressure checked and gain insight on healthy ways to manage or lower blood pressure.

The UAB Epiphany project is a two-year research study that is funded by the American Heart Association. It is a lifestyle modification program and organizers are looking to enroll a total of 20 churches across the Black Belt region and to enroll 460 participants who have elevated blood pressure. During the duration of the program, UAB Epiphany partners with an enrolls one church from each county within the Black Belt region.

Participants who qualify for this program are 19 years of age and older, self-identify as African American, have elevated blood pressure, and currently do not have any comorbidities. Should a person qualify for the program, they will be a two year commitment. They will have a baseline 6, 12 and 24 month visit. Through this program, participants get lifestyle modifications on how to become healthier, eating healthier foods, exercising, as well as learning how to cope with pressure so they do not develop stage one or stage two.

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Hall said that Alabama ranked number one for cardiovascular disease. UAB Epiphany practices preventative care by trying to prevent high blood pressure by providing people resources on healthy eating, knowing what foods and what portion sizes to eat, and how to incorporate exercise into their daily lives.

“Our program really teaches and educate participants on knowing what blood pressure is because many times we don’t understand what are our range is and when to be concerned. So our program pushes and advocates for the resources to participants, particularly in the Black Belt region and African Americans,” said Program Coordinator Lanisha Hall. “We are more prone to develop high blood pressure due to lack of exercise, lack of eating, and lack of knowledge of knowing about blood pressure.”

During the event in Demopolis, UAB Epiphany had several vendors with a variety of health resources outside of blood pressure screening. Participants were able to go horseback riding. Demopolis Fire and Rescue attended the event and shared their resources from the fire trucks and gave information to the children on fire safety and precaution. There was face painting a bouncy house snow cone machine, and other vendors for healthier resources.

“We definitely had a great time. New Birth Outreach Ministry Rev. Gerome Burrell and and First Lady Miss Burrell helped us and assisted us with advertisement through Whitfield Regional Hospital and local radio stations,” said Hall. “It was a great turnout. A lot of parents came with their kids so they could ride the horses. It was an excellent turnout for the community.”

One thing that was stressed during the event was the importance of monitoring blood pressure and keeping track of any concerning changes.

“Monitoring your blood pressure is very beneficial and we recommend taking your blood pressure at least once a day. One of the resources through our program how to take your blood pressure and monitor it. We give participants a blood pressure machine and a guide and we teach them over the course of the two years of the program,” said Hall.

To get the best results, Hall suggests sitting with feet flat on the floor with back support in a quiet area. Blood pressure should be taken in a non-dominant arm, no sudden movements, and using the restroom beforehand.

For more information on the UAB Epiphany program or to join the program, 205-996-2862 and an organizer will help with whatever resources are needed.