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Decreasing pressure is win-win for medical clinic

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the River Falls Medical Clinic (RFMC) has taken a bite out of a “silent killer.”

RFMC was recently named one of nine Hypertension Champions by the CDC’s Million Hearts initiative. More than 60 medical facilities and providers went through the application process to qualify.

A CDC spokesman offered this local assessment: “This national recognition highlights the River Falls Medical Clinic’s commitment to helping patients get their high blood pressure under control. By doing this, people in River Falls have less chance of a heart attack or stroke and are able to lead healthier lives.”

Hypertension (high blood pressure) often goes undetected because of no warning signs or symptoms. Thus, the tag: “silent killer.”

The 2013 Million Hearts Hypertension Control competitive challenge was to identify health systems that could get at least 70 percent of their patients with high blood pressure under control or within a healthy range.

RFMC documented an increase in the percentage of its patients who now have their blood pressure controlled--going from 79.2 percent to 85.2 percent between April 2012 and July 2013.

The CDC report on RFMC said this six percent jump in blood pressure control rate was shown to come by “providing team-based care, utilizing electronic health records to track patients’ blood pressure over time, and staying engaged with patients by offering free blood pressure checks and medication checks by pharmacists.”

The CDC reports that those with high blood pressure are four times more likely to die from a stroke and three times more likely to die from heart disease:

“Of the nearly 67 million American adults who have high blood pressure, only about half of them have their condition under control or in the range for them. It has been proved that by lowering blood pressure by even a small amount, deaths can be decreased significantly.”

That’s the reason for Million Hearts, a national initiative by CDS and U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services. The aim is to prevent one million hearts attacks and strokes by 2017.

In 2012, the first year for the Million Hearts initiative, RFMC’s sister clinic in Ellsworth earned Hypertension Champion recognition.

“After our sister clinic (Ellsworth) won this prestigious award, we were motivated to continue to replicate our successful practices in other clinics in order to help more patients,” said Dr. Chris Tashjian, a physician owner at RFMC who mostly practices in Ellsworth. “We were thrilled with the results of making small changes that had a big impact for our patients’ health.”

Tashjian said the Hypertension Champ award reinforces the improving health both clinics now see in their patients.

“What we are doing is helping our patients win, too,” he said.