Four Local Organizations That Can Support Patients Toward Lifestyle Modification and Heart Health

By Joseph LeMaster, MD,  MPH

Joseph LeMaster, MD, MPH

Treating hypertensive and pre-hypertensive patients often requires a balance between medical intervention and lifestyle modification. As healthcare providers, we have much more control over a patient’s treatment plan than we do over their desire to engage in lifestyle change. Research confirms that modest changes can have a big impact on chronic disease management and prevention. The reality is, however, that lifestyle change often requires multiple touchpoints and ongoing support. Fortunately, Johnson County has a robust network of organizations offering programs and resources designed to help patients as they work to adopt a more heart-healthy lifestyle. Take a look at these four local organizations and encourage your patients to connect with them to help support wellness efforts.

Johnson County Department of Health and Environment

Chronic Disease Self-Management Programs are workshops for adults with at least one chronic health condition, which may be hypertension. The group-based workshops focus on disease management skills including decision making, problem-solving, and action planning. For more information or to connect patients to this program, contact Alison Wiley at Alison.wiley@jocogov.org.

The Johnson County Health Department has been providing the National Diabetes Prevention Program to Johnson County residents since 2015. Trained Lifestyle Coaches lead the program and have incorporated blood pressure monitoring and heart health education into the CDC’s existing curriculum. As you know, reducing risk for one chronic condition often results in reduced risk for multiple chronic conditions. For more information or to connect patients to this program, contact Anne Hayse at anne.hayse@jocogov.org.

American Heart Association

A heart-healthy diet plus a fitness program for better heart health.

The American Heart Association has a variety of information, resources and guidance for patients to help lower blood pressure, including finding heart-check foods in the grocery store, resources on better sleep and stress reduction and a collection of free exercise videos available through the Move More Together initiative.

They also have programs to help patients with high blood pressure manage and track their conditions, including the Check. Change. Control. program. CCC has been around for almost 10 years, but the AHA has recently launched a new CCC platform sans the tracking feature. The new platform is more user friendly and includes the newest heart health data. For more information, contact Erin Gabert at Erin.Gabert@heart.org.

K-State Research and Extension Office

The Johnson County K-State Research and Extension office offers a variety of health-related services, including information on sodium-reduced diets, heart-healthy classes taught by Master Food Volunteers and programs that focus on physical activity, such as Walk With Ease and Walk Kansas. For more information or to connect patients, contact Crystal Futrell at Crystal.Futrell@jocogov.org

Johnson County Park and Recreation District

Walking and cycling at Coffee Creek Streamway Park in Johnson County.

Did you know that Johnson County has over 450 miles of trails? Providing patients with the Johnson County Park and Recreation Department’s comprehensive trail guide is an easy way to encourage physical activity at no cost to the patient.

In addition to multiple parks and a robust trail system, JCPRD has an entire department dedicated to providing programs, events and resources to Johnson County residents age 50 and over. JCPRD’s 50 Plus Program offers an extensive menu of exercise classes for all abilities, meditation for stress reduction and technology guidance classes designed to assist older adults learn to navigate the internet, smartphones and phone applications so they can better access information and resources. To learn more, contact Michelle Alexander at Michelle.Alexander@jocogov.org.

Joseph LeMaster, MD, MPH, is a professor of family medicine at the University of Kansas School of Medicine and is public health officer for Johnson County, Kansas.