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Public Health Campaign Targets Rochester Neighborhoods with More High Blood Pressure

Hints about how people can remember to take their blood pressure medication will start popping up soon on billboards, bus railcards, posters, and in radio spots in targeted Rochester neighborhoods.

The bilingual public health campaign is intended to increase the number of residents who have control over their hypertension.

Susan Hagen, spokesperson for the Finger Lakes Health Systems Agency’s High Blood Pressure Collaborative, says the friendly messages were developed with the help of focus groups from zip codes where residents are more likely to struggle with high blood pressure.

"It's not so much pointing your finger at someone and saying 'take your medication,' Hagen said, “It's more, 'this is how I remember to take my medication.’ “It's like, 'we're in this together.' "

Last fall, FLHSA announced that high blood pressure control for adults in Monroe County has improved 13.7 percent since 2010.

However, in Rochester's most impoverished neighborhoods, residents are 18 percent less likely to have their hypertension in check when compared to their more affluent neighbors. African Americans are 1.6 times more likely and Latinos are 1.1. times more likely than whites to suffer from high blood pressure, according to the 2012 Monroe County Adult Health Survey.

Some of the posters that will go to churches and work sites will be customizable.  Hagen says this is because people in the focus groups said they are more likely to trust a message from someone they know.

"So, we're looking for champions in community settings who will be stars on the posters and also when people ask them, they will tell them how they remember to take their medications."

The High Blood Pressure Collaborative is a partnership between the region’s largest employers, hospitals and health insurance companies that is focused on improving the management of hypertension and reducing the related health complications, with an ultimate goal of lowering health care costs in the community.

The group has a website with tips to help people to remember to take their medication.