BY TRISHA SAKHUJA
An Elmhurst doctor was recognized by the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services as one of nine national recipients of the 2013 Hypertension Control Champion for its Million Hearts Initiative.
Dr. Luz Ares, a native of Puerto Rico who migrated here with her husband, Dr. Carlos González, 33 years ago, was recognized for her efforts in February.
Ares, of Broadway Internal Medicine PC, said winning the award came as a shock.
“It came in a good time because the country is going through a revolution in healthcare and small practices could be endangered species, but getting such an honor means we are doing a good job,” Ares said.
With more than 30 million Americans facing uncontrolled high blood pressure, according to the U.S. Dept. of Health, the Hypertension Control Challenge recognizes the hard work of healthcare professionals in supporting their patients to get control over their hypertension.
Since the Million Hearts Initiative is a public-private program that aims to prevent one million heart attacks and strokes by 2017, the challenge is designed to identify practices and health systems that have worked with their patients to successfully reduce high blood pressure and improve heart health.
“To take care of patients with hypertension is like our bread and butter,” Ares said. “It’s nothing out of the ordinary for us.”
By making high blood pressure control a priority at every visit and educating patients through meaningful conversation and pamphlets, Ares said she was able to achieve a high blood pressure control rate of 81.2 percent in 2013.
“We increased our patients’ education. We taught them about hypertension, sugar, cholesterol,” she said.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H, said the recipients are determined through practices that work for patients and for providers.
“They use evidence-based guidelines and protocols, team-based care, electronic reminders to track patients’ progress and recognize high-performing staff,” he said. “By following their lead, we can help millions more Americans with high blood pressure get control. Controlling blood pressure saves lives and prevents disability from avoidable heart attacks and strokes.”
In addition to controlling her patients’ hypertension, Ares said while her patients are waiting to see her, they like to give them a list of simple goals to follow, such as drinking more water, limiting their soda intake and eating less bread.
Ares said the best advice she can give to her patients is to change their lifestyle in small, but meaningful ways.
“We tell them about drinking, smoking, lowering their salt intake,” she said. “For example, our patients, they could be home attendants, house keepers, or restaurant workers, so you have to tailor the advice to the patient. Telling them to join the spa or the gym is unrealistic, so I tell them to get off the bus a few stops before your final destination to walk.”
Reach Trisha Sakhuja at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 128, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @Tsakhuja13.