American Heart Association program partners with local churches to promote good health

American Heart Association program partners with local churches to promote good health (WKRC)

CINCINNATI (WKRC) – There is a breakthrough program that is getting some “divine attention” when it comes to results.

It's a unique partnership that is now in 10 churches in the Tri-State by partnering volunteer ambassadors, the American Heart Association and nurses at UC Health at Mother of Christ Church. It's a program that is healing body and soul.

If you ever wondered if faith and health can be a personal prescription for reducing heart attack risk, just ask Vanessa Rozier, who is a Mother of Christ Catholic Church Pastor’s Assistant.

“We are a very close family spiritually we pray for each other, we eat with each other, we dine out, we do a lot of things together so this is a church connection, a spiritual connection,” said Rozier.

Rozier is a nurse and pastor’s assistant. Just a few months ago she also helped launch a new program in her church called “Check, Change, Control.”

It's part of a nationwide American Heart Association program being offered now in churches around the country.

“To focus on empowering participants to check their blood pressure, change their lifestyle, and ultimately celebrate success,” said Jeff Gaylor of the American Heart Association.

While this may seem like an unusual place to offer sort of that gospel of good health for high blood pressure, the American Heart Association says that was exactly the point. The goal was to let people get the support that they needed while also offering a little spiritual help from above.

Here's how it works:

Before and after the music starts and stops at worship services, at least twice a month, nurses and health educators at the church provide free blood pressure checks.

“Blood pressure is really the silent killer. We know that almost 75 percent of heart attacks and stroke, those patients present with high blood pressure, and a lot of times you don’t know that you have it,” said Rozier.

Free educational programs and referrals to medical providers are also provided as needed with the program.

“We had one gentleman, his was very high 176/102, which is very high. We were gonna call paramedics, he says no, check the other arm. It was high too, so he went to his doctor who put him on a second blood pressure medicine, on an exercise program and a diet. And he swears we saved his life, the program saved his life,” said Rozier.

That gentleman’s name is Bill Dvorak.

Dvorak also helps in church ministry and now, as part of his personal testimony, is choosing to be a healthy example to his congregation, which had almost 100 percent participation in "Check, Change, Control."

Not only did they collectively drop the top number in blood pressures in the four months of the program an average of 20 points, but at one of the last church functions with food and fellowship the changes were evident.

“People were like, 'bring water, bring a salad instead of the mac and cheese and the fried chicken,'” said Rozier.

As for the program saving Dvorak's life, Rozier admits that “It probably did.”

That means the program gave Dvorak and others there the ability to continue to focus, not just on saving lives, but saving souls.

The average drop was about 15 points in the top number. Five points is significant enough to drop your risk of having a heart attack.

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