Hypertension Prevention at OLLI

October 1, 2019

Dr. Louanne Friend, assistant professor in the Department of Community Medicine and Population Health at the College of Community Health Sciences, spoke to University of Alabama Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) Mini-Medical School participants about hypertension and managing blood pressure on Tuesday, Sept. 24.

Friend talked to an assembled class of more than 50 OLLI participants about the ways that high blood pressure (hypertension) can lead to serious, life-threatening complications and how they can avoid these by making lifestyle changes.

Friend said that hypertension is a nationwide problem, and more than 41% of Alabamians report having high blood pressure. She discussed multiple factors that make blood pressure control difficult, including inconsistent blood pressure measurement, lack of medication adherence and consuming too much salt.

However, eating a healthy, low-sodium diet, maintaining weight control, participating in moderate exercise, stopping smoking and reducing alcohol consumption can lower blood pressure. These important lifestyle changes can often avoid, delay or reduce the need for medication.

Hype Hypertension App Screenshot

An important part of blood pressure control is to monitor blood pressure at home and share the readings with your primary care provider, Friend said. Blood pressure can vary under different circumstances, and over the course of the day and checking blood pressure at home twice a day is an important step to help reach blood pressure goals.

Friend explained that tools like the HYPE app can help patients succeed. The app was created by Friend and a team of CCHS faculty and residents of The University of Alabama Family Medicine Residency in partnership with the UA Center for Advanced Public Safety. The app, available on iOS and Android devices, enables users to track weight, blood pressure, physical activity and medications, and also provides lifestyle education.

Friend invited OLLI participants to learn more about managing hypertension during one of the hypertension classes offered at University Medical Center, which is operated by the College. The classes teach patients how to take their blood pressure, eat balanced diets that reduce sodium intake, incorporate physical activity into their lives and take their medications properly.

The Mini Medical School Program, a partnership of the College and UA’s OLLI Program, features lectures provided by College faculty physicians about current topics, issues and advances in medicine and health. OLLI is a member-led program catering to those aged 50 and older.