The kick off of “140/90: Living Life Under Pressure,” a new hypertension awareness campaign encouraging African-American men to maintain a healthy blood pressure, will be June 21st.
During the event hosted by Healthy Shelby, attendees will have the opportunity to meet the campaign spokesperson, Lionel Hollins, former head coach for the Memphis Grizzlies and founder of Lionel Hollins Charities. They can also participate in blood pressure screenings, exercise demonstrations, cooking classes, and receive information on how to better manage hypertension.
Heart healthy food will be provided as part of the free educational event, which will run from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at The Kroc Center, located at 800 E. Pkwy S., Memphis. The campaign is geared toward African American men but everyone is welcome to attend.
In Shelby County, hypertension is higher than in the rest of the state and the nation. A recent national study of hypertension “hot spots,” showed Memphis ranked #1 among the 50 largest U.S. metropolitan areas. Nationally, hypertension affects 1 in 5 adults. In Shelby County more than a third (36 percent) of area residents have been diagnosed with high blood pressure.
Studies have shown that African Americans are more likely to have high blood pressure than their white or Mexican-American counterparts. African Americans also develop it at an earlier age, leaving them at a higher risk for other chronic illnesses such as heart disease, stroke, congestive heart failure, and kidney disease.
The “140/90: Living Life Under Pressure” campaign specifically seeks to reach African-American males to encourage them to take charge of their health by getting screened, exercising, modifying their diets, and, if necessary, taking medication to control their blood pressure. The desired impact of the campaign is long-term, sustained improvement in the control and management of hypertension and a reduction in strokes and heart attacks in the African-American community.
Hollins was diagnosed with hypertension in his 20’s while playing in the NBA and has relied on blood pressure medication, exercise, and a healthy diet to help him keep it under control.
“Hypertension runs in my family so I am very familiar with it. As an athlete and now a coach, I have to be very deliberate in my efforts to maintain a healthy blood pressure. I can share my testimony and relate to others who are fighting the same battle. This is a great campaign and a great opportunity for me to continue to make a difference in this community,” said Hollins.
Healthy Shelby Project Director, Dr. Debra Bartelli, said, “High blood pressure has become so common in our community and many people don’t manage it properly. If left unattended, the results can be debilitating or even deadly….
“It doesn’t have to be this way,” she said. “If we can get more men to see their health care providers regularly and adhere to recommended treatment we can keep more men alive to be there for the people who need them the most.”
Five other African-American men, who are appropriately called Hollins’ starting lineup, have volunteered to assist. The starting five include legendary STAX Records songwriter and artist David Porter; Founder and President of the Southern Heritage Classic, Fred Jones. Jr.; Nike Director of Community and Business Relations, Willie Gregory; radio personality/DJ and stroke survivor Jeff Leff; and Pastor of Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church the Rev. Jason Turner.
“This is a group of successful, highly visible men who are well-respected in the Shelby County community. Some of them are battling hypertension as well but each understands the importance of taking care of yourself and they want to use their voice and position for the greater good,” said Hollins.
(For more information about the “140/90: Living Life Under Pressure” campaign, visit www.healthymemphis.org or call 901-684-6011.)