CHA seniors give life-changing testimonials at finale for Check, Change, Control - American Heart Association blood pressure monitoring program that focuses on healthy eating, exercise

July 7, 2017 03:11 PM

Press contacts:
Office of Communications – Chicago Housing Authority
Molly Sullivan: (312) 786-3344;

CHICAGO (July 7, 2017): Chicago Housing Authority seniors celebrated the completion of an American Heart Association program that taught them about healthy eating, exercise and how to manage their blood pressure Friday at the Charles Hayes Center.

Seniors at select CHA buildings participated in “Check. Change. Control,” a 12-week program that has resulted in a five percent reduction in the risk of both heart disease and stroke mortality among program participants at CHA – a statistic that is comparable to the entire American Heart Association’s Midwest Affiliates’ programs.

This year’s “Check. Change. Control” celebration takes on special meaning as CHA marks its “Year of the Senior” campaign designed to increase the engagement of CHA seniors through programs and initiatives that allow them to live well and life fully.

“It is Year of the Senior at CHA, and what better way to recognize that initiative than to pay tribute to the seniors who are using this vital program to improve their health,” CHA CEO Eugene Jones, Jr., said. “Congratulations to the Class of 2017 and thank you to the American Heart Association for its partnership and support.”

Over the course of five years, 300 CHA seniors have completed the four-month long program. Half of all participants have been successful in reducing blood pressure.

Participants met every two weeks, during which time their blood pressure was checked by pharmacists from Walgreens and they participated in educational sessions on heart health, healthy food choices and exercise.

Maria Gonzalez, a program participant who lives at Apartamentos Las Americas, shared, “I am a survivor. I had open heart surgery and since then I’ve had to eat healthier. This program has enabled me to improve my health and, as important, meet my neighbors and join a walking club. I really appreciate the connections that have been created.”

In 2017, 77 percent of participants completed the 12-week program between March and June, which is the highest overall program retention rate achieved since the program began five years ago.

This year was also the first to provide a program targeted to buildings predominantly comprised of Hispanic seniors. Residents also used the time to develop friendships and create sustainable activities like walking clubs.

CHA’s Apartamentos Las Americas, 1611 S. Racine Avenue in the Lower West Side community, had a 90 percent retention and Britton Budd Apartments, 501 W. Surf Street in the Lakeview community, had a 100 percent retention rate.

The aim of the program is to increase knowledge of factors associated with the risks of high blood pressure and how small behavioral changes and the practice of self-monitoring can help seniors to better manage their condition and achieve better health.

As in past years, the program is independently evaluated and CHA’s seniors made significant strides.  Each year’s data is independently analyzed and made available in January of the following year. 

The 2016 results included:

  • 99 seniors enrolled (annual capacity of 100 seniors)
  • 59 seniors (59%) completed the full four-month program; with the remainder attending between 1-5 sessions.
  • 50% of all participants lowered their blood pressure during the program
  • 100% increased their knowledge regarding heart health, healthier food choices, physical activity and hands-only CPR.
  • Overall there was a 5% reduction in the risk of both heart disease and stroke mortality.

Photo Caption:
Maria Gonzalez and Santos Torres two seniors from Apartamentos Las Americas in the Lower West Side neighborhood, celebrate their health improvements as participants in the American Heart Association’s “Check. Change. Control” program.