Cardiovascular Member Education and Support Program

CATHY SCOTT-LYNCH, R.N. and SUE SILVERNAIL, R.N.

Are you at risk of a heart attack or stroke? Are you struggling to control high blood pressure? MESSA’s Cardiovascular Member Education and Support Program can provide you with free personal support from a certified nurse educator.

Our Cardiovascular Member Education and Support Program gives you access to cardiovascular nurse educators who will provide you with important information, encouragement and guidance to help you reach your cardiovascular health goals. Our nurse educators can work with you over the course of several months, enabling you to reduce your cardiovascular-related symptoms and improve your overall health and quality of life.

Our cardiovascular nurse educator will help you:

  • Know and understand key numbers that affect your cardiovascular health
  • Make the changes necessary to living a healthier life
  • Communicate your needs and concerns to your health provider
  • Recognize complications that can occur with your diagnosis

Personal support for you

Our cardiovascular nurse educator, Cathy Scott-Lynch, R.N., will work directly with you to help develop a personal heart health action plan, including strategies you can use to make better lifestyle choices. You’ll learn how to identify and track your key health risk numbers, including blood pressure, blood sugar, and good and bad cholesterol, with an eye toward risk reduction.

In addition to healthy lifestyle measures, some people may need prescription medications to control blood pressure. Cathy can help you partner with your physician to develop an effective blood pressure management strategy.

And if you’ve already suffered a heart attack or stroke, Cathy will show you how to access specific MESSA benefits, such as cardiac rehabilitation, that can dramatically reduce your risk of suffering another attack.

MESSA members and their dependents are eligible to participate in MESSA’s Cardiovascular Member Education and Support Program. To get started, call Cathy at 800.336.0022 and select prompt 3.

Personal Health Record for CVD
This information is available as a downloadable PDF.
Internet Resources for Managing Cardiovascular Health

Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) nutrition plan

What you eat affects your chances of developing high blood pressure (hypertension). Research shows that high blood pressure can be prevented—and lowered—by following the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating plan.

The DASH eating plan is rich in fruits, vegetables, fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products, whole grains, fish, poultry, beans, seeds, and nuts. It also contains less salt and sodium; sweets, added sugars, and sugar-containing beverages; fats; and red meats than the typical American diet. This heart healthy way of eating is also lower in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol and rich in nutrients that are associated with lowering blood pressure—mainly potassium, magnesium, and calcium, protein, and fiber.

Source: Your Guide To Lowering Your Blood Pressure With DASH (December 2006). National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), National Institutes of Health (NIH). Retrieved April 2010.

DASH Eating Plan (PDF)

Measuring Your Blood Pressure

Monitoring your blood pressure at home helps your healthcare practitioner determine whether your medication and other treatments are working. Home blood pressure monitoring is not a substitute for regular visits to your health practitioner.

The instructions for using blood pressure monitors vary depending upon the type of blood pressure monitor you choose. Refer to the Instruction manual provided with your monitor for the complete operating instructions.

Here are some general guidelines:

  • Before taking a measurement avoid eating, drinking alcohol, smoking, and exercising.
  • Take your blood pressure while you feel comfortable and relaxed. Sit quietly for at least 5 minutes with both feet on the floor. Try not to move or talk while you are measuring your blood pressure.
  • Sit with your arm slightly bent and resting comfortably on a table so that your upper arm is on the same level as your heart.
  • Place the blood pressure cuff on the skin of your upper arm. You may have to roll up your sleeve, remove your arm from the sleeve, or take your shirt off. The cuff should be wrapped snugly around your arm. However, there should be enough room between the bare skin of your upper arm and the cuff to comfortably insert an index finger.
  • At first it is a good idea to take your blood pressure 3 times in a row, 5 or 10 minutes apart. As you get more comfortable taking your own blood pressure, you will only need to measure it once or twice each time.
How to Measure your Blood Pressure Instructional Video

1475 Kendale Blvd., P.O. Box 2560, East Lansing, MI 48826