Blood Pressure Demands the 3 C's: The Wards

Profile of a family working together to fight high blood pressure.

Vernon Ward III, 23, will soon graduate with a major in neuroscience from University of California-Riverside. He heard about Check. Change. Control. through his fraternity and signed up to be a mentor for several people, including his grandparents, Hannah and Vernon Ward Sr., 71 and 74. Vernon Sr., a retired teacher and carpenter, was diagnosed with high blood pressure in 1980. Hannah has had several blood pressure events in the past decade that landed her in the hospital. Hannah and Vernon Sr. raised their grandson in San Bernardino, California, after his father, a policeman, was disabled by a traumatic brain injury. They’re also their son’s caregivers.

Young Vernon was attracted to the Check. Change. Control. program because he wanted to help his family and because "I wanted to be part of something big," he said. He knew his grandparents had wrestled with high blood pressure for years. He saw mentoring as good training for his future interacting with patients. "My plan is to work as an EMT and then a nurse anesthetist," he said, "so this was good practice talking with people about personal things."

Vernon III taught his grandparents breathing exercises to help them relax. He showed Hannah how to input her daily readings into the computer. "My grandfather is more old school and likes to keep his numbers on paper," Vernon said. Hannah and Vernon Sr. went to a class about blood pressure and cholesterol at Kaiser Permanente, and talked to their grandson about diet and health articles.

"He was very good about calling and talking to us about what we were doing," Hannah said. "It reminds you to keep check on yourself. You know, you start something with good intentions, but it can be hard to follow through. When you have someone to coach you, you do better."

The calls several times a week gave the younger Vernon the opportunity to educate his grandparents about their condition and reinforce positive behavior. He was also able to draw connections between different behaviors and increased blood pressure.

Hannah and Vernon Sr. have doctor-approved blood pressure cuffs and check their blood pressure twice a day. Their readings have consistently come down over the four months they have been in the program and are now in the normal range. Plus they’ve had the added bonus of getting to talk to their grandson. "I like that he follows the changes he suggests for us. He’s very convincing and he lives it," Hannah said. "For instance, we mapped all the places where he could get healthy food near campus."

Knowing his family history with high blood pressure, Vernon III is proactively practicing what he preaches. He understands this battle goes on and on. "Yes, my grandparents reached their goals," Vernon said, "but it never stops, even if you reach your goals, because the minute you stop it comes back."

- Advertisement -

This link is provided for convenience only and is not an endorsement or recommendation of either the linked-to entity or any product or service.

AD. Amramp Making Life Accessible. 20 years. Be accessible to everyone. Protect your clients & their caregivers from slip and fall accidents. 888-715-7599. Click here for more info.

AD. American Heart Association logo. Know your blood pressure numbers. And what they mean. Gain Control.  Learn more.


Ad: American Heart Association Support Network. Facing recovery after a stroke or heart disease diagnosis can be overwhelming. You are not alone. Our community is here for you. Join us today.


Stroke Connection. Get the app for free.


Edit ModuleShow Tags

Stroke Rehabilitation

Making the Best Decisions at Discharge After Stroke

The type of rehabilitation and support systems a survivor receives at discharge can strongly influence health outcomes and recovery. In this, the first part of a two-part series on stroke rehab, we offer guidance for the decision-making process required when it’s time to leave the hospital.

What to Expect from Outpatient Rehab

After stroke, about two-thirds of survivors receive some type of rehabilitation. Outpatient therapy may consist of Several types of therapy. Whether a patient is referred to inpatient or outpatient therapy depends on the level of medical care required.

What to Expect in Stroke Rehab

Following a stroke, about two-thirds of survivors receive some type rehabilitation. In this second of our two-part series, we want to alleviate some of the mystery, fear and anxiety around the inpatient rehab part of the stroke recovery journey.
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

AHA-ASA Resources

The Support Network

When faced with challenges recovering from heart disease or stroke, it’s important to have emotional support. That is why we created a network to connect patients and loved ones with others during their journey.

Caregiver Guide to Stroke

The Caregiver Guide to Stroke is meant to help caregivers better navigate the recovery process and the financial and social implications of a stroke.

Stroke Support Group Finder

To find a group near you, simply enter your ZIP code and a mile radius. If your initial search does not pull up any groups, try

Tips for Daily Living Library

This volunteer-powered library gathers tips and ideas from stroke survivors, caregivers and healthcare professionals all over the country who’ve created or discovered adaptive and often innovative ways to get things done!

Stroke Family Warmline

The Warmline connects stroke survivors and their families with an ASA team member who can provide support, helpful information or just a listening ear.

Let's Talk About Stroke Patient Information Sheets

Let's Talk About Stroke is a series of downloadable patient information sheets, created by the American Stroke Association, that presents information in a question-and-answer format that's brief, easy to follow and easy to read.

Request Free Stroke Information Packets

Fill out this online form to request free information about a variety of post-stroke topics.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Stroke & Parts of the Brain

When Stroke Affects the Occipital Lobe

Our occipital lobe, the smallest of the four lobes of the cerebral cortex, controls how we visually interpret our world.

When Stroke Affects the Cerebellum

The cerebellum contains 80 percent of our neurons. Its job seems to be to make things better. We talked with neuroscientist Jeremy Schmahmann about how stroke affects the “little brain.”

When Stroke Affects the Parietal Lobe

The parietal lobe helps us make sense of sensory information, like where our bodies and body parts are in space, our sense of touch, and the part of our vision that deals with the location of objects.

When Stroke Affects the Frontal Lobe

Of the four lobes that make up the cerebral cortex, the frontal lobe is the largest. It plays a huge role in many of the functions that make us human — memory, language, movement, judgment, abstract thinking.

When Stroke Affects the Temporal Lobe

The temporal lobe has several functions, mainly involved with memory, perception and language.

When Stroke Affects the Brain Stem

The brain stem serves as a bridge in the nervous system. It sits at the top of the spinal column in the center of the brain. When a stroke happens there, it can cause a few different deficits and, in the most severe cases, can lead to locked-in syndrome.

When Stroke Affects the Thalamus

The thalamus can be thought of as a "relay station," receiving signals from the brain’s outer regions (cerebral cortex), interpreting them, then sending them to other areas of the brain to complete their job.
Edit ModuleShow Tags


Stroke Notes

Stroke-related news you can use about new scientific findings, public policy, programs and resources.

Readers Room

Articles, poems and art submitted by stroke survivors and their loved ones.

Life Is Why

Everyone has a reason to live a longer, healthier life. These stroke survivors, caregivers and others share their 'whys'. We'd love for you to share yours, too!

Everyday Survival

Practical tips and advice for day-to day living after stroke.

Life At The Curb

A unique perspective on survival by comedian and stroke survivor John Kawie.

Simple Cooking

Cooking at home can be a daunting task, but a rewarding one for your diet and lifestyle (and your wallet). Making small changes in your diet is important to your heart health. Here are simple, healthy and affordable recipes and cooking tips.

Helping Others Understand

Stroke affects people differently and many of the effects of stroke can be complicated. Helping friends and family understand how a stroke is affecting a survivor can help everyone involved.

Support Showcase

Our new department highlighting the good work being done by stroke support groups from around the nation. If you are part of a successful support group we should consider featuring, let us know!