If you haven’t come up with a New Year’s resolution yet, the American Heart Association has a good suggestion: Make 2014 the year to check, change and control your blood pressure.

Why? High blood pressure, or hypertension, affects about 78 million Americans. It increases your risk of heart disease and stroke, and it can cause permanent damage to the heart before you even notice any symptoms.

It’s particularly prevalent among African-Americans, who are 33 percent more likely to die from heart disease and stroke than other races. Yet despite how widespread it is and damaging it can be, high blood pressure is still unknown, misunderstood or ignored by many people.

That’s why the American Heart Association offers Check. Change. Control. The program began in 2013 and is uniquely tailored for communities around the country to help African-Americans monitor their blood pressure.

Each program engages people with strategies unique to the community, including involvement from faith-based organizations, corporate leaders and healthcare providers.

“There are people walking around who have no idea they have high blood pressure,” said Patricia Lane, M.B.A., B.SN., R.N., the administrative director of neurosciences at Bon Secours Richmond Health System and the facilitator of the program in Richmond, Va. “Once they know their numbers and understand their numbers, they can do something about it.”

To help you learn more about the risks and realities of high blood pressure in African-Americans, the American Heart Association is launching a documentary series featuring real participants in the Check. Change. Control. program. You can watch a video previewing the series below.

Visit heart.org/checkchangecontrol for more information. You can also sign up to use the American Heart Association’s free online health tracking tool at Heart360.org and start empowering yourself today.