A new initiative from the American Heart Association and the American Medical Association aims to help people with high blood pressure get it under control. Called Target: BP(link opens in new window), the program will support doctors and care teams in helping patients reach a blood pressure goal of less than 140/90 mm Hg, based on current AHA guidelines.
Hospitals, medical practices, practitioners and health services organizations will work with AHA and AMA to raise awareness about high blood pressure and commit to high levels of control in their patients.
“Currently, only about half of Americans with high blood pressure are achieving our recommended blood pressure reading of below 140/90 mm Hg,” said Mark Creager, M.D., AHA president and director of the Heart and Vascular Center at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, New Hampshire.
“With Target: BP, we’ll equip healthcare providers and their patients with information and tools to help keep blood pressure under control. By controlling blood pressure, we can potentially prevent progression to other serious threats to heart and brain health,” he said.
One in three American adults — about 80 million people — have high blood pressure, and that number is steadily climbing.
Prior to the official launch on Monday, more than 50 healthcare systems and clinics serving nearly 18 million people committed to participate in Target: BP. More are expected to join.
Participants will work with the latest AHA guidelines on blood pressure, aiming for readings of lower than 140/90 mm Hg, with goals adjusted as new data drives possible guideline revisions in the future. AHA and AMA will recognize those that attain high levels of control.
“For several years, the AMA has been keenly focused on the millions of Americans who have uncontrolled hypertension,” said AMA president Steven J. Stack, M.D. “This new collaboration will significantly build on the work we’ve already begun to improve cardiovascular health.
Target: BP expands on existing efforts, including the Department of Health and Human Services’ Million Hearts initiative aimed at preventing 1 million heart attacks and strokes by 2017.
“Centers for Disease Control and Prevention research reveals high blood pressure was a primary or contributing cause of death for more than 360,000 Americans in 2013 – that’s nearly 1,000 deaths each day,” said Dr. Janet Wright, executive director of Million Hearts.
While fewer Americans are dying from heart disease and stroke, deaths caused by high blood pressure are on the rise, increasing 13 percent between 2001 and 2011. High blood pressure is also associated with significant economic impact, costing Americans an estimated $46 billion annually in healthcare services, medications and missed days of work.
University Hospitals Harrington Heart and Vascular Institute in northeast Ohio is an early adopter of the initiative.
“We recognize the threat of uncontrolled blood pressure and certainly need to do a better job in helping our patients achieve blood pressure targets with lifestyle modifications as well as ideal medical therapy,” said its director Daniel Simon, M.D. “Bringing evidence-based treatment approaches to our practices through Target: BP is a simple, effective way to help us renew our focus on blood pressure and bring more patients to their ideal goal.”
Editor’s Note: This story was written when high blood pressure was considered 140/90 or higher. New guidelines released in November 2017 changed the definition to 130/80.