National health associations issue call to prioritize blood pressure control

Evidence shows uncontrolled high blood pressure contributes to major health issues; latest research supports lower blood pressure targets to improve heart health

Two of the country’s preeminent health organizations, the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American Medical Association (AMA), today announced a new nationwide initiative aimed at addressing the growing burden of high blood pressure in the U.S.

Target: BP™ will support physicians and care teams in helping their patients with high blood pressure reach a blood pressure goal of lower than 140/90 mm Hg, based on current AHA guidelines.

Although Target: BP is the first major collaborative initiative between the AHA and AMA, both organizations have long recognized high blood pressure as a major health threat. Both already have a number of practice-based and community-based initiatives and online tools that are helping physicians improve blood pressure control among their patients and helping people understand and improve their high blood pressure. They’ll now synergize these efforts into a campaign that will further assist both providers and patients by enhancing high blood pressure awareness, understanding and management.

As part of Target: BP, hospitals, medical practices, practitioners and health services organizations will work with the AHA and AMA to raise awareness about high blood pressure and commit to high levels of control in their patient populations. Participants will work with the latest AHA guidelines on blood pressure, aiming for readings of lower than 140/90 mm Hg for each patient, with goals adjusted as new data drives any guideline revisions in the future. AHA and AMA will provide these groups with tools and resources, including the AHA/ACC/CDC Hypertension Treatment Algorithm, for achieving this goal and will recognize those who attain high levels of control.

Even prior to the official launch, more than 50 healthcare systems or clinics serving nearly 18 million people quickly committed to participate in Target: BP, and additional ones are poised to join.

One in three American adults — about 80 million people — has high blood pressure and that number is steadily climbing, despite the fact that high blood pressure can usually be easily treated. There is a substantial body of evidence showing that high blood pressure is a contributing factor to many major health conditions, including heart attack, heart failure, stroke, kidney failure and other disease consequences.

Data from the landmark Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial (SPRINT) supports recommendations for keeping blood pressure low. The final results of SPRINT are being presented this week at the AHA’s Scientific Sessions, but previously reported preliminary findings indicated that reducing systolic blood pressure to 120 mm Hg among study participants markedly reduced the combined rate of having a heart attack, acute coronary syndrome, heart failure or stroke and reduced mortality. The carefully done study was sponsored by the National Institutes of Health and examined more than 9,300 people.

AHA President Mark Creager, M.D., said the SPRINT data is being systematically examined by the AHA/ACC Hypertension Guideline Writing Committee in consideration of any guideline revisions.

“The SPRINT results underscore our long-standing position to detect and aggressively treat people with high blood pressure,” said Creager, and director of the Heart and Vascular Center at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, New Hampshire “Currently, only about half of Americans with high blood pressure are achieving our recommended blood pressure reading of below 140/90 mm Hg. 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.”

“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. As an emergency physician, I’ve seen first-hand the devastating impact of heart disease and I’m personally proud to be a part of a national effort that will not only save lives but help people live healthier and happier lives.”

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

“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 Dr. Daniel Simon, Division Chief of Cardiovascular Medicine at UH Case Medical Center and President of the Harrington Heart and Vascular Institute at University Hospitals in northeast Ohio, an early adopter of the initiative. “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 idea goal.”

Health leaders across the country have noted that improving blood pressure control will take a concerted, focused and ongoing effort by many. Target: BP complements and expands on existing work, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Million Hearts® initiative aimed at preventing one million heart attacks and strokes by 2017.

To learn more about Target: BP and join this innovative movement to save lives, visit


Leave a Reply