Control your hypertension, join Million Hearts campaign
Every one of us is at risk of heart disease and according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), heart disease is an "epidemic" in this country. The numbers compiled by the NIH tell the story:
•Among Americans, there are two million heart attacks and strokes every year.
•One of every three adults have some form of heart disease, stroke or blood vessel disorder.
•Every day, 2200 Americans die from heart disease.
High blood pressure or hypertension is a contributing cause to heart disease, which has led the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) to launch the pharmacy blood pressure challenge in support of the Million Hearts initiative started by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in September 2011.
Blood pressure, according to the website WebMD, "refers to the force of blood pushing against artery walls as it courses through the body. Like air in a tire or water in a hose, blood fills arteries to a certain capacity. Just as too much air pressure can damage a tire or too much water pushing through a garden hose can damage the hose, high blood pressure can threaten healthy arteries and lead to life-threatening conditions such as heart disease and stroke."
The challenge launched by the APhA encourages member pharmacists to talk with one patient every day about blood pressure prevention and control and to perform screenings so patients are aware of their numbers.
"Cardiovascular disease impacts approximately one in every three adults in the U.S., and many of these cases can be prevented or treated by focusing on cardiovascular risk factors, such as blood pressure control, that pharmacists are ideally positioned to address," said Mindy Smith, executive director of the APhA Foundation in a press release.
"We are excited to offer a program in which patients and pharmacists work together to improve medication use and the quality of health outcomes related to lowering blood pressure and preventing heart attacks and stroke."
Further support for the inclusion of pharmacists in the prevention of hypertension or high blood pressure came in the June 2012 issue of the Florida Pharmacy Journal. An article in the professional publication reported that based on a review of 50 studies conducted between 2003 and 2012, the inclusion of pharmacists as part of a team approach to patients with blood pressure issues resulted in improved patient outcomes.
In Florida, both CVS and Walgreens pharmacies have announced their support of the HHS Million Hearts initiative, which has a goal of preventing one million heart attacks and strokes by 2017. The initiative seeks to accomplish this goal by:
•Improving access to effective care.
•Improving the quality of care for the ABCS (aspirin for people at risk, blood pressure control, cholesterol management and smoking cessation)
•Focusing clinical attention on the prevention of heart attack and stroke.
•Activating the public to lead a heart-healthy lifestyle.
Improving the prescription and adherence to appropriate medications for the ABCS.
"The Million Hearts goals are audacious," said Million Hearts executive director Dr. Janet Wright, in a prepared statement announcing the initiative. "But they are achievable through the actions of powerful partnerships. By working together, focused on a common goal, Million Hearts partnerships are taking on the nation's number one killer and leading the way to a heart-healthy America."
More information about the initiative, which also contains material about heart disease and resources, is available at www.millionhearts.hhs.gov.