AMA steps up efforts to control hypertension

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 - High blood pressure, hypertension

The American Medical Association (AMA) is taking aim at hypertension and prediabetes in a multiyear program designed to prevent cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

The AMA said it launched the first phase of a multimillion-dollar initiative to improve health outcomes, building on existing efforts to bring physicians and patients in line with guidelines to reduce risk factors for cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

The AMA will partner with the Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore to target patients with hypertension in an effort to meet or exceed the goals of the national Million Hearts program. Unveiled in 2011 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Million Hearts unites public and private organizations in a program designed to prevent a million heart attacks and strokes within five years. The strategy includes clinical interventions with four components: aspirin for high-risk patients; blood-pressure control; cholesterol management; and smoking cessation.

Among the target goals is an increase in the percentage of people with controlled hypertension from a baseline of 46 percent to 67 percent. The AMA estimated that 30 million people in the U.S. are under the care of a physician yet have hypertension that is not under control.

For patients with prediabetes, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Diabetes Prevention Program advises physicians to counsel them to increase physical activity, improve diet and achieve moderate weight loss. The AMA will partner with the YMCA of the USA to increase physician referrals of patients with prediabetes in diabetes prevention programs offered by the Y to help prevent or delay development of type 2 diabetes.