“As American Heart Month gets underway, we encourage all Americans to take control of their heart health by monitoring their blood pressure levels and making healthy lifestyle changes that can significantly reduce the risk of serious health consequences associated with high blood pressure,” said AMA President David O. Barbe, M.D. “An overwhelming number of Americans are living with uncontrolled high blood pressure—putting them at increased risk for heart attack and stroke. By empowering more patients to monitor and control their blood pressure, we will continue to not only help improve health outcomes for patients, but also reduce health care costs.”
The AMA’s six tips for improving heart health to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke, include the following:
- Know your blood pressure numbers—visit LowerYourHBP.org to find resources on understanding your numbers and take necessary steps to get your high blood pressure—or hypertension—under control. There are often no symptoms or signs of high blood pressure, often referred to as the “silent killer,” but if left untreated the condition damages the blood vessels and increases the risk for heart attack, stroke, and other serious conditions.
- Commit to a treatment plan to manage high blood pressure—work with your doctor to create an individualized treatment plan that focuses on healthy lifestyle changes that you can realistically stick to long-term to help you maintain a lower blood pressure and lower your risk for negative health consequences.
- Be more physically active—regular physical activity can help reduce the risk of developing high blood pressure. It is recommended that healthy adults 18 to 65 years of age should get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity five days per week, or 20 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity three days a week.
- Eat a healthy diet—making simple dietary changes can help you manage or prevent high blood pressure, including eating less sodium, reducing the amount of packaged, processed foods you consume, and eating foods that are rich in potassium.
- Maintain or achieve a healthy weight—take steps to lose weight, if overweight as being 20 pounds or more overweight could put you at increased risk of developing high blood pressure.
- Drink alcohol in moderation—if you consume alcohol, do so in moderation as defined by the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans—up to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men, and only by adults of legal drinking age.
Improving the health of the nation is a top priority for the AMA. The AMA has been working over the last several years to reduce the burden of preventable diseases like cardiovascular disease and will continue to further these efforts—particularly through its long-term collaboration with the American Heart Association (AHA) to address the growing burden of high blood pressure in the United States.
The AMA has long recognized high blood pressure as a major health threat and has developed online tools to support America’s physicians with the latest evidence-based information and resources they need to help manage their patients’ high blood pressure. These resources are available to all physicians and health systems as part of the AMA and AHA’sjoint Target: BP™ initiative—a national program launched in 2016 aimed at reducing the number of Americans who die from heart attacks and strokes each year by urging physician practices, health systems and patients to prioritize blood pressure control.
In November, the AMA and AHA recognized 310 physician practices and health systems from across the country for their participation in the program and commitment to reducing the number of adult patients with uncontrolled blood pressure and improving health outcomes associated with heart disease.
Recently published in the Journal of Clinical Hypertension, a study examining the use of a blood pressure improvement program offered through Target: BP—to help physicians accurately measure and control their patient’s blood pressure—found that blood pressure control rates improved from approximately 61 percent to nearly 90 percent among medically underserved patients.