heart healthTwo U.S. health care companies who were recently recognized for their achievements in helping employees manage their blood pressure attribute that success to some specific techniques.

Kaiser Permanente Colorado in Denver, and Ellsworth Medical Clinic in Ellsworth, Wis., have been named “High Blood Pressure Control Champions” by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Million Hearts Initiative.

Since January 2008, Kaiser Permanente Colorado’s focus on managing hypertension has improved the blood pressure control rate of its patients from 61 percent to 82.6 percent. Between 2007 and 2011 the Ellsworth Medical Clinic in western Wisconsin improved blood pressure control among patients with cardiovascular disease from 68 percent to 97 percent. As of August 2012, the practice had achieved a 90 percent control rate for all patients with hypertension.

Both systems credit the improvement to using electronic health records to track and monitor patients, sending email and phone reminders to increase medication adherence and encourage healthy lifestyle changes, and working closely with staff to prioritize high blood pressure control.  

“These two practices have shown that by making high blood pressure a priority every day with every patient, control can be achieved by both large and small providers—and everyone in between,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who called the two companies examples for other healthcare providers to follow. “Controlling blood pressure better could save more lives than any other change in health care.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released data showing that nearly 1 in 3 American adults (67 million) has high blood pressure, and more than half (36 million) don’t have it under control,.

High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke, the first and fourth leading causes of death in the United States, leading to nearly 1,000 deaths a day. High blood pressure—blood pressure greater than or equal to 140/90 mm Hg—is responsible for direct health care costs of almost $131 billion each year.

For more information about the initiative and links to tools for health care professionals and consumers, visit: http://millionhearts.hhs.gov.

For more information about the effective hypertension control efforts of the Kaiser Permanente Colorado and EllsworthMedical Clinic visit: http://www.cdc.gov/stltpublichealth/townhall/2012/09/vitalsigns.html and http://www.innovations.ahrq.gov/content.aspx?id=3222.