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World Health Day – High Blood Pressure

Each World Health Day, the WHO chooses a theme that highlights a public health concern. This year's theme is high blood pressure, also called hypertension. While preventable, high blood pressure remains a leading risk factor for heart disease and stroke and a major cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide.1 Global hypertension prevalence is currently at 40%.2 In December 2012, new data for measures global disease burden in cites was released and shows that ischemic heart disease is the leading cause of health loss, and stroke is the third leading cause of health loss from premature death and disability.3

There are several things CDC is doing to help get blood pressure under control, and keep it under control:

  • Photo: StethoscopeThe Million Hearts™ Initiative aims to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes by 2017 by bringing together communities, health systems, nonprofit organizations, federal agencies, and private-sector partners to fight heart disease and stroke. The initiative recently released a suite of Spanish language materials to improve Hispanic health both in the United States and worldwide.
  • Million Hearts™ has prioritized improving blood pressure control with an increased focus on team-based care, health information technology, medication adherence, clinical-community linkages, alignment of payment with outcomes in innovative models of care, and sodium reduction.
  • CDC recently released Self-Measured Blood Pressure Monitoring: Action Steps for Public Health Practitioners [PDF - 1MB]4 that provides public health care practitioners as well as individuals with hypertension with strategies to help control blood pressure and improve health outcomes.

Additional information about World Health Day is available at the WHO web site. Learn more about blood pressure and CDC's sodium reduction initiative.


  1. Go AS, Mozaffarian D, Roger VL, et al. Heart disease and stroke statistics—2013 update. Circulation. 2013; 127: e6-e245.
  2. Mendis S, Puska P, Norrving B, editors. Global Atlas on Cardiovascular Disease Prevention and Control. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization; 2011.
  3. CJ Murray et al. Disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) for 291 diseases and injuries in 21 regions, 1990—2010: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010. Lancet. 2012;380(9859):2197-2223.
  4. Asaria P, Chisholm D, Mathers C, Ezzati M, Beaglehole R. Chronic disease prevention: health effects and financial costs of strategies to reduce salt intake and control tobacco use. Lancet. 2007;370:2044-53.