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For Immediate Release: September 5, 2012
Contact:Division of News & Electronic Media, Office of Communication
(404) 639-3286

Million Hearts Launches New Educational Program to Improve Americans' Blood Pressure Control

Team Up. Pressure Down. encourages pharmacist-patient engagement

Customers at drugstores around the nation can get help to improve blood pressure control, through a collaboration among pharmacists, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and other partners. The program, “Team Up. Pressure Down.,” includes educational videos, a blood pressure control journal, and wallet card to track medication use.

The blood pressure initiative, part of the Million Hearts health education program and supported by the Affordable Care Act, was developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with practicing pharmacists and national pharmacist groups.  The initiative’s tools will help pharmacists talk about current medications and ways in which patients can use the medications most effectively. The goal of Million Hearts is to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes by 2017.

“This valuable Million Hearts initiative will prevent heart attacks and strokes by bringing pharmacists into the care team to help patients control their blood pressure. Pharmacists are able to talk to patients and families about using medication to manage, high blood pressure, and they can also help patients address barriers to taking their medication,” said Surgeon General, Regina M. Benjamin, MD.

In May, the Community Preventive Services Task Force, an independent, nonfederal, uncompensated body of public health and prevention experts, whose members are appointed by the Director of CDC,  recommended team-based care—uniting the efforts of physicians, pharmacists, nurses, and other health care professionals—to improve blood pressure control. Its recommendation followed a review of evidence from more than 70 scientific publications.

“More than 36 million Americans, or more than half of those with hypertension, don’t have their blood pressure under control and every single day, more than one thousand Americans have a heart attack or stroke,” said Janet Wright, M.D., a board-certified cardiologist and executive director of Million Hearts. “Through the ``Team Up. Pressure Down.’’ educational program for pharmacists, we are taking the first step in helping many more Americans achieve blood pressure control.”

“Our organization trains the next wave of young pharmacists who are committed to making a difference in patients’ lives,” said William Lang, M.P.H., vice president for policy and advocacy, American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy.  “`Team Up. Pressure Down.’ recognizes and supports the critical role of pharmacists in improving blood pressure control through team-based care.”

“`The Team Up. Pressure Down’. program will help pharmacists in any setting talk to their patients about the importance of staying on blood pressure medications and coach them on how to control hypertension,” said Carolyn C. Ha, Pharm.D., director, professional affairs, National Community Pharmacists Association.

The materials can be tailored for any pharmacy setting. Continuing pharmacy education credit is available for pharmacists who participate.

Practicing pharmacists, pharmacist groups, and consumer groups actively participated in the development of the program over the past year.  Contributing organizations included Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy, American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, American College of Clinical Pharmacy, American Heart Association, American Pharmacist Association Foundation, Blue Ridge Mountain Group, Cardinal Health, Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services Innovation Center, Community Pharmacy Foundation, Compliant Pharmacy Alliance, Creative Pharmacist Healthy Heart Club, Indian Health Service, National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations, National Association of Drug Store Chains, National Community Pharmacists Association, National Consumer League, Pharmacy Quality Alliance,  PharmaSmart, University of Iowa School of Pharmacy, University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, USPHS/Pharmacist Professional Advisory Committee, WomenHeart.

For more information on public and private support for Million Hearts visit: http://millionhearts.hhs.gov/partners.shtml. For more information about the Million Hearts Team Up. Pressure Down. program and access to tools and resources, including a continuing pharmacy education program, visit: http://millionhearts.hhs.gov/resources/teamuppressuredown.html.

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