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Notice to Readers: National High Blood Pressure Education Month, May 2002

May is National High Blood Pressure Education Month in the United States. Approximately 50 million persons in the United States aged >6 years have high blood pressure (i.e., a person with systolic blood pressure of >140 mm Hg or a diastolic blood pressure of >90 mm Hg or a person taking antihypertensive medication) (1). High blood pressure increases the risk for diseases of the heart and stroke, the first and third leading causes of death in the United States, respectively.

Lowering high blood pressure will reduce new events and deaths from these cardiovascular diseases and can be achieved through lifestyle modifications alone or in combination with drug therapy (2). Key lifestyle changes include weight reduction and control, adequate physical activity, moderation in alcohol intake, reduced dietary sodium, and increased dietary potassium. Additional lifestyle changes to improve overall cardiovascular health include smoking cessation and reduced intake of saturated fats. The most recent recommendations for the detection and treatment of high blood pressure are available from the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure (2).

During May, many CDC-sponsored state cardiovascular health programs, the National High Blood Pressure Education Program, and the American Heart Association will highlight activities that raise awareness and understanding about high blood pressure as a risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Additional information about how high blood pressure can be prevented or treated is available from the American Heart Association at, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute at, and CDC at


  1. American Heart Association. 2002 Heart and stroke statistical update. Available at
  2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, CDC. The sixth report of the Joint National Committee on prevention, detection, evaluation, and treatment of high blood pressure. Bethesda, Maryland: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, 1997 (NIH publication no. 98-4080).

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