New Initiative to Help Americans Control Blood Pressure, CDC Teams with Pharmacists

Blood Pressure Monitor (image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons)The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced a new initiative, called “Team Up. Pressure Down,” in which the CDC and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will team with pharmacists to help educate patients on how to improve control of their blood pressure.

The “Team Up. Pressure Down” Initiative

The new initiative is part of the Million Hearts campaign to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes by 2017, which is supported by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the President’s signature Health Care Law.

“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,” Janet Wright, M.D., a board-certified cardiologist and executive director of the Million Hearts campaign said in a news release issued by the CDC. “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.”

The program, “Team Up. Pressure Down,” provides educational videos, a blood pressure control journal, and wallet card to track medication use, and other educational materials that pharmacists can provide to patients, along with coaching on medication use, to help educate patients on how to prevent or control hypertension (high blood pressure).

According to the press release issued by the CDC on September 5, 2012, the “Team Up. Pressure Down” initiative was developed by the CDC with practicing pharmacists and national pharmacist groups and consumer groups, including the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, American College of Clinical Pharmacy, American Heart Association, American Pharmacist Association Foundation, the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services Innovation Center, National Community Pharmacists Association, National Consumer League, University of Iowa School of Pharmacy, University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, WomenHeart, and other groups public, private and non-profit groups.

The initiative was the result of recommendations of the Community Preventive Services Task Force for “team-based care—uniting the efforts of physicians, pharmacists, nurses, and other health care professionals—to improve blood pressure control … [following] a review of evidence from more than 70 scientific publications,” according to the CDC. “The Community Preventive Services Task Force is an independent, nonfederal, uncompensated body of public health and prevention experts, whose members are appointed by the Director of CDC,” the CDC news release states.

Advice for Patients on How to Maintain Healthy Blood Pressure

Among the resources provided for patients as part of the “Team Up. Pressure Down.” initiative, are:

To help patients know how to read their blood pressure numbers, and understand what they mean, the CDC provides the following information and chart:

“What Do Your Blood Pressure Readings Mean?”

“High blood pressure usually has no symptoms. Do you know if your blood pressure is normal?

Your blood pressure is made up of two numbers: systolic pressure and diastolic pressure. The systolic pressure measures the total pressure it takes the heart to pump blood to the body. Diastolic pressure is when the heart relaxes between beats and fills again with blood. Blood pressure numbers are written with the systolic number above or before the diastolic number, such as 120/80 mmHg. It is usually measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg).”

(Top number)
(Bottom number)
Category What It Means
Less than 120 Less than 80 Normal Your blood pressure is normal but you should take steps to keep it that way. Blood pressure usually increases with age.
120-139 80-89 Prehypertension You have an increased risk of future hypertension. You should regularly monitor your blood pressure and make lifestyle modifications to bring your numbers into a normal range.
140-159 90-99 Stage 1 Hypertension Your readings indicate that you may have hypertension and should seek medical care. Your doctor will discuss treatment options and may prescribe medication(s) to help lower your blood pressure. If you have questions about your medications or treatment, you can also speak to your pharmacist.
160 or higher 100 or higher Stage 2 Hypertension Your readings indicate that you have hypertension and should seek immediate medical care. Your doctor will probably prescribe 1 or more medications to help lower your blood pressure.

The CDC also lists the following “Important steps that everyone can take:”

  • “Check your blood pressure regularly.
    Getting your blood pressure checked is important because high blood pressure often has no symptoms. Your doctor can measure your blood pressure, or you can use a machine available at many pharmacies. You can also use a home monitoring device to measure your blood pressure.
    Learn more:
  • Eat a healthy diet.
    Eat lots of fruits and vegetables, which provide nutrients such as potassium and fiber. Also, eat whole grains, low-fat dairy products, and foods that are low in saturated fat and cholesterol. Avoid sodium by limiting the amount of salt you add to your food. Be aware that many processed foods and restaurant meals are high in sodium.
    Learn about the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating plan:
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
    Being overweight can raise your blood pressure. Losing weight can help you lower your blood pressure.
    Learn more:
  • Be physically active.
    Adults should engage in moderate physical activities for at least 2 hours and 30 minutes a week.
    Learn more:
  • Limit alcohol use.
    If you drink alcohol, you should do so in moderation—no more than one drink per day for women or two drinks per day for men.
    Learn more:
  • Don’t smoke.
    Smoking injures blood vessels and speeds up the hardening of the arteries. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you do smoke, quitting will lower your risk for heart disease and stroke.
    Learn more:

In addition, the CDC provides the following Videos for patients, on “High Blood Pressure Basics,” and “Treating High Blood Pressure” »


More Information

See related HelpingYouCare® reports on:

National High Blood Pressure Education Month Highlights Risks from High Blood Pressure & Ways to Control It

Ninety Percent of Americans Eat Too Much Salt, CDC Reports

10 Foods Largely Responsible for 9 of 10 Americans Eating Too Much Salt, New CDC Report Finds

Harvard Medical School Issues Tips on How to Take Your Own Blood Pressure At Home

HHS & Public-Private Partners Aim to Prevent 1 Million Heart Attacks & Strokes in 5 Years

For more information on high blood pressure, see the HelpingYouCare® resource pages on High Blood Pressure, including:

For more information on heart disease and stroke, see the HelpingYouCare® resource pages on Heart Disease & Stroke, including


Copyright © 2012 Care-Help LLC, publisher of HelpingYouCare®. All rights reserved.


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