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Area clinics recognized as Hypertension Control Champs

Health and Human Service’s Million Hearts initiative recognizes nine public and private practices, and health systems across the country for success in achieving excellent rates of high blood pressure control.

Nearly one in three American adults has hypertension, also known as high blood pressure. Fewer than half of those have it under control and are at risk of having heart disease or stroke, two of the leading causes of death and disability for Americans.

The Million Hearts Hypertension Control Challenge is designed to identify practices, clinicians and health systems that have worked with their patients to successfully reduce high blood pressure and improve heart health. CDC co-leads the Million Hearts initiative with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

"These practices have set up systems that work for patients and for providers. They use evidence-based guidelines and protocols, team-based care, electronic reminders to track patients’ progress and recognize high-performing staff,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “By following their lead, we can help millions more Americans with high blood pressure get control. Controlling blood pressure saves lives and prevents disability from avoidable heart attacks and strokes.”

“We commit ourselves daily to extraordinary patient care and feel honored to be recognized nationally for the second year in a row,” said Chris Tashjian, MD, a physician owner with the River Falls Medical Clinic who practices primarily in Ellsworth.

The Hypertension Control Champions, representing small and large, urban and rural, and private and federal health practices and systems achieved control rates ranging from 73 percent to more than 90 percent by using a variety of proven approaches. Following are some of these approaches:

--Making high blood pressure control a priority at every visit;

--Using evidence-based guidelines and protocols;

--Working as a team--physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, pharmacists, care coordinators and patients--to achieve blood pressure control;

--Using health information technology to track blood pressure readings over time, cue team members to talk about blood pressure with patients and adjust medications in a timely way to safely achieve control;  

--Staying engaged with patients by offering free blood pressure checks, in-home nurse visits and medication checks by pharmacists; and

--Publicly recognizing or using financial incentives to reward high-performing clinicians or teams.

“Congratulations to this year’s winners for their high performance and for sharing lessons learned so that other practices, systems and communities can benefit,” said Janet Wright, M.D., executive director of Million Hearts.