CDC & Million Hearts Recognize 2013 Hypertension Control Champions

A blood pressure gauge with a heart in itHHS’ 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.

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Nearly 1 in 3 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 & 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.”

The 2013 Million Hearts Hypertension Control Champions, who together care for more than 8.3 million adult patients, are:

  • Broadway Internal Medicine PC; Queens, N.Y.
  • Cheshire Medical Center/Dartmouth-Hitchcock Keene; Keene, N.H.
  • Jen Brull, M.D.; Plainville, Kan.
  • Nilesh V. Patel, M.D., FRCS(Eng); Audubon, Pa
  • Pawhuska Indian Health Center (U.S. Indian Health Service); Pawhuska, Okla.
  • Kaiser Permanente; Northern California
  • River Falls Medical Clinic; River Falls, Wis.
  • ThedaCare; Appleton, Wis.
  • Veterans Health Administration (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs)

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;
  • 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.

The Champions were selected after demonstrating that they had helped their patients achieve control by using either the National Quality Forum (NQF)-endorsed 0018 (controlling blood pressure) measure or a similar measure that could be validated. The NQF 0018 measure captures the percentage of patients 18-85 years of age who had a diagnosis of hypertension and whose blood pressure was adequately controlled (<140/90) during the measurement year, excluding patients with end-stage renal disease, patients who were pregnant, or those admitted to a non-acute inpatient setting during the measurement year.

For more information about the 2013 Hypertension Control Challenge and the 2013 Champions, visit For information about previous Champions:
CDC developed the Hypertension Control Challenge as part of its longstanding efforts to identify prevention strategies that help detect high blood pressure, connect patients to care, and achieve control.
Million Hearts is a national, public-private initiative that aims to prevent one million heart attacks and strokes by 2017. For more information about the initiative and to access resources, visit

Is Your Cold Medicine Safe For High Blood Pressure?

blackwoman-with-fluWhen you feel that first funny tickle in your throat or cough one too many times, you may be tempted to run out and buy the first over-the-counter (OTC) medicine that promises fast relief. However, if you’re the “1” in 1 in 3 American adults living with high blood pressure, it’s important to exercise extra caution.

Many cold and flu remedies can actually do you more harm than good by raising your blood pressure or conflicting with blood pressure medications.

Stay well this winter by learning the types of cold and flu medicines to steer clear of and some safer alternatives.

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One of the major (and most annoying) symptoms of a cold is sinus congestion and decongestants are usually the go-to remedy of choice. Decongestants thin the blood vessels in the nose, relieving the stuffiness. Other blood vessels throughout the body may be affected as well.

With high blood pressure there is already increased pressure on the blood vessels, and narrowing the vessels more increases the risk of raising blood pressure. Decongestants may also prevent high blood pressure medications from working properly.


Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) are pain relievers (like ibuprofen, for example) and are taken to relieve the aches pains that often come along with a cold or the flu. Most cold and flu medications contain NSAIDs, but these may cause your body to retain fluid and increase your blood pressure due to decreased kidney function.

Like decongestants, NSAIDs can conflict with high blood pressure medications and additionally cause issues in people with high blood pressure who are not on medication.

Products containing decongestants or NSAIDs should be clearly marked on the packaging for your convenience.


If you have high blood pressure and need to treat a cold or the flu, it’s best to look for medications that specifically say they are approved for use with high blood pressure, such as Coricidin.

Using a saline (salt water) nasal spray or Neti pot instead of a decongestant is also a good option.

Some of best cold and flu remedies, even with high blood pressure, are “old school” favorites:  stay hydrated with water or tea, keep warm, build up your immune system with fresh fruits and veggies, and get plenty of rest.