Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death in the Americas and high blood pressure accounts for over 50% of CVD. Unfortunately, in the Americas, over a quarter of adult women and four in ten adult men have hypertension, and the diagnosis, treatment, and control are suboptimal. Remarkably, only a few countries exhibit a population hypertension control rate of over 50%. To address this critical problem, Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) initiated the HEARTS in the Americas, a comprehensive CVD risk reduction initiative currently being implemented in more than 3000 healthcare facilities in 32 countries.
Measure your blood pressure accurately
- Measuring your blood pressure accurate is crucial to know if you have high blood pressure [systolic blood pressure ≥ 140 mmHg and/or diastolic blood pressure ≥ 90 mmHg].
- Providers are encouraged to use an automated blood pressure measurement device clinically validated to obtain accurate blood pressure readings.
- High blood pressure or hypertension is a silent killer because in its early stages, it rarely causes symptoms, and many people go undiagnosed.
- If you haven’t gotten your blood pressure measured in one year or less, visit a primary health care facility in your community to obtain an accurate blood pressure reading.
- If you have hypertension, you should seek advice from a health professional.
- Diagnosing and treating high blood pressure (hypertension) timely can reduce the risk of heart attacks, stroke, and kidney failure, among other health problems.
- When blood pressure is high, the heart has to pump harder, increasing the risk of damage to the heart and blood vessels in some organs such as the brain, kidneys, and eyes, among others.
- Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to disability, a reduced or poor quality of life, or even a deadly heart attack or stroke.
- Pharmacological treatment is always needed to control high blood pressure; additionally, lifestyle changes such as eating a healthy diet, being physically activity, quitting tobacco products and alcohol, may reduce life-threatening complications.
In observance of World Hypertension Day 2023 – commemorated every May 17th, PAHO, through the HEARTS in the Americas Initiative, has organized a webinar on May 18th, that highlighted the low hypertension awareness rate worldwide, promoted accurate blood pressure measurement methods, and underscored the importance of improving hypertension control to live longer and healthier. The webinar recording is available at the PAHO YouTube channel.
HEARTS in the Americas
Global Hearts is an initiative spearheaded by the World Health Organization involving various global actors, including the Centers for Disease Control and prevention of the United States (CDC) and the Initiative Resolve to Save Lives, among other global actors. The Department of Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health of the Pan American Health Organization (MNH/PAHO) leads the implementation of HEARTS in the Region of the Americas, ensuring that implementation actions are aligned with the strategic priorities of the region, particularly with the universal health coverage resolution, strengthening of health systems based on primary care and with the Sustainable Development Goals 2030, specifically those related to the prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases.
HEARTS in the Americas is an initiative of the countries, led by the Ministries of Health with the participation of local stakeholders with the technical cooperation of PAHO/WHO. The Initiative seeks to integrate seamlessly and progressively into already existing health delivery services to promote the adoption of global best practices in the prevention and control of cardiovascular diseases and improve the performance of the services through better control of high blood pressure and the promotion of secondary prevention with emphasis on the primary health care.
Scientific and technical information about hypertension
BIREME provides health professionals, researchers, decision makers and the general population with scientific and technical information on hypertension through the Window of Knowledge Hypertension.
Links of interest
Pan American Health Organization. Hypertension. Available from: https://www.paho.org/en/topics/hypertension
Pan American Health Organization. Portal Enlace. Data Portal on Noncommunicable Diseases, Mental Health, and External Causes. Available from: https://www.paho.org/en/enlace
Pan American Health Organization. Cardiovascular diseases. Available from: https://www.paho.org/en/topics/cardiovascular-diseases
Pan American Health Organization. Salt reduction. Available from: https://www.paho.org/en/topics/salt-reduction
Pan American Health Organization. Physical Activity. Available from: https://www.paho.org/en/topics/physical-activity
Pan American Health Organization. Tobacco control. Available from: https://www.paho.org/en/topics/tobacco-control
Pan American Health Organization. Trans-fatty Acids. Available from: https://www.paho.org/en/topics/trans-fatty-acids
Pan American Health Organization. Noncommunicable Diseases. Available from: https://www.paho.org/en/topics/noncommunicable-diseases