HEARTS in the Americas: saving lives from the world’s deadliest disease

Frieden et al.

[Extract] Cardiovascular disease (CVD) has long been the leading cause of death in the Americas and globally, with high blood pressure accounting for more than half of CVD. The Region of the Americas, with pioneering policies in several countries, is a global leader in public health approaches to dietary sodium reduction. However, even if sodium reduction – the most scalable approach to preventing hypertension, possibly in combination with increased use of low-sodium salts to also increase potassium intake to healthier levels – is highly successful, more than one hundred million people in the Region will still need treatment of hypertension. Despite the availability of low-cost, generic, safe, and effective treatment for hypertension, most people with the condition are not adequately treated, resulting in millions of preventable heart attacks, strokes, and deaths every year. Only a few countries in the Region have achieved a population hypertension control rate greater than 50%. The World Health Organization (WHO) Global HEARTS Initiative aims to accelerate hypertension treatment at the population level with five core program components: a standard treatment protocol, consistent supplies of quality-assured medications and blood pressure monitors, team-based care, patient-centered care, and information systems that facilitate real-time feedback on patient progress and program performance.[...]

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