The American Heart Association (AHA) and the American Medical Association (AMA) today recognized 310 physician practices and health systems from across the country for their commitment to reducing the number of Americans who have heart attacks and strokes each year. These physician practices and health systems are the first-ever to receive awards through the AHA and AMA's new Target: BP Recognition Program.

Launched in 2017, the Target: BP Recognition Program is an extension of Target: BP - a national initiative between the AHA and AMA aimed at addressing the growing burden of high blood pressure in the U.S. More than 1,100 physician practices and health systems nationwide have joined Target: BP, sharing a common goal to reduce the number of adult patients with uncontrolled blood pressure and improve health outcomes associated with heart disease. 

Of the 103 million Americans with high blood pressure, only about half of them have it controlled to a healthy level despite the fact that high blood pressure can often be managed effectively when patients work with their physician to create and follow a treatment plan. No single risk factor has more impact on the nation's death rates from cardiovascular disease than blood pressure.

"While high blood pressure is an easy condition to treat in that we have the tools to do so, there are many variables and barriers to success for many patients," said AMA President David O. Barbe, M.D. "The AHA and AMA developed and piloted the Target: BP program to help bring patients and health care providers together to successfully get blood pressure under control, and help patients keep it controlled. We applaud the providers who are already working hard to control their patients' blood pressure, and we will continue to urge more physician practices, health systems and patients to join this effort to prioritize blood pressure control and increase the national control of blood pressure. Together, we can save many more lives and improve health outcomes nationwide."

To help physician practices and health systems achieve their goals, Target: BP provides all participants with a dedicated website featuring a free evidence-based improvement program that includes tools and resources to help clinicians improve blood pressure control rates. To facilitate easy and seamless adoption of the Target: BP Improvement Program, registrants have access to trained support specialists within their community who can help identify specific program components to incorporate into clinical practice.

Earlier this month, a new guideline was released for treating high blood pressure, calling for earlier intervention for high blood pressure to avoid its devastating, life-alerting consequences.

"The new guidelines mean there's an even greater need to emphasize blood pressure control in our practices, and to work more closely with patients to overcome any barriers they may experience in managing their condition," said AHA President, John Warner, M.D. "We're excited to bring Target: BP to physicians as a tool to help reduce the devastating impact of high blood pressure in terms of heart disease and stroke, and we're proud to recognize practices that are joining us to increase focus on blood pressure control."

The AMA will help ensure physicians are prepared to treat patients using the new guideline by providing them with the latest evidence-based information and resources they need to help manage their patients' high blood pressure. 

While fewer Americans are dying from heart disease and stroke, the death rate caused by high blood pressure is on the rise, increasing 13 percent between 2001 and 2011. High blood pressure is also associated with significant economic impact, costing the U.S. economy an estimated $46 billion annually in healthcare services, medications and missed days of work.

Health leaders across the country have noted that improving blood pressure control will take a concerted, focused and ongoing effort by many. Target: BP complements and expands on existing work, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Million Hearts® initiative aimed at preventing one million heart attacks and strokes by 2017.