By Ayanna Johnson, Health Policy Associate
Ayanna Johnson is a recent addition to the NCL team, where she will work closely to support and promote our health campaigns, including Script Your Future. Ayanna recently completed her MSPH at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, where she focused her research on improving access to health care for underserved populations.
Hypertension, more commonly referred to as high blood pressure, is a serious health problem for American adults. Nearly 1 in 3 adults has hypertension and 36 million Americans do not have it under control. When hypertension is left uncontrolled, individuals are at risk for heart disease, stroke, and kidney failure. Every year there are two million cases of stroke or heart attack in America. Almost 800,000 deaths are attributed to heart disease. In fact, heart disease is the leading cause of preventable death for individuals under the age of 65.
Improving medication adherence is important to combat this growing public health problem and economic burden— nearly $444 billion is spent in related health care costs and loss of productivity due to heart disease. On September 5, 2012, Script Your Future joined in the launch of the Team Up. Pressure Down. program to help hypertensive patients more effectively manage and control their high blood pressure – and ultimately prevent one million heart attacks and strokes by 2017.
Team Up. Pressure Down. is a new pharmacy-focused program developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Million Hearts™ initiative co-led by the CDC and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The program offers time-saving resources – from video vignettes to conversation starters– that encourage and support pharmacists in providing counseling services to their hypertensive patients, with the goal of improving medication adherence. A suite of patient education materials, including the Script Your Future wallet card, will also be available through the program to help people with high blood pressure take a more active role in self-management efforts and to encourage increased interaction with their pharmacists.
Last week, the official launch of Team Up. Pressure Down. was held at the HHS building here in Washington, DC. Dr. Regina Benjamin, United States Surgeon General, lent her support to this important cause. As a family physician, Dr. Benjamin has treated a fair share of patients with hypertension, but for her this health problem was personal. She talked about the devastating role that stroke and heart disease played in her family and why this initiative is so important. The tools to help patients adhere to regimens and the medicine to treat high blood pressure are available. Now, it is a matter of ensuring that the health care ‘home’ is functioning from all angles; what better place to start than at the pharmacy. Recent research shows that pharmacist-directed care can improve the management of major cardiovascular risk factors – including hypertension – and has a positive impact on patient health outcomes.
Taking hypertension medicines as prescribed can greatly reduce a patient’s risk for heart attack and stroke, yet 30 percent stop taking their medicines within 6 months and 50 percent stop within 1 year. It is time to take control of high blood pressure and take medicine as prescribed. Team Up. Pressure Down.!
For more information on Team Up. Pressure Down. email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Million Hearts™ Web site at http://millionhearts.hhs.gov. Take the pledge to take your meds. Visit Script Your Future today!