DALLAS, Dec. 18, 2020 — American Heart Association Chief Executive Officer Nancy Brown issued the following statement today in response to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announcement of a collaboration with the Association to address hypertension in racial and ethnic minority populations. Cooperative agreements totaling $32 million with the HHS Office of Minority Health (OMH) and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Bureau of Primary Health Care will support a national initiative to improve blood pressure control among the most vulnerable populations, including racial and ethnic minorities.

“The American Heart Association is pleased to have been awarded $32 million through a series of cooperative agreements with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for a national initiative to help improve COVID-19-related health outcomes by reducing high blood pressure among racial and ethnic populations, who have higher rates of high blood pressure and are at increased risk for COVID-19 and severe chronic conditions such as heart disease and stroke.

“The Association’s volunteers and staff are honored to partner with the HHS Office of Minority Health (OMH) and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Bureau of Primary Health Care on this vital work. We would like to explicitly acknowledge the leadership of the Assistant Secretary of Health and the United States Surgeon General for giving public voice to the need to urgently address this critical public health need.

“High blood pressure is the leading cause of heart attack and stroke and the most significant controllable risk factor. Close to half of American adults have high blood pressure, and nearly 75% of all cases are uncontrolled. The prevalence of high blood pressure in Black Americans is among the highest in the world. More than 40% of non-Hispanic Black men and women have high blood pressure. Black Americans also develop high blood pressure earlier in life and at a more severe level as compared to other racial and ethnic populations.

“In addition, high blood pressure is a major factor for worst outcomes for people with COVID-19, which disproportionately affects Black, Hispanic/Latino and other historically under-resourced populations impacted by social determinants of health. Now, more than ever, high blood pressure must be at the forefront of the national health care agenda.

“Last month, the Association published a Presidential Advisory declaring structural racism a major cause of poor health and premature death from heart disease and stroke. The Association is focusing more aggressively on overcoming societal barriers that contribute significantly to the disproportionate burden of cardiovascular risk factors (including high blood pressure, obesity and Type 2 diabetes) in Black, Asian, American Indian/Alaska Native, and Hispanic/Latino people compared with white people in the U.S.

“High blood pressure control has long been a priority for the Association, and despite years of progress, it remains a major problem in the U.S. 

“The Association is currently working to reduce blood pressure by:

  • Partnering with the American Medical Association on Target: BP to help health care organizations and care teams to prioritize blood pressure control. A 30-minute e-learning course has been developed to ensure accuracy in measurement.
  • Supporting physicians and health care teams by offering access to the latest guidelines, research, tools and resources to help patients reach and sustain healthy blood pressure levels.
  • Advocating for policies that ensure more people have access to self-measured blood pressure tools.
  • Empowering patients to change their blood pressure numbers through an Ad Council public service announcement campaign - Change your numbers. Change your life.
  • Connecting patients and families to online blood pressure prevention and management  resources at heart.org/hbp
  • Partnering with national health care professional organizations on Release the Pressure, an initiative to empower Black women to prevent and manage high blood pressure. 
  • Offering answers and guidance to patients through an online Support Network
  • Integrating messaging across all American Heart Association and American Stroke Association consumer health programs and initiatives, including regional integration, delivering messaging that is relevant, empowering and motivates action.

“We still have work to do. We look forward to working with HHS and others on this initiative, and we stand firm in our commitment to improve blood pressure control and ultimately the equitable health and wellbeing for all.”


About the American Heart Association                                                                               

The American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. We are dedicated to ensuring equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with numerous organizations, and powered by millions of volunteers, we fund innovative research, advocate for the public’s health and share lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for nearly a century. Connect with us on heart.orgFacebookTwitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.   

For Media Inquiries: 214-706-1173
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heart.org and stroke.org