DALLAS, Feb. 19, 2020 — The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation today unveiled that the American Heart Association, a global force for longer, healthier lives, has submitted one of the top 100 highest-scoring proposals in its 100&Change competition. The competition provides a single $100 million grant to help solve the world's most critical social challenges. The Association’s proposal is to transform high blood pressure care for 100 million people in under-resourced communities in the U.S., Asia and South America, through an initiative in collaboration with the American Medical Association and the World Hypertension League.

More than 1.4 billion people worldwide have high blood pressure (also referred to as HBP, or hypertension), which the American Heart Association defines as a pressure of 130 systolic or higher, or 80 diastolic or higher, that stays high over time. Unfortunately, many people don’t know they have high blood pressure until they have a heart attack or stroke or are diagnosed with kidney disease because there are often no symptoms. Since 2010, hypertension is the top contributing risk factor to years of life lost globally, responsible for about half of all deaths from heart disease and stroke, the world’s top two killers.

Hypertension is relatively easy to detect and can often be treated with low-cost, generic medications. The proposal the Association submitted seeks to scale proven, low-cost, sustainable practices that reduce high blood pressure, which can make a big difference in health outcomes. Just a 5-point decrease in blood pressure can reduce risk of death from heart disease by 9% and stroke by 14%.

The plan

The American Heart Association and American Medical Association will use on-site and remote training to help U.S. healthcare providers adopt and sustain evidence-based practices for managing blood pressure. These tactics, known as MAP, are:

  • Measurement accuracy – Simple best practices (device calibration, staff training, and confirming readings with multiple measurements) can improve diagnosis and management. Placing the device cuff improperly can yield a 2-50 mmHg error, resulting in misdiagnosis.
  • Acting rapidly to initiate or escalate treatment – Failing to start or intensify treatment when recommended is common and negatively impacts blood pressure control. Evidence supports immediate treatment for patients with blood pressure at 140 mmHg or above or with a 10% or greater heart attack or stroke risk.
  • Partnering with patients – Providers are encouraged to help patients make lifestyle changes, maintain treatment and monitor their blood pressure outside the clinic using in patient-centered approaches founded in behavioral science.

Working together, the American Heart Association, American Medical Association and the World Hypertension League believe they can feasibly help up to 3,000 clinics institutionalize these MAP practices and improve hypertension control rates to a target of 70% benefiting over 100 million patients.

“Hypertension is a global problem that has dramatic impact on the quality and span of people’s lives,” said American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown. “It’s puzzling that high blood pressure often presents with no symptoms, but can be so lethal to our health. We are committed to close the gaps between quality practices and real time care so providers can save and extend lives. We are honored to be among the top 100 in consideration to secure funding for this effort.”

The top 100 represent the top 21% of 475 competition submissions that made it through initial reviews. The proposals were rigorously vetted, undergoing the MacArthur Foundation’s initial administrative review, a peer review, an evaluation by an external panel of judges and a technical review by specialists with topical expertise.

MacArthur seeks to generate increased recognition, exposure, and support for the high-impact ideas designated as the top 100,” said Cecilia Conrad, CEO of Lever for Change and MacArthur Managing Director, 100&Change. “Based on our experience in the first round of 100&Change, we know the competition will produce multiple compelling and fundable ideas. We are committed to matching philanthropists with powerful solutions and problem solvers to accelerate social change.”

Each proposal was evaluated using four criteria: impactful, evidence-based, feasible, and durable. MacArthur’s Board of Directors will select up to 10 finalists from these high-scoring proposals this spring.

The proposal, entitled “Under Pressure: Transforming Hypertension Care to Extend Human Life Expectancy,” is featured in the Bold Solutions Network, launched today, along with the rest of the top 100 proposals. While undergoing further review for the 100&Change grant, submissions are available for other forms of support. The network presents submissions – each containing a project overview, 90-second video, and two-page factsheet –in a searchable online database.


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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.org, Facebook, Twitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.

For Media Inquiries:

Maggie Francis, 214-706-1382, maggie.francis@heart.org

For Public Inquiries: 1-800-AHA-USA1 (242-8721)

heart.org and strokeassociation.org