May is National High Blood Pressure Education Month

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National High Blood Pressure Education Month
National High Blood Pressure Education Month

National High Blood Pressure Education Month is a time for reflection and action. Reflection to understand the causes, prevention and treatment for high blood pressure — and action to educate the public and bring the rates of high blood pressure down.

This month marks the 43rd year for National High Blood Pressure Education Month.  The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) launched the first “Month” campaign back in May 1974. Through the years, over 300 national organizations have joined in this important educational and awareness-building effort.

Why Blood Pressure Matters

High blood pressure happens when blood flows through arteries at higher than normal pressures. And it’s very common. According to the American Heart Association, about 85 million Americans — one out of every three adults over age 20 — have high blood pressure. Nearly 20 percent of people don’t even know they have it.

High blood pressure increases the risk for dangerous health conditions.

  • Heart attack: About 7 of every 10 people having their first heart attack have high blood pressure.
  • Stroke: About 8 of every 10 people having their first stroke have high blood pressure.
  • Chronic (long lasting) heart failure: About 7 of every 10 people with chronic heart failure have high blood pressure.
  • Kidney disease:  A major risk factor for high blood pressure.

Health Plans Rated Highest in Controlling Blood Pressure

It’s important to know that your health plan is taking the right steps in caring for patients. Do you know how well your health plan rates in controlling blood pressure? NCQA compares health plans and rates them according to their performance and care using quality measures.

Of the more than 1,400 health plans rated in 2016, the commercial plans below had the highest ratings for controlling blood pressure and had an overall health plan ratings score of 5:
Tufts Benefit Administrators, Inc.
Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Mid-Atlantic States, Inc.
Tufts Associated Health Maintenance Organization, Inc.
Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc. – Northern California
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts HMO Blue, Inc.
Capital Health Plan, Inc.
Martin’s Point US Family Health Plan (ME)
Johns Hopkins US Family Health Plan

Of course, the best way to know if you have high blood pressure it is to have your blood pressure checked!

Cindy Peña
Cindy is Senior Communications Manager at NCQA. Her focus is building consumer awareness through media and public relations. A communications and public engagement strategist with a background steeped in TV news reporting, Cindy is also part of NCQA’s Creative Services unit developing messaging through visual storytelling.

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