On February 5, 2014, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services named Kaiser Permanente Northern California as one of its Million Hearts Hypertension Control Champions for 2013. The national public-private initiative of HHS calls out health care organizations that have improved hypertension control rates across their entire patient population and have verifiable data documenting this improvement.

Kaiser Permanente Northern California’s recognition by HHS follows a research study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association last year that showed the region had nearly doubled the rate of blood-pressure control among adult members with diagnosed hypertension between 2001 and 2009 through one of the largest, community-based hypertension programs in the nation.

“Our comprehensive program shows that almost all patients with high blood pressure can achieve control,” said Joseph D. Young, MD, clinical hypertension lead for Kaiser Permanente Northern California. “High blood pressure affects almost one-third of adults in this country. Controlling blood pressure prevents heart attacks, strokes and kidney failure. Through a thoughtful, proactive and team-based approach, we have shown that people with high blood pressure can live healthy lives.”

Aiming to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes over the course of five years is no small task, but that’s exactly what an initiative called Million Hearts has set out to accomplish through spreading best practices and promoting evidence-based care.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 1 in 3 American adults has hypertension, also known as high blood pressure. Fewer than half of those have it under control and are at risk of having heart disease or stroke, two of the leading causes of death and disability for Americans.

“These practices have set up systems that work for patients and for providers. They use evidence-based guidelines and protocols, team-based care, electronic reminders to track patients’ progress, and recognize high-performing staff,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, in a prepared statement. “By following their lead, we can help millions more Americans with high blood pressure get control. Controlling blood pressure saves lives and prevents disability from avoidable heart attacks and strokes.”

Kaiser Permanente is committed to addressing hypertension and cardiovascular health overall. In 2012, HHS also recognized Kaiser Permanente Colorado for its success in controlling hypertension across its entire patient population. And for the last few years, Kaiser Permanente has encouraged diabetes patients who are at least 55 years old to participate in an aggressive initiative to prevent heart attacks and strokes. The ALL initiative is a therapeutic program that includes the use of aspirin, lisinopril and a lipid-lowering medication. The initiative, which also now includes the use of a beta blocker, is also actively promoted and shared with other health systems outside Kaiser Permanente.

To learn more about the 2013 Million Hearts Hypertension Control Champions, visit the Million Hearts website.