Background Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the Americas, and hypertension is the most significant modifiable risk factor. However, hypertension control rates remain low, and CVD mortality is stagnant or rising after decades of continuing reduction. In 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) launched the HEARTS technical package to improve hypertension control. The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) designed the HEARTS in the Americas Initiative to improve CVD risk management, emphasizing hypertension control, to date implemented in 21 countries.
Methods To advance implementation, an interdisciplinary group of practitioners was engaged to select the key evidence-based drivers of hypertension control and to design a comprehensive scorecard to monitor their implementation at primary care health facilities (PHC). The group studied high-performing health systems that achieve high hypertension control through quality improvement programs focusing on specific process measures, with regular feedback to providers at health facilities.
Findings The final selected eight drivers were categorized into five main domains: (1) diagnosis (blood pressure measurement accuracy and CVD risk evaluation); (2) treatment (standardized treatment protocol and treatment intensification); (3) continuity of care and follow-up; (4) delivery system (team-based care, medication refill), and (5) system for performance evaluation. The drivers and recommendations were then translated into process measures, resulting in two interconnected scorecards integrated into the HEARTS in the Americas monitoring and evaluation system.