PAHO releases toolkit to enhance management of cardiovascular risk and hypertension in the Americas

Blood pressure monitor

In the region, about one-third of people with hypertension have it under control

Washington, DC, January 31, 2024 (PAHO) - The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) recently published HEARTS in the Americas: Compendium of essential clinical tools 2023, a collection of resources aimed at assisting healthcare teams in improving the management of cardiovascular risk conditions and hypertension in primary healthcare settings across the region.

The compendium provides tools to facilitate accurate blood pressure measurement, hypertension diagnosis, treatment initiation or adjustment, as well as the assessment of cardiovascular complications. The tools are designed to be easy to use and understand and are available in both English and Spanish.

Hypertension is the main risk factor for cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death in the Americas according to PAHO data. Currently, it is estimated that only 36% of adults with hypertension in the region have their blood pressure under control. Increasing this figure to 50% could help prevent around 400,000 deaths related to ischemic heart and cerebrovascular disease.

"Effective management of hypertension and cardiovascular risk is key in preventing or delaying severe health issues, including premature deaths from heart attacks, strokes, chronic kidney disease, complications from diabetes complications, and dementia," Pedro Ordúñez, PAHO cardiovascular disease advisor, said. "This compendium is a valuable tool that can empower healthcare teams to improve hypertension control and save lives," he added.

The compendium is part of the implementation of the HEARTS initiative in the Americas, a global World Health Organization (WHO) strategy. PAHO has been promoting this strategy in the region since 2016 to assist countries in improving cardiovascular health. To date, 33 countries in the region and more than 4,000 primary healthcare units have committed to the implementation of HEARTS, and PAHO has developed various technical resources to support these endeavors.

A HEARTS in the Americas review article, published in December in the journal Current Hypertension Reports, underscores the role of health systems – especially primary care – in improving cardiovascular health and hypertension control. The analysis highlights the encouraging outcomes of the HEARTS implementation, demonstrating an increase in hypertension control coverage compared to conventional methods. The article concludes that HEARTS is a promising initiative with the potential to alleviate the burden of noncommunicable diseases in the region.