National Heart Month and Hypertension Guidelines

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In 1964, then President Lyndon B. Johnson first proclaimed February to be American Heart Month in recognition of the public health challenges resulting from heart and vascular disorders.  We continue to recognize those challenges, and in February 2018 we again focus on opportunities to improve the care of patients with heart disease.  In late 2017, the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association, with 9 other professional societies, approved a revised version of the ACC/AHA clinical practice guidelines for hypertension, one of the leading contributors to heart disease.  These revised guidelines include 106 recommendations for the diagnosis and treatment of hypertension.   New in this guideline version are lower blood pressure thresholds for diagnosing hypertension and initiating treatment, as well as lower blood pressure targets for treatment. 

While exercise, diet and smoking cessation are essential components of hypertension management, drug therapy remains the key approach to controlling blood pressure.  The 2017 guidelines offer recommendations on drug therapy, and identify thiazide diuretics (especially chlorthalidone) and calcium channel blockers as suggested options for treatment initiation. 

Additional information about Chlorthalidone, Amlodipine, Diltiazem, Nifedipine and Verapamil can be found in the Top 300 Pharmacy Drug Cards. If you or your institution subscribes to AccessPharmacy, use or create your MyAccess Profile to sign-in to the Top 300 Pharmacy Drug Cards.   If your institution does not provide access, ask your medical librarian about subscribing.

Jill M. Kolesar

Professor , University of Kentucky