February is #heartmonth2015.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Million Hearts®– a national effort to prevent one million heart attacks and strokes in the United States by 2017– are encouraging Americans to know their blood pressure, and if it’s high, to make control their goal.

According to new baseline data released via YourHealthMatters.org, it’s working: Greater Cincinnati patients are in control of their blood pressure. Of the 156,055 deidentified patients between the ages of 18 and 85 previously diagnosed with high blood pressure, 77 percent now fall within the recommended guidelines of <140/90 mm HG.

The measure was calculated using clinical data voluntarily submitted by 161 participating adult primary care and internal medicine practices in 20 counties across Greater Cincinnati. The measurement period included patients seen by their doctors between Jan. 1, 2013 and Dec. 31, 2013. Blood pressure guidelines are established by the Eighth Joint National Committee (JNC 8) – a panel of experts in both hypertension and primary care focusing on areas including geriatrics, cardiology, nephrology, nursing, pharmacology, clinical trials, evidence-based medicine, epidemiology, informatics, and the development and implementation of clinical guidelines in systems of care. The JNC 8 recommendation was published in the 2014 Evidence-Based Guideline for the Management of High Blood Pressure in Adults.

Uncontrolled high blood pressure is a leading cause of heart disease and stroke. In fact, people with high blood pressure are four-times more likely to die from a stroke and three-times more likely to die from heart disease, compared to those with normal blood pressure, according to the CDC. And with more than 67 million Americans diagnosed with high blood pressure, #heartmonth15 is key to continuing the progress toward controlled blood pressure.

Dr. Barbara Tobias, Medical Director at the Health Collaborative, believes that increased awareness and patients partnering more effectively with their physicians on treatment plans are responsible for the large percentage of patients falling within blood pressure guidelines. “It starts with sharing information, and then working together towards an overall health goal that includes adopting a healthy lifestyle, getting checked regularly, and taking medications as directed,” says Tobias.

For more information on steps you can take to work with your doctor on blood pressure and other health goals, visit YourHealthMatters.org.