Million Hearts Launches New Program to Improve Americans' Blood Pressure Control

Last year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention launched the Million Hearts initiative to prevent a million heart attacks and strokes in five years.

Every 6 seconds, someone in the world dies from stroke. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention asks Americans to take immediate action to reduce their risk for stroke.

As part of this initiative, the CDC recently launched  the "Team Up. Pressure Down" program to help improve Americans' blood pressure control. Highlights from this program are provided below. For additional details, visit

High Blood Pressure Basics

What is Hypertension?

Did you know? One in three adults in the U.S. has high blood pressure and many of them do not know it. High blood pressure (also called hypertension) increases your risk for a heart attack or stroke.

What is blood pressure? Blood pressure is the force of blood against your artery walls as it circulates through your body. High blood pressure is unsafe because it makes your heart work harder to pump blood. This can cause damage to the arteries and puts you at risk for a heart attack or stroke.

The Silent Killer. High blood pressure is called the "silent killer" because it often has no warning signs or symptoms. Many people don’t realize they have it. That’s why it’s important to get your blood pressure checked regularly.

Measuring your blood pressure. It is quick and painless to measure your blood pressure. You can get a reading at your pharmacy, doctor’s office, or even at home. Blood pressure is measured using two numbers—systolic and diastolic. Use the Blood Pressure CalculatorExternal Web Site Icon to find out what your numbers mean.

You can control your blood pressure. For some people, making healthy changes in their lives can help lower blood pressure. For others, medication may be needed as well. If your doctor gives you one or more medications as part of a treatment plan, be sure to take them as directed. Work with your pharmacist and doctor to create a plan that works best for you.

Talk to your pharmacist. Did you know that your pharmacist can answer your general high blood pressure questions, and even take your blood pressure? Your pharmacist is not only trained to fill your prescriptions, but can help you better understand your condition and the medications you are taking.

What Do Your Blood Pressure Readings Mean?

High blood pressure usually has no symptoms. Do you know if your blood pressure is normal?

Your blood pressure is made up of two numbers: systolic pressure and diastolic pressure. The systolic pressure measures the total pressure it takes the heart to pump blood to the body. Diastolic pressure is when the heart relaxes between beats and fills again with blood. Blood pressure numbers are written with the systolic number above or before the diastolic number, such as 120/80 mmHg. It is usually measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg).

Treating High Blood Pressure