Sanford Health gets patient blood pressure under control

Health system earns national recognition for Target: BP program

A nurse takes the blood pressure of a smiling adult woman patient.

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Sanford Health is a leader in the national effort to get patient blood pressure rates under control and reduce the number of Americans who have heart attacks and strokes each year, according to the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American Medical Association (AMA).

As part of the 2019 Target: BP Recognition Program, AHA and AMA awarded Sanford Health with Gold Status — one of just 542 physician practices and health systems to be recognized for achieving blood pressure control rates of 70% or more in their adult patient population with high blood pressure.

As of early December, 87% of adult hypertension patients at Sanford Health have their blood pressure under control, said Dr. Khalin Dendy, an internal medicine specialist at Sanford Clinic in Bismarck, North Dakota.

Dr. Dendy said it’s nice to be recognized, but providers are always striving to improve.

“The more patients we have with blood pressure control, the better,” he said. “It’s good we’re doing the right thing for patients.”

A total of 1,183 physician practices and health systems nationwide were recognized by the program for their commitment to help patients improve blood pressure control. The recognized organizations represent 29.8 million adult patients, with more than 8 million patients diagnosed with hypertension, across 46 states and territories.

Launched in 2015, Target: BP  is a national initiative between the AHA and AMA aimed at addressing the growing burden of high blood pressure in the U.S. The initiative aims to help health care organizations improve blood pressure control rates through use of the AMA’s evidence-based M.A.P. quality improvement program, and recognizes organizations committed to improving blood pressure control.

“High blood pressure is known as a silent killer,” said Dr. Jeremy Cauwels, senior vice president of clinic quality at Sanford Health in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. “Without measurement, people don’t know they have it or the risk that it brings to their body. It is a major risk factor for stroke, heart attack and other diseases. The hardest part is that people don’t know about their risk.”

There are 116 million U.S. adults living with high blood pressure, the nation’s number one risk factor for heart attack and stroke, and less than half have it controlled to target level. Many patients are unaware of the deadly consequences associated with high blood pressure and that it can be managed working in partnership with their physician to create and follow a treatment plan.

“Although we have the tools to treat high blood pressure, many patients face a variety of barriers that make it difficult to successfully manage the condition. That’s why the American Heart Association and American Medical Association created the Target: BP initiative — to bring patients and providers together to successfully get blood pressure under control,” said AMA President Patrice A. Harris, M.D., M.A. “We applaud the physicians who are already working hard to control their patients’ blood pressure, and we will continue to urge more physician practices, health systems and patients to join this effort to prioritize the rising risk of high blood pressure and improve health outcomes for patients across the nation.”

Collaboration is key to managing high blood pressure, said AHA President Robert Harrington, MD, FAHA.

“When doctors, clinics, patients and organizations like the American Heart Association and American Medical Association are all working towards the same goal, we have the opportunity for great success,” Dr. Harrington said. “We are pleased to be a part of the success of so many practices — and so many patients — in reducing high blood pressure and improving health.”

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