HEARTS initiative in the Americas improving hypertension control rates

A new paper has outlined how the ‘HEARTS in the Americas’ programme is improving hypertension control rates across Latin America and the Caribbean. 

The programme is the regional adaptation of Global Hearts, the initiative for cardiovascular disease prevention and control developed by the World Health Organization (WHO) in collaboration with several global partners including the ISH. 

The paper also outlines what needs to happen to accelerate implementation of the programme across the region: through increasing access to medicines, enabling a wider group of healthcare professionals to deliver care, and through systems to monitor and evaluate care. 

Cardiovascular disease remains the deadliest disease in all countries of the Americas, with 2 million deaths annually. 

HEARTS in the Americas aims to drive changes in primary care settings to improve hypertension control and CVD risk management. 

The programme includes the HEARTS clinical pathway, a decision support tool for health systems which sets out standards of blood pressure measurement and treatment. 

So far, 33 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean have committed to integrating this program across their primary healthcare network by 2025. 

Chile and Cuba have made particularly strong progress in implementing the programme. In these countries, the number of people undergoing treatment, and hypertension control, have both increased. 

Argentina, Mexico and Peru have also made good progress in implementing HEARTS – and Saint Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago lead the way in HEARTS implementation in the Caribbean. 

To accelerate HEARTS implementation, the authors of the paper say lowering the price and increasing the quality and availability of medicines is key. 

Team-based care – where healthcare professionals such as pharmacists and nurses take on expanded roles to deliver hypertension care – is also recommended. 

Another recommendation is use of universal electronic medical records (EMRs) with a patient portal as a standard of clinical care – to help patient monitoring and evaluation of treatment.

In support of the Global Hearts initiative, the ISH is a member of the HEARTS partner forum, a collaboration between 11 organisations dedicated to hypertension control which is led by the WHO. 

Read a paper published in July 2023 from the HEARTS partner forum which outlines how the organisations which make up the forum are working together. 

Access the HEARTS technical package.