Press Room

New Guidelines Highlight Public Health Role in Promoting Heart Health

ARLINGTON, VA (Nov. 15, 2017)The Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) agrees the updated blood pressure guidelines published this week by the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology may lead to more Americans diagnosed with hypertension. However, health officials are optimistic that these new guidelines will help decrease mortality from heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States, since the lower threshold means that high blood pressure will be identified and addressed earlier. The new guidelines indicate high blood pressure should be treated at 130/80 rather than 140/90.

“Hypertension is often framed as a clinical issue, but public health plays a crucial role in raising hypertension awareness, encouraging healthy lifestyle changes, and supporting people to monitor their blood pressure in the community setting,” says Michael Fraser, ASTHO’s executive director.

Health departments help form important linkages between physicians and community programs to serve populations at high risk for cardiovascular disease and promote institutional changes to make treatment more effective. Increasingly, health departments support changes that help individuals manage and control their blood pressure in community settings. They also collect and monitor population data to identify trends and areas of greatest need. Most importantly, they play a unique role in providing and ensuring support for population-wide behavior changes to both prevent and control high blood pressure. 

Since 2013, ASTHO’s Heart Disease and Stroke Learning Collaborative has transformed the way state and territorial public health departments approach hypertension and chronic diseases. ASTHO has worked with public health leaders in 25 states, the District of Columbia, the Republic of Palau, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands to develop, expand, and sustain efforts to improve hypertension prevention, detection, and control.

To learn more about how states and territories are working to combat hypertension, view ASTHO’s Tools for Change website.


ASTHO is the national nonprofit organization representing the public health agencies of the United States, the U.S. territories and freely associated states, and the District of Columbia, as well as the more than 100,000 public health professionals these agencies employ. ASTHO members, the chief health officials of these jurisdictions, are dedicated to formulating and influencing sound public health policy and to ensuring excellence in public health practice.