Million Hearts Initiative: A Challenge for Change

February 25, 2019 · NCQA Communications

Throughout my life, my family has always passed down different trades and traditions: The ability to change an air filter; learning how to swim when I was four; and a seething hatred for all Boston sports Teams. The one thing they didn’t want to pass down was our family history of heart disease. No family does. Known as the “silent killer,” high blood pressure, or hypertension, increases the risk of heart disease and stroke, which are the leading causes of death in the United States. That’s why the Centers for Disease Control put together the 2019 Million Hearts® Hypertension Control Challenge.

Updating HEDIS


The goal of the initiative is to prevent 1 Million Heart attacks by 2022. To do this, health professionals are looking for ways to decrease smoking, sodium and cholesterol consumption while improving appropriate aspirin use, blood pressure control, and overall outcomes for priority population. The announcement is timely considering that it’s National Heart Month.

It will identify clinicians, clinical practices, and health systems that have exceptional rates of hypertension control. If they meet the standards, they will be recognized as 2019 Million Hearts® Hypertension Control Champions.


This is ambitious. It’s bold. It’s something NCQA can get behind…

…As it happens, we think we are in a position to help.

How HEDIS can Help

While clinicians and practice aren’t required to use HEDIS as part of the challenge’s recognition process, there are still many ways that NCQA clinical quality measurement  can help reach the goal, particularly in the area of hypertension.

Our Controlling High Blood Pressure (CBP) Measure assesses how well health plans and clinicians do at treating patients with hypertension. The measure looks at adults, age 18–85, with a diagnosis of hypertension and whether their blood pressure was adequately controlled based on the following criteria:

  • Those 18-59 years of age whose blood pressure was <140/90 mm Hg.
  • Adults 60-85 years of age, with a diagnosis of diabetes, whose blood pressure was <140/90 mm Hg.
  • Adults 60-85 years of age, without a diagnosis of diabetes, whose blood pressure was <150/90 mm Hg.


This lines up with the goals and of the Million Hearts challenge by specifically identifying those populations at risk and making sure those patients receive the care they need to avoid a stroke or heart attack.

Ambitious doesn’t mean impossible and certainly doesn’t mean we don’t try. The only way we can reach our goals is by working together. You can learn more about the Challenge here or see more of our HEDIS measures here.

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