Refocusing the Agenda on Cardiovascular Guidelines
An Announcement From the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
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When he dedicated the new National Institutes of Health (NIH) Bethesda campus in October 1940, President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared, “We cannot be a strong nation unless we are a healthy nation. And so we must recruit knowledge and science in the service of national strength.”1 For more than 65 years, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s (NHLBI’s) core mission has been, and continues to be, the generation and dissemination of knowledge and science with the goal of securing a healthy nation.2
Thirty-two years after Roosevelt’s NIH dedication, on July 26, 1972, Elliot Richardson, the Secretary of the US Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, announced the establishment of a “National Hypertension Program.”3 The program planned a 4-step approach to include agreement on standards and conditions for treatment, education of health workers, public dissemination of information, and research on the impact of the program on healthcare delivery. Richardson appointed 2 committees: one, the Hypertension Information and Education Advisory Committee, was to focus on the knowledge of hypertension and the communication of that knowledge, whereas the other, the Interagency Working Group, was to focus on exchange of information and coordination with the professional community.
In 1977, the NHLBI issued the first of a number of clinical practice guidelines4 that would emerge from the National High Blood Pressure Education Program, as well as from other similar efforts such as the National Cholesterol Education Program. The NHLBI guidelines have covered a variety of topics, including, but not limited to, cholesterol, blood pressure, asthma, and von Willebrand disease.5 Over the years, these groundbreaking health education initiatives have successfully promoted marked increases in the public’s awareness of cardiovascular disease risk factors and contributed to the major reductions in coronary heart disease mortality observed during this period.6,7 …