Claude Lenfant, M.D.
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
National Institutes of Health
Press Conference Remarks
May 14, 2003
Release of the Seventh Report of the Joint National Committee on the Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure (JNC7)
Good morning. Today we will present to you new guidelines on the prevention, detection, treatment, and evaluation of high blood pressure in adults. Control of high blood pressure, also called hypertension, is vitally important for the public health of this nation. High blood pressure affects 50 million Americans?one in four adults. It is a major risk factor for heart disease and the chief risk factor for stroke and heart failure and also can lead to kidney damage.
The new guidelines were prepared by an expert committee of the National High Blood Pressure Education Program, which represents 46 professional, voluntary, and Federal organizations. Since the Education Program?s creation 31 years ago, it has periodically convened an expert committee to synthesize the latest scientific research for busy clinicians and public health workers?and to develop guidelines based on this research.
Since the last guidelines were released in November 1997, more than 30 clinical studies have added to our knowledge base. These new advances set the stage for the development of the latest guidelines?JNC 7. The process began when we asked each member of the coordinating committee of the Education Program to explain in detail the need for updated guidelines and to describe the critical issues and concepts to be considered for a new report. This information guided the JNC 7 chairman and a 9-member executive committee as they reviewed and graded the scientific evidence during the 5-month development process. Once developed, the guidelines were reviewed by 33 national hypertension experts and policy leaders and approved by the full membership of the National High Blood Pressure Education Program.
The range of topics addressed in the guidelines includes the lifetime risk of elevated blood pressure, the continuous relationship between rising blood pressure and risk of cardiovascular disease, the role of lifestyle changes in prevention and management of hypertension, appropriate use of drug therapy for those with and without compelling indications, and public health implications and strategies for prevention. I am also pleased to report that JNC 7 provides a new, more easy-to-understand classification of blood pressure categories and a new treatment algorithm.
The guidelines will appear in the May 21, 2003 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association. Due to their importance, they are online now on the JAMA Web site (jama.com) in an expedited version and will also be available on the Institute?s Web site (www.nhlbi.nih.gov).
The new recommendations will be presented to you by Dr. Aram Chobanian, the chairman of the JNC 7 panel. Dr. Chobanian is dean of Boston University?s School of Medicine and provost of Boston University Medical Campus. Dr. Chobanian has done a tremendous job in a very short time frame, and I thank him for his dedication and contribution to this important public health project. Following Dr. Chobanian, we will hear from Dr. Edward Roccella, coordinator of the National High Blood Pressure Education Program. He will discuss NHLBI?s efforts to help implement the new guidelines?and to educate patients, the general public, and health care practitioners about them. Following Dr. Roccella?s remarks, we will take your questions.
Before our speakers begin, I would like to acknowledge the contributions of the Executive Committee, all of whom dedicated many, many hours to this important effort. Dr. George Bakris, Dr. Henry Black, Dr. William Cushman, Dr. Lee Green, Dr. Joseph Izzo, Dr. Daniel Jones, Dr. Barry Materson, Dr. Suzanne Oparil, and Dr. Jackson Wright are all to be commended.
Now we will hear from Dr. Chobanian.