Implementation of a hypertension control program in the County of North Karelia, Finland
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Implementation of a hypertension control program in the County of North Karelia, Finland

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    Public Health Rep
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    A hypertension control program was established as part of the more comprehensive North Karelia Project. This project was started in 1972 in response to a petition from the population of North Karelia, a county in Finland, asking for national assistance to reduce the exceptionally high cardiovascular disease mortality and morbidity in the area. The North Karelia Project was carried out from 1972 to 1977.The hypertension control program was implemented mainly in local health centers by physicians and public health nurses, who followed guidelines issued by the project staff and worked under its supervision.Although the target population for the North Karelia Project was the entire population of North Karelia, the project focused on middle-aged men. The hypertension subprogram was introduced in steps. Its objectives included the training of health personnel, establishment of an information system in the county to educate people about hypertension, and organization of the detection, treatment, and followup of hypertensives. A hypertension dispensary was established in each of the 12 health centers in the county. Continuous training of the local public health nurses and physicians faciliated integration of the hypertension program into the operations of the health centers.A central hypertension register and the hypertension control clinics at the health centers were the essential tools in the systematic followup of hypertensives. Some 17,000 hypertensives were on the register by the end of the 5-year project.The main aim in providing health education about hypertension, as well as in treating hypertension itself, was to prevent severe cardiovascular diseases as a whole. Therefore the hypertension control program was integrated into the comprehensive cardiovascular disease control program, and hypertensives received advice concerning smoking and dietary changes as well as about high blood pressure.A survey of health care personnel in North Karelia and in a reference area showed that the care of hypertensives was more systematic in North Karelia and that its health care personnel were more satisfied with the cardiovascular disease care that was provided.
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