This article presents our view of the evidence and strategies for the primary prevention of high blood pressure. We (a) attempt to indicate where the potential for prevention, along with relative safety, is sufficient for action, and (b) provide an outline of our ideas and experience in communicating these strategies. We believe that a unified preventive message and plan to control and prevent high blood pressure in whole communities is possible. Such a plan must emphasize the benefits that may accrue from a more healthful lifestyle. We believe that an eating and activity pattern that is attractive, palatable, and feasible can be proposed and modeled to fit different cultures and traditions. Finally, we present the idea that medical, preventive strategies and safe, feasible, and credible community-based programs are complementary modes of dissemination. In such programs, health professionals and medical services share roles with community leaders and organizations. This population strategy is indicated along with vigorous systematic hypertension detection and treatment as well as further research. A population strategy is, we believe, essential to the primary prevention of hypertension, i.e., to the prevention of elevated blood pressure in the first place.
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t Presented at the symposium, “Epidemiology and Prevention of Hypertension and Its Cardiovascular Complications,” June 16-17, 1984, Saanen-Gstaad, Switzerland. 2 The Minnesota Heart Health Program is supported by a grant from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (HL-25523). 3 To whom reprint requests should be addressed.