News and Updates for Healthcare Professionals

High blood pressure is linked to cognitive decline

One in three American adults has high blood pressure, putting them at risk for heart disease and stroke, conditions that are among the leading U.S. killers. High blood pressure (also called hypertension) can also impact brain health in significant ways. Observational studies show that having high blood pressure in midlife—the 40s to early 60s—increases the risk of cognitive decline later in life.

Can controlling hypertension help delay or prevent cognitive impairment? It’s an intriguing question, particularly since hypertension is easily treatable with lifestyle changes and medication.

Read this feature article for more information and to learn about relevant clinical trials currently recruiting participants.

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National Quality Strategy Priorities in Focus - Healthy Living

The National Quality Strategy (NQS) has released a new issue brief on the health and well-being of communities, part of its Priorities in Focus series that spotlights current issues, recent federal initiatives to improve care quality, and data demonstrating improvement in each of the six NQS priority areas. The brief aligns with the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) Chartbook on Healthy Living that draws on data from the agency's 2015 National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Report (QDR) and 5th Anniversary Update on the National Quality Strategy

The Priorities in Focus brief on Healthy Living features new QDR data that show a trend of national improvement in healthy living measures. Data featured in the Chartbook demonstrate improvement in both quality and disparities. To read the brief, visit:

Rates of nonmedical prescription opioid use and opioid use disorder double in 10 years

Almost 10 million U.S. adults report misusing prescription opioids in 2012-2013.

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Final Recommendation Statement: Screening for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseas

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force released today a final recommendation statement on screening for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The Task Force found no benefit for screening in persons without respiratory symptoms and recommends against screening for COPD in asymptomatic adults. To view the recommendation and the evidence on which it is based, please go to A fact sheet that explains the final recommendation in plain language is available. The final recommendation statement can also be found in the April 5 online issue of JAMA.

Public Comment on Draft Recommendation Statement and Draft Evidence Review: Screening for Obstructive Sleep Apnea in Adults

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force seeks comments on a draft recommendation statement and draft evidence review on screening for obstructive sleep apnea in adults. The Task Force is calling for more research about whether screening for obstructive sleep apnea leads to improved health outcomes. The draft recommendation statement and draft evidence review are available for review and public comment from June 14, 2016 to July 11, 2016 at

Antibiotic Stewardship: A National Health Priority

Antibiotic stewardship continues to garner national attention, both in the media and at the federal policy level. The first known superbug, or bacterial infection that is resistant to antibiotics of last resort, was recently discovered in the United States. At the same time, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is accepting public comments through June 17 on a proposed rule that would allow hospitals to compare their antibiotic prescribing to national benchmarks, and evaluate and improve antimicrobial prescribing as needed.

NQF Releases New Resource to Promote Safer Antibiotic Use

A new resource developed by NQF's National Quality Partners (NQP), in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and HCA, provides an urgently needed tool to help acute-care hospitals implement strategies for safer use of antibiotics. Antibiotic Stewardship in Acute Care: A Practical Playbook, is a practical tool to help hospital staff strengthen existing antibiotic stewardship initiatives or create antibiotic stewardship programs from the ground up.

The Playbook will help hospitals comply with new rules from The Joint Commission, expected to go into effect in early 2017, that require hospitals to have antibiotic stewardship programs in place, as well as new criteria expected later this year from The Leapfrog Group.

More than 1,100 people participated in the May 25 Playbook launch webinar, and more than 6,200 people downloaded the Playbook within the first six days of its release. National media joined a special NQF web briefing on antibiotic stewardship and how the Playbook will help hospitals address this life-threatening national public health issue.

Next Steps

In the coming months, NQP plans to assess the effectiveness of the Playbook in hospitals throughout the United States and to explore opportunities to convene stakeholders to develop antibiotic stewardship playbooks for other healthcare settings. If you are interested in sharing feedback on the Playbook or supporting future initiatives, please contact National Quality Partners.

Free Maintenance of Certification Part IV & Performance Improvement CME: Patient Self-Management Support

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has developed a free self-management support (SMS) quality improvement activity that can be implemented by an individual or groups of clinicians. The web-based Maintenance of Certification Part IV & Performance Improvement Continuing Medical Education (MOC Part IV & PI-CME) activity is publically available and can be customized by chronic conditions such as asthma, obesity, depression, diabetes, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and arthritis; making this activity useful to pediatric and adult patients. AHRQ's MOC Part IV & PI-CME medical recertification project enhances the ability of clinicians to help patients better manage chronic conditions. The data collection framework enable clinicians to develop and assess intervention impact of two SMS techniques (shared decision-making about prescription medications and talking about specific health goals). Read more and begin using AHRQ's free MOC Part IV & PI-CME medical recertification module.

For more information about AHRQs Practice Improvement efforts visit the National Center for Excellence in Primary Care Research at