Novartis Drafts NBA Legends To Launch High Blood Pressure Awareness Campaign

By Off The BASN Sports Wire
Updated: February 15, 2007

NEW YORK — Novartis and the National Basketball Retired Players Association (NBRPA) launch Shooting for Healthy BP, a campaign to educate people, particularly African Americans, who are disproportionately affected by high blood pressure, of the associated health risks of high blood pressure and motivate them to manage their condition.

NBA legends Dominique Wilkins, Darryl Dawkins and Spencer Haywood will reveal their high blood pressure stories to help motivate and inspire people to get their blood pressure controlled.

“Like a lot of other people, when I was diagnosed with high blood pressure, I denied it,” said Darryl Dawkins, former Philadelphia 76er and New Jersey Nets center. “I just didn’t want to hear it. And maintaining a healthy diet and getting exercise was not enough to manage my condition.”

“My doctor recommended that I take a medication to get me closer to goal. I tried other prescription treatments that did not work for me. My doctor prescribed a combination of two medicines in one pill to help me manage my high blood pressure.”

“I’m proud to be teaming up with other NBA Legends to get the word out about the urgency of working toward managing high blood pressure.”

For former New York Knicks and Seattle Supersonics forward, Spencer Haywood, the decision to better manage his condition was the result of his own family’s struggles with high blood pressure.

“When I was first diagnosed with high blood pressure 11 years ago, I was shocked to find out that an athlete like me could have this condition,” said Haywood, who was a member of the 1968 gold medal U.S. Olympic basketball team.

“But having witnessed the devastating effects of high blood pressure on my family, I knew I had to take it seriously. I worked closely with my doctor to set up a game plan to get and stay at my blood pressure goal. Together with Dominique and Darryl, I hope we can inspire other people to do the same.”

High blood pressure is a national health crisis. According to recent estimates, 72 million Americans have high blood pressure and nearly 40 percent of those treated do not have it under control.

Although anyone is susceptible, African Americans have a greater risk of developing high blood pressure and a much greater risk of stroke, heart disease and kidney damage.

According to recent statistics, more than one in three African Americans has high blood pressure and more than two-thirds do not have it under control, increasing their risk of complications.

In fact, as many as 30 percent of all deaths in African American men and 20 percent of all deaths in African American women who have high blood pressure are thought to be linked to the condition.

“All too often I find that patients ignore their high blood pressure because they feel fine. But it is critical for them to actively manage the condition because it can have devastating effects like heart attack, stroke and kidney damage,” said Wallace Johnson, MD, assistant professor of medicine in the Division of General Internal Medicine at University of Maryland Baltimore.

“It is very important for people to partner with their doctors and create a plan that takes into account diet, exercise and, if needed, medicine to get to a healthier blood pressure goal. Many people will require two or more blood pressure medications to achieve that healthier blood pressure goal.”

For the Shooting for Healthy BP campaign Wilkins, Dawkins, and Haywood will be traveling to 15 cities across the country. In addition, an online resource,, is available, which includes valuable information about the symptoms and risks associated with the condition.

“For many years my mother didn’t take her high blood pressure seriously. As a result, she suffered two strokes, which was a wake-up call for her to work to achieve her blood pressure goal,” said Dominique Wilkins, NBA Hall of Famer and legendary Atlanta Hawks forward.

“I know from my mother’s struggles to manage her high blood pressure that we need to work together to better manage it.”

Through this initiative, the NBRPA encourages its members to take an active role in their health and in the well-being of their communities.

“We are proud to be partnering with Novartis to help educate the public on the risks associated with high blood pressure,” said Len Elmore, President of the NBRPA.

“The Legends are committed to helping others, and Darryl, Dominique and Spencer are living examples of how high blood pressure can affect anyone, even athletes and their families. They represent the effort the Legends are making to help educate and inform people of all ages about the importance of managing their health and well-being.”

As the category leader in high blood pressure management, Novartis feels a tremendous responsibility to support consumer education and professional recommendations for controlling high blood pressure.

A commitment to innovative research, educational campaigns, such as Shooting for Healthy BP, paired with responding to the treatment needs of patients and physicians are the hallmarks of Novartis.


Founded in 1992 by NBA Legends Dave DeBusschere, Dave Bing, Archie Clark, Dave Cowens and Oscar Robertson, the NBRPA is a non-profit Association comprised of former professional basketball players.

Working in direct partnerships with the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association, the group’s mission is to promote basketball while assisting Members in building community relationships and fostering support for charitable activities; providing comprehensive health care coverage; offering the Dave DeBusschere NBRPA Scholarship Fund for members and their children; monitoring the pension plan; and creating revenue-earning opportunities.

The NBRPA Board of Directors includes Legends Al Attles; Rick Barry; Junior Bridgeman; Fred Brown; Mark Eaton; Len Elmore; Tom Hoover; Maurice Lucas; Earl Monroe; Jeff Mullins; Tom “Satch” Sanders and Buck Williams.