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The Heart Truth® Community Action Program

Sharing The Heart Truth® in local communities, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) formed a public-private partnership with the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH) to address the lack of awareness about women and heart disease through a Community Action Program.

The FNIH's Community Action Program, in support of The Heart Truth, aims to empower community organizations to assist women—especially those of color, low income, or in rural areas—in identifying personal risk factors for heart disease and motivating them to take action to lower their risk.

The Community Action Program seeks to:

  1. Mobilize communities to increase awareness that heart disease is the #1 cause of death for women.
  2. Engage community partners, stakeholders, and key organizations in supporting and sustaining Heart Truth outreach and educational programming.
  3. Facilitate skill-building, goal-setting, and social support to help women make sustainable lifestyle behavioral changes that help lower their risk factors for heart disease.
  4. Promote The Heart Truth program, the Red Dress® symbol, and the program’s key messages, educational materials, website, and tools.
  5. Provide heart disease risk factor screenings to inform women of their personal risk for the disease as well as education and follow up for those women identified with risk factors.
  6. Educate women about lifestyle behaviors that promote heart health and lower their risk for developing heart disease.
  7. Increase outreach to underserved women and those living in areas of high cardiovascular disease morbidity and mortality—particularly women of color and/or low income and in rural areas.

Through a competitive process, the FNIH has awarded more than $1,400,000 in Heart Truth Community Action Program grants. For 2013, the FNIH awarded $292,000 in grants to community organizations across the country. Funding for the program is donated to the FNIH by the Heart Truth's partners and supporters.

The Heart Truth Community Action Program's 2013 grantees are:

  1. West Virginia University Research Corporation, Morgantown, WV
  2. African Family Health Organization, Philadelphia, PA
  3. Saint Luke’s Foundation, Kansas City, MO
  4. King’s Daughters Medical Center, Ashland, KY
  5. Ingalls Memorial Hospital, Flossmore, IL
  6. Mercy Housing Northwest, Seattle, WA
  7. Southern Seven Health Department, Ullin, IL
  8. Robert Wood Johnson University Health Foundation, New Brunswick, NJ
  9. The Cambodian Family, Santa Ana, CA

2013 Community Action Program Grant Recipients

African Family Health Organization, Philadelphia, PA
The African Family Health Organization’s program, HEART (Healthy Eating and Regular Testing), is an initiative targeting underserved and hard-to-reach members of the African and Caribbean immigrant and refugee communities. The key elements of the program included increasing knowledge about heart disease and personal risk factors, decreasing risk factors through lifestyle changes, and encouraging early diagnosis and access to medical care.

The Cambodian Family, Santa Ana, CA
The Cambodian Family’s Healthy Heart Habits for Women program encouraged women to develop heart healthy habits and better understand the dangers and symptoms of heart disease. They provided a series of educational workshops, exercise and nutrition classes, women support groups, and health screenings to their target audience—low income, refugees, and Cambodian and Latina women. The program also included a 6-week Community Health Ambassador training program to supply residents with the tools they need to become strong health advocates for themselves, their families, and their community.

Ingalls Memorial Hospital, Harvey, Ill
Ingalls Memorial Hospital helped to increase awareness of the risk factors for heart disease among underserved women in Suburban Cook County, Illinois. They held a kick-off event in February 2014 for American Heart Month that was followed up with several sessions of a 4-week Healthy Habits program focused on various elements of heart health: knowing your numbers, eating healthy, exercising regularly, and talking to your doctor about your heart health.

King’s Daughters Medical Center, Ashland, KY
King’s Daughters Medical Center (KDMC) sought to build awareness among low-income, uninsured, and underinsured women in Kentucky that heart disease is their number one killer and motivate them to take the steps necessary to improve their heart health. To do this, they created a free program for women in rural eastern Kentucky that offered risk assessments, heart health screenings, and educational programs. They also built in six train-the-trainer programs in Floyd, Johnson, Magoffin, and Martin counties to help sustain momentum after the grant period ended.

Mercy Housing Northwest, Seattle, WA
Mercy Housing Northwest established four major objectives for their Heart Truth activities: 1) increase the knowledge of heart disease and its risk factors among women; 2) increase the level of physical activity among program participants; 3) increase the ability of participants to prepare heart healthy foods; and 4) encourage participants to adopt a heart healthy lifestyle. They designed a comprehensive program that included heart health education sessions, physical activity and exercise classes, nutrition and healthy cooking classes, and heart health challenges.

Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Foundation, New Brunswick, NJ
"A Woman's Heart is Special" program was designed by the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Foundation to utilize community ambassadors and houses of worship as well as partner with community-based organizations to bring heart disease risks and education to minority and underserved women of New Brunswick. Through Red Dress Sunday events and community educational events and screenings, African American and Hispanic women received culturally and linguistically appropriate education, information, referrals and free blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose screenings.

Saint Luke’s Hospital of Kansas City, Kansas City, MO
Saint Luke’s Hospital of Kansas City set out to reach women who rarely access the hospital’s services and increase awareness among them of their risk for heart disease, provide them with access to community health resources, encourage management of heart disease risk factors through lifestyle changes, and recruit women to serve as program mentors. Their program offered free heart disease awareness and screening programs for uninsured/underinsured Latinas in the Kansas City area.

Southern Seven Health Department, Ullin, IL
Through the grant funding, Southern Seven Health Department wanted to reach at least 500 women through community events, providing them with free heart disease risk screenings and counseling, and disseminate messages from The Heart Truth through its channels. They disseminated materials and Heart Truth messages and materials across the rural southern seven counties of Illinois through a large conference and several community events, addressing risk factors, heart disease mortality, and how women can take action to prevent heart disease.

West Virginia University Research Corporation, Morgantown, WV
The West Virginia University Research Corporation created the Love Your Heart movement—collaborating with State and local partners to educate and motivate women to assess their risk for heart disease, establish goals, and take action to protect their heart health. Program activities included community partnership development, volunteer trainings, February heart health celebrations, a 6-week walking challenge, Red Dress Sunday events, and dissemination of Heart Truth materials in target locations.

Last Updated: Aug 26, 2014

The Heart Truth, its logo, The Red Dress, Red Dress, Red Dress Collection, and Heart Disease Doesn't Care What You Wear—It's the #1 Killer of Women are registered trademarks of U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). 
National Wear Red Day is a registered trademark of HHS and the American Heart Association.

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