The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) today announced the funding of six new community-based education projects, which will focus on improving the cardiovascular health of those at increased risk for heart disease and stroke.
The new awards extend to12 of the NHLBI's nationwide network of community-based organizations known as Enhanced Dissemination and Utilization Centers (EDUCs). The EDUC program was launched in 2001 to implement focused heart-health education strategies in high risk communities.
"These projects take what we have learned about the prevention, identification, and treatment of cardiovascular disease and apply that knowledge where it is most needed - in communities with the highest heart disease and stroke death rates," said NHLBI Director Claude Lenfant, M.D.
Heart disease and stroke remain the first and third leading causes of death in the U.S. However, certain geographic areas and racial/ethnic groups are disproportionately affected. The Federal Government's Healthy People 2010 initiative seeks to eliminate those disparities and improve health care for all.
"The EDUC program is a key part of the NHLBI's agenda to achieve the goals of Healthy People 2010. All of the EDUCs are in health service areas (HSAs) where the death rate for coronary heart disease and/or stroke is in the top 15 percent of HSAs nationally," said Robinson Fulwood, Ph.D., Senior Manager, Public Health Program Development in NHLBI's Office of Prevention, Education, and Control.
The new projects target high-risk communities in urban and rural areas in Maryland, Nebraska, Colorado, Ohio, and North Carolina. The EDUCs emphasize the forging of community health partnerships to meet individual project goals. Objectives are achieved through a variety of creative approaches including training peer health educators; conducting awareness-raising town-hall meetings, community-based screening and referral programs, and nutrition and physical activity programs; and working with physicians to improve the implementation of clinical practice guidelines.
In keeping with the "network" aspect of the program, the six existing EDUCs - now in their second year of activity - will share lessons learned and examples of success with the new programs through regular discussion forums. Tracking of progress is helped by a series of built-in evaluation measures.
The new EDUCs and their strategies are:
- The Housing Authority of Baltimore City (HABC) is partnering with the Baltimore office of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Morgan State University, and the Baltimore City Department of Parks and Recreation in a variety of activities designed to increase the number of children and adults in Baltimore's public housing developments who are screened for cardiovascular risk factors and adopt heart-healthy behaviors. Community health workers will focus on increasing awareness of risk factors and implementing heart-health education activities. Many of the activities will promote environmental change, including working with neighborhood grocers and fast-food establishments to increase the availability of heart-healthy food and establishing safe places to engage in physical activity. The program will also encourage the development of community partnerships and coalitions in order to increase policymakers' awareness of cardiovascular disease (CVD) issues.
- The Creighton Heart Education Center, in collaboration with the Creighton University Cardiac Center's Cardiovascular Risk Factor Screening and Intervention in African-American Adults (CARSI) program, will use a community-oriented approach to conduct education and intervention programs targeted to African-Americans in eastern Nebraska, including the Omaha metropolitan area. This EDUC will run a mobile education and screening unit, sponsor heart fairs and nutrition education seminars, and employ community heath advocates to conduct a comprehensive awareness campaign to increase the adoption of heart-healthy lifestyles.
- The Penrose-St. Francis Health Services Health Learning Center in southern Colorado will focus on preventing stroke among the women of El Paso County, a community with a high stroke death rate. The EDUC will reach out to women of all ages with messages that focus on the importance of reducing risks for stroke. The program will also help women make lifestyle changes and encourage them to take prescribed medication for high blood pressure. Specific activities include screening, referral, and education to increase the awareness of the adverse effects of high blood pressure and to encourage increased detection, treatment, and control of high blood pressure. A number of lifestyle approaches will be used, particularly diet and exercise, and control of other cardiovascular risk factors related to high blood pressure - such as obesity.
- The Toledo Hospital EDUC seeks to reduce the risk and prevalence of cardiovascular disease in minority and low socioeconomic status neighborhoods in Lucas County, a central city area of around 30,000 residents in Toledo, Ohio. The EDUC will conduct blood pressure and cholesterol screening programs, culturally sensitive nutrition programs, smoking cessation activities, and an education program about heart attack warning signs using material from the NHLBI/American Heart Association "Act in Time" program. Students engaged in health and hospitality studies at Owens State Community College will be trained to offer community-based fitness assessment, exercise and walking programs. In addition, Toledo Hospital, in contract with local PBS Station WGTE, plans to develop Web casts including online health chat sessions and local programming.
- Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina through its Stroke Education and Awareness among Minorities Project (STREAM) seeks to reduce the incidence of stroke among African Americans in five counties in central North Carolina. The project will mobilize key African-American community advocates and health professionals to promote cardiovascular health. There will be five major activities: community-based screenings, personalized health action plans, training of community health advisors, community events to increase awareness, and worksite wellness programs.
- The Wright State University Division of Health Systems Management EDUC will focus on African American urban communities in Montgomery County (Dayton, Ohio area). The primary objective of the project is to educate and aid health care providers and systems in the dissemination of information about cardiovascular disease. The Division of Health Systems Management at Wright State has developed extensive partnerships with local health care providers, primary care organizations, insurers, public health officials, media, and local employers in order to address heart disease and stroke. The EDUC, aided by these partnerships, will engage in activities to increase awareness of individual health status, increase physician visits for high blood pressure and cholesterol, and increase the number of people who are treated for high blood pressure and high cholesterol.