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CHW Health Disparities Initiative

Personal Touch Brings Healthy Heart Messages to Washington, DC, Hispanic/Latino Community


The Salud para su Corazón pilot project, Improving Hispanic/Latino Heart Health, was a comprehensive, community-based health promotion and heart disease prevention program launched in 1994. Through this program, the NHLBI worked with an alliance of 30 members representing health educators, Hispanic/Latino community leaders, and media experts to develop a program aimed at increasing awareness and knowledge about heart disease in Hispanic/Latino communities. The effort was aimed particularly at community members with low literacy and at low income levels. Feedback from the community alliance and listening sessions with community members laid the groundwork for an education and awareness-raising program with three main components:

  • New, culturally appropriate educational materials;
  • An interpersonal educational approach based on charlas, which are small group health education talks; and
  • A media campaign that delivered healthy heart messages via television and radio.

Implementation Strategies

Members of the Community Alliance and specially trained promotores led 15 charlas in churches, clinics, and other sites in the community. During these sessions, participants watched an educational video called “For the Love of Your Heart (Por Amor al Corazón)” on how to create a heart healthy lifestyle, emphasizing nutrition tips and ideas to increase physical activity. A 21-part radio series about heart disease prevention, telenovela vignettes, and public service announcements was broadcast locally and nationally as part of popular programs on Spanish-language radio and television stations.

Promotores introduced new educational materials in Spanish and English to raise awareness about the risk factors for heart disease and about heart disease prevention. The materials included a poster and a cookbook of low sodium and low-fat versions of traditional Hispanic/Latino recipes to encourage healthy eating habits. In addition, educational booklets on smoking cessation, weight loss, physical activity, controlling high blood pressure, and managing cholesterol were provided.

Evaluation and Outcomes1

  • Sixty-five percent of respondents heard about the Salud para su Corazón program from Spanish-language radio, and 63 percent heard about it from Spanish-language television.
  • Over 50 percent of the charlas participants said that they shared printed educational materials with others.
  • After participating in charlas, the percentage of people who could name at least three ways to prevent heart disease rose from about 50 percent to 70 percent.
  • The pilot program became the model for similar programs in Hispanic/Latino communities across the nation and low-resource communities in Latin America.

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1 Alcalay, R., Alvarado, M., Balcazar, H., Newman, E., & Huerta, E. (1999). Salud para su Corazón: A community-based Latino cardiovascular disease prevention and outreach model. Journal of Community Health, 24 (5), 359-379.

Last Updated: June 2014