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Local Community Outreach Programs Among Six in Nation to Get Federal Funds

Two community outreach programs affiliated with Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center have been selected for a National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) project to prevent and control heart disease and promote heart-healthy behavior.

The NHLBI has announced a partnership with six programs nationwide to ensure that the latest information on heart disease and stroke prevention reaches people in low-income and minority communities. The selected communities have coronary heart disease and stroke death rates that exceed national averages.

"Despite the scientific and technological advances in cardiovascular medicine during the past 50 years, many Americans are not enjoying the improvements in health that application of existing information has the potential to offer," said Dr. Claude Lenfant, NHLBI director. "The NHLBI is taking aggressive steps to enhance dissemination and outreach activities to address this disturbing problem."

The Medical Center-affiliated programs are HEARTQUEST in Columbus and Robeson counties and the DR CHIP program in Dan River region of Virginia. The NHLBI says these are among the first of a network of community-based organizations that will implement culturally sensitive heart health education strategies.

HEARTQUEST (Heart Attack and Stroke Education, Awareness, Rapid Response, Treatment Adherence, Quality Enhancement through Science Translation) is designed to improve health care services in the rural and ethnically diverse counties of Columbus and Robeson. The area has one of the highest rates of cardiovascular disease mortality in the nation.

Ronny Bell, Ph.D., assistant professor of public health sciences at WFUBMC, will work with local organizations to implement a variety of health care activities. The program will include physician training, health fairs, training for lay educators, and an effort to educate the community about responding quickly to heart attack symptoms.

"We are excited about this opportunity to partner with the NHLBI in this very worthwhile endeavor," said Bell. "The data clearly show that Robeson and Columbus counties have a tremendous need to address cardiovascular health."

DR CHIP (Dan River Region Cardiovascular Health Initiative Program) has been providing cardiovascular screenings, referral and treatment services and public and professional education since 1999. The program, which is a partnership between the Danville Regional Medical Center, the Danville/Pittsylvania Public Health Department, and the Consortium for Southeastern Hypertension Control (COSEHC), is coordinated by Michael Moore, M.D., a clinical professor of internal medicine (nephrology) and surgical sciences (hypertension) at WFUBMC. The NHLBI funding will allow the program to expand its activities, including conducting additional education programs in schools and churches.

"The NHLBI grant will enable the DR CHIP program to learn how to best use case managers with the inpatient care of heart attack and heart failure patients and to develop better methods for continuing health education," said Moore. "This information can then be applied to communities nationwide."

DR CHIP is one of 20 "Cardiovascular Centers of Excellence" designated by COSECH, an organization founded by and based at WFUBMC''s Hypertension and Vascular Disease Center that is dedicated to reducing the mortality and morbidity from hypertension in the Southeast.

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