Research In Brief
Prevention Research Centers Support Million Hearts Campaign
The Million HeartsTM campaign, launched in September by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, aims to reduce cardiovascular disease (CVD)—specifically, to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes over the next 5 years. A core strategy of the campaign is community health promotion, so that all Americans make healthy choices and help build healthy environments. Research conducted by Prevention Research Centers (PRCs) leads to strategies that support healthy communities. Many PRCs study the three leading CVD risk factors— hypertension (high blood pressure), high cholesterol levels, and smoking. The following are a few examples.
Researchers from the Harlem Health Promotion Center at Columbia University are evaluating an approach to controlling hypertension that combines the use of community health workers (CHWs), telephone counseling, and the Web. The CHWs screen Harlem residents for hypertension and help those who have high blood pressure follow lifestyle and drug regimens. Participants also use Web resources, including the GetHealthyHarlem website, developed by the center and community partners in previous PRC research to improve self-management of hypertension and avoid other health risks.
Researchers from the University of Washington Health Promotion Research Center are developing a CVD risk-reduction program for use by American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) women during reproductive health care visits. The CVD rate for AIs/ANs is the highest (nearly 15% HIGHER) of any ethnic group. Health educators and case managers drawn from the local community use motivational interviewing techniques to help women create an action plan for reducing CVD risk factors such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and physical inactivity.
A smoking cessation program for teens, Not-On-Tobacco (NOT), developed by the West Virginia Prevention Research Center and partners, has helped more than 1,000 teens in West Virginia quit smoking, and the program could help teens everywhere. But in the past 5 years only 1% of teen smokers in West Virginia enrolled in NOT. Less than 5% of the 750 people trained as NOT facilitators in the state have implemented the program; insufficient time, resources, and administrative support are factors. PRC researchers are testing a new dissemination strategy to make NOT widely available.
Other PRCs are working on research to reduce physical inactivity, another major CVD risk factor. See the following two examples:
- Harvard University Prevention Research Center on Nutrition and Physical Activity: Researchers are developing a tool kit for organizers of after-school programs on how to facilitate healthy snacking and encourage physical activity.
- University of New Mexico Prevention Research Center: Researchers are providing technical assistance, education, and training as residents in Cuba, New Mexico, implement a plan to promote walking and hiking for health.
Additionally, two PRCs are conducting CVD-related Comparative Effectiveness Research projects, with funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act:
- Researchers at New York University School of Medicine PRC are comparing how well lifestyle counseling, patient navigation, and the combination of the two work at improving blood pressure control among study participants.
- Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill PRC are comparing Internet-based and counselor-based interventions to control CVD risk.