Health officials kick off 100 Congregations for Million Hearts

healthcareThe Virginia Department of Health Office of Minority Health and Health Equity kicked off its 100 Congregations for Million Hearts faith-based campaign. This initiative is designed to help guide more Virginians toward a heart-healthy lifestyle by enlisting the support of faith-based organizations to help raise awareness and prevent cardiovascular disease by focusing on hypertension control.

In joining the program, each congregation agrees to work toward reducing two of the leading causes of death in the U.S. – heart disease and stroke. VDH’s goal is to recruit 100 faith-based organizations into the national “Million Hearts” initiative, which is a public-private partnership created to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes by 2017.

“Heart disease and stroke are the second and third leading causes of death in Virginia, and heart disease is responsible for one of every four deaths in the country,” said State Health Commissioner Marissa J. Levine, MD, MPH, FAAFP. “Change begins one person at a time, so equipping individuals in faith communities to reach out and be an example and trusted resource to their neighbors has the potential to save lives and plant the seeds of lasting change.”

“The Office of Minority Health and Health Equity is proud to support this initiative,” said OMHHE Director Adrienne McFadden, MD, JD, FACEP, FAAEM, FCLM. “‘100 Congregations for Million Hearts’ prevention-based, community-focused approach aligns with our mission of identifying root causes of health inequities and promoting equitable opportunities to be healthy. This initiative has the potential to form community relationships and health communication strategies that go beyond cardiovascular disease prevention.”

Getting started is easy. First, a congregation member is selected as the “Million Hearts” advocate. This individual will serve as the congregation’s key resource for heart health information and provide direction and motivation to members reaching out to their communities. Also, congregations are asked to do at least two of the four activities below:

  • Establish and/or strengthen relationships with local experts and resources (community pharmacists, community health centers and community health workers).
  • Disseminate messages about the importance of and action steps to hypertension control.
  • Promote Heart Health Mobile (an app that helps to determine and reduce heart attack and stroke risk).
  • Distribute blood pressure tracking wallet cards.

Congregations interested in participating should complete the sign-up form available on line athttp://www.vdh.virginia.gov/OMHHE and then e-mail it to Augustine Doe, OMHHE health equity specialist, ataugustine.doe@vdh.virginia.gov or FAX to Augustine’s attention at 804-864-7440.

For more information, call 804-864-7436.

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