Connections IN Health partners to launch iHEART Collaborative to Reduce Disparities in Cardiovascular Disease

March 31, 2023

Image shows an EKG line divided with a heart icon in the middleThe community engaged approach aims to reduce cardiovascular disease and its related complications among residents of medically underserved communities in Indianapolis.

Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Connections IN Health program is working with the Indiana University Health, IUPUI Polis Center and the Fairbanks School of Public Health in collaboration with Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation as part of a three-year initiative to create the Indianapolis Health Equity, Access, outReach and Treatment (iHEART) collaborative aimed at reducing health inequities that contribute to overall heart disease and cardiovascular health.  

The Collaborative’s innovative approach brings together medical, research and community engagement resources to screen, refer and treat individuals in three medically underserved areas of Indianapolis: Meadows/Martindale-Brightwood, the United Northwest Area/Riverside and the Near Southeast Side.  

Health interventions such as blood pressure screenings, point-of-care testing (glucose, lipids, hemoglobin A1C) and body mass index measures will be offered within various community institutions including barbershops/salons and local places of worship. Follow-up education and resources will be available for residents to connect with clinical care and social services close to home. 

iHEART will also host a series of public forums within these communities to raise awareness about the long-term effects of uncontrolled high blood pressure such as heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure, etc., and to educate residents on local cardiovascular health data, cardiovascular self-management tools and resources for overcoming structural factors that contribute to cardiovascular disease (CVD).  

“Healthcare is more than the care we provide within our walls,” said Brownsyne Tucker Edmonds, MD, vice president and chief health equity officer at IU Health. “This proactive approach to care removes barriers and deploys critical resources directly to communities facing the most disproportionate burden of cardiovascular disease and death. Our intention is to create a model that will not only lower cardiovascular disease in iHEART communities, but also establish a system that can be expanded and replicated to address chronic diseases throughout our state and nation.”  

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Indiana ranks 35th as the nation’s least-healthiest states, in large part due to CVD. The state underperforms nationally in CVD-related conditions including hypertension (ranked 36th), hyperlipidemia (30th), and obesity (40th). 

“The effects of cardiovascular disease are magnified in communities of color, particularly among Black Hoosiers,” said Khadijah Breathett, MD, cardiologist at IU Health. “Black Indiana residents die from CVD at higher rates compared to their white neighbors. Recognizing that health disparities exist and bringing together diverse stakeholders are critical to begin addressing the complexity of these disparities and delivering equitable care.”  

About iHEART Collaborative 

The Indianapolis Health Equity, Access, outReach and Treatment (iHEART) collaborative is a proactive, community engaged approach, with a long term of goal of reducing cardiovascular disease incidence and its related complications among residents of medically underserved communities. This three-year initiative brings together IU Health, Indiana Clinical Translational Sciences Institute (CTSI), IUPUI Polis Center and the Indianapolis Diabetes Impact Project (DIP-IN) to remove barriers of care in unique populations, and coordinate and conduct community-based interventions that will connect individuals to CVD prevention resources, including education and treatment. 

About Connections IN Health 

In 2018, the Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (CTSI), the Indiana Department of Health (IDOH), and the IU Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center (IUSCCC) have come together to strengthen their partnership to improve health in Indiana by forming Connections IN Health. This alliance unites the state’s health coalition development work, and the IUSCCC’s community and engagement initiatives with that of Indiana CTSI. In 2021, Connections IN Health began partnering with Purdue University’s Indiana Healthy Opportunities for People Everywhere (I-HOPE) project to share community engagement processes and connections to address health inequities across Indiana.  Additional collaborations began in 2022 with IU Health and the Diabetes Impact Project of Indianapolis (DIP-IN) with the Indianapolis Health Equity, Access, outReach and Treatment (iHEART) project working to address high rates of diabetes and cardiovascular disease in specific neighborhoods experiencing lower life expectancies than their neighbors.   Connections IN Health is led by the Indiana CTSI’s Community Health Partnerships program, which works to improve health in Indiana through community-university partnerships and community-based health research.  

Connections IN Health includes four chronic disease initiatives that support stakeholders, organizations, advocates, and residents as they come together to improve health and address chronic diseases. Connections IN Health facilitates collaboration within communities by connecting stakeholders with evidence-based practices, identifying funding sources, and addressing health equity for all.  This includes three statewide health coalitions:  the Hoosier Health and Wellness Alliance, the Indiana Joint Asthma Coalition and the Cardiovascular and Diabetes Coalition of Indiana.  Connections IN Health partners with statewide organizations, including Purdue Extension, which is involved in more than 172 health coalitions across the state and has educators in all 92 Indiana counties. 

|2023-03-31T13:43:42-04:00March 31st, 2023|Comments Off on Connections IN Health partners to launch iHEART Collaborative to Reduce Disparities in Cardiovascular Disease

About the Author: Carolyn Voight

Carolyn Voight

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