Church-Based Heart Health Project: Health Status of Urban African Americans

Church-Based Heart Health Project: Health Status of Urban African Americans


By Lisaann S Gittner, MSc; Salwa E Hassanein, PhD, RN; Pamala J Murphy, MD

Summer 2007 - Volume 11 Number 3


One of the major health disparities in the African-American population is the high incidence of underdiagnosed cardiovascular disease prior to onset of symptoms. Cardiovascular diseases are one of the chief causes of decreased longevity, reduced quality of life, and poor treatment outcomes among African Americans. The Church-Based Heart Health Project, a pilot initiative of Kaiser Permanente (KP) Ohio's Center of Excellence for Health Disparities and Cultural Competency for African American Health, was implemented in 2004 as an innovative and proactive response to confront this cardiovascular health disparity in greater Cleveland's African-American population. The goal of this program was to reduce individual participants' risks for cardiac events (that is, heart attack, heart disease, or cardiac death) by 1) providing individual risk assessment and interpretation and 2) cataloging the generalized health status of urban churchgoing African Americans in greater Cleveland. We describe the cardiovascular risk factors present in a random population of urban churchgoing African Americans participating in sponsored health screenings at their church. A convenience sample of 144 African-American adults participated in this study. Twenty-five percent (37) were men and 75% (107) were women, and participants' mean age was 54.2 years. Ninety percent were not members of Kaiser Permanente Ohio. Cardiovascular risk factors measured included body mass index, lipid levels (cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein, low-density lipoprotein, triglycerides), blood pressure, brief health history, Framingham Coronary Heart Disease Prediction Score, and National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute prediction score for ten-year risk. A large portion of the population was found to have at least one risk factor for coronary heart disease (CHD).

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