Last weekend I had the privilege of kicking off the first of a series of community events targeted at the nation’s minority and underserved communities in my hometown of Houston, TX. The program, called Spirit of the Heart is a partnership between the Association of Black Cardiologist (ABC) and ACC’s CardioSmart initiative and aims to increase awareness of heart disease and promote better heart health, particularly in high-risk communities.
The program began with a community leader’s forum on Friday evening, where ABC President, Ola Akinboboye, MD, MPH, MBA, FACC, and I presented opening remarks. After the dinner and entertainment, I sat on a panel discussion alongside Keith Ferdinand, MD, FACC, and other ABC leaders and community partners including Darrell Green, former Washington Redskins cornerback and founder and CEO of WalkFitHealth. The discussion, moderated by Ryan Neal, MD, was both informative and educational and we heard from advocates of health, exercise and nutrition on how to better manage care.
Dr. Ferdinand gave a presentation on reducing cardiovascular disease risk in diverse populations, and mentioned his work on the executive committee of ACC’s Coalition to Reduce Disparities in Cardiovascular Outcomes (credo) initiative, which provides healthcare providers who treat or prevent cardiovascular disease with the tools to assure optimal care for their diverse patients. He also touched on how CardioSmart and its resources, including our text message platforms, mobile Apps, and more, can help educate patients and their families about healthy lifestyle choices as well as care options.
The audience was full of ACC and ABC’s partners in the community, and during the Q & A portion of the evening, they asked a lot of important questions, especially about personalized care and how we as leaders encourage our patients to live healthier lifestyles.
In response, along with emphasizing patient-centered care, a style of care that is based on strong physician-patient relationships, I also explained how in the end, medicine is about a healing connection between human beings. We need to re-establish the idea of medicine as an art as well as a science, and restore the physician-patient relationship; patient-centered care is the right thing to do, both in principle and in practice.
The next day ACC and ABC conducted free day-long health screenings for area residents. ACC also gave out practical health information to the community. I heard from ACC staff that there was a great turnout for the screenings and the CardioSmart presence was strong and effective. This type of grassroots outreach in underserved communities is exactly what we are trying to do with CardioSmart: to get together with patients and the public to make a difference in their heart health.
The program concluded on Sunday with ACC and ABC representatives visiting local churches and presenting ABC's 7 Steps to a Healthy Heart:
- Be Spiritually Active
- Take Charge of Your Blood Pressure
- Control Your Cholesterol
- Track Your Blood Sugar and Maintain Ideal Weight
- Enjoy Regular Exercise, Follow a Sensible Diet and Get a Good Night's Sleep
- Don't Smoke
- Access Better Healthcare, Get a Check Up and Faithfully Take Your Medication
This program will be replicated in Dallas, TX from Oct 5 – 7; Austin, TX from Oct. 12 – 14; Harlem, NY from Dec. 7 – 9; and Oakland, CA on March 7, 2013 (to coincide with ACC.13). If you live in any of these cities I encourage you to come out and help us spread the spirit of the heart!
Follow @CardioSmart on Twitter and search #SpiritHeart to join the conversations. Also be sure to visit CardioSmart’s Facebook page for additional tools and resources for patients.
Check out ACC video coverage of the