African Americans (AAs) living in the “Stroke Belt” (Southeastern US including northern Florida) are at elevated risk for stroke. Our long-term goal is to eliminate this ethnic/regional health disparities by targeting a major modifiable risk factor for stroke, hypertension (HTN). Here we present the results of HEALS (Healthy Eating And Living Spiritually)- a faith-based, socio-culturally tailored HTN control intervention modified from PREMIER and DASH programs for AA churches.
Methods: 4 church members were trained as program leaders who delivered the 3-months intervention followed by 9 months booster sessions. AA Church members of 25-75 yrs of age with known or newly diagnosed HTN (including pre-HTN as per JNC-VII) were recruited, who received HEALS program.
Results: AAs with known (84%) or newly diagnosed HTN (16%) joined the program. Majority (80%) were on anti-HTN drugs. At the baseline, only three (8%) had HTN controlled (>120/80 mm Hg), 13 (35%) had pre-HTN levels, 15 (40.5%) were stage 1 and 6 (16%) in Stage 2. After receiving 12 wks HEALS sessions, mean reduction in systolic and diastolic blood pressure were -13.64 mm Hg (p =0.005) and -6.12 mm Hg (p=0.01) respectively. The study is currently in maintenance phase.
Conclusion: If successful, the findings from this study will provide much-needed information on the translation and sustainability of evidence-based lifestyle modification in HTN members in community-based settings, particularly within churches, which represent the most influential institution in the community lives of AA