Two New Grants Mark 100th Anniversary of the American Heart Association

The American Heart Association was established 100 years ago by six cardiologists who believed that scientific research could lead to better treatment, prevention and a cure for heart disease.

Mountain View, CA – The American Heart Association was established 100 years ago by six cardiologists who believed that scientific research could lead to better treatment, prevention and a cure for heart disease. Today it is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke, with more than 35 million volunteers across the country.

Heart Health

"The American Heart Association is the national leader in this area and our grants will support its effort to reach vulnerable populations with education and health care," said George Ting, M.D., chair of the El Camino Healthcare District Board of Directors.

Both El Camino Health and the El Camino Healthcare District have a history of supporting the American Heart Association of the Bay Area. This year that support comes in the form of two grants totaling $160,000. The grants support diabetes and hypertension programs at sites across Santa Clara County.

"The initiatives funded by these two grants bring science and education to at-risk populations that can diminish their risk through lifestyle changes," said Lizzie Velten, vice president of community health & corporate relations for the American Heart Association, Bay Area. "We've been funded by both the district and hospital for about 10 years and because of this funding we’ve been able to expand and focus our lifestyle programs aimed at pre-diabetes and hypertension."

Diabetes and hypertension are leading causes of heart disease and stroke. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 38.4 million adults have diabetes and 97.6 million more have pre-diabetes, meaning more than half the adult population is living with some form of this disease. About one in 20 have heart disease, according to the CDC, and it remains the leading cause of death in the U.S.

The grants fund two levels of outreach, Velten explained: health screenings at community events that screen more than 1,000 people a year for hypertension and offer blood sugar testing, and in-depth, monthly workshops in Spring and Fall that focus on education and awareness of the disease and its long-term effects and prognosis.

"The community screenings allow us to recruit at-risk individuals so that we can offer more in-depth strategies to those who are critically in need of the knowledge and resources that can support them in making lasting lifestyle changes," Velten said. "Then the classes really support them in committing to making those changes."

The grants also help the American Heart Association recruit local community health workers who commit to serving as health coaches and ambassadors in their local neighborhoods.

Classes are offered in English, Spanish, Mandarin and Vietnamese and prioritize people who are low-income, under-insured or insured through federal programs, Velten said. Those who participate can receive free blood pressure cuffs, vouchers to shop at local farmers' markets and other incentives for completing the classes.

Screenings and classes will start again in March at El Camino YMCA in Mountain View, Vietnamese American Service Center, and Lady of Guadalupe in San Jose, and St. Athanasius Parish Church. Last fall outreach sites also included Alum Rock Library, Columbia Middle School, Sunnyvale Community Services.

"It's been a super successful program," Velten said, "and we know it's very effective at lowering the risk factors for heart disease and stroke."

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