Founded in 2013, Heart Healthy Living is an intensive 6-week program designed to improve the cardiovascular health of women at risk of heart disease. Having served 300 women thus far, Heart Healthy Living operates under the aegis of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and includes weekly physical activity sessions as well as interactive education sessions on cardiovascular risk factors, nutrition, and a heart healthy lifestyle. Participants are monitored with weekly weigh-ins, baseline/ follow-up blood pressure tests, and validated health questionnaires.
A study conducted by the Linda Joy Pollin Women's Heart Center, presented at the 2013 American Heart Association Scientific Sessions showed that, while at the start of the study 55 percent of the women suffered hypertension and 68 percent were obese, the women who completed Heart Healthy Living showed significantly reduced hypertension, significant weight loss (averaging 2.7 lbs. over six weeks,) and improved cardiovascular health knowledge. Similarly, Asian American women who completed Heart Healthy Living in a separate program showed improved cardiovascular disease knowledge after six weeks.
Following the success of the pilot program, Heart Healthy Living was expanded in 2013 to include Mandarin and Spanish language sessions, conducted in collaboration with the Roxbury Tenants of Harvard, Inquilinos Boricuas en Accion, and the Southern Jamaica Plain Health Center. The Spanish language version of Heart Healthy Living -- “Vivir con un Corazón Saludable” -- was awarded the Preventive Cardiovascular Nurses Association’s Healthy Living Leadership Award in March 2014.
To address cardiac disease prevention at the neighborhood level, the Linda Joy Pollin Women's Heart Center partnered with the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute to establish Open Doors to Health in Roxbury’s Mission Park housing development. Open Doors to Health conducted prevention and early detection programs for heart disease and breast, cervical, and colon cancer by educating 2,500 residents about the effectiveness of screenings and facilitating the screening process. Open Doors to Health hired Community Health Educators (CHEs): residents of the housing complex who participated in 16 hours of training on heart disease and cancer prevention. CHEs each consulted with at least 5 residents.
During the pilot year of Open Doors to Health, the CHEs developed programs such as walking programs, health-related bingo nights, a heart health block party, fitness classes, and “Ask the Nurse” sessions. Feedback from the Mission Park complex was overwhelmingly positive, leading to the addition of Roxbury’s Madison Park housing complex to the program.
Eating Heart Healthy is a 4-week interactive cooking and nutrition program that teaches women about a heart healthy diet. Eating Heart Healthy is a collaborative effort between the Seafood Nutrition Partnership, Linda Joy Pollin Women's Heart Center at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and the Roxbury Tenants of Harvard. After implementation of this pilot program, Eating Heart Healthy has been shown to reduce risk for heart disease through an interactive cooking and nutrition program to increase awareness of a heart healthy diet and build skills to incorporate healthy fats and nutrient dense foods into daily meals.
The Teen Heart Health Ambassador Program is hosted by the Linda Joy Pollin Women's Heart Center at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, with support from the American Heart Association. Designed to educate students about the importance of heart health, this program provides a comprehensive training on cardiovascular health and empowers students to spread the word about heart healthy living.
With an educational toolkit and support from experienced staff at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, students undergo a thorough training about heart health over the course of the school year. The course includes eight modules, focusing on the American Heart Association’s Life’s Simple 7™ used to prevent heart disease.
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