Press Release

IU Health launches iHEART collaborative to reduce disparities in cardiovascular disease

January 04, 2023

The community engaged approach aims to reduce cardiovascular disease and its related complications among residents of medically underserved communities in Indianapolis

INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana University Health is working with the Indiana Clinical and Translational Science Institutes, IUPUI Polis Center and the Fairbanks School of Public Health in collaboration with Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation as part of a three-year initiative to create the Indianapolis Health Equity, Access, outReach and Treatment (iHEART) collaborative aimed at reducing health inequities that contribute to overall heart disease and cardiovascular health.

The Collaborative’s innovative approach brings together medical, research and community engagement resources to screen, refer and treat individuals in three medically underserved areas of Indianapolis: Meadows/Martindale-Brightwood, the United Northwest Area/Riverside and the Near Southeast Side.

Health interventions such as blood pressure screenings, point-of-care testing (glucose, lipids, hemoglobin A1C) and body mass index measures will be offered within various community institutions including barbershops/salons and local places of worship. Follow-up education and resources will be available for residents to connect with clinical care and social services close to home.

iHEART will also host a series of public forums within these communities to raise awareness about the long-term effects of uncontrolled high blood pressure such as heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure, etc., and to educate residents on local cardiovascular health data, cardiovascular self-management tools and resources for overcoming structural factors that contribute to cardiovascular disease (CVD).

“Healthcare is more than the care we provide within our walls,” said Brownsyne Tucker Edmonds, MD, vice president and chief health equity officer at IU Health. “This proactive approach to care removes barriers and deploys critical resources directly to communities facing the most disproportionate burden of cardiovascular disease and death. Our intention is to create a model that will not only lower cardiovascular disease in iHEART communities, but also establish a system that can be expanded and replicated to address chronic diseases throughout our state and nation.”

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Indiana ranks 35th as the nation’s least-healthiest states, in large part due to CVD. The state underperforms nationally in CVD-related conditions including hypertension (ranked 36th), hyperlipidemia (30th), and obesity (40th).

“The effects of cardiovascular disease are magnified in communities of color, particularly among Black Hoosiers,” said Khadijah Breathett, MD, cardiologist at IU Health. “Black Indiana residents die from CVD at higher rates compared to their white neighbors. Recognizing that health disparities exist and bringing together diverse stakeholders are critical to begin addressing the complexity of these disparities and delivering equitable care.”

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