The American Heart Association says African Americans are more likely to develop high blood pressure than any other racial group in the United States.
And the National Kidney Foundation identifies high blood pressure as the second leading cause of kidney failure, which it says is more than three times as prevalent in African Americans as in Caucasian Americans.
Creighton University has been involved with a program aimed at lowering the rates of high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease in the Omaha African-American community.
Dr. Sade Kosoko-Lasaki, Creighton Professor and Associate Vice Provost for Health Sciences, says the program is funded by a CDC grant which required they select one racial group and one chronic disease.
“And so we targeted the African Americans and looked at cardiovascular disease because these individuals are neighbors of Creighton, and we thought we could make a very strong impact.”
Kosoko-Lasaki says they have worked with 12 African-American churches, 11 Omaha Housing Authority towers, the Charles Drew Health Centers and The Urban League of Nebraska. One focus has been policy changes that contribute to healthier lifestyles.
“For example, the pastors met with us and assigned a policy that they would include physical activities during the services; they would stop serving sodas/pop when they have an event in church, and they would promote eating vegetables and fruits. That is a change of policy.”
Kosoko-Lasaki says they have also used “mapping” -- showing things like how many steps equal “x” number of miles, or the walking distance between popular community sites. She says they have targeted and impacted over 46,000 individuals during the three years of this grant. They have also trained 56 people from the community as ambassadors to train others to be physically active – something they hope will continue long after the grant ends.
For more information, the website is Creighton.edu