Tag Archives: Connections for Cardiovascular Health

From the Head to the Heart: Key Learnings to Improve Cardiovascular Health

AstraZeneca Healthcare Foundation Connections for Cardiovascular Health Grant Announcements at the Mid Valley YMCA in Van Nuys, CA on February 2, 2016.


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By James W. Blasetto, MD, MPH, FACC

J Blasetto-headshotAcross the country, nonprofit, grassroots organizations conduct innovative programs designed to reduce the impact of the number one cause of death in the U.S., cardiovascular disease. Their success depends not only on funding, resources and staffing, but also finding the answers to critical questions: How do you build effective programs and demonstrate their long-term impact, not only on people’s lives but the organization as well? How do you find what works, and what doesn’t?

At the AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation, we seek to improve cardiovascular health by awarding Connections for Cardiovascular HealthSM (CCH) grants to U.S.-based nonprofit organizations conducting health programs at the community level. We understand that these programs require more than financial support to be effective. That’s why we work with our grant awardees to build capacity and identify key learnings.

This year, the Foundation decided to draw on the knowledge and experience of its CCH grant awardees to discuss answers to some of the questions above. Representatives of nine CCH grant awardees, along with Foundation trustees, participated in four separate roundtable discussions across the country to share their key learnings about how to improve cardiovascular health.

Here are some highlights from each roundtable discussion, including the one I had the privilege to attend in Charleston, W.Va. (and click on the links to watch these discussions):

Picayune, Mississippi – February 1, 2016

In Picayune, Miss., we celebrated the work of two long-time CCH grant awardees, Manna Ministries Inc. and Mallory Community Health Center. Manna Ministries received its third grant for its Heart 2 Heart Initiative, and Mallory Community Health Center received its fourth grant to begin its Take Control of Your Health program. Both organizations reach uninsured and underserved people in a state with some of the nation’s highest rates of cardiovascular disease, obesity and poverty.

Representatives of Manna Ministries and Mallory Community Health Center agreed that behavior change is a critical, and often challenging, component of their work. It extends to debunking myths about chronic disease and ensuring that people understand the purpose of primary care. The common theme throughout the discussion was a focus on motivation and individualized care.

2016 MS Roundtable 1

Left to right: Rich Buckley, President, AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation; Ray Parisi, Trustee, AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation; Jameye Martin, RN, Executive Director, Manna Ministries; Anthony Morales, MD, Consultant Cardiologist, Louisiana Heart Hospital; Dixie Reneault, Project Director, Manna Ministries; Jessanna Guzman, Manna Ministries; Aurora King, FNP, Medical Program Director, Manna Ministries; and Dustie Adams, Manna Ministries

Van Nuys, California – February 2, 2016

Van Nuys, Calif. was the meeting place for second-year grant awardee, Westminster Free Clinic, and first-time grant awardee, Mid Valley Family YMCA. Westminster’s Corazones Sanos (Healthy Hearts) program and the YMCA’s Active Su Corazon (Activate Your Heart) program both target Latinos in southern California.

The Mid Valley Family YMCA established its program to educate and empower the local Latino community about heart health. They took into account barriers to participation, and as a result they offer classes in Spanish and provide childcare. Westminster Free Clinic uses Latino teen volunteers to lead program activities and work with local grocery stores to offer healthier foods. Westminster also noted that many of their participants hesitate to ask questions during doctors’ visits; therefore, they work closely with them to ensure they understand medical terms such as high cholesterol and what they can do about it.

2016 CA Roundtable 1

Left to right: Karla Toledo, Teen Volunteer, Westminster Free Clinic; Esperanza (Espy) Gonzalez, Case Manager, Westminster Free Clinic; Timothy J. Gardner, MD, Trustee, AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation; and Rich Buckley, President, AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation

Charleston, West Virginia – February 4, 2016

In Charleston, W.Va., we learned from West Virginia Health Right, Inc. and St. Mary’s Health Wagon, both of whom are conducting their second CCH-funded programs – Sustainable Changes and Lifestyle Enhancement (SCALE) and Heart Health 1, 2, 3, respectively. Their programs provide medical care and health education in the Appalachian region, an area often characterized by lack of access to both.

West Virginia Health Right representatives attributed their program’s weight loss success to an emphasis on cultural sensitivity. Their team helps participants to find healthier recipes for regionally popular meals and learn about financially accessible diet options. St. Mary’s Health Wagon explained the rationale behind their use of a mobile clinic. Due to the geography of the region, people often have trouble getting to healthcare providers. St. Mary’s found that by delivering healthcare to the “doorsteps” of Appalachian residents, they could provide more screening opportunities and build trust in the community.

2016 WV Roundtable 1

Left to right: James W. Blasetto, MD, MPH, FACC, Chairman, AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation and L. Kristin Newby, MD, MHS, Trustee, AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – February 9, 2016

Three first-time CCH grant awardees gathered in Philadelpia to share how they are beginning or expanding their heart health programs with support from the AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation. Drexel University’s Stephen and Sandra Sheller 11th Street Family Health Services, City Health Works and the Gaston & Porter Health Improvement Center Inc. all operate in urban areas on the East Coast.

Representatives of each organization highlighted some of the challenges faced by their populations, ranging from language and literacy barriers, to racial disparities in health status. Drexel representatives explained their focus on resilience as a key component of their heart health program. By building teens’ “innate ability” to bounce back from trauma, they become better equipped to manage stress and make healthy lifestyle choices. Representatives of the Gaston & Porter Health Improvement Center discussed the importance of culturally appropriate, relatable mentors. Their program for mid-life African American women is led by previous program graduates. Similarly, City Health Works uses health coaches from the same backgrounds as they clients they serve. Each group spoke about the value of funding preventive health initiatives.

2016 PA Roundtable 1

Left to right: Ann Booth-Barbarin, Trustee, AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation; Timothy J. Gardner, MD, Trustee, AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation; and Howard Hutchinson, MD, FACC, Trustee, AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation

Each year, other trustees and I have the pleasure of meeting one-on-one with these groups and seeing the incredible impact of their programs. Participants are losing weight, reducing their blood pressure and Hemoglobin A1C levels, learning more about nutrition and increasing their physical activity. At the organizational level, program leaders are sharing proven strategies to improve cardiovascular health.

These discussions are the first step in sharing program success with others working to improve cardiovascular health in their communities. By demonstrating the value of innovative, locally tailored interventions and offering insight on how to improve these efforts, we hope that others will be better equipped to carry on this work. In doing so, I believe we can make an enduring impact on cardiovascular health.

Dr. James Blasetto is the Chairman of the Board of the AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation and Vice President of US Medical Affairs, Evidence Generation at AstraZeneca. He also is a Fellow in the American College of Cardiology.

Pictured top of page: Left to right: Chad Maender, Executive Director, Mid Valley Family YMCA; Joni Novosel, Community Services Director, Dignity Health Northridge Hospital Medical Center; Juan De La Cruz, VP of Community Development, YMCA of Metropolitan Los Angeles; Lisa Safaeinili, MPH, RD, Executive Director, Westminster Free Clinic; Karla Toledo, Teen Volunteer, Westminster Free Clinic; Esperanza (Espy) Gonzalez, Case Manager, Westminster Free Clinic; Timothy J. Gardner, MD, Trustee, AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation; and Rich Buckley, President, AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation

Reaching Hearts, One Lesson at a Time

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By James Blasetto, MD, MPH, FACC

J Blasetto-headshotAs Chairman of the AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation, I am proud of the nonprofit organizations that have empowered people to change their health – and lives – through our Connections for Cardiovascular HealthSM (CCH) program. These nonprofits use CCH grants for programs that target cardiovascular disease at the community level.

On November 3, I had the honor of representing the AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation at the American Public Health Association’s (APHA) 2015 Annual Meeting in Chicago, IL, along with Joyce Jacobson, the Foundation’s Executive Director and our evaluation partners from the Center for Social and Economic Policy Research at West Chester University. We displayed a poster highlighting how the best practices of the Foundation’s CCH program contribute to the high success rates of grant awardees’ cardiovascular health programs.

We understand that each community has a different cardiovascular need and a different way to approach that need. We designed the CCH program so that grant applicants could choose the innovative methods and measures best suited to their target populations. Thanks to this flexible approach and a standardized evaluation process, CCH has supported a diverse, successful funding portfolio in terms of the program disease focus, program delivery setting, geographic location and demographics. The common thread among these programs is a focus on learning from the past and building for the future.

During this APHA poster session, I thought about how far this program has come. We established the CCH program five years ago with the simple, but tall goal of improving cardiovascular health in the United States. In 2015, we are sharing our progress toward that goal at one of the nation’s most respected public health conferences. Our grant awardees have reached over 1.2 million people with health resources and information. Over 44,000 of those people have been tracked for improvement in cardiovascular metrics such as body mass index, blood pressure, hemoglobin A1C, eating habits, exercise and more.

The CCH program fosters an environment of widespread success. We ask our grant awardees to identify key learnings that can spread not only within their communities, but beyond them as well. The goal is to develop strong program strategies, evaluation practices and sustainability efforts that we can share with other organizations across the country. CCH grants are “seed money” to make this happen.

We have a responsibility to extend our best practices because in the end, it’s all about the people we help. With robust processes in place, we can continue connecting individuals to the resources they need to improve their cardiovascular health for the long run. And that may be the best connection of all.

Dr. James Blasetto is the Chairman of the Board of the AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation and Vice President of US Medical Affairs, Evidence Generation at AstraZeneca. He also is a Fellow in the American College of Cardiology.

Pictured above: (left to right) Jeffery Osgood, PhDCenter for Social and Economic Policy Research, West Chester University; Joyce Jacobson, Executive Director, AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation; James W. Blasetto, MD, MPH, FACC, Chairman, AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation; and R. Lorraine Bernotsky, DPhilCenter for Social and Economic Policy Research, West Chester University

Connecting Across the Country for Heart Health

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By James W. Blasetto, MD, MPH, FACC

J Blasetto-headshotEach year, the AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation looks forward to National Heart Month in February when we meet our new grant awardees and see how they work to improve cardiovascular health in local communities.

This year was no different. The Foundation’s Connections for Cardiovascular HealthSM program awarded over $2.6 million in grants to 13 organizations, with Foundation representatives attending events in Illinois, Maryland, California, West Virginia and Michigan, in addition to a kickoff event in Mississippi.

We support these programs because they reach people in the places where they live and work – whether it is at schools, churches or even mobile clinics – while partnering with community health workers, health promoters and personal coaches to encourage healthy behaviors. Additionally, these innovative programs focus on delivering positive outcomes for patient health by providing tools that are tailored to individual cultures and communities.

Here are some highlights, starting with two events I was honored to attend in Springfield, Ill., and Charleston, W.Va. (and be sure to click on the organization names to learn more about the great work they do):

Springfield, Illinois

On February 18, the Foundation made contributions to three organizations at an event in Springfield, as Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner declared February 18 “Connections for Cardiovascular Health Awareness Day”:

  • OASIS Institute in St. Louis, Mo.; $223,501: “Get Pumped!” aims to improve the health behaviors of adults living in nine high-risk ZIP codes in the St. Louis area who have at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease by providing health screenings, education and exercise programs at community locations using mobile health and evidence-based programs.
  • HSHS St. John’s Hospital in Springfield, Ill.; $205,564: “Launching a Tele-Heart Pathway” aims to address Healthy People 2020 objectives by identifying and partnering with heart failure patients and their caregivers in 13 disadvantaged communities using daily tele-health remote monitoring, support, education and evidence-based medication adjustments.
  • Presence Covenant Medical Center in Urbana, Ill.; $168,492: “The Cardiovascular Awareness and Risk Reduction Program” is designed to engage the community and Presence Covenant Medical Center’s community health partners to improve the quality of cardiovascular care through screening, education, treatment and support of healthy lifestyles, targeting uninsured and underinsured individuals.
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From left to right: Mark R. Stampehl, MD, MA, FACC, Tele-Heart Pathway Project Director, Medical Director of Heart Failure, HSHS St. John’s Hospital; Dr. Charles Lucore, President and CEO, HSHS St. John’s Hospital; Jared C. Rogers, MD, CPE, FAAFP, President and CEO, Presence Covenant Medical Center; Dr. Lakshmi, Christie Clinic Cardiologist and Champion of the Cardiovascular Awareness & Risk Reduction Program at Presence Covenant Medical Center; Lucinda ‘Cindy’ Magsamen, RN, BSN, Sr. Provider Engagement Executive, Presence Covenant Medical Center; Michael P. McMillan, President & CEO, Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis; Marcia M. Kerz, President, OASIS Institute; James W. Blasetto, MD, MPH, FACC, Chairman, AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation and Rich Buckley, President, AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation

Charleston, West Virginia

West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin declared February 24 to be “Connections for Cardiovascular Health Awareness Day” in conjunction with an event where the Foundation presented grants to three organizations:

  • Ashland-Boyd County Health Department in Ashland, Ky.; $223,000: “Appalachian Partnership for Positive Living and Eating (A.P.P.L.E.)” works to promote healthy childhood and youth development and control obesity among 750 children and their caregivers through a voluntary, community-based case management program in Boyd and Greenup, Ky.
  • West Virginia Health Right, Inc. in Charleston, W. Va.; $191,028: “SCALE (Sustainable Changes and Lifestyle Enhancement)” aims to achieve sustained weight loss in 50 obese patients to improve their health status and reduce cardiovascular risk factors.
  • Mary’s Health Wagon in Wise, Va.; $250,000: “Heart Health 1, 2, 3: Comprehensive Cardiovascular Disease Initiative for Diabetes Mellitus, Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity” is designed to identify, minimize and prevent cardiovascular disease in individuals with these conditions and Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver disease.
From left to right: James W. Blasetto, MD, MPH, FACC, Chairman, AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation; Tim O’Toole, Director of Rehabilitation, Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital; Holly West, Public Health Services Manager, Ashland-Boyd County Health Department; Jennifer Klaiber, Public Health Services Coordinator/ A.P.P.L.E. Program Coordinator, Ashland-Boyd County Health Department; David Shapiro, Vice President, Board of Directors, West Virginia Health Right, Inc.; Dr. Angie Settle, Executive Director, West Virginia Health Right, Inc.; Jennifer Burchett, Nurse Administrator/A.P.P.L.E. Program Director, Ashland-Boyd County Health Department and L. Kristin Newby, MD, MHS, Trustee, AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation

From left to right: James W. Blasetto, MD, MPH, FACC, Chairman, AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation; Tim O’Toole, Director of Rehabilitation, Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital; Holly West, Public Health Services Manager, Ashland-Boyd County Health Department; Jennifer Klaiber, Public Health Services Coordinator/ A.P.P.L.E. Program Coordinator, Ashland-Boyd County Health Department; David Shapiro, Vice President, Board of Directors, West Virginia Health Right, Inc.; Dr. Angie Settle, Executive Director, West Virginia Health Right, Inc.; Jennifer Burchett, Nurse Administrator/A.P.P.L.E. Program Director, Ashland-Boyd County Health Department and L. Kristin Newby, MD, MHS, Trustee, AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation

Baltimore

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan declared February 19 “Connections for Cardiovascular Health Day” and the Eastern Shoshone Tribal Business Council declared February as “Heart Health Month.” Our team presented Saint Agnes Hospital Foundation, Inc. and Sundance Research Institute, Inc. with grants to support their cardiovascular initiatives.

  • Saint Agnes Hospital Foundation, Inc. in Baltimore; $215,647: “Heart-to-Heart” aims to empower its faith-based partners to effectively reduce cardiovascular disease risk factors in communities with severe healthcare disparities.
  • Sundance Research Institute, Inc. in Wind River Indian Reservation, Wyo.; $197,952: “Honoring Your Heart on the Wind River Indian Reservation” aims to build on and expand a coordinated clinical-community health education program to increase cardiovascular health knowledge and reduce cardiovascular disease risk factors among American Indian adults and families with children.
From left to right: Kathryn Langwell, MA, President, Sundance Research Institute, Inc.; Johnnetta Davis-Joyce, Vice President, Sundance Research Institute, Inc.; Catherine Keene, Executive Director, Eastern Shoshone Tribal Health Programs; Kristie McNealy, MD, Senior Researcher, Sundance Research Institute, Inc.; Ray Parisi, Trustee, AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation; Joyce Jacobson, Executive Director, AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation; Michael Miller, MD, FACC, FAHA, Trustee, AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation; Carlos Ince, MD, Chief of Cardiology, Saint Agnes Hospital; Shannon Winakur, MD, Medical Director of Women’s Heart Center, Saint Agnes Hospital and Bonnie Phipps, President and CEO, Saint Agnes Healthcare

From left to right: Kathryn Langwell, MA, President, Sundance Research Institute, Inc.; Johnnetta Davis-Joyce, Vice President, Sundance Research Institute, Inc.; Catherine Keene, Executive Director, Eastern Shoshone Tribal Health Programs; Kristie McNealy, MD, Senior Researcher, Sundance Research Institute, Inc.; Ray Parisi, Trustee, AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation; Joyce Jacobson, Executive Director, AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation; Michael Miller, MD, FACC, FAHA, Trustee, AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation; Carlos Ince, MD, Chief of Cardiology, Saint Agnes Hospital; Shannon Winakur, MD, Medical Director of Women’s Heart Center, Saint Agnes Hospital and Bonnie Phipps, President and CEO, Saint Agnes Healthcare

Thousand Oaks, California

Thousand Oaks, Ventura County and the California Assembly declared February 21st as “Connections for Cardiovascular Health Day” as the Foundation presented a grant to the Westminster Free Clinic:

  • Westminster Free Clinic in Thousand Oaks, Calif.; $192,994: “Corazones Sanos para Mi Familia (Healthy Hearts for My Family)” aims to improve the health outcomes of low-income, uninsured Latinos suffering from or at high risk for heart disease and/or diabetes through culturally competent, patient-centered services.
From left to right: Linda Parks, Chair, Ventura County Board of Supervisors; Lisa Safaeinili, Executive Director, Westminster Free Clinic; Ann Booth-Barbarin, Trustee, AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation; Steve Kamajian, MD, Medical Director/Board President, Clinic Co-Founder, Westminster Free Clinic; Cindy Vinson, M.T., Board Member, Clinic Co-Founder, Westminster Free Clinic; Al Adam, Mayor of Thousand Oaks, CA and Jacqui Irwin, California State Assemblymember

From left to right: Linda Parks, Chair, Ventura County Board of Supervisors; Lisa Safaeinili, Executive Director, Westminster Free Clinic; Ann Booth-Barbarin, Trustee, AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation; Steve Kamajian, MD, Medical Director/Board President, Clinic Co-Founder, Westminster Free Clinic; Cindy Vinson, M.T., Board Member, Clinic Co-Founder, Westminster Free Clinic; Al Adam, Mayor of Thousand Oaks, CA and Jacqui Irwin, California State Assemblymember

Grand Rapids, Michigan

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell together proclaimed February 26th to be “Connections for Cardiovascular Health Awareness Day” in conjunction with the Foundation’s grant to Catherine’s Health Center:

  • Catherine’s Health Center in Grand Rapids, Mich.; $160,916: The “Heart Smart Connections” program aims to build on the successful “Live Heart Smart” program and improve the cardiovascular health of 2,000 low-income community residents by assisting with accessing health services including health insurance via the Affordable Care Act.
From left to right: Karen Kaashoek, Executive Director, Catherine’s Health Center; Mayor George Heartwell, City of Grand Rapids and Ann Booth-Barbarin, Secretary, AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation

From left to right: Karen Kaashoek, Executive Director, Catherine’s Health Center; Mayor George Heartwell, City of Grand Rapids and Ann Booth-Barbarin, Secretary, AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation

The full list of awardees can be found here, and click here to read about the earlier event we attended in Mississippi.

Since 2010, the Connections for Cardiovascular HealthSM program has awarded more than $17 million in grants to 43 organizations nationwide. More than 40,000 people have participated in a variety of programs of those organizations. As a result, we are seeing participants who are making healthier food choices, exercising more, reducing their body mass index, lowering their blood pressure and learning more about nutrition and how to lower their cardiovascular risk factors.

Dr. James Blasetto is the Chairman of the Board of the AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation and Vice President of US Medical Affairs, Evidence Generation at AstraZeneca. He also is a Fellow in the American College of Cardiology.

Pictured top of page, from left to right: Cindy Vinson, M.T., Board Member, Clinic Co-Founder, Westminster Free Clinic; Ann Booth-Barbarin, Trustee, AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation; Sara Green, Advocacy Development Manager, Medimmune, AstraZeneca and Lisa Safaeinili, Executive Director, Westminster Free Clinic

AstraZeneca Healthcare Foundation Kicks Off Fifth Year of Connections for Cardiovascular Health Program

Left to right: Ed Pinero, Mayor of Picayune, MS; Jameye Martin, Executive Director, Manna Ministries; Rich Buckley, President, AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation; Tony Smith, Mississippi State Senator; Jackie Adams, Heart 2 Heart program participant; Angela Hill, Mississippi State Senator; Cecilia Hargett, Heart 2 Heart program participant

By Rich Buckley, Vice President, U.S. Corporate Affairs

Rich-Buckley2Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, with more than 85 million Americans age 20 and older currently living with the disease. While this remains a discouraging figure, the good news is that given all we have learned about treating cardiovascular disease, there are steps you can take to manage the condition and help reduce your risk.

Not everyone knows the risk factors, nor does everyone have access to resources that can help them manage those risks and otherwise improve their heart health. The AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation launched the Connections for Cardiovascular HealthSM program in 2010 to help improve cardiovascular health, with the support of a $25 million charitable contribution from AstraZeneca. This program aims to improve heart health in communities nationwide by awarding grants annually to nonprofit organizations across the country that are making a difference through innovative grassroots programs.

Take, for example, Manna Ministries’ “Heart 2 Heart” program, which works to reduce the incidence of cardiovascular disease in southern Mississippi and Louisiana by providing uninsured and underinsured individuals and families with educational resources, as well as access to a clinic for free and/or affordable treatment and screenings. The program encourages participants to commit to heart health, and to pass on what they learn to family members, friends and neighbors, creating a legacy of heart healthy behaviors in their local communities.

In 2014, the AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation announced a grant to Manna Ministries of more than $150,000 to support its Heart 2 Heart program. The program is working. To date, roughly half of 142 participants lowered their triglyceride levels by an average of 40 points, and nearly 80 percent of a group of more than 40 participants with blood pressure higher than 140/90 decreased their blood pressure by the end of the program. In addition, many participants lost weight and made heart-healthy lifestyle changes, including improved diet and exercise habits.

From left to right: Ed Pinero, Mayor, City of Picayune, Miss.; Jameye Martin, Executive Director, Manna Ministries; Angela Hill, Mississippi State Senator; Tony Smith, Mississippi State Senator; and Rich Buckley, President, AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation

From left to right: Ed Pinero, Mayor, City of Picayune, Miss.; Jameye Martin, Executive Director, Manna Ministries; Angela Hill, Mississippi State Senator; Tony Smith, Mississippi State Senator; and Rich Buckley, President, AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation

On Monday, February 9, I traveled to Manna Ministries in Picayune, Mississippi for a special event to celebrate the Heart 2 Heart program and its impact on the community. As President of the AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation, I was also honored to present the dedicated team at Manna Ministries with a second grant in the amount of $152,763 to help them expand the Heart 2 Heart program. We have no doubt that it will continue to have a significant and sustainable impact in the area.

This was the first of several events being held throughout the country during Heart Month in February to recognize the important work being done by this year’s AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation grant recipients. In 2015 we are announcing that 13 organizations, from Maryland to California, are receiving more than $2.6 million for their efforts to improve cardiovascular health and disease awareness. The complete list of this year’s grant recipients and a brief overview of each is available here.

The entire AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation team and I are sincerely impressed by the work that these organizations are doing in their communities every day. Since the inception of Connections for Cardiovascular HealthSM, an incredible 1.2 million hearts have been touched through the programs it has helped fund, and the progress of more than 40,000 participants has been tracked. We look forward to continuing our work together to improve heart health across the country, one person at a time.

Pictured above, left to right: Ed Pinero, Mayor of Picayune, MS; Jameye Martin, Executive Director, Manna Ministries; Rich Buckley, President, AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation; Tony Smith, Mississippi State Senator; Jackie Adams, Heart 2 Heart program participant; Angela Hill, Mississippi State Senator; Cecilia Hargett, Heart 2 Heart program participant

AZ Congratulates 2014 AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation Grant Recipients

At a special event held on Tuesday, February 4 in Baltimore, Md., the AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation presented $704,379 in grants to the Foundation for Community Partnerships, Sundance Research Institute and Saint Agnes Hospital Foundation, Inc.

At a special event held on Tuesday, February 4 in Baltimore, Md., the AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation presented $704,379 in grants to the Foundation for Community Partnerships, Sundance Research Institute and Saint Agnes Hospital Foundation, Inc.

In communities across the country, nonprofit organizations are working hard every day to improve cardiovascular health and combat a serious and prevalent condition with which many of us are all too familiar – heart disease.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States, and it claims approximately 600,000 lives each year.

This is one of the reasons why, in 2010, the AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation launched the Connections for Cardiovascular HealthSM program, which annually awards grants of $150,000 or more to U.S.-based nonprofit organizations to support their innovative work to improve cardiovascular health.  The Foundation’s program was funded through a $25 million charitable contribution made by AstraZeneca, and since its inception, has awarded more than $14 million in grants to organizations nationwide.

This year, the Connections for Cardiovascular Health program is awarding nearly $3.7 million in grants to 19 nonprofit organizations.  The AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation began presenting the latest grants at a number of events in early February.  Rich Buckley, AstraZeneca’s vice president of North America Corporate Affairs, who also serves as president of the AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation, took part in two of these events.

Rich Buckley, President of the AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation, shakes hands with Ellie Yorio, a 6th grade student and participant in the Foundation for Community Partnerships’ Partnering for Youth Cardio-Fit Project.

Rich Buckley, President of the AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation, shakes hands with Ellie Yorio, a 6th grade student and participant in the Foundation for Community Partnerships’ Partnering for Youth Cardio-Fit Project.

“These organizations are making a tremendous impact in their local communities by finding innovative ways to raise awareness around the risks of cardiovascular disease and providing tools and resources to help people make healthy decisions,” said Buckley.  “From nutrition and exercise programs, to free health screenings and lifestyle coaching, we commend them for helping to address an urgent need to improve cardiovascular health.”

To date, more than 30,000 people have participated in a variety of community programs that have received grants through the Connections for Cardiovascular Health program. As a result of these programs, participants are making healthier food choices, exercising more and reducing or preventing cardiovascular risk factors. They are accomplishing this in many ways including reducing their body mass index, lowering their blood pressure and hemoglobin A1C levels and learning more about nutrition and cardiovascular risk factors.

For additional information, including a full list of this year’s grant recipients and a brief description of the programs being supported by the AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation grants, click here.