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August 17th, 2016

Consortium Formed to Tackle Health Disparities

Cheryl Pegus M.D., M.P.H
NEW YORK - The American Heart Association’s (AHA) eight-state Northeast Founders Affiliate has established the Northeast Health Equity Consortium (NHEC) with volunteer leaders and with the generous support of the Aetna Foundation to tackle health disparities.

Deaths from heart attacks, strokes and other heart diseases have been declining, but social factors, including race, income, environment, and education can erase these gains, particularly in the underserved populations, according to the AHA. Social determinants include circumstances in which people are born, grow, live, work and age.

“Tackling health disparities in cardiovascular diseases, and challenges related to the social determinants of health require innovative thinking and distinctive approaches,” says Garth Graham, MD, MPH, FACP, FACC, Founders Board member and President of the Aetna Foundation.  “The NHEC represents a unique endeavor that could change the landscape of partnerships and solutions in the Northeast region and we are excited to help found this initiative.”

Keith Churchwell, MD, FACC, FAHA, FACP, and Cheryl Pegus, MD, MPH, will co-chair this effort. Churchwell is AHA Founders Board member and Vice President and Executive Director of Heart and Vascular Services, Yale New Haven Hospital. Pegus is Immediate Past President of the AHA Founders Board and Clinical Professor of Medicine and Population Health, Director, Division of General Internal Medicine and Clinical Innovation, and Immediate Past President, NYU School of Medicine.

“Despite the existence of a wide range of effective medications and primary therapies in treating cardiovascular diseases, there is a significant lag in utilizing them in underserved and high risk communities,” said Dr. Churchwell. “Our goal is to evaluate and/or produce impactful research and recommendations related to cardiovascular and stroke-related health disparities, their causes, and potential solutions.” 

In addition, NHEC will also support the implementation of two cardiovascular health initiatives, the American Heart Association High Blood Pressure Algorithm/Target BP and Get With The Guidelines.
“If we can identify targeted, cost-effective solutions that are sustainable and reproducible, as well as demonstrate the economic and health benefits of making these issues a priority in both corporations and communities, we are well on our way to seeing reductions in cardiovascular diseases in all segments of our population and achieving the American Heart Association’s 2020 goal,” said Dr. Cheryl Pegus.
The NHEC will focus on primordial and primary prevention; systems of, and delivery of care; social determinants of health; patient-centered outcomes research, community engagement, and community-based participatory research.

A meeting is planned for October 2016. Clinicians, healthcare providers, heath disparities researchers and thought leaders will be invited to attend the meeting, each with a sphere of influence that extends throughout the Founders Affiliate and beyond.

“I am thrilled that our affiliate is once again leading the way with this important initiative – one that will produce real outcomes that will ultimately save lives. That is the ultimate goal of our Association, to save lives,” stated Heather Kinder, Executive Vice President, Founders Affiliate.

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