CMHA to offer free health screenings as part of health disparity research

In 2018, Black Americans were 30% more likely to die from heart disease than non-Hispanic whites and 40% more likely to have high blood pressure, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. [sirtravelalot / Shutterstock]
In 2018, Black Americans were 30% more likely to die from heart disease than non-Hispanic whites and 40% more likely to have high blood pressure, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. [sirtravelalot / Shutterstock]

Ideastream Public Media’s health team is connecting the dots on how racism contributes to poor health outcomes in the Cleveland area. 

Cleveland researchers will use an $18.2 million grant to address how the social determinants of health affect cardiovascular disease by offering free risk factor screenings and connecting people with resources. 

Researchers at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) School of Medicine and University Hospitals (UH) Harrington Heart & Vascular Institute recently received the grant from the National Institutes of Health’s P50 program.

The initiative is called Addressing Cardiometabolic Health Inequities by Early Prevention in the Great Lakes Region, or ACHIEVE GreatER, and it also involves Wayne State University in Detroit.

The grant will pay for community health workers, nurses and care coordinators to work with the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA) and provide health services, including free risk factor screening.

In 2018, Black Americans were 30 percent more likely to die from heart disease than non-Hispanic whites and 40 percent more likely to have high blood pressure, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Socioeconomic status, education, geography and environmental factors contribute to these disparities, said Dr. Sanjay Rajagopalan of CWRU and UH and principal investigator for Cleveland's part of the project. 

"This is one attempt to try and come up with a model that starts to at least chip away at this very complex problem," Rajagopalan said.

To do that, researchers will conduct health tests like blood pressure screenings at CMHA buildings. Part of the test will be a detailed interview to find out what patients' needs are, Rajagopalan said.

They will use this information to connect people with resources they need, like food, transportation and employment. Rajagopalan believes connecting people with these resources will improve their health. 

"When you have overarching issues relating to money and other social determinants--and there are many others: trauma, the neighborhoods where you live in where it's distracting, there's a lot of noise. When these types of things start to encroach on your life, health doesn't become a priority," he said. 

Rajagopalan said work on the project is expected to begin soon. 

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