Updated:
Original:

Health organizations unite against heart disease in Indian country

Author:

WASHINGTON - The American Heart Association and the IHS, an agency of the
Department of Health and Human Services, recently signed a memorandum of
understanding that formalizes the two organizations' growing collaboration
to aggressively combat heart disease, stroke and the risk factors for those
conditions within the American Indian and Alaska Native community.

"American Indians and Alaska Natives have developed the highest rates of
cardiovascular disease within the United States," said AHA President Dr.
Alice Jacobs. "The IHS and the American Heart Association share goals and
interests in reducing heart disease and stroke risk through prevention. By
joining forces, we will develop culturally appropriate interventions to
overcome these health care disparities."

This agreement, which extends through June 30, 2006, will guide the two
organizations' continuing efforts to develop culturally appropriate patient
and community education materials, share and link selected patient and
provider Web-based education materials and online tools, and exchange
information related to the prevention and treatment of heart disease and
stroke.

"Each organization has unique competencies to contribute to achieving these
shared goals; and by forming this relationship, we can open up
communication channels and strengthen collaborations at the national, state
and local levels," said IHS Director Dr. Charles W. Grim. "Our combined
efforts will result in many added years to the lives of those already
experiencing symptoms and hopefully prevent many from getting to that
point."

Specifically, the AHA and IHS will cooperate to develop an implementation
strategy for many of AHA's existing programs, including the "Get with the
Guidelines" program, a hospital-based quality improvement program designed
to close the treatment gap in cardiovascular disease.

The program provides physicians and health care providers with materials,
information and tools based on AHA secondary prevention guidelines on
cardiovascular disease. Both organizations believe that "Get with the
Guidelines" is both clinically appropriate and consistent with the
resources and tools for coronary artery disease in patients at Indian
health facilities.