Lessons From Appalachian Heart Disease Prevention Study to be Applied to Urban Women in Los Angeles

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 23, 2012) — Supported by a prestigious American Heart Association Clinical Research Grant, former University of Kentucky T32 cardiology fellow Jo-Ann Eastwood is taking lessons learned through a project designed to improve the heart health of rural Kentucky women and applying the same principles to a project to enhance the heart health outcomes of young urban African-American women in Los Angeles. Eastwood is one of 18 recipients nationally of a 2012 AHA Clinical Research award, and the only nursing professional to qualify for the grant this year. She will receive $140,000 over two years to complete an interventional study in women under age 45.

"My passion is reducing cardiovascular risk in young women," said Eastwood, who worked with mentor Debra Moser, professor in the UK College of Nursing and faculty in the UK Saha Cardiovascular Research Center. Moser will serve as a consultant on Eastwood's AHA Clinical Research Grant project.

"Although numbers for cardiovascular disease in women are going down a bit," said Eastwood, "numbers in women 24 to 45 are going up. That's an insult with all the pharmacological  and technological advancements we now have. On top of that, the numbers are highest in African-Americans."

Eastwood's interventional research will target young African-American women living in the Los Angeles area. The research participants will consist of a control group and an intervention group. Those in the intervention group will receive technological assistance from smartphones, as well as from blood pressure monitors that transmit data back to researchers through the phone. The intervention group will receive four weeks of educational programming, along with personal coaching through the smartphones, monitoring of physical activity, prompts to exercise and eat well, and positive reinforcement for heart-healthy behaviors. Participants' behaviors will be tracked through the Adherence Scale developed by Moser, and researchers will examine what barriers exist to adherence to a heart-healthy lifestyle (for example, some women may not get enough physical activity in part because they feel their neighborhood is unsafe for pedestrians).

"Social support is important to women," said Eastwood, which explains why the intervention will include so much coaching and communication with participants.

Outcomes of the study will be measured in both the intervention and control groups. Metrics will include waist measurement, blood pressure, body mass index, cholesterol panels, C-Reactive protein measurements (an inflammatory marker linked to heart disease), and food questionnaires. These measurements will be obtained at the outset of the study, as well as at the three and six month marks. Results will be compared between the intervention group and the control group, to see if and to what extent the intervention improves markers of heart health in the participants.

Eastwood completed her T32 Cardiology Fellowship at UK between July 2010 and June 2012. She is currently an assistant professor at the University of California Los Angeles School of Nursing, and a nurse researcher at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center Heart Institute in Los Angeles. Eastwood can be reached at