Dr. Alwyn Cohall, a New York Life leader in residence for 2011–2012, is spearheading the Center's focus on hypertension in Harlem.
Hypertension—sustained high blood pressure—is a fact of life for almost one in three Americans (31 percent), according the U.S. Center for Disease Control. Among African-Americans, however, this “silent killer” strikes more than 40 percent of the adult population—triggering thousands of deaths each year through strokes, heart attacks, and life-threatening complications such as kidney damage. What’s more, African-Americans tend to get this condition at younger ages and suffer more devastating complications, studies show. Now Alwyn Cohall, M.D., head of the Harlem Health Promotion Center, a U.S. Centers for Disease Control-funded prevention research center, has turned his formidable expertise and energy to tackling hypertension in northern Manhattan.
A Multi-targeted Approach
Dr. Cohall, one of the Colin Powell Center’s two New York Life leaders in residence for 2011–2012, is launching a new initiative to ensure that a greater number of local residents know whether they have hypertension, how to control it, and where to get help. Called Project SHARE, the initiative features a multi-targeted approach that includes risk assessments, awareness raising, advice, support, and linkages to care. The use of a novel health web portal, GetHealthyHarlem.org, developed with colleagues and community partners, is a key component.
Project SHARE will monitor the outcomes of participants who receive various levels of intervention. “What we’re finding out is the appropriate level of information, advice, and support needed to improve health outcomes," Dr. Cohall says. “There are costs and ramifications with each course of action.” In particular, the study compares the outcomes when patients receive 1) print resources alone; 2) print resources, a step-by-step instruction guide on exercise, diet, smoking cessation and medication management, and utilization of the GetHealthyHarlem.org Website; and 3) print and Web-based materials, along with periodic counseling with community health workers. More