By Marla Vacek Broadfoot
Freelance science writer, NC TraCS
Hypertension – and the need to take action to prevent, treat, and control it, especially among those most vulnerable – was the subject of a day-long event held at the East Carolina Heart Institute at East Carolina University Dec. 12. The Evidence Academy on Hypertension brought together over 100 researchers, health professionals and community leaders to discuss ways to address the number one risk factor for premature death worldwide.
Throughout the day, clinicians, practitioners, researchers, community leaders and local officials discussed a broad set of evidence-based approaches to the issue, always with an eye on their possible impacts on local communities. The schedule included a series of large-group and smaller breakout scientific presentations in policy, treatment and practice tracks, with extended opportunities for participants to discuss research findings and model programs.
Following the Evidence Academy, a small group of 8 to 12 individuals known as the Action Learning Cohort will take what was gained from the meeting and collectively identify and develop ways to engage in action to address hypertension from policy, practice and research perspectives. The effort will be led by Lori Carter-Edwards, principal investigator of the Evidence Academy on Hypertension. The ALC group will meet for approximately six months, with the end goal of producing a product such as updated policy recommendations or a new pilot grant, which can then be shared with the wider community.
“My hope is that we can use the synergy and momentum from the Evidence Academy to promote efforts that help improve hypertension prevention and management in Eastern North Carolina,” said Carter-Edwards, who is also evaluator for the Public Health Leadership Program and a research associate professor of health behavior at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health.
The event was sponsored by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, a division of the National Institutes of Health, and the NC Translational and Clinical Sciences (NC TraCS) Institute. Additional support came from the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Mid-Atlantic Affiliate, and Vidant Health. Partners included the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University, Eastern Area Health Education Center (EAHEC), the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health and the UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention.