Reaching Hearts, One Lesson at a Time

By James Blasetto, MD, MPH, FACC

As Chairman of the AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation, I am proud of the nonprofit organizations that have empowered people to change their health – and lives – through our Connections for Cardiovascular HealthSM (CCH) program. These nonprofits use CCHgrants for programs that target cardiovascular disease at the community level.

On November 3, I had the honor of representing the AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation at the American Public Health Association’s (APHA) 2015 Annual Meeting in Chicago, IL, along with Joyce Jacobson, the Foundation’s Executive Director and our evaluation partners from the Center for Social and Economic Policy Research at West Chester University. We displayed a poster highlighting how the best practices of the Foundation’s CCH program contribute to the high success rates of grant awardees’ cardiovascular health programs.

We understand that each community has a different cardiovascular need and a different way to approach that need. 

We designed the CCH program so that grant applicants could choose the innovative methods and measures best suited to their target populations. Thanks to this flexible approach and a standardized evaluation process, CCH has supported a diverse, successful funding portfolio in terms of the program disease focus, program delivery setting, geographic location and demographics. The common thread among these programs is a focus on learning from the past and building for the future.

During this APHA poster session, I thought about how far this program has come. We established the CCH program five years ago with the simple, but tall goal of improving cardiovascular health in the United States. In 2015, we are sharing our progress toward that goal at one of the nation’s most respected public health conferences. Our grant awardees have reached over 1.2 million people with health resources and information. Over 44,000 of those people have been tracked for improvement in cardiovascular metrics such as body mass index, blood pressure, hemoglobin A1C, eating habits, exercise and more.

The CCH program fosters an environment of widespread success. We ask our grant awardees to identify key learnings that can spread not only within their communities, but beyond them as well. The goal is to develop strong program strategies, evaluation practices and sustainability efforts that we can share with other organizations across the country.CCH grants are “seed money” to make this happen.

We have a responsibility to extend our best practices because in the end, it’s all about the people we help. With robust processes in place, we can continue connecting individuals to the resources they need to improve their cardiovascular health for the long run. And that may be the best connection of all.

Dr. James Blasetto is the Chairman of the Board of the AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation and Vice President of US Medical Affairs, Evidence Generation at AstraZeneca. He also is a Fellow in the American College of Cardiology.

Pictured above: (left to right) Jeffery Osgood, PhD, Center for Social and Economic Policy Research, West Chester University; Joyce Jacobson, Executive Director, AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation; James W. Blasetto, MD, MPH, FACC, Chairman, AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation; and R. Lorraine Bernotsky, DPhil, Center for Social and Economic Policy Research, West Chester University