Empowering People to Improve Heart Health


Meredith Hemler


Rich Buckley, Vice President, Corporate Affairs, North America and President, AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation

People have the power to improve heart health. It’s a simple phrase, but one that seems to falter against such an intractable, national burden like cardiovascular disease, the number one cause of death in the United States. Can individuals really turn the tide against heart disease and its associated risk factors such as diabetes, metabolic syndrome and obesity? I believe the answer is a resounding “yes.”

I’m proud to serve as President of the AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation, which awards Connections for Cardiovascular HealthSM (CCH) grants to nonprofit organizations across the country that work to improve cardiovascular health at the community level by reaching one person at a time with care, resources and support. The Foundation and its CCH Grant Awardees share the belief that we can support people in their ability to improve heart health.

The AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation’s 2014 annual report shows how these awardees have empowered people to improve their cardiovascular health, one step at a time. The report highlights their innovative community programs – and individuals who found the support to change their health and lives.

One individual, a young man named Eric, participated in West Virginia Health Right’s first CCH-funded program, Pathways to Cardiovascular Health. He struggled with obesity and type 2 diabetes and had hit a plateau after losing 70 pounds. Eric and his father attended the program’s healthy cooking and diabetes education classes and as a result, Eric lost an additional 50 pounds and reduced his Hemoglobin A1C level by a third. His journey didn’t stop there. Eric’s inspirational story was highlighted in the local newspaper, and he convinced his mother to join West Virginia Health Right’s newest CCH-funded weight loss program, SCALE (Sustainable Changes and Lifestyle Enhancement). Eric and his family are continuing to build a healthy lifestyle together, step by step.

To date, CCH grant awardees have reached over one million hearts through various outreach and educational efforts, and actively tracked over 40,000 people for improvements. Program participants have lost weight, reduced their blood sugar levels, increased their health knowledge and more. And like Eric, they’re connecting with others to share what they have learned. Kids are putting more vegetables on their plates and encouraging their parents to do the same. Other participants mentor friends who are looking to improve their cardiovascular health. This is the core of the CCH program – supporting meaningful heart health change at the individual level, and fostering connections to spread that change to others. By empowering one person at a time to improve their heart health, we can begin a ripple effect that will improve the health of communities and generations.

You can learn more about the AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation by visiting our website, following us on Twitter or watching us on YouTube.

Pictured Above: Robin and her children, Ryleigh and Austyn, participants in Ashland-Boyd County Health Department’s CCH-funded A.P.P.L.E. program