AstraZeneca - AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation awards $209,523 grant to Palmetto Project

Friday, 7 February 2014

The AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation’s Connections for Cardiovascular HealthSM program today announced a grant of $209,523 to the Palmetto Project to support its Heart & Soul initiative. This is the second consecutive year in which the Palmetto Project has received a grant from the AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation, totaling $425,033.

Working at food distribution and community meal sites throughout South Carolina, Heart & Soul aims to improve clinical indicators for metabolic syndrome among African Americans at greatest risk for cardiovascular disease and stroke. Metabolic syndrome is the name for a group of risk factors (e.g., large waistline, high triglyceride level, high blood pressure) that raise the risk for heart disease and other health problems, such as diabetes and stroke. A person with at least three metabolic risk factors can be diagnosed with metabolic syndrome.

The program operates in 26 sites across Charleston, Berkeley, Dorchester, Colleton, Williamsburg, Marion, Clarendon and Georgetown counties. Sites in Clarendon and Marion counties are run solely by volunteers, demonstrating how the program model can succeed in rural areas with minimal budgets. Heart disease accounts for 22 percent of all deaths in South Carolina, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Funding from Connections for Cardiovascular HealthSM is allowing us to create a fully tested blueprint for community strategies to improve health indicators of South Carolinians at greatest risk,” said Carrie Whipper, Heart & Soul coordinator. The Palmetto Project expects the program to eventually be adaptable to any community in the state, she added.

As a result of previous funding from the AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation, Heart & Soul’s patient navigators worked with 1,415 economically disadvantaged individuals in 2013 to guide them to significant health changes through blood pressure screening, health education and work toward improved healthy behaviors. Blood pressure readings improved for 41 percent of program participants (90 out of 217). Nearly one-quarter of the participants whose blood pressure readings began at dangerously high levels (more than 160/100), made lifestyle changes that reduced their readings to lower levels.

“Cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death in the United States, and organizations like the Palmetto Project are creating innovative programs to help prevent and decrease the associated risks with this devastating disease,” said James W. Blasetto, M.D., MPH, FACC, chairman of the AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation. “We are grateful to the Palmetto Project for its commitment to improving heart health in their community.”

The Connections for Cardiovascular HealthSM program annually awards grants of $150,000 or more to U.S.-based nonprofit organizations dedicated to improving cardiovascular health in local communities. This year, the program awarded nearly $3.7 million in grants to 19 organizations. More than $14 million in grants have been awarded through the program since its inception in 2010.

Organizations can learn more and apply online for a Connections for Cardiovascular HealthSMgrant at Applications must be submitted online no later than 5 p.m. EST on Feb. 27, 2014.

About the Palmetto Project

Palmetto Project is a statewide nonprofit organization whose mission is to identify innovative approaches to social and economic challenges facing South Carolina. Through special partnerships with governments, businesses, civic groups, schools, and religious organizations, Palmetto Project strives to bring a fresh entrepreneurial spirit to the challenge of building successful communities in a great state. For more information, call 843-577-4122 or visit

About AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation

Established in 1993, the AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation is a Delaware not-for-profit corporation and a 501(c)(3) entity organized for charitable purposes, including to promote public awareness of healthcare issues, to promote public education of medical knowledge, and to support or contribute to charitable and qualified exempt organizations consistent with its charitable purpose. Connections for Cardiovascular HealthSM was launched in 2010 through a charitable contribution of $25 million from AstraZeneca.

Media Inquiries

Public Communications Inc Colleen O'Donnell or Sky Oplia 312-558-1770
Palmetto Project Shelli Quenga 843-577-4122

1. Murphy, S.L., Xu, J., & Kochanek, K.D. Deaths: Final data for 2010. National vital statistics reports; vol 61 no 4, 85-86. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2013.