Improving Women’s Awareness of Cardiovascular Disease Through Primary Prevention The Wahine Heart Wellness Program: A Community Approach















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Cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death for women in the United States. Despite increases in awareness over the past decade, only 54% of women recognize heart disease as their number one killer (CDC, 2013). Although Hawaii has relatively low rates of death from heart disease and stroke, Native Hawaiians are plagued with disproportionately higher rates of chronic disease. The purpose of this Practice Inquiry Project was to identify Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) risk early and to improve health literacy on cardiovascular disease in women. The plan was to screen and educate Asian, Native Hawaiian, and other Pacific Island women living on the Leeward Coast of Oahu, Hawaii about the risk factors for developing cardiovascular disease. The specific aim of this study was to: (a) assess the current level of awareness of CVD as the leading cause of death in rural Asian, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Island women; (b) implement a CVD Risk Program; and (c) evaluate program effectiveness to decrease CVD risk. The study design used a mixed methods approach involving qualitative and quantitative data collection to address the project study aims. The methods included; a cardiovascular awareness questionnaire (pre-test and post-test); a screening process using the Life’s Simple 7 matrix; and six educational sessions to improve health literacy on primary prevention of cardiovascular risks. Evaluating knowledge levels, health perceptions, and behavioral performance underline the research methodology used in this study. A convenience sample of 20 predominantly Asian, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Island women, were recruited from the Makeke Market in Kapolei, Hawaii. Data from the research aims were compiled, and descriptive statistics and charts were used to present the results. At the conclusion of the program, none of the women scored in the low range (4-6 points) on the Life’s Simple 7 matrix; 5% of the women scored in the intermediate range (7-8 points); while 95% scored in the ideal range (9-14 points) on their post-program score. Ninety percent of the participants scored an 80% or above on the Risk Awareness Questionnaire post-test. This study showed that an increase in awareness can improve cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk and encourage women to make behavioral changes to decrease cardiovascular risk. The study also demonstrated that collaboration and partnerships between local schools of nursing and existing community organizations, community-based integrated approaches, incorporating health literacy, and infusing cultural knowledge into practice are essential to successful, innovative, and sustainable solutions when working with rural Asian, Native Hawaiian, and other Pacific Island women.



Cardiovascular system--Diseases, Women, Risk perception, Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islander




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