Advertise:   712.224.5420

IHS to combat heart disease and stroke with AHA

The Indian Health Service and the American Heart Association signed an agreement on Thursday to combat heart disease and stroke among American Indians and Alaska Natives.

Heart disease is the number one cause of death in Indian Country, according to data released this week. Stroke is the sixth leading killer and is a growing problem, health officials said.

To fight heart disease and stroke and the risk factors associated with them, the IHS and the AHA will develop culturally appropriate patient and community education materials; share and link selected patient and provider Web-based education materials and online tools; and exchange information related to the prevention and treatment of heart disease and stroke.

"Each organization has unique competencies to contribute to achieving these shared goals, and by forming this relationship, we can open up communication channels and strengthen collaborations at the national, state, and local levels," said Dr. Charles Grim, a member of the Cherokee Nation and director of the IHS. "Our combined efforts will result in many added years to the lives of those already experiencing symptoms and hopefully prevent many from getting to that point."

"American Indians and Alaska Natives have developed the highest rates of cardiovascular disease within the United States," added Dr. Alice Jacobs, the president of the AHA. "The IHS and the American Heart Association share goals and interests in reducing heart disease and stroke risk through prevention. By joining forces, we will develop culturally appropriate interventions to overcome these healthcare disparities."

Specifically, the AHA and IHS will develop an implementation strategy for many of the Association's existing programs, including the AHA's "Get with the Guidelines" program (GWTG), a hospital-based quality improvement program designed to close the treatment gap in cardiovascular disease.

The GWTG provides physicians and healthcare providers with materials, information, and tools based on AHA secondary prevention guidelines on cardiovascular disease. Both organizations believe that GWTG is both clinically appropriate and consistent with the resources and tools for coronary artery disease in patients at Indian health facilities.

The agreement runs until June 30, 2006.

Get the Data:
Atlas of Heart Disease and Stroke Among American Indians and Alaska Natives (May 2005)

Relevant Links:
Indian Health Service -
American Heart Association -
Cardiovascular Health, CDC -

Related Stories:
Heart disease is top killer in Indian Country (5/17)
Cancer among Minnesota Indians extremely high (04/20)
Heart disease, cancer showing up in Alaska Natives (10/19)
Health summit focuses on cancer among Indians (10/12)
Study looks at reducing heart disease among Indians (10/8)
Heart, cancer death rates falling for Mich. Natives (02/25)
CDC documents premature deaths from heart disease (02/23)
CDC calls attention to health disparities in U.S. (02/09)
Survey finds heavy health burden on Indian population (12/01)
Survey finds high-risk behaviors among BIA students (11/13)
Democrats lay out plan for minority and Indian health (10/22)
Smoking rates among Natives highest in nation (10/10)
Cancer rates on the decline in Indian Country (09/03)
Elder care study shows worsening problems (07/11)
CDC: Death rates at record lows, except Indians (10/11)
Indian Country ranks high in deaths (6/27)
Cancer deaths increase in Indian Country (6/6)