In the United States, more than 40 percent of Black men and women are living with high blood pressure—the highest rate in the country. As part of a $20 million award from the America Heart Association, NYU Grossman School of Medicine has been named as the coordinating center for a new collaboration between 8 universities to prevent hypertension and reduce racial inequities in cardiovascular disease outcomes in Black communities.
This new initiative, called The RESTORE Health Equity Research Network, comprises an interdisciplinary team of investigators from eight institutions across the country (NYU Grossman School of Medicine; University of Alabama at Birmingham; Columbia University; Johns Hopkins University; Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center; Wayne State University; Tuskegee University; and University of California, San Francisco) and led by Gbenga Ogedegbe, MD, MPH, the Dr. Adolph and Margaret Berger Professor of Medicine and Population Health and director of the Institute for Excellence in Health Equity.
“It is an honor to help lead this endeavor and work with some of the most talented scientists in the country who have dedicated their careers to tackling racial inequities in health,” says Dr. Ogedegbe. “There is no biological basis for the glaring racial disparities we see in hypertension and cardiovascular disease outcomes, especially the disturbingly high rates in Black populations. By mitigating the impact of social determinants of health on hypertension among Black adults, it is our goal to build a society where every person lives a healthy life free of high blood pressure and heart disease.”
To prevent hypertension in Black communities, The RESTORE Network will do the following:
- partner with Black communities across the United States to reduce negative impacts of social determinants of health on blood pressure
- develop and evaluate strategies to implement evidence-based lifestyle interventions in Black communities
- disseminate findings to policymakers and stakeholders to ensure sustainability of hypertension prevention strategies
- train the next generation of early career investigators in health equity and hypertension research
The RESTORE Network will use a community-engaged and implementation science framework to guide five hypertension prevention projects in Black communities. Each will test a different implementation strategy to overcome adverse social determinants of health, such as poor access to healthcare and food insecurity. Each of the five projects tests an implementation strategy that engages individuals in community-based settings, as well as healthcare settings such as Federally Qualified Health Centers.
One of the projects will assess a community–clinic linkage program to prevent hypertension in Black men in New York City. Led by Joseph E. Ravenell, MD, associate professor of population health, this project will use community health workers to screen Black men for hypertension in 30 barbershops, while also providing lifestyle counseling and facilitating their linkage to care.
NYU Langone’s Institute for Excellence in Health Equity (IEHE) will serve as the coordinating center for The RESTORE Network. The coordinating center will oversee the establishment of five cores that will provide resources to the projects: blood pressure measurement (Columbia University); statistical and cost-effectiveness (University of Alabama at Birmingham, Columbia University, and University of California, San Francisco); intervention (NYU Grossman School of Medicine); community engagement (Johns Hopkins University); and training (Columbia University).
According to Dr. Ogedegbe, The RESTORE Network will use its findings to forge new partnerships with payers, departments of health, and other organizations across the country to advance the science of health equity. It will also serve as a trusted partner for communities and academia to implement community–clinic linkage models for hypertension prevention in Black communities across the country.
“Preventing high blood pressure and addressing social determinants of health in historically excluded and under-resourced communities, especially in the Black community, is a top priority for the American Heart Association. High blood pressure remains a leading risk factor of heart disease and stroke and can often be managed if diagnosed and treated properly,” says David Chubak, chair, board of directors, American Heart Association in New York City. “The work of Drs. Gbenga Ogedegbe and Joseph Ravenell and the team at NYU Grossman School of Medicine to utilize community health workers to screen Black men for hypertension in 30 barbershops, provide lifestyle counseling, and facilitate access to care is remarkable. This program has the potential to save lives, build trust in the community, foster sustained impact and drive advancements that will ensure health equity for all.”
In addition to Dr. Ogedegbe, NYU Langone researchers involved in The RESTORE Network include Tanya M. Spruill, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Population Heath; Rajesh Vedanthan, MD, associate professor of population health; Jasmin Divers, professor in the NYU Long Island School of Medicine; Mary A. Sevick, ScD, professor of population health; Nadia S. Islam, PhD, associate professor of population health; Antoinette M. Schoenthaler, EdD, associate professor of population health; and Benjamin Spoer, PhD, manager of metrics and analytics for the City Health Dashboard in the Department of Population Health.