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Gbenga Ogedegbe, MD, Receives $2 Million Grant for Landmark Research Initiative to Reduce Impact of Hypertension

Research to Focus on Implementing High Blood Pressure Prevention and Control Programs in Low- and Middle-Income Countries

NYU School of Medicine is proud to announce Gbenga G. Ogedegbe, MD, director of the Center for Healthful Behavior Change (CHBC), has been awarded more than $2 million by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) to study hypertension control and prevention in Ghana.

The project, entitled “Task Shifting and Blood Pressure Control in Ghana: A Cluster-Randomized Trial,” will evaluate the impact of two different strategies aimed at reducing barriers to optimal hypertension control in sub-Saharan Africa.

Hypertension is one of the most common chronic conditions worldwide, affecting an estimated one billion people. It is a major contributor to heart disease, heart failure, stroke, kidney disease, and other conditions and, according to the World Health Organization, contributes to more deaths worldwide than any other risk factor.

Ghana and other countries in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) are experiencing an epidemic of cardiovascular diseases (CVD) propelled by rapidly increasing rates of hypertension. Socioeconomic barriers, lack of insurance coverage, and shortage of physicians limit the capacity of SSA countries to implement CVD prevention.

“We are deeply honored to join the inaugural group of researchers that will tackle the growing epidemic of hypertension in low- and middle-income countries like Ghana, where there is a desperate need for implementation programs that will reduce both the burden of hypertension and its associated complications,” said Dr. Ogedegbe, the principal investigator for the project. “Our program aptly fills this gap.”

The grant will  forge a collaboration between the World Health Organization, Ghana Regional Health Care Services, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Loyola Medical Center and NYU School of Medicine.

It is part of the first coordinated funding effort among four members of The Global Alliance for Chronic Diseases (GACD) to support research projects on hypertension (high blood pressure) prevention and control in 15 low- and middle-income countries (LMIC).

The GACD is the first collaboration of major international public research funding agencies to specifically address chronic noncommunicable diseases. Noncommunicable diseases, such as cardiovascular diseases (primarily heart disease and stroke), chronic respiratory diseases, type 2 diabetes, and cancer, account for around 60 percent of all deaths globally, 80 percent of which occur in LMICs. The hypertension research initiative demonstrates the GACD’s commitment to help combat the global burden of chronic diseases by coordinating research on prevention and treatment. It includes 14 community-based research projects – including Dr. Ogedegbe’s project in Ghana – that will focus on implementing effective approaches to control high blood pressure.

Shifting primary care duties from physicians to non-physician healthcare providers is a potentially cost-effective strategy for mitigating systems level barriers to optimal hypertension control in SSA. The WHO developed and successfully evaluated the effectiveness of a World Health Organization Package targeted at cardiovascular (CV) risk assessment and hypertension control, delivered by community health nurses (CHNs) in low resource settings. However, widespread implementation of the WHO Package has not been evaluated in SSA.

Dr. Ogedegbe and colleagues will evaluate the comparative effectiveness of the WHO CVD risk management package for hypertension control delivered by CHNs as part of Ghana’s CHPS program plus provision of health insurance coverage, versus provision of health insurance coverage alone, on blood pressure reduction among 640 patients with uncontrolled hypertension.

The intervention will include CV risk assessment using the WHO risk chart, initiation and titration of antihypertensive medications, counseling on lifestyle modification, self-management skills and medication adherence.

Ogedegbe and his team will receive a total of $2,117,296 from the NHLBI, part of the National Institutes of Health, over five years for the project.

Dr. Ogedegbe, a professor of population health and medicine and a hypertension specialist, is also a behavioral scientist with expertise in development, implementation and translation of evidence-based behavioral interventions targeted at cardiovascular risk reduction in minority populations into primary care practices and community-based settings. He and other researchers involved with the CHBC at NYU School of Medicine are dedicated to translating research into clinical improvements in medicine by finding simple strategies that physicians and other individuals in healthcare can use in real world settings to improve patient health.

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