In September 2011, the Department of Human Services launched the Million Hearts Initiative. Its purpose was to bring federal agencies and private-sector organizations together to combat heart disease in America. The American Heart Association, one of the organizations involved in the effort, contacted the College of Nursing & Professional Disciplines to see if we would be able and willing to participate in the project. The national Million Hearts goal is to prevent one million heart attacks and strokes in the U.S. by 2017.
Dr. Desiree Tande (Nutrition & Dietetics) and Dr. Cindy Anderson (Nursing) joined together to improve awareness of heart health and sodium reduction in the diets of the local community. Dr. Anderson explained that the funding for their efforts came not only from national sources, but from state resources as well. "Our initial funding was awarded by the American Heart Association, with the next round of funding supported by the CDC/North Dakota Department of Health."
One of the projects undertaken by the faculty was to engage in community outreach to adolescents. High school students from around North Dakota, grades 7th-12th, came to the Northern Plains Center for Behavioral Research to discuss sodium amounts in everyday common foods. "This is a key message of the Million Hearts Campaign, because we know that eating too much sodium can increase risk of high blood pressure and heart disease. Most Americans get over two times what they need each day." stated Dr. Tande, who is a nutrition expert.
Dr. Tande noted that many youth do not take the issue of heart health seriously due to their sense of invincibility. "Relating (heart health) to loved ones like grandparents, parents, teachers, or neighbors can be very effective." Dr. Tande believes that both adolescents and adults are fun to work with, but each requires differing approaches and messaging tactics to convey important nutritional information.
Interprofessional collaboration between the two departments can be very influential in educating the population about health heart issues. "By joining together, we can provide a more comprehensive message and answer questions more thoroughly resulting in a more effective campaign. We bring different expertise, experience, and perspective to the table, which results in better education and care for our citizens."