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Driving heart health: Wayne State participating in national study to address diabetes, heart disease and stroke

December 17, 2018

More than 67.2 percent of adults in Michigan are diagnosed with diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and obesity. In 2016, nearly 60,000 adults in Michigan died due to these conditions, and there is growing interest in finding novel ways to reduce such adverse impact.

In September, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention awarded funds to 28 state and local health departments across the United States to design, test and evaluate new, innovative approaches to address these significant health problems. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services was one of 21 state health departments to receive funding. As part of this effort, a new partnership has been forged with Wayne State University researchers who will directly work with MDHHS in its efforts to prevent and manage cardiovascular health and diabetes.

Phillip Levy, M.D., M.P.H., FACEP, FAHA, FACC, the Edward S. Thomas Endowed Professor and associate chair for Research in the Department of Emergency Medicine, and assistant vice president for Translational Science and Clinical Research Innovation, will lead the Wayne State team on five major objectives to address these growing health problems.

“Our goal is to leverage emergency departments as a location for comprehensive population health initiatives, starting with a focus on undiagnosed or poorly controlled hypertension and hyperlipidemia,” Dr. Levy said. “To achieve this, we are piloting a program called Bring it Down, which will utilize community health workers as a conduit to link patients to accessible primary care providers.”

Dr. Levy and his team also will explore and test innovative ways to promote the adoption of evidence-based quality measurements at the health care provider level. “This objective will incorporate dashboard measures to monitor health outcomes among high-burden populations, and ultimately create geo-coded hypertension and cholesterol data maps,” he said. “This will help residents, communities and health care providers become more aware of local information related to these health issues so that they can be better addressed, decreasing the likelihood of complications.”

The team will also implement systems to facilitate bi-directional referrals to community programs and resources and health care systems, ultimately aiming to improve lives. The team will explore and test innovative ways to expand the use of telehealth smartphone applications to promote better management of hypertension and high cholesterol.

“The ultimate goal of this project is to improve the health of our local communities, particularly in areas where residents are at risk for developing complications such as heart disease,” Dr. Levy said. “We are proud to be a part of this nationwide effort that is rigorously aiming to prevent and manage diseases that affect the lives of millions.”

The research is supported by an award to the MDHHS from the CDC, totaling more than $5 million. Wayne State University anticipates receiving more than $1.5 million during the life of this five-year project. The grant number for this project is NU58DP006614.

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