March 15, 2010

Johns Hopkins wins $9.7 million federal grant to study cardiovascular racial disparities in Baltimore

The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine has been awarded a $9.7 million federal grant to study ways to improve cardiovascular outcomes among African-American patients and to understand and reduce racial and ethnic disparities in blood pressure management in Baltimore.

The five-year grant from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute will go to create a multidisciplinary research center with the goal of reducing hypertension among members of the African-American community treated by Johns Hopkins physicians. The hope is to make improvements in identification, treatment and outcomes of hypertension. African-Americans have higher rates of cardiovascular disease and mortality from cardiovascular disease than other racial groups.

“This brings together a lot of people with a lot of different expertise to try to solve this problem together,” said Lisa A. Cooper, professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and the grant’s principal investigator.

Cooper and her team want to better understand the reasons why the disparities exist—be they patient behavior, provider attitudes or systemic issues—in order to develop better methods to overcome the gap.

The research done through the grant will include a study of the effectiveness of hypertension self-management for patients and their families; a comparison of culturally tailored nutritional advice versus providing patients with a supplement containing potassium, magnesium and vitamin C for lowering blood pressure; and a look at how to best implement programs believed to improve management of high blood pressure in community-based physicians’ practices.

The researchers will work in partnership with community residents, organizations and institutions in the conceptualization and conduct of the research, the interpretation and presentation of its findings and in planning for long-term sustainability of these programs, if they are shown to be successful.

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Lisa Cooper