Alpha Phi Foundation funds community-based research to empower women of color to take control of hypertension

by Alex Goodman in Press Release

“Improving women’s confidence in self-monitoring and medication management for hypertension may change the culture of [blood pressure] self-management from burdensome tasks to liberating choices.”

Alpha Phi Foundation proudly announces Duke University School of Nursing as the recipient of the 2021 Heart to Heart Grant. Awarded annually, the Heart to Heart Grant funds research and educational programs that support the advancement of women’s heart health and cardiac care. Endowing the Heart to Heart Grant and maintaining our continued support of groundbreaking cardiac advancements is a priority of Alpha Phi Foundation’s comprehensive endowment campaign: Leading With Heart.

Duke University School of Nursing will use the $100,000 grant to fund their research project: Improving the Visibility of Women: Patients as Partners in Management of Uncontrolled Hypertension. Led by Dr. Bradi Granger and Dr. Holly Biola, in conjunction with Awanya Caesar, RN at Lincoln Community Health Center, this project uses community-based intervention that will identify and reduce disparities and inequities among women with high blood pressure, resulting in an increase in the proportion of women with hypertension under control.

“Community-based interventions using peer partners and existing social-cultural infrastructure, such as barbershops, have been effective for reducing blood pressure in [Black] men,” says Dr. Granger. According to the principal investigators, 43% of all women in the United States are affected by uncontrolled blood pressure, which is a significant contributor to heart attack, heart failure, stroke, and death, Duke University School of Nursing seeks to tailor a similar intervention to women, especially Black women who make up 42.9% of the affected population.

Hypertension disproportionately affects women of differing racial and socioeconomic backgrounds, and proper support in health education is essential to preventing further cardiovascular disease. Looking closely at disparate populations in the Raleigh-Durham area, specifically among women of color, the team at Duke is focusing on teaching local women how to integrate heart-healthy care into their everyday activities through their peers.

Dr. Granger, Dr. Biola, and Mrs. Caesar will be training Hypertension Heroes, a group of volunteers who will serve as community health workers aiding in patients’ hypertension treatment and maintenance. These volunteers will be paired with members of their local communities who need assistance in maintaining healthy blood pressure. Using skills-based training with blood pressure cuffs, physician-prescribed medications, and other interventions, these women will help one another gain control over their health.

“As women set the tone for health behaviors and lifestyle choices in the family, skills for self-monitoring blood pressure and sustaining optimal medication regimens to control blood pressure can be learned and integrated health behaviors,” continues Dr. Granger. This would position women to be “leaders in their homes, neighborhoods, and communities, [while adopting and sustaining] life skills for lowering blood pressure and reducing heart attack and stroke risk.”

Results of this study will be widely distributed, with great potential for the model to be replicated in more communities across North America. Duke University plans to involve local collegiate members of Alpha Phi in the project, while also engaging Alpha Phis far and wide through virtual events.

“As Alpha Phi continues its diversity, equity, and inclusion journey, this partnership with Duke University School of Nursing makes sense. This is a very well-designed study to encourage health literacy and health habit-building in an innovative, community-oriented manner,” says Colleen Sirhal (Theta-Michigan), Heart to Heart Advisory Council chair.

The Heart to Heart Grant would not be possible without the continued generosity of Alpha Phi Foundation donors and volunteers. For over 75 years, Alpha Phi has asserted a commitment to improving women’s heart health, and today, through Alpha Phi Foundation’s Leading With Heart campaign, Alpha Phi seeks to further the impact made through its Women’s Heart Health Program.

Throughout Leading With Heart, Foundation donors have supported over $2 million in grants to community organizations and research institutions with a shared focus in women’s heart health, and have established a $1 million endowment fund to support the Heart to Heart Grant in perpetuity and maintain Alpha Phi’s dedication to funding ground-breaking research and programs that educate, empower, and save lives.

Will you join us in Leading With Heart today? Learn more at


Leading With Heart Impact Series: Advancing Women’s Heart Health
Thursday, March 25, 2021, 7:00 PM CST

Join us for a panel discussion on women’s heart health and the impact of the Heart to Heart Grant with recent Heart to Heart Grant recipients. Open to all.

Register today at

Alpha Phi Foundation’s Women’s Heart Health Program

Women’s heart health has been the philanthropic focus of Alpha Phi since 1946. Since its inception in 1993, the Heart to Heart Grant has invested over $1.4 million in female-focused cardiovascular research and education. Learn more about the Women’s Heart Health Program.

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