A new initiative between the University of Louisville and several community partners will help residents of Louisville’s Smoketown neighborhood learn their heart health, and connect them with the right care.
The free clinics will be held in Smoketown starting Feb. 9 and last into the spring and early summer. Participants will learn how healthy their heart is and their risk of heart attack and stroke, and those who need treatment will be given a referral for care. Health insurance is not required.
Inspired by Smoketown’s Muhammad Ali, who trained for boxing in the neighborhood, “Heart of a Champion” is a partnership between the UofL schools of Medicine, Nursing, and Public Health and Information Sciences; the Have a Heart Clinic; UofL Physicians; the UofL Envirome Institute; Surgery on Sunday; the American Heart Association; UofL’s Get Healthy Now; IDEAS xLab; Dare to Care; YouthBuild; Smoketown Family Wellness Center; and several Smoketown-area churches.
“With February being American Heart Month, it’s the perfect time to kick off these screenings,” said Erica Sutton, MD, a general surgeon with UofL Physicians and associate professor at the UofL School of Medicine who will lead the UofL doctors staffing the clinics.
“This is a model for community-engaged care, where we work with partners in the community who are taking care of a population we want to reach. It’s important for us not just to open our office doors to people, but really provide a presence for health and access to care by going out into the community.
“In Smoketown, there’s an abundance of heart disease, and we have the ability to make an impact on risk factors, such as diabetes, obesity and smoking. And screenings are a well-known tool to identify heart disease before the heart is irreversibly damaged. The saying ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’ really rings true here. Not only is prevention or identifying the potential for heart disease easier and more cost effective, but it’s healthier than trying to cure it.”
American Heart Month is a program of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. The month aims to encourage and motivate everyone to adopt heart healthy behaviors, including screening for risk factors.
Referrals will go to the Have a Heart Clinic and University of Louisville Physicians, and Surgery on Sunday also will be providing services. Sutton also volunteers with Surgery on Sunday.
The clinics will be held at churches and community centers in the Smoketown neighborhood. UofL doctors will staff the clinics, assisted by students and residents from school.
Other UofL faculty involved include cardiologist Andrew DeFilippis, MD, an expert in cardiovascular diseases whose research focuses on cardiovascular risk prediction, and cardiothoracic surgeon Kristen Sell-Dottin, MD.
No advance registration is required. Dates and locations for the clinics are:
Bates Memorial Church (620 Lampton St.)
- Feb. 9 (Saturday) from 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
- Feb. 10 (Sunday) from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Smoketown Family Wellness Center (760 S. Hancock St., Suite B100)
- Feb. 23 (Saturday) from 12 to 2 p.m.
Coke Memorial United Methodist Church (428 E. Breckinridge St.)
- June 2 (Sunday) from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.
Grace Hope Presbyterian Church (702 E. Breckinridge St.)
Little Flock Missionary Baptist Church (1030 S. Hancock St.)
YouthBuild (800 S. Preston St.)
Participants will get screenings for factors that affect heart health, such as blood pressure and cholesterol, body mass, diet, exercise, use of tobacco products and sleep. Arterial ultrasounds also will be available.
A heart health profile will be provided, as well as information on actions to take to reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke.
Those who attend will also be able to participate in short informational sessions on diet (including how to cook healthy foods), exercise (including low-intensity options), better sleep and smoking cessation.
Heart disease prevention
In addition to screenings to learn risk, the likelihood of heart attack and stroke can be reduced by:
- Lowering cholesterol (consider what you eat)
- Burning calories every day (exercise or walk) and strength training (you can use your body to strength train)
- Decreasing stress (meditate or relax)
- Eating a healthy diet, including heart-healthy foods
- Stopping smoking
- Finding a physician
Sign up for updates on the clinics online here. For questions about the Heart of a Champion program, contact Lora Cornell, senior program coordinator at the UofL School of Medicine, at 502-852-2120.