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The UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention (HPDP) has received a two-year, $3.1 million grant  from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to research effective ways to reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease.

The project will compare the effectiveness of a web-based program to that of a counselor-based program; both programs will focus on improving diet and physical activity and appropriate use of medication to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. The project will be based in five family practices in North Carolina.

“Cardiovascular disease, including heart attacks and stroke, continues to be the leading cause of death in the US,” said Tom Keyserling, MD, MPH, associate professor at the UNC School of Medicine and the principal investigator of the study. “Lifestyle and appropriate use of medication can greatly reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, yet both are underused.”

The 2009 Recovery Act provided almost $10 million to the CDC Prevention Research Center (PRC) program to fund comparative effectiveness research studies that would examine alternative public health strategies to improve health and/or reduce risk for chronic disease. The CDC currently supports 37 PRCs to conduct research on the prevention of chronic diseases in partnership with communities, and HPDP has been part of the PRC program since 1986.  In addition to UNC, the other funded PRCs under this initiative are the University of Pittsburgh, the New York University School of Medicine and Oregon Health and Science University.

“Not only will we assess the impact of these interventions on cardiovascular risk reduction, but as part of the comparative effectiveness focus, we will also carefully measure and report other outcomes important to patients, clinicians, payers, and policy makers,” said Keyserling. “These outcomes include cost-effectiveness, acceptability, and feasibility.  Also, if these interventions are effective, a final focus of this study will be dissemination of the interventions so that others may benefit from it. “

The participating family practices will be part of the North Carolina Family Medicine Research Network directed by Phil Sloane and Leigh Callahan. Within each practice, 120 patients will either receive the web-based or counselor-based program.

Stacey Sheridan, MD, MPH, an assistant professor at the UNC School of Medicine and adjunct assistant professor at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, will co-lead the project. The Center of Excellence for Training and Research Translation, also a PRC-funded project at HPDP, will provide expertise on the study’s dissemination activities.

The project is the second major grant to study cardiovascular disease that HPDP has received in recent months. The other, funded by NIH and called the Heart Healthy Lenoir project, is a $10 million study that will be conducted in Lenoir County, NC.

UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention contact: Sonya Sutton, 919-966-4118,

CDC announcement:

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