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New grant for heart health to grow tribe's wellness initiative

Mar 4, 2014 - By Alejandra Silva, Staff Writer

The Eastern Shoshone Tribe will amp up its cardiovascular education initiatives for tribal members with a grant from the Astrazeneca Healthcare Foundation.

The foundation awarded roughly $700,000 in grants to three Maryland organizations working to improve heart health, and the tribe's program was the only one selected outside of Maryland.

Sundance Research Institute -- a nonprofit organization with offices in both Maryland and Sundance -- was formed to address issues in rural communities, American Indian tribes and local governmental organizations that serve those with limited resources to health care.

The organization provides extensive services to the tribe on the Wind River Indian Reservation for its programs and development of research and data collection.

The tribe's health programs director, Cathy Keene, said the Honoring Your Heart on the Wind River Indian Reservation initiative will be coordinated to build a clinical community that increases cardiovascular awareness and education and creates a support group. She said the initiative will include a 16-week lifestyle balance program focusing on physical health and a healthy diet.

Heart health education, however, is not new to the tribe's health department, Keene said.

"We've been pretty successful with what we've done in our community in the last five years, " she said. "We're waiting for our last analysis ... we're showing good things."

The new grant will help expand current lifestyle programs and support diabetes-related disease management that has been supported through another grant.

"It's all about educating to be more self-responsible," Keene said, adding their goal is to target the No. 3 leading cause of death in the population: heart disease.

The department has set a goal of reaching 125 people, Keene said, and 26 people are enrolled in their first classes with the program.

"It's about giving them the knowledge and letting them know what the risk factors are," Keene said. "We hope to help prevent disease and look at those that are at risk."

And because heart disease can be preventable, Keene said she wants people to be aware of what they are offering.

"We try to eliminate those barriers of why people don't seek care," Keene said.

Her program coordinates resources with Indian Health Services and Censible Nutrition and makes use of local fitness centers and collaborates with certified trainers and nurses.

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