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The Implementation of a Faith-Based Heart Healthy Education Program for Latinos in Miami, Florida

Background: Cardiovascular disease (CVD) has been identified as a leading cause of mortality in the Latino population in the United States. Studies conducted in faith-based settings demonstrate effectiveness in improving the promotion of lifestyle changes. Methods: This project was a four-week faith-based educational intervention for Latinos meeting weekly at a faith-based organization in Miami-Dade Florida. Classes focused on cardiovascular disease prevention and risk reduction and included PowerPoint presentations, fotonovellas, and interactive activities offered in English and Spanish. Participants were asked to complete cardiovascular disease knowledge questionnaire before and after the educational classes based on the National Institute of Health’s publication “Your heart, your life: A community health worker’s manual for the Latino community”. Results: Ten adult Latinos, ages 41-84 years old participated in the culturally appropriate educational intervention. Risk factors for CVD identified with the exception of diabetes which was not perceived as a risk factor for heart disease by 60% of participants pre intervention. Knowledge of diabetes as a risk factor for CVD increased from 40% to 100% and a modest increase in physical activity was seen among women. Conclusions: The curriculum demonstrated effectiveness in increasing knowledge and awareness of CVD among adult Latinos. Although significant changes were not seen in levels of physical activity and blood pressure, post intervention the increased awareness of cardiovascular disease influenced participants to take steps towards making healthier lifestyle choices. Keywords: Hispanics/Latinos, cardiovascular disease, community health services, faith-based, community intervention, health promotion, Latino Community, and health workers