Clinical trials and community programs go hand in hand, and we are extremely proud of our contribution in both areas. We conducted the first cardiovascular-related clinical trial in an entirely African American population in 1977, documenting the sexual side effects of antihypertensive medications. We also pioneered the first church-based health promotion initiative in 1979, empowering African Americans to prevent cardiovascular-related risks by training volunteers to take blood pressures, refer those with elevations, follow-up, and monitor. Obviously, recruiting study subjects for clinical trials is greatly facilitated by the success of our community-based programs.
We unabashedly facilitate the development of new and innovative treatments for diseases that disproportionately affect African Americans. Although controversial, we helped to recruit the investigators and the 1,050 patients for the African American Heart Failure Trial (A-HeFT) to determine whether isosorbide dinitrate plus hydralazine (BiDil) would be beneficial for African Americans with heart failure (in addition to optimal background therapy). The results were dramatic—a 43% survival benefit. We were also partners in the African American Rosuvastatin Investigation of Efficacy and Safety (ARIES) trial that evaluated the impact
of rosuvastatin (Crestor) in an entirely African American population. Again, very positive and very impressive results were achieved. We completed some 40 clinical trials for African American patients and will continue to promote clinical trials as a strategy to achieve higher quality outcomes at an affordable cost.
We have a strong focus on community programs. We will use “Bible Marks” as a very inexpensive way to spread our message of “Seven Steps to Good Health,” and we encourage religious leaders to dedicate a minute for a health message at each gathering. Our CHOICES program (Changing Health Outcomes by Improving Cardiovascular Education and Screenings) stands out as a great innovation.