AstraZeneca awards grant to Palmetto Project

  • Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Steve Skardon, the Executive Director of the Palmetto Project addresses those gathered at a ceremony held Feb. 7 for the presentation of a grant for $209,523 to Palmetto Project from the AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation.


The AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation’s Connections for Cardiovascular HealthSM program announced a grant of $209,523 to the Palmetto Project to support its Heart & Soul initiative. This is the second consecutive year in which the Palmetto Project has received a grant from the AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation, totaling $425,033.

Working at food distribution and community meal sites throughout South Carolina, Heart & Soul aims to improve clinical indicators for metabolic syndrome among African-Americans at greatest risk for cardiovascular disease and stroke. Metabolic syndrome is the name for a group of risk factors, such as large waistline, high triglyceride level and high blood pressure, that raise the risk for heart disease, diabetes and stroke. A person with at least three metabolic risk factors can be diagnosed with metabolic syndrome.

The program operates in 26 sites across Charleston, Berkeley, Dorchester, Colleton, Williamsburg, Marion, Clarendon and Georgetown counties. Sites in Clarendon and Marion counties are run solely by volunteers, demonstrating how the program model can succeed in rural areas with minimal budgets. Heart disease accounts for 22 percent of all deaths in South Carolina, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Funding from Connections for Cardiovascular HealthSM is allowing us to create a fully tested blueprint for community strategies to improve health indicators of South Carolinians at greatest risk,” said Carrie Whipper, Heart & Soul coordinator. The Palmetto Project expects the program to eventually be adaptable to any community in the state, she added.

As a result of previous funding from the AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation, Heart & Soul’s patient navigators worked with 1,415 economically disadvantaged individuals in 2013 to guide them to significant health changes through blood pressure screenings, health education and working toward improved healthy behaviors. Blood pressure readings improved for 41 percent of program participants (90 out of 217). Nearly one-quarter of the participants whose blood pressure readings began at dangerously high levels (more than 160/100) made lifestyle changes that reduced their readings to lower levels.

“Cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death in the United States, and organizations like the Palmetto Project are creating innovative programs to help prevent and decrease the associated risks with this devastating disease,” said James W. Blasetto, M.D., MPH, FACC, chairman of the AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation. “We are grateful to the Palmetto Project for its commitment to improving heart health in their community.”

The Connections for Cardiovascular HealthSM program annually awards grants of $150,000 or more to U.S.-based nonprofit organizations dedicated to improving cardiovascular health in local communities. This year, the program awarded nearly $3.7 million in grants to 19 organizations. More than $14 million in grants have been awarded through the program since its inception in 2010.

Organizations can learn more and apply online for a Connections for Cardiovascular HealthSM grant at www.astrazeneca-us.com/foundation. Applications must be submitted online no later than 5 p.m. EST on Feb. 27, 2014.

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