Welcome to HeartLinks

HeartLinks Signature Program

Since 2005, The Links Incorporated has proudly collaborated with the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health (NHLBI) as a Heart Truth partner. The Heart Truth campaign is a national awareness campaign for women about heart disease. The Links, Incorporated was subsequently funded by NHLBI to implement Heart Truth education programs in the African-American community, which gave rise to the HeartLinks signature program.

HeartLinks provides chapters a unique opportunity to increase awareness and educate about heart disease, and promote heart-healthy lifestyles throughout the communities we serve. The program targets African-American women in local communities and members of The Links, Incorporated in an effort to motivate women to take personal action to lower or control their risk for heart disease.

This electronic toolkit has been designed to assist chapters with implementing heart health programs. It also supports chapters in enhancing and expanding existing programs that already fit with elements of HeartLinks.

*Renamed Walk for Healthy Living

The ultimate goal is for chapters to organize healthy living programs and to collaborate with other community organizations to develop healthy habits for life.

Click the link to the Demonstration Guide below to understand how to use the HeartLinks Toolkit.

HeartLinks Demonstration Guide

  • Increase understanding about the seriousness of heart disease, associated risk factors, and strategies for preventing heart disease within The Links, Incorporated and in the communities that Links chapters serve.
  • Learn what a heart attack is
  • Recognize and understand the warning signs and symptoms of a heart attack
  • Learn how to respond to signs and symptoms of a heart attack through CPR training
  • Recognize and understand the signs and symptoms of a stroke
  • Learn what is normal blood pressure
  • Learn ways to prevent heart disease
  • Understand the benefits of physical activity in reducing heart disease
  • Engage in at least the minimum recommended amount of physical activity
    • Adults need at least 30 minutes per day
    • Children and adolescents need at least 60 minutes per day.
  • Learn how to choose foods for a heart healthy diet
  • Community screening events with community health partners
  • Heart Health Education and Life Style Activity Sessions from the Every Heartbeat is Life curriculum
  • Individual pre-and post screening for BMI, weight, and blood pressure to measure participants change in health habits
  • Annual Red Dress Events for National Heart Month (February) to raise awareness about the seriousness of heart disease
  • Walk for Healthy Living program
  • Participants will know the signs of a heart attack.
  • Participants will strive to have a blood pressure of 120/80.
  • Participants will know the early warning symptoms and signs of a stroke.
  • Each chapter has a minimum of 1 person trained and certified in CPR.
  • Conduct at least 8 heart health educational sessions using Every Heart Beat Is Life Curriculum. Use pre- and post-tests for all sessions to measure change in knowledge.
  • Conduct at least 1 Red Dress Event to raise awareness about heart disease.
  • “With Every Heartbeat Is Life Training” Sessions
  • “With Every Heartbeat Is Life” pre- and post-tests
  • “With Every Heartbeat Is Life” intervention activities
  • Red Dress Initiative
  • Heart Truth Program Community Action Program
  • 50 Million Challenge Program created Dr. Ian Smith
  • Walk For Healthy Living Signature Program
  • CPR Training
  • Number of education sessions conducted
  • Number of participants who attended education sessions and intervention activities
  • Participant satisfaction surveys
  • Number of participants recruited
  • Number of participants retained
  • Number of participants screened at baseline and follow-up

75 Million Steps Challenge

Goal:  75,000,000 steps per day leading up to 75th Anniversary Celebration  ( 5,000 steps per member per day x 15,000 members = 75,000,000 per day)


Deaths rates from heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and high blood pressure are on the rise. Research suggests that a likely explanation for this trend could be due to  an increase in sedentary lifestyle, obesity (especially abdominal obesity) and psychosocial stress (imbalance between demands placed on us and our ability to manage them). There is a lot we can do to help combat this trend.  Being more physically active and eating healthy, most of the time are important steps. The good news is that you can make changes gradually, one at a time.

Walking is one of the easiest and most effective of all exercises and it is a part of our daily routine. The average American walks 3,000 to 4,000 steps per day. If 10,000 is out of your reach, try to hit at least 3,000 to 7,500 steps a day along with daily activities that you enjoy and stick to it. The good news is that you don’t need to go to a gym or invest in a personal trainer or exercise equipment, all that you need to do is walk!

University of Iowa Professor Emeritus Kathleen Jantz, who studies how physical activity influences health and helped shape the federal exercise guidelines released November 2018, stated “the new federal guidelines calls for 150 minutes per week of moderate physical activity, which includes all kinds of daily movement, not just steps.”

The Challenge

  • Members are encouraged to take 5,000 steps per day. If 15,000 members take 5,000 steps a day The Links, Incorporated will reach our goal 75, 000,000 step per day.
  • Members should to set personal goals. Set a baseline and figure out how many steps you walk per day/week now and work up to 5,000 – 7,500 steps per day by adding on 1,000 extra steps per day every two weeks.
  • Members should document their walking and progress through pictures, videos, and short stories and then share on social media using the hashtag #linksonthemove so that chapters can be recognized.
  • Members should record the number of steps taken each day using an app on the smart phone, a Fitbit, or a pedometer.
  • Members with mobility challenges are encouraged to participate by increasing their physical activity through chair exercises, stretching, Pilates, yoga.
  • Members should check with their doctors before engaging in physical activity.

8 Things to Know About the Benefits of Walking

  • Your heart is responsible for pumping the oxygen and blood around your body and keeping all the other organs working. So, it’s important to keep it in tip top condition!
  • Walking not only strengthens your heart but reduces the risk of heart disease and strokes.
  • A brisk 30 minute walk every day is said to reduce your risk of a stroke by 27%. It also reduces bad levels of cholesterol and increases the levels of good cholesterol too!
  • 20 minutes of walking a day will burn an incredible 7lbs of body fat a year.
  • An older person who walks six or more miles a week is less likely to have problems such as dementia. This is because walking has been proven to prevent your brain from shrinking.
  • Walking is a fantastic way to keep active and maintain a healthy heart as it is fun, flexible and free.
  • Walking is great for making you feel happy. A brisk walk can be just as beneficial as taking an antidepressant, and can be a great helping hand if you are suffering from depression, anxiety or feeling stressed.
Source: Amber W. Kinsey, PhD, Michelle L. Segar, PhD, Daheia J. Barr-Anderson, PhD


AARP – Are You Ready?

Are You Ready? Are you ready to address the financial, health and policy concerns that you face as a 50-year-old woman taking care of yourself, children, parents and/or a spouse? Are the members of your community ready?

The Are You Ready Academy is designed to provide tools and resources from a grassroots level to support African American women who are preparing for life as they age or currently dealing with the aging process. The program includes components for preventative measures during each specific life stage, in addition to immediate support and services for the 50+ community. The Academy is targeted to designated chapters geographically aligned with AARP’s priority areas (Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami and New York).

The program helps prepare African-American women age 50 and older to address critical issues in their life such as health, wellness and financial stability. The Academy implements a two-pronged program that addresses issues of self-readiness and caregiver readiness. Focal points of the program include:

  • Exercise and diet programs
  • Disease preventative care information
  • Resources for preparing for retirement
  • Health/Life insurance guides and information
  • Health care reform education
  • Caregiving, support systems and tools
  • Financial planning options for self and family
  • Support for current retirees
  • Time and money management for self and family
  • Grandparenting support and resources

HeartLinks Advocacy, Government and Other Resources

It is critical to have information on where and how to secure resources on heart health issues when developing chapter programs. It is also necessary to not only know the various governmental agencies that provide assistance with programs put how to access information. There are a variety of groups that advocate for the same health issues and building on that strength can only help to make our programs more successful. HeartLinks is listing the following contacts for the Chapter’s use and accessibility. YOU CAN CLICK ON THE SITE BELOW TO GET INFORMATION.



Best Practice Chapters

2015 – 2016 HeartLinks/Heart Truth Community Action Program Grant

Tier 1 – Intervention Sites

Six chapters were recruited for the HeartLinks/Community Action Program Grant. These chapters participated in the program planning, -management and -evaluation training. The chapters were located in the four geographical areas of The Links’ membership constituency, namely the Eastern, Southern, Central and Western regions. The six intervention sites are: Arlington, VA (including metropolitan Washington, DC); Asheville, NCNashville, TNOmaha, NERoanoke, VA; and Texas Spring Cypress (Houston), TX. These chapters were specifically targeted for two reasons. First, they are situated in urban, rural and southern locales characterized by documented social, cultural and environmental contextual factors that put African American women at higher risk for cardiovascular disease. High prevalence and -mortality rates from coronary heart disease among African Americans are reported in all these states, three of which are located in the Stroke Belt—Virginia, North Carolina and Tennessee. Second, the identified chapters have strong ties to the respective underserved communities through their established record of community program. The profiles in this section describe the HeartLinks program sites’ program design and implementation, and key program activities and accomplishments.

Tier 2 – Awareness Sites

The members of the four Area Program Committees, in collaboration with the Area HeartLinks Chairs (i.e., Eastern, Southern, Central and Western), identified 24 Chapters to serve as HeartLinks Awareness sites. The Awareness Link Chapters were required to have previously hosted a Red Dress event. The Program profiles included in this section list the sites accomplishments and planned activities and reflect their community partner collaborative and heart health awareness and educational activities.

Click the name of the chapter below to learn more:

2009 – 2010 Heart Truth Community Action Grant
The Heart Truth Community Action Program, HeartLinks to Heart Health (HeartLinks) program, was designed to target African American women in underserved communities to measurably increase participants’ awareness of risk factors for heart disease and effect behavioral change related to risk behavior. Six Links chapters across the U.S. served as program sites.

The program sites represented the following Links chapters: Arlington, Virginia (including the metropolitan Washington, DC area); Columbus, OhioBuckhead/Cascade, Georgia (including the metropolitan Atlanta, Georgia area); Pontchartrain, Louisiana (New Orleans, Louisiana); North Texas Cluster comprised of the Fort Worth, Texas, Mid-Cities, Texas and the Plano North Metroplex, Texas chapters; and Sacramento, California. The six sites were divided into two cohorts. Cohort I was comprised of the three chapters that participated in an earlier Heart Truth Women of Color pilot program, namely Arlington, VA, Columbus, OH and North Texas Cluster, TX. Cohort II consisted of the three new chapters, namely Buckhead/Cascade, GA, Pontchartrain, LA and Sacramento, CA. These chapters were specifically targeted for two reasons. First, they are situated in urban, rural and southern locales characterized by documented social, cultural and environmental contextual factors that put African American women at higher risk for cardiovascular disease. Second, the identified chapters have strong ties to the respective underserved communities through their established record of community program implementation.

Click the name of the chapter below to learn more:

HeartLinks/Diet Coke: Flag Heart Disease
Diet Coke has embraced the Heart Truth Program by making funds available to Heart Truth partners to raise awareness about the importance of heart health.
On February 14, 2011 Diet Coke hosted a campaign event at the Georgetown University Law Center Sports & Fitness Center in Washington, DC. The event featured a “Capture the Flag” game, to help bring the “heart flag” imagery to life and create awareness about the campaign. This game made a direct impact as the four teams competed for funding for selected Heart Truth partners. The Links, Incorporated won first place and received $10,000.00 to expand the HeartLinks to Heart Health Program.

“Flag” Heart Disease Incentive Grant Program

The Links Foundation through a competitive grant application process provided small grants to chapters to spread the Heart Truth to women in their communities and implement interventions that encourage behavior change leading to the lowering of heart disease risk.

During the 38th National Assembly in Orlando, the Health and Human Services Facet hosted a Health Pavilion that showcased the Facet’s Signature Programs and Initiatives, and supporting partnerships. A poster session format was used to spotlight the accomplishments of the 20 HeartLinks/Diet Coke grantees.

Following are program summaries of the 20 winning chapters:
“It’s A Family Matter: Eating Heart Healthy on a Night Out” The Arlington Chapter of The Links was awarded grants to implement educational and training programs using the With Every HeartBeat is Life education manual. Our programs have made a positive impact in our service area and inspired members to seize every opportunity possible to communicate an awareness of heart disease risk and prevention in our community. The Heart Links: Flag Heart Disease Grant enabled the Health and Human Services and Arts Facets to offer an evening of Education, Exercise and Eating of healthy foods – “Mom’s Night Out” for the Mothers, Aunts and Grand-mothers of students at our partner elementary school Hoffman-Boston. We educated the students of Hoffman-Boston and had them serve as heart health ambassadors for their homes and communities. The school is a multi-national school where over 80% of the students speak a language other than English and over 50% receive either free or reduced price lunch. We used this grant to provide cardiovascular awareness to our unique population. We have partnered with Hoffman-Boston Elementary School on academic, cultural and health issues for over four years. Valentine’s Day 2011 we partnered with Hoffman-Boston for their first ever luncheon for more than 100 Mom’s. We provided pamphlets on heart disease and stroke and healthy snacks. The event was an overwhelming success and the principal invited us to provide additional programs for parents. Receiving this grant helped us meet a need at Hoffman-Boston and raise the awareness of the #1 killer of women.
“From the Heart” The North Carolina Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities report that as of 2010, African Americans are 1.2 times as likely to be diagnosed with heart disease compared to their white counterpart and 1.5 times as likely to not engage in leisurely physical activity. The opportunity to reduce the risk of heart disease through the “From the Heart” project is realistic. The overarching goal of this project is to increase self –efficacy in a population of African American women age 25-65 residing in Buncombe County with a diagnosis of heart disease using the Health Belief Model of self- efficacy. With the guidance of the Asheville Buncombe Institute of Parity Achievement(ABIPA) , a non-profit organization who’s focus is on health parity achievement in the African American community of Buncombe County, “From the Heart” anticipates improved outcomes in behavioral choices of participants within a short period of time. The ABIPA nurse case manager identified women from their existing client panel meeting the aforementioned criteria to attend one 2- hour session per week for 10 weeks at the ABIPA facility. The facilitators were guided by the manual developed by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute at the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services -“With Every Heartbeat is Life” education manual. Knowledge was assessed via Pre and post testing.
The Augusta Chapter of The Links, Incorporated recognizes the impact that cardiovascular disease has had on women in the African American community and we have determined that it is our duty to raise awareness to the number one threat to women’s health, cardiovascular disease. Our plan was to use the grant to present a one day seminar entitled, “Heart Truth.” The seminar was designed to raise awareness concerning the recognition of symptoms of cardiovascular disease, with emphases on treatment and prevention. The “Heart Truth” seminar was both informative and entertaining. Audience members were provided information pertaining to cardiovascular disease that may be used to make informed decisions regarding their healthcare. The seminar included expert panelists who are renowned in the field of Cardiovascular Medicine, Interventional Cardiology and Neurology. Exercise is one factor that can reduce the risk of the multiple risk factors such as Diabetes Mellitus, Hypertension and Hyperlipidemia, which are associated with Cardiovascular Disease. Therefore, we had a Fitness Expert on our panel that encouraged the participants to “jump start” their exercise program. The audience had face-to-face time with the experts who are not ordinarily available to answer questions without being in the clinical setting. The panelists addressed healthcare disparities in cardiovascular disease, cardiovascular disease prevention, and the importance of exercise as a part of the cardiovascular regimen, cardiovascular disease signs and symptoms, and the latest treatment modalities used to combat cardiovascular disease. Additional seminar partners included local organizations: the American Red Cross, the American Heart Association, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, Macy’s and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. The audience received educational materials and heart healthy refreshments. In keeping with the “Go Red for Women” initiative, the seminar culminated with a Red Dress Fashion Show.
“Women, Take HEART” (WTH) WTH is a community-based education project, designed to empower African American women, (25 years and older) to reverse and prevent common killer diseases and to maximize health through simple lifestyle changes. The enrichment project seeks to reduce disease risk factors through the adoption of better health habits and appropriate lifestyle modifications. Thanks to the Heart Truth the Red Dress has become the national symbol of women’s heart health. WTH means taking care of yourself and your heart – inside and out and embraced this activity during heart awareness month, February. It is a long-term commitment and goal to live a healthy life, one that is harmonious. The HEART of the matter women – get serious about your HEART and remember, nobody is perfect. The important thing is to follow a sensible, realistic plan that will gradually lessen chances of developing heart disease or help you control it. The reward of a healthy heart is a longer, more vigorous life—is well worth the effort. The education arm of the project was presented in two-hour sessions that met twice a month for 6 months (excluding December) with Health Screen results provided to participants early in the project for discussion with personal physician regarding their needs as they modify their lifestyle. Immediately following the project the Health Screen is conducted again- a report is prepared for the participant that compares her risk factor levels before and after going through the project. Reports and Project Completion Certificates were presented at the “DRESS RED” for Healthy Heart.
The Chicago Chapter has a previously established relationship with a family single room occupancy (SRO) residential facility. We continued this relationship with an educational ten-week cardiovascular program focused on the women of the (Holland House) facility. The program consisted of utilizing the With Every Heartbeat Is Life Educational Manual using activities that occur both within as well as outside of the classroom setting. The program involved Link chapter members (with and without medical backgrounds) to lead adult-oriented interactive sessions for 10-12 Holland House residents that encourage active participation, using discussion formats, handouts, activities, health coaching techniques using “baby steps” and pledges, recipes and picture cards. The Holland House Apartments have a community room that was used for the majority of the sessions, one session involved a walking activity along the beautiful Chicago lakefront, and another session involved an educational grocery store tour with a nutritionist. Transportation to grocery store and lakefront required two Links with vans to make two trips to transport the residents. The concept of accountability was incorporated into each session by reviewing how their behavior had changed in the previous week. The Holland House residents were asked to support each other because it has been well documented that the support of family and friends is instrumental in achieving success in goals. “Support buddies” were pdesignated at the beginning of the first session in order to achieve success of individual residents and attempt to ensure sustained attendance.
The Fort Worth Chapter project focused on preventive measures to decrease the risk for heart disease. We began by examining the participants’ current lifestyle risks including diet, physical activity, and stress. We had a conversation about their beliefs and ideas about diet, exercise and stress relief and how daily routine affects their ability to make healthy lifestyle choices. Next workshops were conducted to educate participants on the signs and symptoms of heart attack and stroke. We identified co-morbidities like diabetes and illustrated the connection between these diseases and lifestyle practices including smoking, alcohol use, high fat diet and a sedentary life. Objectively, we documented weight, blood pressure, and BMI and compared our measurements to the ideal standards. We then held workshops on nutrition, exercise and stress relief. In addition, we attempted to insure that each participant had information and access to healthcare partners like physicians, clinics and a schedule of recommended preventive care check-ups. We partnered with local hospitals and 3 healthcare providers to lead the workshops and provided incentives to encourage compliance and implementation of the information dispensed, including goodie bags, tee shirts, and pedometers. The workshops were designed around the HeartLinks education manual, With Every Heartbeat is Life.
The HeartLinks: Flag Heart Disease Program was a collaborative effort between the Missouri City Chapter of the Links, Inc., the local chapter of the American Heart Association, HEB national grocery store chain, the management staff at the Cuney Homes Public Housing Development (Houston Housing Authority), and Gulf Coast Community Services. The Health and Human Services Facet and the National Trends Facet worked together in implementing this program, with the Health and Human Services Facet taking the lead role. The primary focus of this program was to increase awareness of the disproportional effect of cardiovascular disease in our community; and to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease through education and healthy life styles. The program took a multi-tiered approach in addressing cardiovascular disease; causes, detection, and prevention. Utilizing the “With Every Heartbeat is Life” Manual, the program met once a month for 7 months, with a multigenerational population of 30 women at the Cuney Homes Education Center (Houston Housing Authority), beginning in September 2011 and ending in March 2012. The multigenerational approach is an effort to get the “word out” to a broad spectrum of the community by targeting a wide age demographic. The first tier of the program, “causes of cardiovascular disease”, was implemented through classroom style settings which focused on heart health education. The second tier of the program, “detection of cardiovascular disease”, was implemented through classroom style settings as well as health screenings provided by community health professionals. The third tier of the program “prevention of cardiovascular disease” was implemented through hands-on interactive sessions which include, cooking demonstrations, cooking classes, grocery shopping tours to test “healthy food selection” knowledge, exercise demonstrations, and neighborhood walking clubs. Our collaborating partners provided the following services and support to ensure the success of the program. Community health professionals provided cholesterol, weight, and blood pressure screenings. The American Heart Association and Gulf Coast Community Services provided cooking demonstrations, low sodium recipe education, exercise demonstrations, and health screenings. HEB provided a monthly allotment of fresh fruit and vegetables to each program participant to support healthy diets and nutritious food choices. And the Cuney Homes Management (Houston Housing Authority) implemented and monitored a weekly neighborhood walking club. The program offered a culminating activity in April with a pre and post weight analysis, blood pressure screening, and a pre and post written test to measure knowledge and retention of the cardiovascular program material. Prizes were awarded for the highest composite score (weight loss, blood pressure, and written test).
Healthy Hearts Begin at Home Oakland County Chapter recognizes that we may best serve our community by “healing ourselves first”. The message of healthy lifestyle choices can oftentimes be muffled if the person delivering the message has not embraced these choices. Before we can reach the larger community, we need to recognize and effect change in ourselves. Mahatma Gandhi said: “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Phase 1: Member Pilot Program Each Link was asked to bring a non-chapter member friend and attend a series of 4 workshops designed to: 1. Know our risks for heart attacks and recognize its signs /blood pressure control 2. Provide Basic Life Support (CPR) training to membership 3. Promote an increase in physical activity 4. Make heart-healthy nutrition choices. We began by administering a jeopardy-like pretest to assess health literacy on the subject while assessing current level of physical activity, BMI and blood pressure. This information was given to the individual and she was responsible for tracking her progress. Aggregate information was kept by the committee. CPR instruction for our membership provides an invaluable life-saving service to our community. In addition to the workshops, each membership meeting presented an opportunity to remind the group of our goals. The workshops, combining education and fun, included cardio activities led by fitness instructors. Attendees signed a commitment to a certain level of physical activity weekly. Our evaluation plan included end of year measures of BMI and blood pressure as well as a post test for heart health literacy. Heart-healthy meal preparation and healthy choices when dining out was emphasized. We expect that if our goals are accomplished we will see a better awareness of heart disease among our group as well as an increase in physical activity, and a decrease in both BMI and blood pressure. Phase 2: Local Community Outreach Our long term goal includes incorporating pilot “lessons learned” and expanding our workshops into the community through partnerships with designated churches to achieve a reduction in morbidity and mortality from cardiovascular disease.
The Omaha Chapter provided education workshops and activities that will ensure that every heart beat is life for African American women in our underserved communities in Omaha, Nebraska. Five informational sessions were conducted following the HeartLinks education manual: Session 1: Knowledge is Power: Know Your Risk for Heart Disease Session 2: Act in Time to Heart Attack Signs Session 3: Get Energized! Say YES to Physical Activity Session 4: Help Your Heart: Control Your High Blood Pressure As part of these sessions a 45 minute boot camp for physical activity as well as blood pressure screening conducted by Visiting Nurses Association for all participants. Session 5: Be Heart Smart: Keep Your Cholesterol in Check Session 6: Embrace Your Health! Aim for Healthy Weight The conclusion of these sessions cholesterol checks were provided for those participants who were interested. Session 7: Protect Your Heart: Take Good Care of Your Diabetes for Life Session 8: Make Heart Healthy Eating an Everyday Family Reunion Session 9: Eat in a Heart Healthy Way – Even When Time or Money Is Tight Session 10: Take Control of Your Health: Enjoy Living Smoke Free Healthy meals and snacks were prepared for participants. Participants left with recipes for healthy cooking at home or ways to snack and enjoy it. Key partnerships included the Charles Drew Health Center, the American Heart Association, Visiting Nurses Association, University of Nebraska Medical Center, and the Omaha Public Schools.
“Taking Care of Our Hearts” With the Health & Human Services Facet at the helm, this project had a 2-prong approach. It reached out to, engage and educate young African-American female students from John Muir High School who are part of our Links-Up for Success: Connecting Through Mentorship Program, as they become more independent in making lifestyle decisions. It also addressed chapter members who may be at risk or are already experiencing some of the devastating effects of their lifestyle choices. The project endeavored to increase knowledge and understanding of the functioning of the heart and health risk factors that can lead primarily to heart disease, illness and obesity in people of African descent. Further, it focused on the benefit of exercise and good nutrition. Link Chapter members put theory into practice. They participated in brief educational and exercise sessions at 5 monthly Chapter meetings from September 2011 to March 2012. Sessions were planned by Health Facet members. The Links monitored and recorded their blood pressure weekly. Pedometers were distributed and members recorded their steps daily with the goal of 10,000 steps per day. The Links-Up participants had a scheduled meeting twice monthly while school was in session. Three of those sessions were solely devoted to health and speakers addressed heart health, the importance of dental hygiene and physical activity and menu planning. Each young woman was provided a pedometer and a tracking log to record their steps daily. The school nurse took their blood pressure monthly from September 2011 to March 2012. A healthy snack was provided at each of their 12 sessions along with a review of their tracking log. Artistically inclined students were offered the opportunity to participate in the Poster Art Contest for submission to National. A pre- and post-survey was given to all participants to assess their awareness regarding heart health. Attendance, participation and behavioral changes were recorded. Participants reviewed their tracking logs and had the opportunity to discuss the benefits and challenges of the project for future programmatic recommendations.
The Health and Human Services facet of the Pine Bluff (AR) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated planed and implemented the “With Every Heart Beat Is Life” program. Our key focus was to invite 20 African-American women, with or without heart disease, to join us, as healthcare professionals, physical fitness instructors, and motivators educated and inspired the participants about the significance of heart disease and the necessity to become actively involved in their own healthcare requirements. We emphasized how participants and their families should visit their physicians at least annually for routine checkups, ask pertinent healthcare questions of their physician, and have a meaningful relationship with their physician. We wanted participants to know the meaning of their laboratory values, their “numbers”, and to write the numbers down as a plan of action to improve their health. We kept the educational material as straightforward as possible, using common everyday language. We used the educational material from the “With Every Heart Beat Is Life” in the sessions.
HeartLinks: The Ten Commandments for a Healthy Heart This project targetted African American women in underserved communities in the greater New Orleans, Louisiana area. The Pontchartrain Chapter of The Links, Incorporated delivered the HeartLinks program to the women of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church to increase awareness of heart disease and to motivate women to take personal action to lower or control their risk for heart disease. The new partnership with Franklin Avenue allows the Pontchartrain chapter the opportunity to deliver the HeartLinks program to a large population of minority women. Previously the chapter delivered the program through a smaller venue and now seeks to further their commitment to the health of women within the African American community on a larger scale. The HeartLinks program includes seven sessions on the risk factors for heart disease, healthy eating habits, and how to maintain physically active lifestyles.
The Roanoke Chapter for many years, held an annual fashion show and luncheon. The popular event was an opportunity for attendees – primarily African-American women – to enjoy fine food and gorgeous fashion. After an eight-year absence, the chapter revived this signature event on Oct. 1, 2011 at the Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center. Food and fashion were the primary features, but the chapter chose to use the event to educate women in our community about cardiovascular health. To supplement the health presentations, the American Heart Association in Roanoke and representatives of Roanoke Valley hospitals and health/fitness clubs disseminated educational materials at booths located outside the luncheon room. In addition, blood pressure screenings were offered on-site by a nurse from a participating health-care provider. The lunch was a heart-healthy meal prepared specifically by the Hotel Roanoke for this event. The event served as an introduction to a series of With Every Heartbeat Is Life educational sessions, which were held at two Roanoke-area churches from November 2011 through March 2012. The sessions are projects of the Roanoke Chapter’s National Trends and Services, and Health and Human Services facets. (Projects include chapter participation in American Heart Association Heart Walks on Oct. 16 in Radford, Va. and Oct. 29 in Roanoke County, Va.)
Our signature program, Empowering Women to Care for Themselves, seeks to give low-income, African American women the education and resources they need to prevent heart disease and make healthy lifestyle choices. With a focus on health promotion and wellness throughout the lifespan, the mission of this program is to empower low-income African American women with knowledge about their diverse physical needs and provide health maintenance strategies and resources. We seek to bridge healthcare disparities, from early adolescence to advanced age, by serving as a resource and liaison for the community, and to promote self-awareness and healthy lifestyle changes for African American women. These goals are achieved through on-going community health symposiums targeting women’s wellness issues. Our proposal addresses the health issues delineated in our Links Signature programming: Heart Links: Annual Heart Truth Conference. This program also provides an opportunity for our chapter members to share their expertise and knowledge in the healthcare realm; there are a number of health care professionals in the South Bay Area Chapter, including a physician, nurse practitioner, nurse educator, and health benefits counselor. The grant funding helped our chapter build and expand upon our previous efforts and continue to provide health resources to underserved African American women.
The Texas Spring Cypress Chapter of The Links, Incorporated conducts its programming in its target area of Acres Homes. Acres Homes is a 9-square-mile-community in northwest Houston, Texas. It is a low-income community, where the lifestyle indicators are all below average, while the total crime risk is approximately 50 percent higher than the national average. Currently, the Texas Spring Cypress Chapter conducts an umbrella program, known as the JEWELS, at M. C. Williams, a local middle school. JEWELS is the acronym for Justly Empowering Women Eagerly to Live Successfully and its mission is to assist in preparing seventh and eighth grade girls for high school and ensure that they are equipped with the knowledge and tools needed to make positive life choices. The chapter expanded its involvement in the Acres Homes community with the objective of educating the JEWELS, their mothers, and their female guardians on how healthy eating, a healthy weight, a healthy body mass index, and a healthy blood pressure contribute to overall heart health. To address and promote the understanding of issues related to heart disease in women, we provided the following activities:
  • Monthly workshops in which modules from the HeartLinks educational manual, With Every Heart Beat Is Life, was presented.
  • Creation of a quarterly newsletter or distribution of resource materials from NHBLI.
  • Introduction to and consumption of healthy snacks
  • Incentives
  • Weigh-ins
  • Blood Pressure Checks
  • Exercise Journaling
Each month, designated members of the Texas Spring Cypress Chapter of the Links, Incorporated facilitated one of the modules from the With Every Heartbeat Is Life manual to the female audience. In addition, each participant was presented with a “Health Journal.” In the journal, the participants recorded their daily or weekly walking routine in addition to any exercise that they may have accomplished as a personal goal such as participation in the weekly line dancing classes that are presented at the Acres Homes Multi-Service Center.
EACH ONE TEACH ONE!: Women Fighting Heart Disease by Example The Town Lake Chapter partnered with the American Heart Association-Austin Branch and four area predominantly African-American churches to increase awareness of Heart Disease and educate women about the consequences of untreated heart disease. Nearly 30 percent of Austin area deaths each year are attributed to cardiovascular disease. It is our goal to reduce this statistic. The project included:
  • Educating members of the Town Lake Chapter over the course of the program year using the HeartLinks Heart Health Education Program thereby empowering them to educate others.
  • Education and awareness one-hour workshop at each church using the “The Heart Truth for Women: A Speaker’s Guide”;
  • Town Lake Chapter members and guests participated in the American Heart Association 2011 Heart Walk on October 1, 2011;
  • Designating Red Dress for the annual chapter fundraiser, 2012 Mardi Gras Madness on February 18, 2012.
This project was coordinated by the Health and Human Services Facet.
The Waterbury Chapter utilized a multi-faceted approach to build awareness and educate African American women in the Greater Waterbury Connecticut community about the dangers of cardiovascular disease. This project aligns with our current strategic planning efforts which include a chapter Health and Wellness initiative focused on nutrition, weight management, healthy eating, and exercise. The first step of our heart health project was to focus on outreach and awareness. Through the grant we disseminated information packets related to heart disease to Link chapter members and African American women in the greater Waterbury area. We targeted women’s civic groups, and female parents of the students we work with in our Youth Facet college prep program. The packets included pertinent information about cardiovascular disease, risk factors, and prevention techniques. Step two focused on education. This included community workshops utilizing training materials from “Every Heartbeat Is Life” Education Manual. Workshops were held in accessible venues in the community and targeted the population cited in Step One. The third step culminated in a Wear Red event in February. This event featured a guest speaker from the medical community and recognition of those who participated in the workshops. Each participant was encouraged to Wear Red and the first 25 participants received a copy of the NIH Healthy Eating Cookbook.
The members of Windy City Chapter are committed to improving the lives and promoting the health of families of African descent through service in the Chicago-land area and internationally. Since 2006, the Chapter has implemented this service vision through its Umbrella Program, Windy City H.E.A.L.S. (Health Education Awareness Learning Series). The goal of Windy City H.E.A.L.S., our multi-year effort, is to effect change by raising awareness and addressing the co-founding factors such as obesity, diabetes & lack of physical activity that disproportionately impact Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) in the African American community. Through this Umbrella Program, the chapter has collaborated with communities located on the south side of Chicago, along with national and international partners to address heart disease in African American women and children. Objectives of Windy City H.E.A.L.S.: 1. Utilize the Umbrella Programming service model to deliver tailored information on the increased risk factors associated with CVD to African American women and children on the Southside of Chicago; 2. Educate Windy City members on cardiovascular disease-related health issues that affect the lives of African American women and children; 3. Develop and maintain strategic linkages with local, national and international organizations to expand awareness of the risk factors associated with heart disease in order to have a greater impact in the community and abroad; 4. In recognition of the similarity of need for healthy lifestyle choices for both African Americans and black South Africans, to extend Windy City H.E.A.L.S. heath awareness programming onto the international stage through its partnership with Mofu School; 5. Extend the ideals and values of the Links, Incorporated in the areas of service and community responsibility that would result in 75% of Chapter involvement in program activities; 6. Develop programming that can be replicated, reaching a larger audience and expanding the program to more schools and communities.

Family and Childhood Obesity

The reality of weight management and obesity among Africans is startling! At every age, blacks are more likely to be obese than whites, according to data from the Journal of the American Medical Association. Comparative data are alarming. And, the collateral damage is profound and includes high blood pressure, high levels of blood fats, LDL cholesterol and other integral and significantly related health issues.

Click the link to the pdf below to find out more information.

Download: Family & Childhood Obesity: A Fact Sheet (PDF)

Health Disparities

Social Determinants of Health and Health Disparities:

The Persistence of Racial Disparities Impact on Health


In 2003, a well-documented study by the Institute of Medicine titled Unequal Treatment:  confronting Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care established that health disparities are significant and persistent between whites and all other racial and ethnic minorities. The Institute of Medicine defines these disparities as “differences in the quality of health care that are not due to access-related factors or clinical needs, preferences, and appropriateness of interventions.” These health disparities burden African Americans and others

The reasons for these disparities or inequities in health access, treatment and outcomes are “diverse, complex, evolving and interdependent.” Often, these health disparities experienced by racial and ethnic minorities are referred to as the social determinants of health. These social determinants are conditions in the places where people live, learn, work, and play that affect a wide range of health risks and outcomes, including the following:

  • Safe housing, transportation, and neighborhoods
  • Racism, discrimination, and violence
  • Education, job opportunities, and income
  • Access to nutritious foods and physical activity opportunities
  • Polluted air and water
  • Language and literacy skills

These health inequities lead to poor access to primary care physicians, health insurance, health professionals who are culturally competent, poor health outcomes, and circumstances where they live, learn, and work where unable to improve their health.

Source: CDC, Healthy People 2030

 Health Disparities and COVID-19

The pandemic vividly exposed the massive inequities in our health care system and the adverse and enduring impact these inequities that result from the social determinants of health have on communities of color. According to an analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Epic Health Research Network, based on data from the Epic health record system for 7 million Black patients, 5.1 million Hispanic patients, 1.4 million Asian patients, and 34.1 million white patients, as of July 20, 2020, the hospitalization rates and death rates per 10 000, respectively, were 24.6 and 5.6 for Black patients, 30.4 and 5.6 for Hispanic patients, 15.9 and 4.3 for Asian patients, and 7.4 and 2.3 for white patients. American Indians living in the US also have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19. Racial and Ethnic Disparities Related to COVID-19

There were several factors leading to higher risk of death among Black patients, for example, then the larger population of COVID infected White patients. Many Blacks worked in jobs that were deemed essential such as public transportation, hospitals, or grocery stores and did not have the luxury of working remotely from home. They used public transportation rather than private vehicles or Uber. If a member of the family was infected, they had limited means of segregating or isolating the family member so that he or she did not expose other family members. Many Blacks who are low-income are at higher risk of having hypertension, diabetes, and obesity and all three are associated with worse outcomes among patients with SARS-CoV-2 infection. Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities Related To COVID-19  “In addition, racial and ethnic minority populations have poorer access to health care, which likely results in persons initiating care later in the course of their illness with COVID-19.” Id. Even with the availability of the vaccine, there is a consistent pattern of Blacks receiving smaller shares of vaccinations resulting in lower vaccination rates compared to whites. These disparities in vaccinations reflect the longstanding inequities that create increased barriers to health care for people of color and other underserved groups such as the difficulty of getting access to the vaccine because of limited public transportation, fewer health care providers in the community, or inability to get information about the availability of the vaccine.

Responding to Health Disparities

The response to correcting or eliminating these health disparities requires a multi-prong approach to address historic patterns of housing segregation and discrimination, lack of educational equity, providing economic and employment opportunities within communities of color that allow for a livable wage, and access to health care by a workforce that has addressed its cultural and ethnic biases.

Even given persistent Health Disparities, you can take action.

What can an individual do to help themselves? Healthy eating + Movement = Healthier Heart

Healthy Eating: More complex than merely saying eat better. Recognize that choosing what to eat is as much as a cultural and economic choice, i.e., what can one afford. However, this is a vitality important issue to tackle to address some of the key risks to your heart – hypertension, diabetes, and obesity. Eating more vegetables, fruits, whole grains, less sodium and fish, skinless chicken or lean beef will help you to feel better and lose weight.


Reduce weight

Reduce blood pressure or hypertension

Reduce cholesterol

Submitted by:

Okianer Christian Dark, J.D, Silver Spring (MD) Chapter
Professor of Law, Howard University
HeartLinks and Walk for Healthy Living Signature Programs Committee Member

EMBRACING WELLNESS… Decision time for a new way forward

What we HAVE AVAILABLE to eat VERSUS what we can CHOOSE to Eat … will inform individual and family nutritional selections.

Racial Disparities, Health Inequity, COVID and More

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, African American adults are 60% more likely than non-Hispanic white adults to have been diagnosed with diabetes by a physician, 20% more likely to die from heart disease, 40% more likely to have high blood pressure, 50% more likely to have a stroke, and have the highest mortality rate of any racial and ethnic group for all cancers combined and for most major cancers. https://www.pcrm.org/good-nutrition/healthy-communities/black-health. The health disparities in nutrition and obesity correlate closely with the alarming racial and ethnic disparities related to COVID morbidity and mortality.

Plant-Based Diet Benefits Black Health

The history of plant-based eating among African populations highlights the important role traditional diets have played in reducing the burden of chronic diseases.

African Americans in a research study who consumed a vegetarian/vegan diet had fewer heart disease risk factors including lower blood pressure, half the risk of diabetes, and a 44% reduced risk for hypertension. Vegetarians and vegans were also 43% less likely to be obese, compared with nonvegetarians though outstanding results have been seen in consumption of a mixed meal and snack pattern of nutrition. Numerous resources exist


Eating the Rainbow… A simplified roadmap to health

RED: Improves memory and heart health; lowers risk for some cancers.

ORANGE: Vitamin A keeps our eyes, bones, and immune system healthy.

YELLOW: Can help prevent macular degeneration.

GREEN: Lowers risk for some cancers; strengthens our bones and teeth.

BLUE & PURPLE: Maintain brain and heart health.

To eat the rainbow, incorporate two to three different-colored fruits or vegetables at every meal and at least one at every snack. While you don’t have to eat every single color every day, try to get them into your diet a few times per week. Keep it colorful! Quick and easy meal and snack suggestions are found by referring to the attached link. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/eat-the-rainbow

Rainbow Salsa Recipe


In the name of BEETS


How about a bowl of pickled beets instead of a bowl of ice cream?

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/are-pickled-beets-good-for- you#nutrients

Eat the Rainbow with chicken recipes:

https://www.hallmarkchannel.com/home-and-family/recipes/eat-the-rainbow- one-pan-roasted-chicken-veggie-dinner


Eat the Rainbow with seafood recipes:

https://dishonfish.com/mustard-glazed-salmon-with-cauliflower-mash-and- spinach/


Submitted by:
Henrie Monteith Treadwell, Ph.D., Atlanta (GA) Chapter
Research Professor, Department of Community Health and Preventive Medicine, Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM)
HeartLinks and Walk For Healthy Living Signature Programs Committee Member

HeartLinks Educational Program
Utilizing “With Every Heartbeat Is Life”

HeartLinks education training sessions are designed to provide educational information dissemination, which ultimately leads to a greater knowledge of cardiovascular disease, its impact on African American women, and steps to take to decrease risk and risk factors.

HeartLinks educational sessions utilize “With Every Heartbeat Is Life,” a heart health manual created for African American communities by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health.

Download Manual (adobe acrobat required)

Download Picture Cards(adobe acrobat required)

This toolkit for community health workers includes a manual and companion flipchart for a 12-lesson course on heart health education tailored to African American communities. The With Every Heartbeat Is Life manual comes complete with activities, group activity idea starters, and reproducible handouts, and the illustrated flipchart can be used as teaching tool to help lead the course. Topics covered include understanding heart disease and heart attack, reducing risk factors, and protecting your heart.

Additional Resources:

For information on how to obtain this manual, contact www.nhlbi.nih.gov.

HeartLinks Program Partners

Information on this segment of the HeartLinks Toolkit will be provided in the coming weeks.

Oral Health

Saving Smiles, Saving Lives

Dental disease has been linked to:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Diabetes
  • Pregnancy risks and low birth weight babies
  • Dementia and Alzheimer’s
  • Respiratory infections and pneumonia
  • Immune system disorders
  • Bone density

The Link between Oral Health and Overall Health

  • Cardiovascular disease: heart disease.
    Bacteria from inflammation of the gums and periodontal disease can travel to the arteries in the heart and cause atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).
  • Dementia: The bacteria from gingivitis may enter the brain through either nerve channels or through the bloodstream, that might even lead to the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
Click on the links below to learn more:

The Heart Truth: A Campaign for Women About Heart Disease

The Heart Truth® is a national education program for women that raises awareness about heart disease and its risk factors and educates and motivates them to take action to prevent the disease. Through the program, launched in 2002, the NHLBI leads the Nation in a landmark heart health movement embraced by millions who share the goal of better heart health for all women. The centerpiece of The Heart Truth is the Red Dress®, a national symbol for women and heart disease awareness that was created by the NHLBI and introduced in 2002. The Red Dress serves as a powerful source of inspiration for women to learn more about their personal risk for heart disease and take action to protect their heart health.

One in five women in the United States die from Heart Disease. The most common type of heart disease is coronary heart disease, also called clogged arteries. It causes heart attacks and is the #1 killer of women in the United States. Healthy eating and physical activity go a long way to preventing heart disease, and keeping it from getting worse if you already have it. There is a lot you can do to protect your heart.

Taking Small Steps for a Healthy Blood Pressure

NHLBI’s The Heart Truth® program is featuring a variety of new educational resources that focus on healthy lifestyle changes you can make, little by little, to help you in your efforts. Materials are free and available on NHLBI’s High Blood Pressure web page. Here’s what you will find:

  • A Healthy Blood Pressure for Healthy Hearts fact sheet that provides an overview of high blood pressure and what to do to prevent or control it. Keep track of your blood pressure numbers with its companion worksheet.
  • A new series of DASH eating plan fact sheets, sample menus, recipes, and tips to reduce salt and sodium. These user-friendly materials will make it easier for you to follow this NHLBI-developed eating plan, which research proves can lower your blood pressure and LDL cholesterol.
  • Social media images and posts that are ready to share. Use them to educate others about how to control and prevent high blood pressure, one step at a time.
  • An updated Delicious Heart Healthy Eating web page that features more than 100 heart-healthy recipes, as well as information about how to food shop and cook healthy meals for the entire family. Check out our latest cooking demo of two easy-to-prepare, DASH-friendly recipes.

Our Hearts Are Healthier Together! Encourage a friend, family member, or coworker to join you on your journey to a healthier heart. Research has shown that having strong social support can make it easier to stay motivated and reach your health goals. Visit NHLBI’s Our Hearts map and get inspired by the activities of others around the country, then share what you’re doing to prevent or control high blood pressure, using #OurHearts.

Want more? Visit NHLBI’s High Blood Pressure web page or our High Blood Pressure Education Toolkit to find more resources about high blood pressure and heart-healthy lifestyles.

Click on www.nhlbi.nih.gov/heartmonth and www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/education-and-awareness/heart-truth to learn more about heart disease, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, how to find out if you’re at risk, and how to protect your heart.

What is CPR?

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) is a combination of providing rescue breathing and chest compressions to victims thought to be in cardiac arrest. It is generally done in ongoing cycles by providing 30 chest compressions followed by 2 rescue breaths. When cardiac arrest occurs, the heart stops pumping blood. CPR can support a small amount of blood flow to the heart and brain to “buy time” until normal heart function is restored.

Note: CPR Training should always be conducted by a licensed CPR training professional.
Why Links Should Be Interested in CPR?

An estimated 92 percent of sudden cardiac arrest victims will die before reaching the hospital. If more people know how to perform CPR and provide immediate action, a victim’s survival rate could double or triple. More lives could be saved if more individuals understood CPR situations and were willing to respond in an emergency.

Importance of CPR
If someone went into cardiac arrest in front of you, would you know how to help?
  • Bystanders can help. Unnecessary deaths can occur, when people don’t act upon seeing someone suddenly collapse.
  • Your action to respond can only help. If you see an unconscious adult and have not been CPR trained, call 9-1-1.
Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Sudden Cardiac Arrest is a leading cause of death in the United States claiming nearly 300,000 lives each year. During sudden cardiac arrest, the heart function ceases abruptly and without warning. When this occurs, the heart is no longer able to pump blood to the rest of the body. In 95 percent of sudden cardiac arrest victims, death occurs.
When an adult has a sudden cardiac arrest, the person’s survival depends greatly on immediately receiving CPR. A bystanding witness can help. Unfortunately, less than 1/3 of people who experience a cardiac arrest at home, work or in a public location will receive help that can be provided.
Why? Many bystanders are worried that they might do something wrong or make things worse.

Hands Only CPR

Hands Only CPR is CPR without rescue breathing. Hands Only CPR makes responding to an adult who suddenly collapses from sudden cardiac arrest a 2 – step process that most people can do. To find out more information, go to http://handsonlycpr.org/.
The benefit of Hands Only CPR is that it is easy to remember and the action can only help.


An automated external defibrillator or AED is a device that automatically diagnoses the potentially life threatening cardiacarrhythmias of ventricular fibrillation and ventricular tachycardia in a person. It is not necessary for the rescuer to be able to identify heart rhythms. If a shockable rhythm is detected, the machine will be able to treat them through defibrillation. This occurs through the application of electrical therapy which stops the arrthymia allowing the heart to reestablish an effective rhythm.
Who can use an AED and how does it work? By listening to voice prompts, almost anyone can use an AED. Once the machine is turned on, the rescuer will be prompted to apply two electrodes provided with the AED to the victim’s chest. After the pads are applied, the AED will begin to monitor the victim’s heart rhythm. If a shockable rhythm is detected, the machine will charge itself and instruct the rescuer to stand clear of the victim, followed by a voice prompt to press the shock button.

Good Samaritan Provisions

Did you know?
It has been reported that all 50 states now have AED Good Samaritan provisions that help protect laypersons that have been properly trained to use these devices. Therefore, any layperson who has been trained to use an AED may be afforded some protection under applicable AED Good Samaritan provisions. Contact your local or state emergency medical services (EMS) department to find out about Good Samaritan protections that your state provides for users of AEDs.

Become Certified In CPR

Diabetes & Heart Disease

Diabetes and Its Relationship To Heart Disease: A Brief Overview

The purpose of this overview is for informational and educational purposes only. It is strongly advised that you consult with your health care provider in regard to the health treatment plan that is best for you.

What Is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a disease that occurs when your blood glucose (also known as blood sugar) is too high. Our blood glucose is the primary source of energy for our bodies and is derived from the foods we eat. Insulin, a hormone made by a gland known as the pancreas, helps glucose from the food we eat get into our cells to be used for energy. In the case of diabetes, our body either 1) does not make enough insulin 2) does not make insulin at all or 3) does not use insulin well. As a result, the glucose stays in your blood and does not reach your cells. Over time, having too much glucose in your blood can cause health problems – _such as heart disease.

Types of Diabetes

The most common types of diabetes are type 2, gestational, and type 1.

Type 2 – _In type 2 diabetes, either your body does not make enough insulin or it does not use properly the insulin that your body does make. It can be developed as a child or in adulthood but most commonly in middle-aged and older adults. It is the most common type of diabetes. Treatment may include lifestyle changes, oral medication or injectable medications (insulin or non-insulin).

Gestational – This form of diabetes may develop during pregnancy. It usually resolves itself after pregnancy. However, if you have had gestational diabetes, there is a greater chance of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.

Type 1 – In type 1 diabetes, your body does not make insulin. The immune system attacks and destroys the cells in the pancreas that make insulin. It is usually diagnosed in children and young adults. People with type 1 diabetes need to take insulin every day to stay alive.

Type 2 Diabetes in African Americans

  • Type 2 diabetes is an epidemic in African American communities
  • 9 million African-American adults, or 18.7% of all African Americans greater than 20 years of age, have diagnosed or undiagnosed diabetes, compared to 7.1% of non-Hispanic white Americans
  • The risk of diabetes is 77% higher among African Americans than among non-Hispanic white Americans. This is felt to be in large part due to sedentary lifestyle, poor dietary habits and obesity.

Obesity in African American Women

  • Obesity has risen to epidemic proportions in the African American community
  • Obesity is a significant risk factor for development of Type 2 diabetes and other health ailments
  • Approximately 60 percent of black women are obese, compared with 32 percent of white women and 41 percent of Hispanic women
  • Obesity is decreasing black women’s life expectancy and increasing their chances of developing a host of ailments, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease and arthritis

 Gestational Diabetes in African American Women

  • African American women are disproportionately afflicted with gestational diabetes and face a 52 percent increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the future compared to non-Hispanic Caucasian women

The NIDDK’s website, www.niddk.nih.gov, has a wealth of information on diabetes (management and type 2 diabetes prevention, including content on diabetes-related heart disease and stroke and gestational diabetes), weight management (including content specific to overweight children).

Message to women who have a history of gestational diabetes that they – and their child born from a pregnancy affected by gestational diabetes – have an increased lifelong risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Click Here, to find messages and materials about gestational diabetes.

The  NIDDK’s Sisters Together: Move More, Eat Better national health awareness program features a PDF and video that you can use/adapt to encourage African American women to reach and maintain a healthy weight by getting regular physical activity and learning healthier food choices.

How are diabetes and heart disease related?

Over time, high blood sugar levels can cause damage to your blood vessels as well as damage the nerves that control your heart and blood vessels. In addition, high blood sugar levels can cause blood vessels to become stiff and hard. The longer that you have diabetes, the greater the chance that you will develop heart disease.

Diabetes and Heart Disease statistics

  • 68% of persons over 65 years old with diabetes die from some form of heart disease
  • Adults with diabetes are 2-4 times more likely to die from heart disease than without diabetes
  • Women with diabetes have a 40% greater risk of developing heart disease than men
  • Diabetes is the 7th leading killer of Americans
  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women

The Good News – You can protect your heart and control (prevent) diabetes!

  • Be Active – _30- 45minutes of aerobic exercise most days of the week
  • Stop Smoking – _smoking increases risk for multiple health conditions including heart disease
  • Lose weight – _losing even a small percentage of your weight can reduce heart disease risk
  • Manage cholesterol – _Your bad (LDL) cholesterol should be less than 100
  • Manage blood pressure – _Ideal blood pressure is 120/80 or less.
  • Eat healthy – _reduce foods high in saturated fat, trans fat, salt, and cholesterol such as fried foods, red meats, and eggs. Instead focus more on high fiber foods such as whole grains, vegetables, and fruits
  • Control your diabetes – _Diabetes can be controlled thus significantly reducing your chances of heart disease. Follow the diabetes management plan that you and your doctor have agreed upon including lifestyle changes and medication compliance











Submitted by:

Link Kimbra Bell Balark, MD

Chicago (IL) Chapter

Member, HeartLinks and Walk for Healthy Living Signature Programs Committee

Physical Activity, Nutrition, and Heart Disease

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States, killing 289,758 women in 2013—that’s about 1 in every 4 female deaths. Heart disease is largely preventable, but most people don’t take the necessary steps to reduce their risk. Some of the factors that increase the risk of developing heart disease, include high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity. Even though many of us know what to do to improve our heart health, research shows that knowing is not enough; we need to act. Reducing risk and optimizing health means changing behaviors to adopt healthier lifestyles.

  • Lower your risk for heart disease by managing your cholesterol
  • Regular physical activity, such as walking, is a great way to prevent heart disease and stroke
  • People living with type 2 diabetes have an increased risk for developing heart disease
  • Obesity and being overweight increase your risk for cardiovascular disease

Watch national president, Link Kimberly Jeffries Leonard’s Moving Story.

To learn more about a heart healthy lifestyle click on the link below:

Heart Healthy Lifestyle PPT

Creating Virtual Physical Activity Programs

Creating Healthy Eating Programs


Red Dress Initiatives

Heart Disease Doesn’t Care What You Wear –

The Red Dress is the national symbol for women and heart disease awareness and the centerpiece of The Heart Truth – a national awareness campaign that warns women about their risk of heart disease and inspires them to take action and lower risk. The Heart Truth is sponsored by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Event Ideas

  • Organize a “Wear Red Day” or “Women Heart Day” by incorporating it into an annual chapter event, i.e. fundraiser breakfast, luncheon or dinner.
  • Plan a “Wear Red Day” for your February chapter meeting.
  • Plan a “Wear Red Day” for your church.

Sample Red Dress Activities

HeartLinks to Heart Health Tier 2 Chapters

Click on the link to see chapter profiles:

Walk for Healthy Living Signature Program
(Formerly Project Walking Fête: Make Health a Habit)

Welcome to Walk For Healthy Living! This program has everything you’ll need to get started on your journey to good health.

For more than 25 years, The Links, Incorporated has engaged in creative programs that address many aspects of cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors. In 1995, The Links, Incorporated was one of nine national organizations selected to participate in the launch of the country’s first national physical activity initiative, Project Walking Fete: Make Health A Habit*, through a grant award from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

26th Annual Walk-A-Thon

Begin your chapter year by participating in our 26th Annual Walk-a-Thon.

Since 1995 the National Walk-A-Thon usually takes place on the last Saturday of September. The 2021 Annual Walk-a-Thon is scheduled for Saturday, September 25. The Walk-a-Thon gives chapters an opportunity to not only raise money for local programs but it also promotes walking as a healthy pastime. The ultimate goal is to promote physical activity and educate our communities about the importance of regular physical activity in improving overall health and wellness. Let’s do our part and collaborate with Link chapters, schools, churches, local businesses, other organizations and all citizens to participate in the Walk-a-Thon and other chapter activities that promote physical fitness.

Walk-A-Thon Timeline and Forms to Complete 

Poster Art Competition
This national Poster Art Competition is designed to encourage children to focus on the benefits of good nutrition, healthy living, and physical activity. For more information about contest rules and implementation,  visit the documents section of Members Only.

75 Million Steps Challenge to the 75th Anniversary

  • Challenge – Walk 75 Million Steps – Links members pledge to collectively walk 75 million steps to the 75th Anniversary.

More information to come within the next few weeks.