Promoting Health Equity through Education and advocacy Promoting Health Equity through Education and advocacy

Close the Gap is a Boston Scientific initiative designed to promote health equity by reducing barriers to cardiovascular care and education among women and minorities. We work with health care providers, professional societies and patient advocacy groups to ensure all patients can access optimal cardiac care regardless of age, gender, race, ethnicity or language. We help close the gaps in heart health treatment by providing community and provider education, as well as, advocate for universal adherence to clinical guidelines.

Heart disease is the #1 killer in the United States. American Heart Association statistics show one person dies from a heart disease related event every minute. Many people believe that heart disease affects primarily older White men. This is far from the truth! Women and minorities are just as likely to have heart disease, yet are less likely to receive lifesaving treatments. African-Americans are at greater risk for cardiovascular disease and stroke than Whites. Risk factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes, physical inactivity and obesity are also more common in African-Americans than Whites. Additionally, African-Americans are more likely to experience these complications at a younger age. This results in higher rates of hospitalization, early disability and premature death, all of which create economic and social stress for affected families and their communities. Even with insurance and the same social class, people of color often receive lower quality of care than their White counterparts.

Closing this gap requires a collaborative team devoted to the mission. Sam Conaway, SVP Sales & Program Chairman and Camille Chang Gilmore, VP HR & Chief Diversity Officer, created the Close the Gap mission and guide its program. National Director Mariana Rodrigues appreciates the link between Close the Gap and the Boston Scientific mission. “At Boston Scientific, we advance science for life. Through Close the Gap, we expand the reach of life transforming therapies to traditionally undertreated populations. Working toward this goal is very rewarding. We know that we make a tremendous impact on people’s lives.”

Program Managers Valencia Powell and Yolanda English had long careers in medical sales before joining the team. Each has an abiding personal commitment. Valencia heeded a compelling call. “The core of my soul shouted out: If not you, then who? Three of my closest friends died entirely too early from heart disease. If they knew their symptoms, risks factors or honored their intuition, I know they would be alive today. Working with Close the Gap allows me to fulfill my passion to empower women and minorities to live a heart healthy lifestyle.” Yolanda drives partnership excellence. “Six months prior to joining the Close the Gap team, I promised myself that by year’s end, I would find a way to help the masses not die prematurely from lifestyle diseases. This health equity initiative does just that, by educating physicians and screening patients who would otherwise continue to be undertreated for advanced cardiovascular care.”

Nursing student Iñaki Martin Cossio joined Boston Scientific as an intern. He came to the United States fourteen years ago from Chile. His mission is to improve health in underrepresented populations through education and by promoting diverse representation in clinical trials. Medical Director Dr. Paul Underwood agrees. “The most vulnerable populations at the greatest risk of heart disease are the ones least represented in clinical trials.” Iñaki and Dr. Underwood create teaching materials that inspire collaboration between patients and healthcare providers to improve cardiovascular outcomes.

Interested in Closing the Gap on heart health? Start today with three easy steps. Visit our website, yourhearthealth.com, to learn how to:

-Know your risk factors. There are many risk factors for heart disease that you can control.

-Talk to your doctor. Bring the list of questions to your next doctor’s appointment to assess your risk for heart disease.

-Reduce your risk. Simple, healthy lifestyle changes that can make a big difference.

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