Project Goals

The central goal of HEAT Heart Health is to learn more about the causes of high blood pressure, heart disease, and related chronic conditions like obesity and diabetes among African Americans. We want to know how health is affected by the social environment, including neighborhood conditions, social relationships, and people's experience of stress, including the stress of racism. We also want to understand how genetic (inherited) differences that are passed down from our parents may cause or protect people from high blood pressure and heart disease. The focus on both genetic and environmental influences is a unique strength of the study.
Our specific goals are to:
  • document how heart disease risk factors vary among African Americans in Tallahassee in relation to social and economic conditions
  • examine how social stressors and coping resources are associated with blood pressure and other biological indicators of cardiovascular risk
  • test for interactions between environmental conditions and inherited (genetic) factors related to the risk of heart disease and related conditions
  • share the results of our study to inform heart disease prevention programs and policy interventions
A strength of HEAT Heart Health is that we have integrated input from Tallahassee residents into all phases of the study. The first three years of the project were devoted to understanding how African Americans in diverse social contexts experience stress and what they value in a full and satisfying life. The community survey we conducted in 2011-2012 reflects the issues people have identified as important in their lives. We think community participation enhances the scientific contribution of the study and will make the results more meaningful to people in the community.

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