Researchers in North Carolina received a $21 million grant to explore strategies to prevent hypertension during pregnancy, according to News & Observer. The condition disproportionately impacts Black women and is a top cause of maternal death.

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, affects 1 in 3 adults worldwide. More than half of Black women over age 20 have high blood pressure, according to the American Medical Association. What’s more, Black women are more than twice as likely to develop high blood pressure during their childbearing years compared with white women, the American Heart Association reports.

Awarded by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, the grant will fund the Thriving Hearts study, which will target hypertensive disorders in pregnancy. If left untreated, such disorders can lead to serious conditions, including heart attack, stroke or kidney damage.

The five-year study will launch several programs throughout 10 counties in North Carolina, which has higher rates of maternal mortality than the rate in the Unites States overall. In fact, in 2021, about 80 North Carolina women died of pregnancy-related complications.

The programs will utilize difference methods to reduce high blood pressure in pregnant people. For example, one program will provide prenatal clinics with hypertension kits that will allow individuals to monitor their blood pressure at home and give the option of receiving text messages with tips and reminders for preventing high blood pressure.

Eating a healthier diet, quitting tobacco and being more active can help lower blood pressure. Some people may need medication to manage their blood pressure. 

Funding will also support workshops aimed to reduce burnout and improve overall well-being for health care providers, which researchers hope will subsequently improve the quality of care for their patients.

Nakela Cook, MD, MPH, the executive director of the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, emphasizes the importance of collaboration between research institutions and community organizations.

“Community organizations can provide critical insights into the often complex root causes of health issues in the populations that we’re trying to serve,” she told News & Observer. “While research institutions help ensure the scientific rigor of the research that’s funded.”

The Thriving Hearts study will involve doctors, doulas, dietitians, social workers, local health department staff, women who have experienced hypertension during pregnancy and others.

To read more, click #Hypertension. There, you’ll find headlines such as “Hypertensive Disorders of Pregnancy Increase Risk for Stroke in Black Mothers,” “Anemia, Hypertension Contribute to Racial Disparities in Pregnancy and Birth” and “First WHO Report Details Devastating Impact of Hypertension and Ways to Stop It.”