American Heart Association

Hawaii

We aspire to be Hawaii’s leader in cardiovascular research, education, and care.

Hawaii beach landscape

Legacy Leaders

group of students by the ocean
Jackie Ng-Osorio, DrPH, MPH and family

Jackie Ng-Osorio, DrPH, MPH, is a heart survivor and AHA volunteer.

In 2003 she was diagnosed with complete heart block, an issue caused when electrical signals between the heart’s upper and lower chambers don’t transmit properly resulting in an irregular heartbeat.

“I was 27 years old, very fit and a very active runner when my initial condition was first diagnosed,” said Jackie, the mother of two children. “In 2003, I was feeling uneasy because it was taking longer to recover from my runs. One day I went out for an easy run and for two hours afterward my heart was beating so hard and fast it felt as if it were going to come out of my chest. From the initial diagnosis to the treatments and procedures, eventually, I was diagnosed with complete heart block. With this diagnosis, I needed a pacemaker to be inserted to help maintain a proper heart rhythm.”

“The research funds invested by the American Heart Association provided my cardiologist with the technologies and treatments, and the knowledge of how best to apply those tools for my care. That’s allowed me to be here with my family today,” she adds.

Currently, approximately 30 percent of money raised by the Hawaii division comes right back to fund local research.

In 2019 alone we have provided funding for University of Hawaii and Hawaii Pacific University researchers in the ongoing quest to understand, improve and treat cardiovascular disease and stroke. AHA is second only to the federal government in funding cardiovascular and stroke research. However each year, more and more investigators look to the AHA to fund their advancements, but we’re unable to fund every idea. In fact, last fiscal year there were more than $400 million in research that we could not fund. This means many scientific projects were shelved, and the knowledge that would result from them delayed.

We count on donations to help us fund breakthrough technology like the pacemaker that saved Jackie’s life. The results will assist doctors, hospitals and other institutions to save lives in our own backyard and across the world.

Researcher in lab
Hula instructor leading class

“Despite medical treatment of hypertension, many Native Hawaiians have difficulty controlling their high blood pressure, which increases their risk

for coronary heart disease and stroke,” said Keawe‘aimoku Kaholokula, Ph.D., lead author of a study focused on lowering blood pressure through hula and professor and chair of the department of Native Hawaiian health at the University of Hawaii at Manoa in Honolulu. “The rates of heart disease and stroke are four times higher among Native Hawaiians than in non-Hispanic whites, and they also get these diseases 10 years younger than whites and Asians in Hawaii.” 

Left undetected (or uncontrolled), high blood pressure can lead to heart attack, stroke, heart failure and more. So what are we doing about this in Hawaii?

Thanks to symbiotic relationships, Hawaii is leading the nation in the number of private practices who are participating in Target: BP™

The American Heart Association (AHA) began Target: BP™ as a national initiative formed with the American Medical Association (AMA) in response to the rising incidence of uncontrolled blood pressure (BP). Target: BP helps health care organizations, at no cost, improve BP control rates through an evidence-based quality improvement program and recognizes organizations committed to improving BP control.

However, with 27.05% of Hawaii residents dealing with high blood pressure or hypertension, we still have a lot of work to do. We can’t address this crisis without more local support. Our community is counting on us for solutions. By joining Target: BP your health care organization can commit to improving BP control rates in Hawaii.

man checking blood pressure
Hawaii employees

Kōkua the Need

Addressing access to healthier food for all

Kokua team in vegetable costumes
Kokua PDF

We're working with the Hawaii Foodbank to improve the nutritional quality of food donated.

Heart disease is Hawaii's leading cause of death and underserved communities are especially affected. Our science staff identified healthier food donation substitutes. So, how can you help? First, download our kōkua the need PDF with our healthy food options. Next, purchase items from our shopping list and donate at a future event. 

If you'd like to find our more information, read about our food drive on Hawaii News Now and on KHON2 or watch the latest segment on KITV.

1 of 4

We're advocating for a healthier Hawaii

Hawaii's adult obesity rate is currently 24.9%, up from 15.7% in 2000. Obesity is one of the leading causes of preventable life-years lost among Americans. We're working to build a healthier Hawaii, beginning with successful passage of a law that establishes $100,000 of state funding to supplement SNAP “double-up” programs.

Find out more

2 of 4

 

The SNAP “double-up” programs allows SNAP recipients to purchase twice as much fresh produce at participating farmers markets and grocery stores with their SNAP allocations. The state funding was subsequently matched by almost $2 million in grants from local foundations and businesses. The combined funding has been submitted as part of a federal matching fund grant which, if approved, could result in almost $4 million over the next two years being available to build and sustain “double up” programs statewide. 

Back What else?

3 of 4

Childhood obesity is a growing concern as well.

During the 2019 Hawaii State Legislative Session Hawaii became the second state to pass a law that restricts beverages offered in restaurant kids’ meals to only water, low-fat milk, or 100 percent fruit juice. Parents would still have the option to request less healthy beverages. The law is effective on Jan. 1, 2020.

Back How can you help?

4 of 4

Join us to end heart disease and stroke!

We want to ensure that the healthy choice is the easy choice for Hawaii residents. That means changing systems and working together to influence policy. If you’re passionate about making a difference join our You’re the Cure advocates to fight heart disease and stroke in Hawaii!

Join You're the Cure
Back
group stands with Governor Ige after he signed into law act 153
Group of Hawaii advocates helps HI Senate pass S.B. NO 549
Hawaii Advocacy Act 138 2019
Hawaii Advocacy SNAP 2019

Contact Us

677 Ala Moana Blvd.
Suite 600
Honolulu, HI 96813
(808) 377-6630

woman peering over wall in Hawaii