From 2012 to 2015, Jo-Ann Eastwood, associate professor at UCLA School of Nursing, partnered with several local African American churches to conduct an American Heart Association–funded clinical trial that tested the effectiveness of using smartphone apps to help black women ages 25–45 reduce their risk for heart disease. Most of the study participants had multiple risk factors, such as obesity, hypertension, high cholesterol, high stress levels, and a family history of cardiovascular disease.

First, Eastwood and her team taught four weekly education sessions to increase the young women’s awareness of their risks and provide tips for making risk-lowering lifestyle changes. For many participants, the classes—which covered topics such as knowing your family history, heart-healthy eating, getting more exercise, and techniques for coping with stress—were an eye-opening experience.

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