Working together to make a sustainable impact in Connecticut

The American Heart Association (AHA), the leading voluntary health organization devoted to a world of longer, healthier lives, is heading into its second year with Yale New Haven Health (YNHHS) Heart and Vascular Center to make a sustainable impact on the cardiovascular health, and specifically blood pressure, in the most vulnerable communities in Connecticut, through the Live Fierce – Reduce Your Risk campaign. Live Fierce is the Association’s new mission concept that binds the power of the organization’s brand with its comprehensive impact.

“Yale New Haven Health is deeply committed to ensuring health equity and this partnership with the AHA will help to create sustainable policy, system and environmental changes,” said Francine LoRusso, SVP Operations/Executive Director, Heart and Vascular Services, YNHHS and CT AHA Board Member. “The Live Fierce mindset will help address the health issues impacting Connecticut and make health equity a priority.”

Together, YNHHS is working with the AHA to provide meaningful experiences through programs and initiatives that will drive equitable health impact through five key priority areas: women, COVID-19, tobacco and vaping, patients and healthy living.

In recent months, a free, digital Community Conversations discussing high blood pressure took place featuring Yale School of Medicine cardiologist Erica Spatz, MD, MHS. Dr. Spatz spoke to over 160 participants, speaking on the topic, ” Hypertension & Cardiovascular Disease; What you need to know!”

In February, a Go Red for Women digital event was held hosting 150 attendees. The event began with a welcome from Francine LoRusso, Senior Vice President & Executive Director of the Heart & Vascular Center and Transplantation Center, Yale New Haven Health and chairperson, Dr. Lisa Freed, Director, Women’s Heart and Vascular Program, Yale New Haven Health. Guest heard from two Keynote Speakers:

  • Janine Clayton, MD, FARVO -NIH Associate Director for Research on Women’s Health and Director of the Office of Research on Women’s Health
  • Jaya Aysola, MD, DTMH, MPH – Assistant Dean of Inclusion and Diversity at the Perelman School of Medicine and Founder and Executive Director of Penn Medicine’s Center for Health Equity Advancement (CHEA)

A panel discussion on women’s risk factors for cardiovascular diseases was led by Dr. Lisa Freed with Drs. Chou and Rao-Brito.

Two GoRED Talks were produced and shared on the American Heart Association’s Connecticut Facebook Page. The first GoRED Talk discussed preventative heart health. The  physicians featured included Dr. Samit Shah, Interventional Cardiologist, Heart, and Vascular Center – Yale New Haven Hospital, Dr. Benjamin Gold, Cardiologist Heart and Vascular Center – Bridgeport Hospital, Northeast Medical Group and Dr. Ehimen Aneni, Cardiologist Heart and Vascular Center – Yale New Haven Hospital.

The second GoRED Talk featured Dr. Cesia Gallegos, cardiologist at the Heart and Vascular Center at Yale New Haven Hospital and Dr. David Narotsky, cardiologist at the Heart and Vascular Center at Bridgeport Hospital who talked about nutrition and blood pressure management.

In New Haven County, 26% of adults live with high blood pressure and in underserved communities that number climbs to 29.42%. To combat these statistics, a blood pressure initiative will be available beginning in May at select barber shops throughout Greater New Haven. Those who are patrons of the shops will have access to this program and can continually monitor their blood pressure numbers.

The locations participating in the program are in New Haven and include Willie C Barbershop and Dexter Barbershop.

To date, all campaigns have earned over 2.47 million engagements and reached more than 66,780 people on social media.

To learn more about programs, events, and volunteer opportunities, visit