Love Your Heart
- Need: To reduce heart disease in rural West Virginia.
- Intervention: Love Your Heart trains local organizations to host community events about heart health.
- Results: Since 2015, the program has reached 196,124 participants through 267 programs held in 33 counties (24 of which are rural).
2017 CDC data, heart disease is the leading cause of
death in West Virginia, with 4,849 deaths reported. Its
age-adjusted death rate is 192, compared to the U.S. rate
of 165. Rural residents' health can be compounded by a
lack of exercise facilities, safe walking paths, and a
personal healthcare provider.
The West Virginia
University (WVU) Extension Service created the Love
Your Heart program to help participants, especially
women, identify their risk for heart disease and teach
them healthy habits that can reduce their risk.
From 2015 to 2016, WVU Extension Service agents received
training and kits with information about heart disease,
promotional and educational materials, and grant
management guidance. These agents assisted with partner
training sessions and provided periodic support
throughout the project. Agents also taught workshops,
gave food demonstrations, and helped promote events.
In the same period, 24 representatives from partner
organizations received training and kits. These partners
- Belington Medical Clinic, in rural Barbour County
- Huntington Internal Medicine Group
- West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine, in
rural Greenbrier County
- Hardy County Health & Wellness Center, in rural Hardy
- Larry Joe Harless Community Center, in rural Mingo
- Christian Help, Inc.
- West Virginia Community Educational Outreach Service
- WVU Heart and Vascular Institute
- WVU National Center for Excellence in Women's Health
The Love Your Heart program received funding from the
Foundation for the National
Institutes of Health.
The Love Your Heart program:
- Trains and provides support to partner organizations
so that volunteers can conduct heart health programs and
The Heart Truth materials
- Fosters communication among partners to expand local
and state network of "The Heart Truth" Champions
- Supports partner-led community events like classes,
luncheons, retreats, and health screenings
- Helps participants assess their risk for heart
disease and set heart health goals
Since 2015, Love Your Heart partner organizations have
helped rural communities by:
- Supporting 6,011 direct education activities such as
"lunch and learn" events, screening events, and workshops
- Participating in 190,113 indirect education
activities such as health fairs, 5k runs, exhibits, and
- Reaching 196,124 participants through 267 programs
held in 33 counties (24 of which are rural)
In a survey completed with 469 participants (93.4% female
and 69% over 60 years old), 98% of participants rated the
program's effectiveness as good or excellent.
Most people have been personally touched by heart
disease, but they may not know what they can do to help
their families and communities. Women especially are apt
to care for others and ignore their own health until it
is too late. Emphasize that taking care of themselves
allows them to take care of their loved ones.
Myths about heart disease, such as "It's a man's disease"
and "It runs in my family, so there's nothing I can do to
prevent it," are prevalent. Be prepared to address these
myths as you talk with community members.
Some barriers may be large and systemic. For example,
people may not regularly visit or have access to
healthcare and miss out on routine checks for blood
pressure and cholesterol. In addition, ambulance service
and emergency care are often limited in rural areas,
which may deter people from calling 911 and seeking the
timely care they need. Materials (available upon request)
provide more information about these barriers.
Talk to community members about heart disease and ask if
they would like to work together. Many types of community
organizations already have an interest in health and will
join in fun activities to benefit their members and the
Some individuals may not think that they can do much
because they do not have expertise in health. Love Your
Heart simplifies the prevention messages and materials,
reminding lay leaders and audiences that everyone can
help combat heart disease. Free print-ready materials are
available upon request.
Tony Michael, Family & Community Development Program Director
West Virginia University Extension Service
Wellness, health promotion, and disease prevention
July 25, 2017
Date updated or reviewed
November 30, 2020
Suggested citation: Rural Health Information Hub,
Love Your Heart [online]. Rural Health Information Hub. Available at:
[Accessed 24 May 2022]
Please contact the models and innovations contact directly for the most complete and current information
about this program. Summaries of models and innovations are provided by RHIhub for your convenience. The
programs described are not endorsed by RHIhub or by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy. Each rural
community should consider whether a particular project or approach is a good match for their community’s
needs and capacity. While it is sometimes possible to adapt program components to match your resources, keep
in mind that changes to the program design may impact results.