Fouad 2018DFL

Mona Fouad is 2018 Distinguished Faculty Lecturer

Mona Fouad is 2018 Distinguished Faculty Lecturer

MFouad2019Sometimes, big transformations begin with small changes — seeing a new perspective or meeting someone different from you.

Mona Fouad, M.D., wanted to know the best way to treat and control high blood pressure in under-served populations. As a newly minted UAB researcher in the early 1990s, she was a research fellow for an investigator funded by the National Institutes of Health to study ways to reduce heart disease in Birmingham city employees. Street and sanitation workers had the highest rates of uncontrolled blood pressure in the group.

Fouad tried holding educational intervention courses in the Birmingham Public Library downtown branch, but no one showed. The sanitation team worked 10-hour shifts that began at 4 a.m., their supervisor said, and the last thing they wanted to do was to go to the library for a health class. The supervisor told Fouad the workers were reluctant to leave their worksite after a shift, but they often finished their work early and stayed at the precinct to chat and unwind at day’s end.

So she changed her tack. Fouad started hosting educational sessions around 3 p.m. in the break room, providing hands-on, basic lessons on the importance of regularly taking medication and the long-term effects of high blood pressure.

The results, Fouad said, were both “gratifying and satisfying.” The city employees began taking their health more seriously and were grateful for her unique approach.

When the American Heart Association created a documentary about innovative interventions in 1990, Fouad’s work to reduce blood-pressure rates with city workers was highlighted. The crew interviewed the workers.

“They said, ‘We had someone to talk to who understood our lifestyle,’” Fouad said.

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