Navigating Pacific Hearts

Navigating Pacific Hearts

The Navigating Pacific Hearts project engages Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (NHPI) women in The Heart Truth program. This program is dedicated to raising awareness of women’s risk for heart diseases – the #1 killer of women in the United States – and to share steps that lead to a healthy heart. Funded by the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH) Community Action Program, Pacific Islander Health Partnership (PIHP) and UCR is partnering with six NHPI community organizations. Here is our  Navigating Pacific Hearts – proposal

Navigating Pacific Hearts Team

Navigating Pacific Hearts Community Partners

Our community partners are central to the success of the Navigating Pacific Hearts project. Lead by Juliet McMullin and Ka’ala Pang from Pacific Islander Health Partnership (PIHP), our partners include:

  • ‘Āinahau o Kaleponi Hawaiian Civic Club – Native Hawaiian Community
  • Samoan American Youth of Orange County (SAYOC) – Samoan Community
  • Empowering Pacific Islander Communities – Pacific Islander Community
  • Juon Wot Iakwe – Marshallese Community
  • Kutturan Chamoru Foundation – Chamorro Community
  • Famili Pe Taha – Tongan Community
  • Pacific Islanders in California

California has the largest population (282,000) of NHPI in the United States (US Census 2010), with the number now surpassing the NHPI population of Hawaii. More than 22,000 live in Orange and Riverside Counties. Despite their rapid population growth the needs of NHPI have been obscured because of the historical aggregation of their data with Asian Americans. As one community member told us, “we [Pacific Islanders] are the invisible population.” When we consider Panapasa et. al (2010) findings that Native Hawaiians 65 and older have the highest mortality rates in the United States, higher than African Americans, that heart disease is the leading cause of death (34%) for NHPI, and that in Orange County with 42% of the Native Hawaiians, 24% of Guamanian or Chamorro and 28% of Samoan deaths attributable to heart disease (Community Contrasts 2014) we can no longer afford to ignore the health needs of NHPI. Navigating Pacific Hearts is a step in addressing the heart health needs of our Pacific Islander Communities.


The Navigating Pacific Hearts project involves broad outreach programing and collecting baseline data on NHPI heart health knowledge.

Outreach included:

Training the trainers in The Heart Truth program.
Engaging community members in focus groups to determine how best to adapt materials for NHPI women and their families.
Disseminating Heart Truth materials at Pacific Islander Festivals across southern California, and multiple special events in Hawai’i, Seattle, Alaska, Samoa, and Guam.
Navigating Pacific Hearts is also hosting the nine month healthy lifestyle intervention, Kaleponi PILI ‘Ohana (KPO) program. Adapted from the Pili ‘Ohana evidence-based program developed by the University of Hawai`i, School of Medicine, Department of Native Hawaiian Health, this program:

  • teaches healthy lifestyle choices.
  • recommends strategies for food and weight management.
  • promotes increase of physical activity.
  • instructs healthy preparation of traditional and local foods.

Red Dress Event

In February 2016, the Navigating Pacific Hearts program celebrated the American Heart Association’s American Heart Month with a Red Dress event. Featuring guest speakers Ualani Ho’opai, Project Manager, who is the KPO educator. ‘Alisi Tulua, COO for Empowering Pacific Islander Communities, also shared Tongan knowledge that emphasizes land-based health.

Navigating Pacific Hearts community partners hosted tables where they shared heart health knowledge, traditional foods that were adapted using heart healthy ingredients, traditional weaving and storytelling, and in-language “Know your risks” and “Questions to ask your doctor.” In-language resources in Samoan and Tongan may be downloaded at the links at the bottom of this page. Please contact us if you’d like resources in Hawaiian, Chamoru, or Marshallese.

The event also featured Martha Misikei, a high school student, who composed a “Heart Truth” song after talking with Ka’ala Pang about heart disease at the Annual Pacific Islander Festival in Huntington Beach, CA.

Navigating Pacific Hearts partners also created videos of community members sharing their heart health stories were a central part of the Red Dress Event. We ended the day with a special appearance by Jesse Sapolu, four time NFL Super Bowl champion who, after managing his own heart disease, emphasized the need to adopt healthy behaviors and attend to the heart health needs of the whole family.

Samoan and Tongan Healthy Heart Resources: