Texting for Heart Health During COVID-19

Kim Uehisa

ISLAND PACIFIC ACADEMY Class of 2015 alumna Kim Uehisa credits her success at the University of California – Los Angeles, and her desire to help others through the medical field, to her experiences as a Navigator.

Uehisa graduated from UCLA in 2019 with a bachelor of science degree in microbiology, immunology, and molecular genetics, with a minor in global health. Her interests in the medical field center around cardiac health and preventative health, and she hopes to provide preventative healthcare to people in underserved communities. She is currently working as a research coordinator in the UCLA Division of Cardiac Surgery and recently earned her Emergency Medical Technician license.

“The academics program at IPA prepared me well for my classes at UCLA and gave me a strong foundation to build on, especially in my science courses,” shares Uehisa. “Ms. (Michelle) Bradley really had a big impact on me -– she was my robotics mentor and science teacher when I was there.”

“And the community service requirements also taught us to always remember to give back,” she adds.

Uehisa enjoys giving back. She and a colleague recently initiated a research project through the UCLA Women’s Cardiovascular Center to address the health effects of social isolation caused by lockdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic. The project, Early Cardiovascular Health Outreach SMS (ECHOS), is a text messaging program that reaches out to people who are socially isolated with daily health reminders aimed at reducing stress and loneliness. The daily messages include health reminders such as “Five minutes of meditation can relieve stress” and “Stretch after your Zoom meeting.”

“We became increasingly aware of the importance of healthy lifestyle choices as we’ve been seeing the effects of COVID-19 in emergency presentations through our work,” explains Uehisa. “By leveraging the use of text messaging, we can deliver heart healthy tips as well as offer support with resources. These daily health reminders help with social connectedness and mitigate the adverse effects of social isolation, which are known risk factors for cardiovascular disease.”

The project monitors and assess the well-being of the participants, their needs, and their health through surveys, and Uehisa believes this project can empower the community to take care of their health, which is especially important during this global health crisis.

“As my colleague and I are aspiring to make medicine our careers, implementing a text messaging program becomes even more worthwhile to us with hopes that the benefits from our prevention efforts are sustained over the long run,” says Uehisa.

Uehisa is already making a big impact on the health and well-being of the people in her community and she is grateful for the life lessons she has taken with her from ISLAND PACIFIC ACADEMY.

“I feel like IPA taught me a lot about how to navigate the world and helped me develop as a confident leader,” says Uehisa. “IPA really instilled in me the values that frame my perception of the world and taught me to always give back to where you came from. I always like giving back.”

For more information about ECHOS, or to participate in the study, visit the ECHOS website.

 

Kim Uehisa

Kim Uehisa ’15 shows off her EMT certificate.

 

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