KaHOLO: Preventing Cardiovascular Disease in Native Hawaiians

The KaHOLO project was designed to reduce blood pressure in Native Hawaiians by promoting the practice of traditional forms of dance. Chronic high blood pressure – also known as hypertension – is a serious risk factor for heart disease and stroke. In Hawaii, Native Hawaiians are 70% more likely than non-Hispanic Whites to suffer a stroke. They also develop heart disease about 10 years earlier than people in other racial and ethnic groups. Based on halau hula training, the KaHOLO project was developed by biomedical scientists in collaboration with Kumu Hula (traditional hula teachers). This project is a five-year effort to assess whether traditional Hawaiian practices can re-establish health and well-being. It consists of a physical activity intervention in which participants dance the hula and receive education on heart health. Participants will attend hula classes for six months and receive coaching on how to make healthy changes a permanent part of their lives.


KaHOLO is a collaboration between the Department of Native Hawaiian Health at the University of Hawaii and Partnerships for Native Health at Washington State University. The researchers have brought this program from Hawaii to benefit Native Hawaiians living in Washington State. Very few public health programs in Washington address the health needs of Pacific Islander communities. This is the first time that Partnerships for Native Health has offered such a program. Recruitment of participants has already started. In August we will begin classes in the cities of Tacoma and Federal Way in Washington.

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