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  CHARLOTTE, NC -- A grant from the US Administration on Aging has teamed the Mecklenburg County Department of Social Services (DSS) with UNC Charlotte to study how nutrition and one-on-one personalized nutrition education will affect the health of seniors with cardiovascular disease.

The study is expected to show results on how medical nutrition therapy (MNT) and home delivered therapeutic meals help improve, or slow, declining health in seniors with chronic diseases. The university and DSS are seeking 320 participants for the study.

Another reason for the 12-month study is to provide Medicare policy makers with information about clinical outcomes and the costs of MNT and of therapeutic meals for seniors with cardiovascular disease. Already, Medicare provides reimbursement for MNT for diabetes and chronic kidney disease.

Representatives of DSS and the university say the study will provide important information about the benefits of intensive education and therapeutic meals. They say the research may help to get Medicare funding for these preventative measures if found to be effective in controlling costs or improving health for seniors with cardiovascular disease.

In 1999, Mecklenburg County's death rate for heart disease among people 65 to 84 years was 952 per 100,000, according to the study supporters. For those people 85 and older that year, the death rate per 100,000 was 4,357. Hospital stays for the 10,433 heart disease hospital admissions for seniors in 1999 cost an average $13,177 per case, with hospital stays averaging 5.2 days.

The $927,973 grant will pay for services including health screenings, gift certificates, therapeutic meals and medical nutrition therapy. To qualify for the study a participant must meet criteria including the following:

·         Be at least 60 years old
·         Be diagnosed with high blood pressure and/or high cholesterol
·         Be a resident of Mecklenburg County

For more information about becoming a participant, call the study recruitment specialist at 704-687-2317.

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