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News Release 2007 - July 31

Texas Heart Institute Receives $1 Million Grant
to Promote Heart Healthy Children

HOUSTON (July 31, 2007) - The Albert and Margaret Alkek Foundation is providing a $1 million grant to the Texas Heart Institute at St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital to establish the Albert and Margaret Alkek Foundation Project Heart Endowment.

Visit the Project Heart website.

Albert and Margaret Alkek Foundation Endowment to support Project Heart resource.
Project Heart is a heart-smart, online resource for teachers, parents and students. With lesson plans at its core, the site is designed to help teachers develop activities for the classroom about the heart, healthy eating, and an active lifestyle. The Project Heart website, which can be accessed directly at, provides a wealth of information, activities, and resources for any learning environment.

“As part of the Texas Heart Institute’s Heart Information Center, Project Heart extends our community outreach mission to educators by offering comprehensive curriculums for grades K through 6,” said James M. Wilson, M.D., an interventional cardiologist and Director of Cardiology Education at the Texas Heart Institute at St. Luke’s. “Unfortunately, our kids are following the same path as adults. In Texas, two out of three adults are overweight or obese and currently one out of three school-aged children in Texas is overweight or obese. These kids have a higher risk of being overweight as adults, increasing their risk for cardiovascular disease and other health issues, likely at an earlier age.”

Interest income from the Albert and Margaret Alkek Foundation Project Heart Endowment will enable the ongoing updating and enhancement of lesson-plan content. It will also enable the translation of this material into Spanish and the creation and enhancement of accompanying graphics. The Texas Heart Institute website received more than 2.5 million unique visitors last year and 30 percent of those are Spanish speaking.

Heart disease and stroke are the leading causes of death in the Hispanic community. According to the American Heart Association, these diseases account for a third of the deaths among Hispanic women and more than 27 percent of deaths among Hispanic males. The rates of diabetes and obesity in this population are also higher than the national average.

Each curriculum in Project Heart consists of complete lesson plans supplemented by classroom activity masters and extensive multimedia resources in Look, Listen, and Learn sections. Lesson plans developed for Project Heart are based on Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS); however, the curriculum materials are suitable for any learning environment. Each grade builds on the lessons and skills of the previous one and each one includes age-appropriate lessons in anatomy, nutrition, and exercise for a healthy heart.

“For more than ten years, the Albert and Margaret Alkek Foundation has provided support for charitable, religious, scientific, medical, cultural and educational organizations and programs serving the people of the state of Texas. The Foundation has a strong commitment for research and education-related projects that pay lasting dividends in terms of new discoveries and improved quality of life. The Foundation is pleased to support the expansion and enrichment of Project Heart through this endowment,” said Margaret Alkek Williams, Chairman of the Albert and Margaret Alkek Foundation.


The Texas Heart Institute, founded by world-renowned cardiovascular surgeon Dr. Denton A. Cooley in 1962, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing the devastating toll of cardiovascular disease through innovative and progressive programs in research, education and improved patient care. Together with its clinical partner, St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital, it has been ranked among the top ten cardiovascular centers in the United States by U.S.News & World Report’s annual guide to “America’s Best Hospitals” for the past 17 years. The Texas Heart Institute is also affiliated with the University of Texas (UT) System, which promotes collaboration in cardiovascular research and education among UT and THI faculty at the Texas Heart Institute and other UT components. 


Kathy Watson
Texas Heart Institute


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