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Heart healthy mobile campaign is no joke

The American Heart Association is using mobile as part of its heart-healthy campaign, which is meant to show that the nation's No. 1 killer is no laughing matter.

Starting May 26, mobile users can sign up to receive a free health message in Spanish or English on their mobile phone every week for 45 weeks as part of the American Heart Association's "Conozca Su Corazon" program geared toward Hispanics.

"The strategy is to set up a situation that will increase heart health for Hispanics in the United States by giving them small fragments of heart healthy tips so they can utilize them," said Dr. Ismael Nuño, a cardiac surgeon with Los Angeles County University of Southern California Medical Center and the American Heart Association spokesman, Dallas, TX.

"We are trying to train the trainer, who can then educate others in the Latino population," he said.

The health messages give information on heart risk factors, prevention, healthy cooking tips and suggestions for physical activity.

The sign up period lasts three months and participants can enroll by texting the keyword CORAZON to short code 52733 or, for messages in English, by texting the keyword HEART to short code 52733.

Participants can also access "Pase La Voz" audio messages, ring tones and wallpapers at

Pase La Voz is the messaging aspect of the heart-healthy campaign initiative.

Using the latest technology and the voices of comedians Bill Santiago and Rafael Sigler, mobile users can access humorous audio health messages and pass them along to family and friends.

Bill Santiago is a Puerto Rican comedian who has been featured several times on Comedy Central. Rafael Sigler's voice has been heard in Beverly Hills Chihuahua and ABC's Ugly Betty.

"Humor is very labeled to this population," Dr. Nuño said. "They accept humor much better than a straightforward white-faced answer. We are trying to utilize that to catch more people. If you give people a message that is humorous, I know I, for one, will accept that.

"People talk about it and think its funny," he said. "We are trying to get in their head while being culturally sensitive."

Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of Americans in the U.S. and studies show that lower awareness levels regarding heart disease risk factors among Hispanics put them at a greater risk.

In fact, over 36,000 Hispanics nationwide die of heart diseases every year.

"We have to reach all the people we want to reach, as far as them signing up," Dr. Nuño said. "We want to be vocal about this so that we reach our demographic, but also do this in an ultra-sensitive way so that the Latino population responds well to this advice."

The campaign sites awareness as its cornerstone.

The simple suggestions sent via weekly Pase La Voz health messages will not only raise awareness among participants, but users are encouraged to relay the information from messages to friends, family and coworkers in their community.

"Hispanics are as active in the mobile world as any other ethnic groups and we know that they have the access," Dr. Nuño said. "Text messaging is our gamble because we have to reach enough people to enroll. If we don't then we are limited."