New Mural to Promote Vascular Health in Historic Northeast Kansas City

Mural Focuses on Awareness of Key Community Health Issue: Peripheral Artery Disease

In early April, four Kansas City artists will begin creating a mural in the Paseo Gateway neighborhoods of historic Northeast Kansas City, Mo., designed to educate and raise awareness about a critical yet little known community health issue – peripheral artery disease (commonly known as PAD).

“PAD affects 8.5 million Americans over the age of 40, yet awareness of the condition and its causes is low, around 25 percent,” explained Kim Smolderen, Ph.D., FAHA, Project Lead, Yale University. “PAD is a vascular disease characterized by blockages in the arteries of the legs. PAD can cause pain while walking, and if left untreated, can progress to a stage where individuals are dealing with non-healing wounds and amputations. PAD is also associated with a higher risk of having a heart attack or stroke.”

This community art project is built on Dr. Smolderen’s earlier research that was funded through two grants from PCORI* and a grant from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research. This earlier work studied patients’ quality of life as they navigated care for a new diagnosis of PAD. Patients from the Kansas City area and across the U.S., the Netherlands, and Australia took part in that study.

Dr. Smolderen of Yale University, Vascular Medicine Outcomes (VAMOS) program, along with researchers Christina M. Pacheco, J.D., MPH, Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute, and Janette Berkley-Patton, Ph.D., University of Missouri Kansas City, received a second award for funding through the Eugene Washington Engagement Awards Program from PCORI* to create innovative ways to disseminate those research findings back into the community.

“This art project focuses on community involvement and informing members of the Paseo Gateway neighborhoods about PAD, its risk factors, and local resources to help address the condition,” Dr. Smolderen said. “Some of the key risk factors of PAD are smoking, diabetes, and an inactive lifestyle. Research by the American Heart Association shows that people in center city neighborhoods are especially at risk of late diagnosis, and if PAD is left untreated, it can lead to amputation.”

About the Mural

Starting in early April, the mural will be painted on the east wall of the building at the corner of Prospect and Independence Avenue in the Paseo Gateway neighborhoods of Northeast Kansas City. This area is undergoing redevelopment and revitalization through a 2016 Choice Neighborhood grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Weather permitting, the mural will be completed and unveiled to the public with a community event on Saturday, April 10, 1-4 p.m. {Rain date for the event is Saturday, April 17.}

Back in early 2020, under the lead of UMKC and now under the lead of Yale University (Dr. Smolderen’s prior and current institutions), Saint Luke’s Hospital partnered with the Mattie Rhodes Center to engage local artists to work collaboratively to create a unique, interactive art installation. After careful consideration, four local artists were selected to collaborate on this art endeavor. The four artists are: Carmen Moreno, Jason Wilcox, Isaac Tapia, and Rodrigo Alvarez.

The project leaders held town halls in the neighborhood that helped prioritize topics that were important to the community. Exercise in the community was one of them, as were mental health concerns, recognizing heart disease, and access to affordable medications.

Residents of Northeast Kansas City shared their “Movement Stories,” and these narratives inspired themes for the mural. These stories described how physical activity, along with its barriers and facilitators, have impacted residents over the course of their lives.

“Movement, physical activity, and managing other cardiac risk factors are integral to preventing, diagnosing, and treating PAD,” said Dr. Smolderen. “We want this mural to help raise awareness for PAD, to educate people about how to get screened for PAD, and to inspire people to walk and be active as a way to improve their health.”

The mural will include messages about some of the common symptoms of PAD, such as pain in the legs while walking. It will feature a QR code that will link people to the website for additional information and resources. The researchers have also developed a resource map that will be distributed throughout the neighborhoods that describes where in the community residents can go for safe walking, exercise, and healthy eating, plus resources for quitting smoking, PAD screening, and mental health treatment.

About the Artists

Read about the four Kansas City artists behind the mural. Follow the artists’ work on Instagram: @pcorikcproject


PCORI is an independent, nonprofit organization authorized by Congress in 2010 to fund comparative effectiveness research that will provide patients, their caregivers, and clinicians with the evidence needed to make better-informed health and healthcare decisions. PCORI is committed to seeking input from a broad range of stakeholders to guide its work.

For more info on Dr. Smolderen’s research: 

This program is funded through a Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) Eugene Washington PCORI Engagement Award (EA #14505).
*IP2 PI000753-01; CE-1304-6677

Kim Smolderen, Ph.D., FAHA, FACC
Co-Director Vascular Medicine Outcomes (VAMOS) Program
Associate Professor of Medicine
Yale University
Twitter: @KimGSmolderen


Read the complete news release

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