High on a hill overlooking the city sits the secret headquarters of The Cardiac Crusaders, protectors of healthy blood pressures.
“The characters are Captain Crusader, and he’s the leader of the team. There’s the Beta Blocker, the Ace Inhibitor, who flies through the air with his magical sword, and the Diuretic Kid with his sword on his back,” explains Vanderbilt professor and creator Dr. Andrew Churchwell.
The characters are named for common drugs used to treat Hypertension, which can lead to heart failure later in life.
Dr. Churchwell, a renowned cardiologist, is counting on these superheroes to make his patients aware of a villain they cannot see: the High Blood Pressure monster.
“The African American male, the young male seems to be our hardest group in terms of follow up in the clinic, and in terms of controlling their blood pressure because the follow up is not so rigorous and standard,” Churchwell told News 2’s Anne Holt.
The book tells the story of Kevin, an African-American man who has high blood pressure, and how it could affect him if he doesn’t get it under control.
“The young character Kevin is given a vision that if he doesn’t control his blood pressure he may wind up on dialysis,” Churchwell said. “He may have a stroke. He may have heart failure. So the superheroes allow him to see his future a la ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ to some extent.”
The High Blood Pressure Monster is a formidable opponent, but superheroes save the day.
“One of the things we had a discussion about the most is the two pages of the fight scene — you got to have a little bit of that,” Churchwell said. “It shows the Beta Blocker going mano-a-mano with the Hypertension Monster. My favorite part is when we show him crashing to the earth and show him falling and landing there, and that was fun.”
Convinced to take his meds every day, Kevin obtains his own superpowers to keep his blood pressure in check and lead a full life.
“It’s a big deal and it’s treatable,” Churchwell said. “That’s the thing, some conditions you have you can’t treat, but hypertension can be treated.”