Public Release:  UnitedHealth Group grants more than $1 million for the heart of New Ulm project

Support will enable new weight management and nutrition initiatives in New Ulm

Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation

MINNEAPOLIS, MN--May 2, 2013--UnitedHealth Group and the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation, in conjunction with Allina Health and the community of New Ulm, Minn., recently announced two grants from the company totaling more than $1 million. The grants will fund weight management and nutrition initiatives for Hearts Beat Back: The Heart of New Ulm Project (HONU), a research and demonstration project with a goal of reducing heart attacks in New Ulm, Minn.

This innovative initiative has a proven track record. New Ulm Medical Center Electronic Health Record (EHR) two-year data comparing risk factor results for 40-79 year-olds show clear progress in meeting project goals. EHR data trends show improvements that exceed national averages, including:

  • a decrease in the percent of residents with hypertension from 20.6 percent to 17.9 percent;
  • a decrease in the percent of residents with high cholesterol from 10.8 percent to 8.6 percent;
  • a decrease in the percent of residents with high triglycerides from 33.9 percent to 31.9 percent.

"The community of New Ulm has been making significant strides in a variety of risk factor areas, including managing weight, improving their food choices and getting more active, so we're very pleased that these grants will enable us to continue supporting residents in their efforts to live a heart-healthy lifestyle," said Jackie Boucher, vice president of education for the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation. "We are especially encouraged by the trend for weight stabilization at a population level, as it goes against the standard trend of people gaining weight as they age."

"We are excited by the results of The Heart of New Ulm and support it and other projects like the Million Hearts Initiative because we recognize their importance to improving the health of the nation," Kate Rubin, vice president of social responsibility for UnitedHealth Group. "We remain committed to continuously innovating in the fight against cardiovascular disease, and initiatives like these provide exciting opportunities to partner with public and private stakeholders and achieve even greater success. The possibilities are truly amazing."

Weight management and nutrition have been identified as two key areas for improvement among adult residents in the New Ulm community. In 2009 and 2011, HONU conducted free heart health screenings. According to 2009 data, 73 percent were overweight (35 percent) or obese (38 percent). In 2009, only 16 percent ate five or more servings of fruits/vegetables daily; in 2011 this had increased to 25 percent. In 2009, 66 percent were getting the recommended 150 weekly minutes of physical activity; in 2011 this increased to 74 percent.

To address weight management, an $836,000 grant is being used to expand a Community Health Challenge program in New Ulm. "LOSE IT to WIN IT™: Weigh In, New Ulm" will launch in June 2013 and is designed to give everyone the opportunity to be rewarded for making healthful lifestyle choices. The challenge aims to encourage the entire community to come together to support each other in making healthier choices for eating, physical activity and more. Through a secondary grant of $164,000, HONU is conducting an extensive health communications campaign and a social media campaign in New Ulm to promote initiatives that help improve the nutrition environment.

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About The Heart of New Ulm Project

The Heart of New Ulm Project is designed to reduce the number of heart attacks that occur in the New Ulm area over the next 10 years. This means helping residents improve their health risks, such as physical activity, nutrition, obesity, or tobacco use, among others. The project will involves worksite, healthcare and community interventions and environmental changes. The Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation is working in close partnership with Allina Health and the community to support this community-led project. More information is available on at http://www.heartsbeatback.org.

About the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation

The Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation is dedicated to creating a world without heart disease through groundbreaking clinical research and innovative education programs. MHIF's mission is to promote and improve cardiovascular health, quality of life and longevity for all.

Scientific Innovation and Research - Publishing more than 120 peer-reviewed studies each year, MHIF is a recognized research leader in the broadest range of cardiovascular medicine. Each year, cardiologists and hospitals around the world adopt MHIF protocols to save lives and improve patient care.

Education and Outreach - Research shows that modifying specific health behaviors can significantly reduce the risk of developing heart disease. Through community programs, screenings and presentations, MHIF educates people of all walks of life about heart health. The goal of the Foundation's community outreach is to increase personal awareness of risk factors and provide the tools necessary to help people pursue heart- healthy lifestyles. More information can be found at http://www.mplsheart.org

About UnitedHealth Group

UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) is a diversified health and well-being company dedicated to helping people live healthier lives and making health care work better. With headquarters in Minnetonka, Minn., UnitedHealth Group offers a broad spectrum of products and services through two distinct platforms: UnitedHealthcare, which provides health care coverage and benefits services; and Optum, which provides information and technology-enabled health services. Through its businesses, UnitedHealth Group serves more than 80 million people worldwide. For more information, visit UnitedHealth Group at http://www.unitedhealthgroup.com.

Contacts:

Steve Goodyear
Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation
612-863-1658
sgoodyear@mhif.org

Lauren Mihajlov
UnitedHealth Group
952-936-3068
lauren_mihajlov@uhg.com

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