Public Release: 

Primary cardiovascular disease prevention is leaving the office

Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - March 30, 2014 - Early results from HeartBeat Connections, a telemedicine program supported by the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation (MHIF), suggest effective primary prevention for cardiovascular disease (CVD) may be achieved with a team-based approach that integrates office visits with supplemental phone coaching. HeartBeat Connections provides dietitian- and nurse-led coaching over the phone to adults at high risk for CVD, with the goal of helping to improve and control key CVD risk factors. Gretchen Benson, RD, CDE, Healthcare Systems Integration Manager at the MHIF, will present six-month data from the program at the American College of Cardiology (ACC) conference in Washington, DC today.

As part of the broader Hearts Beat Back: The Heart of New Ulm Project, 1,035 adults aged 40-79 with metabolic syndrome or high Framingham Risk Scores were identified via electronic health record data and invited to participate in the HeartBeat Connections program. Over six months, the participants (333) showed significant improvement in fruit and vegetable consumption, physical activity, stress reduction, aspirin use, and medication adherence. Researchers also noted a significant improvement in LDL ("bad" cholesterol) levels and smoking status -- the proportion of adults achieving an LDL level < 100 mg/dL increased by 70% in participants (333) and by only 24% in nonparticipants (702). "We're encouraged by the results we've seen so far," states lead researcher Gretchen Benson.

"Real-world, systems-based innovations like HeartBeat Connections can serve as a model to target and engage at-risk populations, thereby enhancing primary CVD care in underserved areas."

When it comes to primary CVD prevention, persistence may be key. Adults who engaged in five or more HeartBeat Connections coaching sessions showed a greater degree of improvement in LDL levels, medication adherence, and stress reduction than those who had fewer than five coaching sessions and those who did not participate at all. Improvements in the nonparticipant group, although less significant, may be attributed in part to the broader Heart of New Ulm Project (of which HeartBeat Connections is just one part), which provides health interventions throughout the community.


About the Hearts Beat Back: The Heart of New Ulm Project

Hearts Beat Back is a 10-year demonstration project aimed at reducing heart attacks and CVD in a rural Minnesota community (New Ulm, Minnesota). The project is a collaboration between the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation, Allina Health and the community of New Ulm.

About the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation

The Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation is dedicated to improving people's lives through the highest quality cardiovascular research and education.

  • 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.

About the Minneapolis Heart Institute®

The Minneapolis Heart Institute® is recognized internationally as one of the world's leading providers of heart and vascular care. This state-of-the-art facility combines the finest in personalized patient care with sophisticated technology in a unique, family-oriented environment. The Institute's programs, a number of which are conducted in conjunction with Abbott Northwestern Hospital, address the full range of heart and vascular health needs: prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation.

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