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Hearts Beat Back: The Heart of New Ulm Project recognized with Heart Healthy Stroke Free Award

NEW ULM — Hearts Beat Back: The Heart of New Ulm Project received the 2018 Heart Healthy Stroke Free Award from the National Forum for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention, announced Oct. 24, at the National Forum’s annual meeting in Washington, DC.

The Heart Healthy Stroke Free Award is presented annually to an organization whose work embodies the recommendations made in the national Public Health Action Plan to Prevent Heart Disease and Stroke, a strategic framework to guide health practitioners and policymakers’ actions in two of the leading causes of death and disability in the United States.

“The Heart of New Ulm Project exemplifies community collaboration and capacity building. This project goes beyond hospital and clinic walls to where health really happens, the places where people live, learn, work, pray and play. It’s a model for other communities to look to for improving heart disease risk factors — ultimately reducing heart attacks,” said John M. Clymer, Executive Director of the National Forum. “The positive impact that the project has achieved, particularly in the rural setting, and the way in which it is woven throughout the community is exciting and inspiring.”

Since 2009, the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation® (MHIF), in partnership with Allina Health, has been conducting Hearts Beat Back®: The Heart of New Ulm Project (HONU) in the rural community of New Ulm, Minn., as a 10-year research demonstration project to identify and deliver the best interventions to reduce cardiovascular disease at a population level.

“We’re very honored to be recognized with this prestigious award,” said Rebecca Lindberg, MPH, MHIF’s senior director of population health, education and communications. “Over the last decade, our real-world research has yielded significant evidence and learnings as we’ve put recommended guidelines, interventions, system changes and policies into action while rigorously tracking and evaluating long-term health improvement outcomes. Our work has helped build a strong case that investments in population-level health programs can drive positive changes in health outcomes across a community, and we’re excited to begin our next phase of sharing our learnings about best practices with other communities.”

HONU has delivered an integrated array of evidence-based interventions in health care, the community and worksites, as well as implemented changes within the community’s food and built environments to support residents in adopting healthier lifestyles. One study that compared HONU’s six-year results with data on a national level from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) showed that New Ulm’s improvements in total cholesterol, blood pressure and blood glucose are better than the rest of the country. Another study showed that over a six-year period, New Ulm residents are doing better in controlling their blood pressure, LDL cholesterol, total cholesterol and triglycerides than those in a matched comparison community without any population-level interventions.

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