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Community prevention initiative lowers CVD risk

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Compared with a control community, a community participating in an initiative to deliver the best interventions for CVD prevention had better control of BP, LDL, total cholesterol and triglycerides, researchers reported.

For Hearts Beat Back: The Heart of New Ulm Project, organized by the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation and Allina Health, residents of New Ulm, Minnesota, have undergone a series of evidence-based interventions to improve heart health and changes in their food and built environments to encourage adoption of healthier lifestyles, according to a press release.

In the present study, researchers compared 6-year data from 4,077 New Ulm residents aged 40 to 79 years with 4,077 matched participants from a comparison community that did not undergo a population-based prevention initiative.

Outcomes of interest included BP, LDL, HDL, total cholesterol, triglycerides, fasting blood glucose, BMI, BP medication use and smoking status. All participants had their 10-year risk for atherosclerotic CVD calculated.

Compared with the control community, over time, the New Ulm group had better improvements in BP, LDL, HDL, total cholesterol, triglycerides and BMI (P < .001 for all), Abbey C. Sidebottom, PhD, MPH, a principal scientist for Care Delivery Research at Allina Health, and colleagues wrote.

During the study period, the proportion of those with controlled BP increased by 6.2 percentage points in the New Ulm group vs. two percentage points in the control group (P < .0001), according to the researchers.

Ten-year atherosclerotic CVD risk scores increased less in the New Ulm group vs. the control group (5.1 vs. 5.9; P < .001), they wrote.

There was no difference between the groups in change in fasting blood glucose or smoking status, in BP medication use or in hospital visits.

“These results, showing improved management of heart disease risk factors in the [Heart of New Ulm Project] community, provide good news from a population health research perspective,” Sidebottom said in the release. “[The Heart of New Ulm Project] is a great example of how an entire population can lower their risk for heart disease. Many people making small changes can have a greater impact on the rate of heart attacks than a few people making great changes.”

The Heart of New Ulm Project initiatives include free health screenings in the community and the workplace, run/walk events, weight-loss challenges, social marketing, food improvement initiatives at local food retailers, a primary prevention initiative for those at high risk for heart disease, workplace behavior programs, weight-management phone counseling, smoking cessation programs and improvements in the built environment to promote walking and biking. – by Erik Swain

Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.

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