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Historic gift to the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation to help prevent heart attacks, strokes

Kevin Doran
Updated: August 03, 2020 10:28 PM
Created: August 03, 2020 05:46 PM

What if there was a crystal ball that could predict when someone might have a heart attack or stroke? Doctors don't have a crystal ball, however, they are getting better at predicting risk.

A $5 million donation from the Stuart Nolan family to the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation, announced Monday, will help prevent heart attacks and strokes by funding cardiovascular disease prevention research and education.   

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The donation matches the largest ever received by the foundation. It will establish the MHIF Nolan Family Center for Cardiovascular Health  to help doctors look into the future and save lives by better understanding a person's risk for heart attack and stroke.

"My personal connection to cardiovascular research started with the care and treatment I received more than 30 years ago at the Minneapolis Heart Institute, which continues to allow me to live a full life," said Stuart Nolan, a long-time supporter of the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation. "My children have reached the age at which I had my first heart attack, raising the importance of understanding genetic and other risk factors that affect their heart health and underscore the importance of this work to my family." 

The gift will accelerate progress and innovation in research and education around how to prevent cardiovascular disease, which continues to be the number one cause of death for people around the world. This research will also address some of the challenges around health disparities by further defining and understanding risk factors, as well as identifying the best care pathways for addressing care in racial and ethnic minorities where heart disease outcomes are significantly worse than other populations. 

"Our commitment to impactful, cardiovascular disease prevention research isn't new, but this inspiring gift from the Nolan family will propel our efforts to change the paradigm from heart disease to optimal health," said Michael Miedema,MD, MPH director of the Nolan Family Center for Cardiovascular Health at MHIF and director of cardiovascular prevention at the Minneapolis Heart Institute at Abbott Northwestern Hospital. "The ultimate goals of cardiovascular prevention research are to identify the optimal methods to accurately assess cardiovascular risk, as well as determine the best interventions to stop the evolution to heart disease. The research is all about determining who to treat and how to treat them, which gives our patients the best chance to avoid the tragic heart attack or the unwanted bypass surgery." 

Over its 38-year history, MHIF has led groundbreaking research and education across a wide spectrum of prevention-related topics, including coronary artery calcium testing, blood pressure, cholesterol and statin use, nutrition and lifestyle behaviors, risk factors and screening for specific populations, premature heart disease and genetic disorders. New cutting-edge research planned for the Nolan Family Center for Cardiovascular Health will focus on risk prediction and optimal prevention therapies, including:

•    Cardiovascular risk prediction studies related to coronary artery calcium and use of a novel polygenic risk score (an aggregate of risk defined by genetic markers)
•    Trials of new lipid-lowering therapies to prevent cardiovascular disease
•    A novel study to more accurately assess the rate of medication side effects
•    Trials that incorporate lifestyle as an essential component of ideal cardiovascular health

"We are grateful to the Nolan family for a gift that drives the MHIF vision of creating a world without heart and vascular disease," said Kristine Fortman, MHIF CEO. "This significant gift will accelerate our impact in preventive cardiovascular research, including supporting the infrastructure for the research, staff and fellows to lead an accelerated pace of clinical studies."

"The Nolan family is creating a legacy in partnership with a respected research team, whose passion for discovery will advance our mission of achieving long and healthy lives for all without the burden of cardiovascular disease," said Scott Sharkey, MD, president and chief medical officer at MHIF. "At this moment in our history, an unprecedented pandemic has emphasized the importance of a healthy lifestyle; we are thankful to be able to drive this important research that will benefit our patients and their families now and for generations to come."

Each year, MHIF leads more than 200 research studies with more than 2,200 patients, and publishes more than 200 articles to share learnings from research. MHIF research has improved the standard of care for patients around the world, including through the development of protocols like Level One, which continues to significantly improve outcomes and survival for heart attack patients. 

The Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation's work is funded by donors and sponsors and engages in research initiatives with its physician partners from the Minneapolis Heart Institute at Abbott Northwestern Hospital and at 38 community sites across Minnesota and western Wisconsin.

To learn more about KSTP-TV Anchor Kevin Doran's personal connection to the Minneapolis Heart Institute and why this research on prevention could have changed the course of his life years ago, watch the story in the video box above.


Copyright 2020 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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