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MDH project to focus on high blood pressure in northeastern Minnesota

Northeastern Minnesota has some of the highest hypertension rates — high blood pressure — in the state.

Survey data from 2010 show that northeastern Minnesota experiences hypertension rates of 27 percent. This is significantly higher than the 2009 state average of 21 percent. In addition, parts of northeastern Minnesota face a rate of death related to heart disease that is 50 percent higher than when compared to the Twin Cities metro area.

To help improve blood pressure control in northeastern Minnesota, the Minnesota Department of Health has received a $140,000 grant from the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) as part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Million Hearts Initiative. The goal of this initiative is to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes by 2017.

“This grant presents us with a great opportunity to support local clinics to find better ways of identifying and treating people with high blood pressure. The lessons learned from this effort will be shared with other clinics throughout the state,” said Minnesota Commissioner of Health Dr. Ed Ehlinger.

As part of the project, local public health officials will work with clinics to improve their processes for identifying, treating, and following up with people with elevated blood pressure, which is characterized by having blood pressure of 140/90 mmHg or above. This project will develop an organized system for patient follow-up and review that effectively measures patient outcomes. Clinics will focus on areas including effective team-based care, standardized procedures around measuring blood pressure and leveraging electronic medical records and health information technology. The four clinics involved in the project are Duluth Family Medicine Clinic, Essentia Health — Deer River Clinic, P.S. Rudie Medical Clinic, and Riverwood Healthcare — Aitkin Clinic.

Minnesota is one of only nine states to receive funding for the Million Hearts Learning Collaborative.

“Clinical care for hypertension is an area where the details really matter. So the goal of this project is to bring clinics together, consider best practices, and then implement clinic-based systems changes that will improve outcomes for patients,” said Dr. Jane Korn, medical director of the Health Promotion and Chronic Disease Division of MDH.

Through this award, MDH will collaborate with Stratis Health and Healthy Northland, a coalition that includes local clinics and community health boards covering seven counties.

“The Million Hearts — hypertension grant builds on current Community Transformation Grant (CTG) strategy and partnerships between local public health and community clinics,” said Louise Anderson, regional clinical-community coordinator for Healthy Northland. “We look forward to continued innovative work together to improve the health of our communities.”

The Community Transformation Grant (CTG) in Minnesota is helping control health care spending and create a healthier future. CTG aims to prevent chronic diseases - such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes — by reducing exposure to tobacco, increasing physical activity and healthy eating, and improving clinical community links.

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