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New Ulm Medical Center

Heart of New Ulm continues free heart health screenings

The Heart of New Ulm is enhancing its heart-health education program and services by once again offering free heart-health screenings through November of this year.

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Colleen Zenk of the Minnesota Beef Council did a demonstration in German Park on Aug. 15 with free tips, recipes and samples provided for the free event. This is just one of the many heart-healthy events sponsored by Hearts Beat Back: The Heart of New Ulm Project this summer. To find a list of events, as well as upcoming screening dates, go to www.heartsbeatback.org.

The program, Hearts Beat Back: The Heart of New Ulm Project, was created with the goal of reducing or eliminating heart attacks and has been offering free community classes and services since 2009. And it seems like these efforts are already paying off. According to research presented at the American College of Cardiology meeting in April 2011, heart attack rates in New Ulm fell 24 percent in 15 months.

New Ulm residents should consider taking advantage of this free offer for a few reasons, said Betsy Pieser, the local manager of the Heart of New Ulm project. First, they’re quick: Each one takes about 20 to 30 minutes. Second, they give you some great insight into how you’re doing with your own heart health. And finally, they contribute to important research for New Ulm that will ultimately help the entire community.

“We want to get at least 5,000 people screened,” said Pieser. “If they came in 2009, they should return for an opportunity to check in on their progress. If they didn't come in 2009, this is a perfect time for them to find out their numbers. It's free and easy to do, and we have screenings at community locations, worksites and churches through November.”

Will There Be an Improvement?

This year’s heart-health screenings have an additional twist: Since screenings were already done in 2009, researchers are curious to see if there will be an improvement in the results.

New Ulm’s 2009 heart-health screenings showed that 73 percent of residents were overweight or obese, compared to 64 percent in Minnesota overall. The screenings also showed that 34 percent of New Ulm residents had high cholesterol, 25 percent high blood pressure and 28 percent had uncontrolled glucose (“blood sugar”) levels.

Following the 2009 screenings, the Heart of New Ulm Project offered the community a variety of heart health “interventions” in 2010. These included free healthy cooking shows and classes, fitness classes, fun walks and runs, walking clubs, community education classes and other activities that promoted heart-healthy activities.

“The interventions introduced new foods, new cooking methods and ideas for physical activity to the community. The goal is to encourage sustainable changes throughout the community so that things like choosing lean protein and going for a walk after dinner become part of everyday life,” Pieser said.

The hope of project organizers is that these “interventions” will lead to better results in the areas of weight, blood cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar.

Get Your Free Screening

For more about the Hearts Beat Back: The Heart of New Ulm Project and to pre-register for a screening, visit www.heartsbeatback.org or call 507-217-5945.