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New Ulm Medical Center

New clinic offered for patients at high risk for heart disease

The New Ulm Medical Center (NUMC) now has a dedicated clinic for patients who are at a high risk for heart disease.

The Heart & Vascular Prevention Clinic is part of the Allina Hospitals & Clinics. The prevention clinic’s goal is to help guide people who have or are at risk of having cardiovascular events, such as heart disease or stroke. Risk factors may include a family history of heart disease, tobacco use, high blood pressure, diabetes, impaired fasting glucose, obesity and high cholesterol—specifically LDL, known as the “bad” cholesterol.

The clinic’s comprehensive prevention-oriented treatment approach works as follows: If patients are at high risk, additional testing is generally not indicated; however if a patient is at intermediate risk, further analysis (with a series of screening tests) is required. Once patients are assessed, their condition is explained to them and they are given an opportunity to ask questions and have an open discussion about potential treatment options. During this process, the staff works with patients to explain lifestyle interventions, such as adding aerobic exercises, weight loss, dietary modifications to reduce cholesterol, and smoking cessation strategies—all to decrease their overall cardiovascular risk.

Julie Long, a nurse practitioner at the prevention clinic, sees patients three days a week. Long said she finds it “professionally rewarding to ultimately help people make positive changes in their health." Long trained under cardiologist Thomas Knickelbine, MD, director of preventive cardiology at Minneapolis Heart Institute. She is also a member of the National Lipid Association, which provides regular articles and resources in the management of lipid disorders.

Long said her work is extremely gratifying because the patients are so invested in their health care. “Patients are interested and motivated to make healthy choices, and they have many questions about treatment," she said. Working to understand the individual risk factors for each patient is a constantly evolving and exciting learning process, she said.

In addition to counseling patients about risk factors and providing proactive goals for management and treatment, the clinic advises patients on medication management, including initiation of new medications, adjusting current medications, and regimen adherence. NUMC also addresses side effects and intolerance issues, such as what adverse reactions to expect and the benefits of staying on treatment.

For more information about the Heart & Vascular Prevention Clinic, talk to your provider. They can help you determine if you are a good candidate for the program and can refer you.