Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information

Keep your body, mind and heart healthy during coronavirus (COVID-19)

As the coronavirus pandemic has progressed, the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation® (MHIF) is continually monitoring the situation and taking all necessary precautions to always keep our patients, employees and partners healthy and safe. During this difficult time, we stress the importance of taking precautions and taking good care of yourselves and your loved ones. Our hearts go out to those affected by COVID-19 and we are extremely grateful to our physicians, nurses, other care team members and everyone in our greater health care community for their commitment to caring for patients.

Important MHIF & Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information

Click on the topics below to learn more about coronavirus and how MHIF is navigating the pandemic.

A note from MHIF Leadership


Dear MHIF Friends,

During this time of change and uncertainty, Dr. Scott Sharkey and I are thinking of you and hoping you all are taking precautions to take good care of yourself and your loved ones. We also would like to update you on how MHIF is navigating through this time, always putting our patients, employees and partners first. We are committed to deliver on our mission of heart and vascular health under any circumstance.

As you can imagine COVID-19 is impacting cardiovascular research and education and we are making the necessary adjustments daily. Many of our clinical trials are on hold so we can ensure the safety of current study participants and ensure our physicians are available to respond to the most critical cases. Research staff is busy reaching out personally to our patient research participants. And 14 members of our research staff have volunteered to serve on the front line in the heart hospital and clinic.

Specific research is able to continue during this time including the majority of our physician-initiated research which is core to our mission.

We are providing education remotely and have postponed large public education events. Our first Grand Rounds session done remotely was a success with 45 individuals joining us.

Although we have a critical mass of employees physically at MHIF to make sure our work moves forward, the majority of our staff who are able to are now working from home. This is an opportunity to take care of important projects that will strengthen the infrastructure of MHIF, helping us to be even stronger when we can resume all research and education efforts.

Most importantly we want to say thank you for caring about how COVID-19 is impacting the work of MHIF.  We have received many calls and emails with offers of help and support. It is encouraging to see so many doing what it takes to navigate these uncertain times. We are proud to work toward a healthier tomorrow with the encouragement and support from all of you.

We will continue to provide you updates as we move forward. Know that we are here for you if you have any questions. You can reach us at 612-863-3833 or Stay safe and healthy.


With Gratitude,

Kris Fortman, CEO

Dr. Scott Sharkey, Chief Medical Officer

Physician perspectives on coronavirus (COVID-19)

April 20, 2020

Collaboration is Key to Understanding Cardiovascular Impact of COVID-19: Perspective from Steven M. Bradley, MD, MPH, FACC

As we learn more about the COVID-19 virus and patient cases around the world, we are seeing data and information evolve every day. Specific to cardiovascular health and impact, we are identifying interesting trends and working hard to determine if they are directly related to COVID-19. These discoveries can also help us understand if there are protocols we can follow to ensure the best outcomes for our patients.

We don’t have all the answers, but I can assure you there are a lot of researchers working to find them. I am witnessing a tremendous amount of collaboration and effort to globally understand the COVID-19 pandemic, including as it relates to cardiovascular impact. We are generating knowledge and sharing information as quickly as possible.

A great example of this is the American Heart Association (AHA) COVID-19 registry that has been initiated with participation from hospitals across the U.S. The Minneapolis Heart Institute® is a participating center and MHIF will be helping with data abstraction. As a member of the Steering Committee for this registry, I am proud to be contributing to an effort that will gather data from patient cases around the country. As the mass of data builds, we anticipate rapidly completing studies to understand the cardiovascular effects of COVID-19 infection.

Data is critical to this effort and the more we can learn, the more we can rapidly adjust and ensure we are delivering the best care to patients. I am proud to be part of research at a time when I see so many colleagues working together to address the pandemic we are currently facing.

Hear more of Dr. Bradley’s perspective about the cardiovascular impact of COVID-19 on Twin Cities Public Television (TPT) – Almanac Coronavirus Special – originally aired on April 17.

Learn more about the American Heart Association COVID-19 Patient Registry Study; Dr. Bradley is on the Steering Committee and MHIF will be helping with data abstraction.


April 6, 2020

A note from Santiago Garcia, MD, FACC, FSCAI

The novel coronavirus, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), is highly contagious in the community and has resulted in a global pandemic (1). As of April 2nd, more than 1,000,000 cases and 50,000 deaths have been reported worldwide (2).

The United States of America (USA) has reported cases in all 50 states and leads the world in number of COVID-19 confirmed cases (2). Patients with cardiovascular risk factors or established cardiovascular disease who become infected with COVID-19 are more likely to experience severe forms of the disease, require intensive care unit (ICU) care and have increased mortality (3). Because the virus is highly contagious, it poses a serious threat to healthcare workers, which account for up to 13% of COVID-19 infections in Spain.

What are we doing to protect healthcare workers?

Researchers at MHIF have contributed to a scientific statement on Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory Procedures During the COVID-19 Pandemic. This document provides guidance on optimal triaging of COVID patients prior to invasive procedure, personal protective equipment (PPE) and staffing models that take into account potential unmitigated exposure of the cardiovascular team.

Available at:

Are there unique features of COVID patients presenting with heart attacks?

Cardiac damage is present in 15% – 25% of patients with COVID-19 infection and is associated with excess mortality (4). It is expected that many of these patients will require invasive coronary angiography, hemodynamic assessment and/or mechanical circulatory support (6, 7).

Early anecdotal reports indicate that among COVID-19 positive patients with typical ST-elevation on electrocardiograms (ECG), emergent angiography has revealed a surprising variety of results. As this is a rapidly evolving pandemic with a paucity of data to drive clinical decision making and protect health workers, The Society of Cardiac Angiography and Interventions (SCAI) and The Canadian Association of Interventional Cardiology (CAIC) joined forces to create an observational registry of confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases who present with features suggestive of a heart attack ( .

The Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation® (MHIF) will serve as the international coordinating and data center for the North American COVID-19 ST-Segment Elevation Myocardial Infarction Registry (NACMI) in addition to enrolling patients into the study. The registry is a collaborative effort between the Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions (SCAI) and the Canadian Association of Interventional Cardiology (CAIC). Santiago Garcia, MD, interventional cardiologist and MHIF researcher, is the primary investigator for MHIF. Learn more here.

See references here.

Online resources:


March 25, 2020

A note from Scott Sharkey, MD, President & Chief Medical Officer

Minnesota has exceptional professionals working around the clock in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Consider Jan Malcolm, Minnesota Commissioner of Health; Dr. Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research at the U of MN; the employees of 3M (they manufacture protective masks), and Medtronic (they make ventilators); and countless other health care providers and industry partners.

At the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation® (MHIF) our leadership team immediately developed a plan to ensure the health of our staff, while continuing our important research and contributing where possible. Some key highlights to share with you:

  • Our research cardiologists and advanced practitioners are available to our research patients during this difficult time. Please know that we will get through this together!
  • Much of our research can continue because of our information technology infrastructure. Most of this research is part of physician-initiated studies that seek to answer important clinical and scientific questions that come from our physicians’ passion to answer, “what can we do better to care for our patients?”
  • Many of our MHIF nurses and phlebotomists have volunteered to help work at Abbott Northwestern Hospital.
  • Lisa Tindell, who leads the MHIF research team, organized a blood donation campaign with MHIF employees.
  • Our regulatory specialists are assisting our colleagues in critical-care medicine and infectious disease to fast-track use of experimental anti-viral drugs and novel ventilators.

Research and science are the solution to this pandemic and there are so many people working hard to contribute to this around the world.

MHIF has a 38-year history of innovation showing the impact of research and problem solving. We all will rise to this challenge. Our founding physicians and community members are more engaged now than they ever have been.

Please stay connected with us through our website or any of our channels on social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram). We would love to hear from you. We will get through this together!


What research is MHIF involved in related to coronavirus (COVID-19)?

April 10, 2020

MHIF Real-Time Data Analysis from Nine Large U.S STEMI Centers

Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation® (MHIF) published a real-time data analysis showing that during this COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a 38-percent reduction in U.S. cardiac catheterization laboratory STEMI activations, which are the standard-of-care treatment for patients with heart attacks.

“It is critical to understand if patient-based anxiety is leading to this decrease of patients seeking care for the signs and symptoms of a heart attack,” said Santiago Garcia, MD, interventional cardiologist and MHIF researcher. “While we are all concerned about COVID-19 exposure, patients also need to know that avoiding care and treatment could be dangerous for certain acute cardiovascular conditions such as heart attacks. In these situations, timing is key and hospitals across the country are following careful procedures to keep patients safe from COVID-19 exposure, while providing life-saving treatments for other cardiovascular conditions.”

Given current potential environmental and emotional stressors, and a higher case of STEMI that is typically induced by viral illness, this is a departure from the increase in STEMI procedures that would have been expected.

The data was pulled from the MHIF regional Level One STEMI (ST-elevation myocardial infarction, or heart attack) program that includes data reported from nine participating U.S. STEMI Centers. This finding is consistent with the reduction reported in Spain.

The analysis was published today in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (

Learn more here.

April 6, 2020

MHIF is International Coordinating and Data Center for the North American COVID-19 ST-Segment Elevation Myocardial Infarction Registry

MHIF is serving as the international coordinating and data center for the North American COVID-19 ST-Segment Elevation Myocardial Infarction Registry (NACMI) in addition to enrolling patients into the study.

The goal is this will provide physicians insight into the clinical characteristics, treatment strategies, and outcomes of STEMI patients with COVID-19 infection. This registry has the potential to provide critically important time-sensitive data to inform the management and treatment guidelines applicable to COVID-19 patients. 

Learn more here.

Where can I stay up-to-date on coronavirus (COVID-19) developments and health resources?
Keep your mind and body healthy during coronavirus (COVID-19)

Health & Wellness Tips from Dr. Courtney Baechler 

Dr. Courtney Baechler serves as program director for the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation’s emerging science centers. As a general cardiologist at Minneapolis Heart Institute®, she is passionate about a healthy state of wellbeing — body, mind and spirit — and is a national leader in integrative medicine and wellness. In her blogs, she shares wellness tips and talks about how to take a proactive strategy to managing your mental health. Learn more here!


Other Health & Wellness Tips During COVID-19 

  • Call your family members and friends often; share something you appreciate with them at least once a day.
  • Set a goal for something healthy you will do each day.
  • If you drink, drink in moderation: One drink a day for women; two drinks a day for men.
  • Write emails or letters to family and friends.
  • Write thank-you notes to health care workers and emergency responders.
  • Video chat if you have technology that allows it.
  • Continue to take your medications as prescribed.
  • Get more support. Talking to others can help you feel connected.
  • It’s a short-term strategy, but it’s tough to feel stressed when you laugh. Tell a friend a joke or watch a funny TV show.
  • Practice deep breathing.
  • Take a break from the news! Read a book, do a crossword puzzle.
  • Take five minutes to relax. Meditation is a great way to relax the mind and body.
  • Watch a favorite movie.
  • Do a hobby or crafts.
  • Look through old photos.
  • Make watching TV active: stretch or use hand weights (canned goods work, too) during the commercials.
  • Plan the garden you want to plant in the spring!
  • Pet your dog or cat if you have one; petting an animal for just a few minutes can also help relieve stress.

Manage Your Stress Levels 

It isn’t often talked about, but your mind has a strong effect on your heart. Stress, depression and lack of sleep have a major influence on your heart disease risk factors, and ultimately, what you do about them. In other words, people who do not manage their stress, feel depressed most of the time or are chronically sleep-deprived also tend to have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and are more likely to use tobacco or be overweight. These factors also make it extremely difficult to make improvements to your lifestyle, whether it is taking medication each day, eating healthy foods or getting enough exercise. Stress, depression and sleep can be difficult to manage at times, but with the right help, you can improve them.

Here are some companies offering free options for stress-reducing activities you can do at home: 

1) Free Corepower yoga classes

2) Calm App offers an assortment of free breathing and meditation exercises






Grateful Heart

Gratitude is strongly linked to good health. To stay positive during this difficult time, we’re encouraging you to focus on gratitude. 

Use the link below to submit your word of gratitude and watch our Grateful Heart grow! 

Sign up for ‘Grateful Heart Gram’ emails

We want to stay engaged with you! Get updates on what you can do during social distancing and how to practice gratitude.