Nolan Family Center for Cardiovascular Health 

Prevention for Patients and Families

Preventing Heart and Vascular Disease

Great news! A healthy lifestyle can significantly decrease your risk for heart disease by up to 80 percent.

Just like incorporating routine physical activity and optimal nutrition is key to your best heart outcomes, so is taking a proactive strategy to managing your mental health and well-being. Consider adding ways to minimize the impacts of stress such as yoga, tai chi or meditation. If you feel like you still need additional help, consider seeking medical attention to identify a plan that is best to meet the needs of your overall health—mind, body, and spirit. View more tips for proactively managing your mental health from Dr. Courtney Baechler here.

Here’s what you need to know about taking care of your heart

Step #1 - Know your risk

Calculate your risk for heart disease using this online resource or ask your primary care provider to calculate your risk.

Learn about risk factors for heart disease.

Let your physician know about other factors that increase your risk:

  • Family history of early heart disease (males age <55; females age <65)
  • Primary hypercholesterolemia (very high cholesterol – LDL (bad) cholesterol >160 mg/dl)
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Chronic inflammatory conditions (e.g., psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus or HIV/AIDS)
  • High-risk race/ethnicity (e.g., South Asian ancestry)
  • History of premature menopause (age <40)
  • History of pregnancy conditions (e.g., preeclampsia) that increase your risk for later heart disease.

Step #2 - Reduce your risk

There are several lifestyle modifications you can make to lower your risk for cardiovascular disease! Check out the infographic at the top of this web page and discuss your risk factors with your primary care physician.

Learn about cholesterol guidelines and statin therapy

Learn about Coronary Artery Calcium scoring

Learn why African Americans are more at risk for high blood pressure

Take our Color Your Plate Challenge and enjoy at least five servings of fruit and vegetables a day!

Step #3 – Talk to a preventive cardiologist if you are at high risk

If you are at high risk for heart disease, consider a visit to a preventive cardiologist.

 Preventive cardiology services include:

  • A comprehensive cardiovascular examination and evaluation of cardiac risk factors
  • Advanced blood tests with results provided during your appointment
  • Lipid management, including statin intolerance
  • Nutrition assessment and recommendations
  • Cardiac imaging (HeartScan) – access to a special scan that can detect deposits in the heart’s arteries before symptoms are present
  • Opportunity for participation in clinical trials of new therapies


How is MHIF advancing prevention research to benefit patients?

MHIF has a long history of 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 congenital heart disorders. MHIF researchers also led Hearts Beat Back: The Heart of New Ulm Project, a 10-year transformative population health research project in rural New Ulm, Minnesota, that resulted in significant improvements for heart disease risk factors in the community. Learn more about the project here.

Could I benefit from participating in a clinical research study?

Every year, exciting breakthroughs and discoveries stem from our research. These important findings advance medical knowledge, improving the health and lives of millions of people worldwide. By participating in research, you:

  • Take a more active role in your own health care.
  • May gain access to investigational treatments and medications.
  • Help find new and better ways to treat people with your condition.

Every research study comes with its own unique risks and benefits; the study team will ensure you’re provided with all the information you need to decide if participating is right for you.

View research studies here.

Real Patient Stories

 Meet some of the patients who have participated in research related to prevention and managing risk factors

“Even in the first month of participating in the study, I learned how different cardiologists view high blood pressure and its causes and effects. I learned a lot about the inner workings of the human body. I would recommend to anyone who has health issues that if MHIF is doing a study, they should consider becoming involved because of how enjoyable it was.”

Read Jack’s Story >>

“I can’t fight my genes, so I was really interested in doing something — anything – that might allow me to at least take a little less medication. I understand that studies are about creating hope for the future, and my hope is that the research such as what MHIF is doing will help create more options for people with high blood pressure and their families.”

Read Deb’s Story >>

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