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"The two words ‘information’ and ‘communication’ are often used interchangeably, but they signify quite different things. Information is giving out; communication is getting through." -- Sydney J. Harris

Ask About Aspirin: Minnesota Heart Health Program Partners to Prevent First Heart Attacks and Strokes

Submitted by the Minnesota Heart Health Program

MN Community Measurement, working in concert with the Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement (ICSI), and clinicians across the state has facilitated major improvements in the quality of LOVE YOUR HEART HAND IMAGE 2-18-15care and health of our citizens. Yet, cardiovascular diseases remain a key health challenge in all of our communities. The primary prevention of first heart attacks and strokes serves as a key state and national goal.

The Minnesota Heart Health Program (MHHP) is working closely MNCM and ICSI, and an expanding number of clinics and health systems across Minnesota to launch “Ask About Aspirin,” a ground-breaking initiative designed to lower the risk of a first heart attack or stroke. A statewide media campaign will begin this month, along with a health system quality improvement program.

Using daily low dose aspirin has been proven to lower rates of a first heart attack or stroke. Yet, fewer than one in four people at risk in Minnesota actually do so. One barrier to such use has been the concern by clinicians that it might be difficult to identify those individuals in whom benefit would be large and risk minimized. The initiative provides tools to achieve this goal.

The “Ask About Aspirin” initiative was designed by the Lillehei Heart Institute at the University of Minnesota, in partnership with the School of Public Health, the Minnesota Department of Health and a Community Advisory Board, including the American Heart Association, the Minnesota Medical Association, the American College of Cardiology, the Minnesota Academy of Family Physicians, MNCM and ICSI. MHHP is also an official partner of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Million Hearts® project.

Philanthropic funding and a National Institutes of Health grant support the initiative’s activities.

“Following the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Grade A recommendation, the initiative encourages men ages 45 – 79 and women ages 55 – 79 to ask a health care professional whether they should take daily aspirin to help prevent a first heart attack or stroke,” said Alan T. Hirsch, M.D. and Director of the Vascular Medicine Program at the University of Minnesota Medical School.

Clinics and health systems are expected to realize key benefits from program participation, including:

  • Improved health outreach to existing and prospective patients;
  • Reinforcement of health system’s public commitment to improve the health of Minnesotans;
  • Access to a CME-accredited health professional training webinar on primary prevention aspirin use, aspirin patient educational materials, and quality improvement electronic health record tools;
  • Help with project implementation via practice facilitators; and,
  • Public relations and communications support related to the initiative (e.g., newsletter content, public relations).

Learn more about the initiative at Ask About Aspirin, or by contacting Karen Miller at 612-624-5961 or khmiller@umn.edu to find out about partnership opportunities.