The Heart of New Ulm Project: using community-based cardiometabolic risk factor screenings in a rural population health improvement initiative

Popul Health Manag. 2012 Jun;15(3):135-43. doi: 10.1089/pop.2011.0027. Epub 2012 Feb 7.


Awareness of cardiovascular disease and diabetes risk factors can improve the health of individuals and populations. Community-based risk factor screening programs may be particularly useful for quantifying the burden of cardiometabolic risk in a given population, particularly in underserved areas. This study provided a description of a screening platform and how it has been used to monitor the cardiometabolic risk profile within the broader Heart of New Ulm Project, which is based in a rural Minnesota community. A cross-sectional, descriptive examination of baseline screening data indicated that 45% of the target population participated in the program over 8 months. Overall, 13% of the sample reported a personal history of diabetes or cardiovascular disease. Among the subset without active cardiometabolic disease, 35% were found to be at high risk for developing cardiovascular disease or type 2 diabetes over the next 8-10 years. A high prevalence of metabolic syndrome, high low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, obesity, and low fruit/vegetable consumption were of particular concern in this community. This article describes the use of screening results to inform the design of intervention programs that target these risk factors at both the community and individual levels. In addition, design considerations for future community-based cardiometabolic risk factor screening programs are discussed, with a focus on balancing program objectives related to health surveillance, research, and the delivery of preventive health care services.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Community Health Services
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / diagnosis*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / methods*
  • Metabolic Syndrome / epidemiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Program Development / methods*
  • Program Evaluation
  • Risk Assessment / methods*
  • Rural Population / statistics & numerical data*
  • Social Marketing
  • United States / epidemiology