Heart Programs - University of Minnesota Physicians Heart at Fairview

Rasmussen Center for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention

Rasmussen Center for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention at the University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview is the first clinic in the U.S. to offer a comprehensive approach to identify conditions that often go undetected, but which can lead to heart failure, heart attack or stroke. With a straightforward commitment to disease prevention, the Rasmussen Center focuses on screening healthy individuals who may have risk factors, such as smoking, hypertension or family history.

An estimated one in four persons who dies from cardiovascular-related diseases experiences no advance symptoms. Such diseases are a direct consequence of blood vessel and heart abnormalities that can be detected by special tests, but which do not necessarily result in symptoms. Early detection of coronary artery disease can lead to preventive measures, motivating individuals at risk to adopt healthier lifestyles or take prescribed medications, thereby decreasing their risk of developing severe coronary or other vascular and cardiac disease.

A complete screening takes about two hours. It is radiation-free; and other than blood sampling, the procedures are noninvasive and painless.Couple and individual appointments are available.

Diagnostic detection tests include:

  • Ultrasound measurement of neck artery thickness (carotid IMT)
  • Urinalysis for early evidence of blood vessel abnormalities
  • Blood pressure response to treadmill stress test
  • Lung function test
  • Digital photograph of the small arteries in the eye
  • Arterial pulse contour analysis
  • Special blood test (natriuretic peptide) to detect heart stress
  • Ultrasound of the left ventricle (lower left heart chamber) and aorta (large abdominal blood vessel)
  • Electrocardiogram

Blood sampling for markers of cardiovascular risk include:

  • Total cholesterol: LDL, HDL, triglycerides
  • Blood sugar
  • C-reactive protein

As part of the early disease assessment, a nurse practitioner reviews your family history, past medical history, health habits and nutrition. The cardiovascular physical exam focuses on the heart, lungs and circulation.

You receive a written report of test results and recommendations developed by the care prevention team, which includes a cardiologist. Recommendations may include dietary, lifestyle or medication advice. Upon your request, the screening report can be provided to your primary care physician.

Rasmussen Center results
University of Minnesota has long been recognized as a leader in cardiovascular medicine, and Rasmussen Center results have been widely disseminated at primary care medicine and preventive cardiology conferences and seminars. Historically, 50 percent of individuals screened are free of early cardiovascular disease abnormalities. For them, we recommend re-screening at five-year intervals. Approximately 20 percent receive recommendations for lifestyle changes and recommendations for re-screening within one to three years. The other 30 percent receive recommendations for follow-up care, including medications to slow or halt progression of early disease.