Who We Are – Cardiovascular Health Unit

Who We Are
Cardiovascular Health Unit

Our mission

To improve cardiovascular health and reduce the burden of heart disease and stroke for all people living in Minnesota.

Our vision

That all people in Minnesota are heart-healthy and stroke-free.

Prevent, treat and manage cardiovascular disease

At the Minnesota Department of Health, we strengthen Minnesota communities to be heart-healthy and stroke-free through prevention, treatment and management of heart disease, stroke, and their risk factors by:

  • Riding Nice Rides past the Minnesota State CapitolBringing people across the state to work together toward a common goal
  • Using data to inform changes in the community and health care
  • Helping organizations with content expertise, project planning/management and evaluation
  • Sharing important information and resources with the public and healthcare professionals
  • Making sure that all people have the same access to information, health care and support
  • Leading statewide strategies for individuals, communities and organizations to work together

The reality of cardiovascular disease in Minnesota

  • Cardiovascular disease, including coronary heart disease and stroke, is the leading cause of death in Minnesota. 
  • In 2013, about 27% of adults have diagnosed high blood pressure, and 33% have high cholesterol.
  • In 2013, there were more than 61,000 hospitalizations for heart disease and stroke, which resulted in almost $2.7 billion in inpatient charges.
  • From 2009 to 2013, the most striking disparities are in people of color. Compared to whites, the heart disease death rate is 28% higher in American Indians, and the stroke death rate is 27% higher in African-Americans and 33% higher in Asians.

Map of Minnesota filled with an image of a crowdServing Minnesotans

  • The Minnesota Stroke Program manages the Minnesota Stroke Registry, a quality of care initiative with 92 hospitals participating.
  • We implement statewide cross-cutting approaches to promote health, health system interventions and community-clinical linkages by addressing high blood pressure and diabetes.
  • We convene the Cardiovascular Health Alliance, a group of professionals who address cardiovascular disease from the public health and medical perspective and guide, promote and participate in the Minnesota Cardiovascular Health State Plan implementation
  • We tell the public about heart disease and stroke in Minnesota, including what it is, how often it happens, the risk factors, population risk and how it impacts Minnesotans
  • We provide data and expert testimonials for legislation impacting cardiovascular disease


Stanton Shanedling, PhD, MPH • Unit Supervisor • 651-201-5408 • stanton.shanedling@state.mn.us

James Peacock • Epidemiologist Principal • 651-201-5405 • james.peacock@state.mn.us

Julie Hoffer • Research Analyst • 651-201-4527 • julie.hoffer@state.mn.us

Laura Hutton • Evaluator • 651-201-5495 • laura.hutton@state.mn.us

Emily Styles • Epidemiologist • 651-201-4634 • emily.styles@state.mn.us

Patty Takawira • Community Health Planner • 651-201-4051 • patricia.takawira@state.mn.us

Minnesota Stroke Program

Albert Tsai • Program Lead • 651-201-5413 • albert.tsai@state.mn.us

Catherine Johnson • EMS Coordinator • 651-201-4094 • catherine.eaton@state.mn.us

Erica Fishman • Transitions of Care Coordinator • 651-201-4093 • erica.fishman@state.mn.us

Claire Fleming • Evaluation Specialist • 651-201-5274 • claire.fleming@state.mn.us

Michelle Gray Ansari • Stroke Coordinator • 651-201-4097 • michelle.gray.ansari@state.mn.us

Julie Hoffer • Research Analyst • 651-201-4527 • julie.hoffer@state.mn.us