St. Jude Medical Foundation commits $1 million to American Heart Association for new initiative tackling heart failure in Minneapolis and Austin, Texas

Oct 19, 2015, 09:00 ET from American Heart Association

MINNEAPOLIS, Oct. 19, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- St. Jude Medical Foundation has committed to a two-year $1 million sponsorship to fund the American Heart Association's "Get With The Guidelines – Heart Failure" initiative that aims to improve outcomes for patients with heart failure in Minneapolis and Austin, Texas.

"We are inspired by St. Jude Medical Foundation's commitment to the health of our communities and patients battling the difficult disease of heart failure," said Barbara Ducharme, executive director of the American Heart Association's office in Minneapolis. "This sponsorship will allow us to put quality improvement tools and staff into Twin Cities and Austin, Texas-area hospitals to provide improved care for heart failure patients so they can have longer, better quality lives with fewer hospital stays."

The pilot sponsorship program will support hospitals located in the Minneapolis and Austin, Texas areas—by providing dedicated on-site staff to implement the "Get With The Guidelines – Heart Failure" program, training for hospital staff, access to clinical tools and patient education resources, and quality-improvement data analysis.

"We have incredible respect for the work the American Heart Association has done to improve the life of heart failure patients and their families," said Rachel Ellingson, vice president of Global Communications at St. Jude Medical and president of the St. Jude Medical Foundation. "We are very excited to partner with AHA to launch a hospital-based quality improvement program that will further support heart and stroke patients' ability to receive regular, high-quality care."

Heart failure is a condition that causes the muscle in the heart wall to slowly weaken and enlarge, preventing the heart from pumping enough blood. Over time, blood backs up in the veins causing fluid to build up in the body, which leads to swelling in feet, ankles, legs and eventually the lungs. When this happens the body does not get enough blood, food and oxygen. Over 5 million Americans have heart failure. It is a leading cause for hospital re-admission and patients with heart failure are more likely to have a reduced quality of life and face a higher risk of death. By 2030 it is projected that heart failure will cost every U.S. taxpayer $244 a year. Although heart failure can often be managed with lifestyle changes such as weight and blood pressure management, smoking cessation, and medication adherence, some patients may need a more comprehensive treatment plan.

"This program and partnership is very unique in its approach to helping each of our communities address a very specific and challenging issue – that being heart failure re-admission rates," said Ann Jerome, executive director of the American Heart Association's office in Austin, Texas. "We are grateful for St. Jude Medical Foundation's generosity and willingness to work with us to craft a tangible solution to a real health crisis."

St. Jude Medical and the St. Jude Medical Foundation have long supported the American Heart Association and its mission, including participation from leadership. Ellingson has served on the association's Twin Cities Board of Directors for nearly three years. Joel Becker, president of the Americas Division of St. Jude Medical, has served on the association's Austin, Texas Board of Directors for the past five years. Through their combined efforts, they have helped guide the American Heart Association's efforts on a local level and contributed to the advancement of its mission to build a world free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke.

For more information about the program, visit

About the American Heart Association  
The American Heart Association is the nation's oldest and largest voluntary health organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. Our mission is to build healthier lives by preventing, treating and defeating these diseases – two of America's leading killers. We fund cutting-edge research, conduct lifesaving public and professional educational programs, and advocate to protect public health. To learn more or join us in helping all Americans, call 1-800-AHA-USA1 or visit

About St. Jude Medical Foundation
St. Jude Medical Foundation is the philanthropic arm of St. Jude Medical (SJM) and supports programs related to cardiac and neurological diseases in the areas of education, patient support and healthy communities.  Headquartered in St. Paul, Minnesota, SJM is a global medical device manufacturer dedicated to transforming the treatment of some of the world's most expensive epidemic diseases by developing cost-effective medical technologies that save and improve lives of patients around the world. For more information, visit or follow us on Twitter @StJudeMedical. 

SOURCE American Heart Association