Heart Disease in Communities Cohort

The foundation of the Cardiovascular Disease and Outcomes Research Program is the Heart Disease in Communities cohort.

This cohort spans the years from 2004 to 2017 and consists of more than 27,000 patients with heart disease (defined as coronary heart disease, heart failure or atrial fibrillation). The source population of the cohort is a 27-county region in Southeast Minnesota and Western Wisconsin — a unique research environment because a limited number of providers deliver most health care to local residents in this region. The cohort's large number of patients in rural areas also represents a singular opportunity to address the disproportionate burden of heart disease experienced by rural populations.

Researchers originally curated the cohort data manually from the Rochester Epidemiology Project, a medical records linkage system that includes the medical records of about 1 million patients from 27 counties in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Now we have electronic phenotypes to identify these patients.

Tapping into the depth and breadth of electronic health record data enables our researchers to develop accurate and scalable computable phenotypes to expand the cohort and study important risk factors and outcomes in cardiovascular disease. Today, the Cardiovascular Disease and Outcomes Research Program is engaged in ongoing retrospective surveillance studies and prospective studies using the data collected from the Heart Disease in Communities cohort.

The cohort received extramural funding of more than $23 million, mainly from the National Institutes of Health.