Insight News has partnered with the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation (MHIF) to present a series of virtual health-education conversations focused on heart health called “Heart-to-Heart Conversations.”

The first conversation featured Al McFarlane, Editor, Insight News and co-founder of the Insight Health Equity Action Lab, Stella-Whitney West, CEO of NorthPoint Health & Wellness, Dr. Mosi Bennett, a cardiology specialist at Minneapolis Heart Institute and Dr. Courtney Jordan Baechler, a cardiologist and medical director of the medical director for the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation’s emerging science centers.

According to the Minnesota Department of Health, African-American adults aged 35-64 die from heart disease at approximately two times the rate of whites of the same age in Minnesota.

“In Minnesota, we have the best cardiovascular outcomes in the entire country. And we have since 1999,” said Jordan Baechler. “But when you start looking deeper, we do not see the same outcomes for everyone. And that’s especially true for our African American population.”

Jordan Baechler said zip code analysis show a huge disparity between Medina, Minnesota, which has the highest life expectancy in the state and areas such as North Minneapolis.

Bennett sees this partnership as an opportunity to bring greater awareness to these issues. “I think what we see in North Minneapolis mirrors what’s going on across the country, be it Baltimore, MD or Cleveland, OH.  Anywhere you look we see these disparities and that is why we are having these conversations --so we can raise awareness about these disparities and come up with solutions to address them,” he said.

“A key element [of this work] is having the courage to share our own personal story with others because it makes a difference when people can see themselves in other people,” said Whitney-West who noted she often reflects on her story.

“I have high blood pressure and so does my father who is also a diabetic. It is one of the things that has become almost an expectation, or institutionalized, that everyone in a family has high blood pressure. Those are the types of patterns that we need to disrupt. It’s your story now, but it doesn’t have to be your on-gong story,” said Whitney-West.

The next conversation will feature McFarlane and his daughter, Batala McFarlane, who will be interviewed by Jordan-Baechler and Bennett. They will discuss Al McFarlane’s heart disease diagnoses and how that has impacted their family. This conversation will take place next Thursday, Dec 17 at Noon via Facebook Live at the Insight News and iHEAL Facebook pages.

The Insight Health Equity Action Lab (iHEAL) works in partnership with communities and various organizations across sectors to develop and implement sustainable and measurable strategies that advance health equity. For more information, follow the iHEAL Facebook page or contact Batala McFarlane at






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