SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Journalists get a lot of news releases and story pitches every day. But it's not often the American Heart Association essentially calls and says, "Hey, we're worried about you, let's talk."

So the team at "The Health Variant" podcast arranged a call. The folks at the American Heart Association had been looking at some troubling statistics in the Dakotas, especially North Dakota when it comes to COVID-19 and vaccinations. So they reached out to specifically address their concerns.

In the latest episode of "The Health Variant" podcast, host and NewsMD Health Correspondent Jeremy Fugleberg talks with Dr. Donald Lloyd-Jones. Lloyd-Jones is among the world’s most highly regarded experts in cardiovascular disease prevention and epidemiology, as well as the current president of the American Heart Association.

"The Health Variant" digs into health topics important to the region, such as fitness, COVID-19, cannabis and telehealth, introduces listeners to must-know places and people and offers behind-the-scenes reporting.

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NewsMD is a Forum Communications brand focusing on health and health care reporting, primarily in the Upper Midwest, including coverage of industry news, research, trends, technology, economic and policy issues.

"The Health Variant" podcast is available on major podcast apps, including:

For comments or podcast episode topic suggestions, contact Fugleberg at jfugleberg@forumcomm.com or on Twitter: @jayfug.