Icelandic Heart Association increases efficiency and knowledge sharing with SAS

More efficient analysis, empowering more researchers to reap benefits from using SAS

The Icelandic Heart Association was founded in 1964 with a purpose of identifying and researching the main risk factors in cardiovascular diseases in Iceland. From the very beginning the organization has placed great emphasis on getting the results of its research across to the general public and people in the health sector, but demands to efficiency and availability of the research has risen throughout the years.

Organizations in the medical and healthcare industry are experiencing an increasing level of research exchange across international borders. Demands to the availability of research ideas and analyses are rising along with the amount of international cooperation. Icelandic Heart Association (IHA) is addressing the issue with a server based SAS solution to streamline access to their analytical resources.

As the head of the statistics department at IHA, Thor Aspelund manages a team of three statisticians that support the overall statistical and analytical apparatus of the organization.

- The statistics department helps and supports the organization with a variety of tasks. They help researchers tackle scientific questions with appropriate statistical analyses, they act as consultants for researchers in study planning and performing analyses, they take part in writing scientific papers and abstracts and finally they support by performing necessary analyses for quality control as needed, says Aspelund.


Being a non-profit, scientific organization it is important for us to be as effective with our resources as possible. The ease of sharing data and information through SAS Enterprise Guide has made our work more streamlined and enabled us to achieve a higher level of effectiveness in our research.

Tor Aspelund
PhD and Statistician

- We are experiencing an increase in international cooperation in research. Since SAS is used internationally we found it to make the exchange of ideas and analyses much easier. The Icelandic Heart Association is working on many research problems at the same time which means that analyses have to be well documented and project flows clearly understood.

After having been a successful SAS customer for many years IHA wanted to expand and streamline the use of SAS by using a server based approach to the solution. They also wanted to provide a smooth learning curve for casual users of SAS by offering a more intuitive user interface. Thor Aspelund sees SAS Enterprise Guide as an ideal tool to achieve this.

- The process flow feature of SAS Enterprise Guide fits into the “culture” of the Icelandic Heart Association to use mind maps to organize projects. Now all data management tasks and analyses can be shown as process flows in Enterprise Guide.  The analysis output is ready when needed.


The benefits of the solution are many, and as Aspelund explains the user friendly, graphical interface, easy access to data sources and reporting capabilities of SAS Enterprise Guide have had a direct impact on how things are done.

- We are now able to completely integrate analyses steps in to process flows. Each part of an analysis project is defined as a process and the setup is made so the flow is clearly understood.  This is much more difficult when writing code in a linear manner.

The long standing relationship with SAS has meant that, IHA as an organization has developed somewhat of a preference for SAS products. Today there are a total of 7-8 SAS users in the organization, of which two are expert users, one advanced user and 4-5 light users ranging from researchers to students. New users that are working on projects have SAS as a first choice for a number of reasons.

- We are always working on many different research projects simultaneously, which makes organization of results and findings crucial. Enterprise Guide makes it easy to organize our findings and results can be used immediately or recalled for use in later meetings between specialists and analysts, says Aspelund and ads;

- We definitely have a better overview of all our analyses now and the organizing capabilities of Enterprise Guide have enabled us to find new significant associations in our data.

For Thor Aspelund there is no real alternative to SAS when it comes to the key elements that are required in IHA’s work.

- Given the data management and analysis skills, the integration with Oracle, the powerful statistical methods whether it being regression, logistical or survival, combined with the process flow concept of SAS Enterprise Guide, made this solution ideal for us. We can get data fast and estimate any effects of interest.

- Being a non-profit, scientific organization it is important for us to be as effective with our resources as possible. The ease of sharing data and information through SAS Enterprise Guide has made our work more streamlined and enabled us to achieve a higher level of effectiveness in our research, he rounds off.



IHA needed to effectively document and share their research while making project flows clearly understood


Icelandic Heart Association uses SAS Enterprise Guide to organize and share valuable research information. Users generate statistical results from Enterprise Guide and then use the process flow to understand each step from data creation, through visualization to descriptive methods and modeling.


Easier to share research and data. The solution makes it much easier for new users to become familiar with the system. This makes them more confident in their work and saves time, as less input and guidance is needed from expert users.

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