American Heart Association – A relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives.

This blog post was written by John Meiners, Chief of Mission Aligned Businesses and Healthcare Solutions at the American Heart Association. From humble beginnings, the AHA has grown into the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. AHA is a 2018 Global Health Council member as part of our Member Spotlight series.

Cardiovascular disease, including heart disease and stroke, accounts for more than 17 million deaths per year… one third of all global deaths. By 2030, this figure is expected to reach approximately 23 million, with an estimated global cost more than a trillion dollars by 2030.

The American Heart Association believes everyone should live longer, healthier lives, and our international department focuses on that effort outside the U.S. We have been in the business of saving lives since 1924. The support of more than 30 million passionate supporters and volunteers, key partners and a global network of relationships helps us deliver lifesaving programs and training into hospitals, businesses, schools and homes.

Image credit: American Heart Association

Over 10 years ago, we began a concerted effort to address cardiovascular disease around the world, offering technical support, science exchange and training to governments, healthcare providers, hospital and pre-hospital systems, workplaces and communities.

Through groundbreaking science and programs targeting governments, healthcare providers, hospital and pre-hospital systems, workplaces and communities, our system of care approach—in coordination with local heart health advocates, societies and government leaders, drives global heart and brain health around the world, in many ways and through a variety of programs.

In support of a country’s health priorities, we provide our technical expertise and experience in developing both patient and public programs and campaigns to improve the quality of life and promote a culture of health. With our partners, we share the best in science with people around the world through our annual Scientific Sessions, International Stroke and 10 specialty conferences, and by supporting joint science sessions with other countries’ cardiology societies at their local meetings.

We create hundreds of educational programs and tools that help people improve their health, like My Life Check® – Life’s Simple 7 and Go Red For Women® (now in nearly 50 countries).

Photo Credit: American Heart Association

We help improve systems of care with programs like Get with the Guidelines (GWTG), addressing hospital and healthcare provider systems of care, and Saving Children’s Lives in Botswana, Tanzania, and India designed to empower community health workers with skills to reduce under five mortality in low to middle income (LMIC) areas.

We train 22 million people around the world annually – from advanced healthcare providers, corporate employees to new parents – in first aid, CPR and advanced life support. We work in coalition with key global partners like the World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations (UN) and the World Economic Forum to establish targets. Then, with partners like the Global Health Council, World Heart Federation, Non-Communicable Disease Alliance, and sister cardiology societies and foundations we speak with one voice to advocate for sound health and public policies around prevention and control of cardiovascular disease and stroke.

In the last few weeks, we’ve worked with multiple partners to spread awareness around the importance of prevention, treatment, and the management of cardiovascular diseases. On September 29, the American Heart Association participated in the World Heart Federation’s annual World Heart Day recognition. Leveraging this year’s theme of My Heart, Your Heart, we asked our supporters to make a promise as an individual to get more active, say no to smoking or eat more healthily … as a healthcare professional to save more lives … or as a politician to implement an NCD action plan. A simple promise… for MY HEART, for YOUR HEART, for ALL OUR HEARTS.

In the lead up to the United Nations High Level Meeting on Noncommunicable Diseases, we brought together global health leaders to address the world’s leading killers. In support of the Sustainable Development Goals and Universal Health Care, the event included two panel discussions with patient advocates and global health experts focused on innovative practices and solutions aimed to deliver patient centered and quality health care. Patient stories and international examples of disruptive innovations at the primary, secondary, and tertiary levels were shared with nearly 200 attendees. Panelists included Hannah Amora, supported by the Global Health Council, a committed mother and advocate for congenital health disease and global advocate for NCDs.

With a presence nearly 100 countries around the world, the American Heart Association is working to create a world where your risks for, and survival from heart disease and stroke are not determined by where you live.