The American Heart Association (AHA) works to reduce death caused by heart disease and stroke. As part of these efforts, the organization partners with government agencies, lawmakers, and other nonprofit groups to inform public policy and create health-promoting initiatives that benefit people of all ages.
The AHA’s latest activities have been directed toward several specific groups, including young people, women, and Native Americans. Read on to learn about all the latest news from the AHA.
Warning against the Consumption of Sugary Drinks
In partnership with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the AHA recently released a joint policy statement endorsing a suite of public health measures aimed at reducing the consumption of sugary drinks among the nation’s youth. According to the statement’s authors, American children and adolescents consume over 30 gallons of sugar-laden beverages each year. The consumption of added sugars has been linked to numerous health problems, including diabetes, obesity, and heart disease.
To reduce children’s access to cheap sugary drinks, the AAP and AHA recommend several broad policy solutions to be implemented on the local, state, and national levels. These include recommendations to increase public education and decrease the marketing of sugary drinks to children and teens. The AAP and AHA’s joint policy statement also recommends raising the price of sugar-laden beverages via an excise tax.
New Cardiovascular Disease Prevention Guideline
The AHA and American College of Cardiology (ACC) recently outlined the key recommendations of the latest Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease guideline. The guideline, which was released during ACC’s 68th Annual Scientific Sessions, provides practical recommendations for reducing one’s risk of cardiovascular disease and associated issues such as heart attack, stroke, and heart failure.
The lifestyle recommendations outlined in the guideline include eating a heart-healthy diet, exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight, and avoiding tobacco products. The ACC and AHA also advise that clinicians use caution when prescribing preventative aspirin use to people without known cardiovascular disease.
Fighting to End Tobacco and Nicotine Use
For several decades, one of the major policy priorities of the AHA has been focused on drastically reducing tobacco use and exposure to second-hand cigarette smoke. Recently, the organization released a new policy statement that outlines what health care providers and the public health community must do to achieve what the statement’s authors call the “tobacco endgame.”
In addition to minimizing the use of combustible tobacco products, the statement calls for close examination of e-cigarette use, a trend which is particularly prevalent among youth. Specific actions highlighted in the statement include strengthening government oversight of tobacco and nicotine products. This includes enhancing the Food and Drug Administration’s regulations concerning the manufacture, design, and marketing of both combustible tobacco products and e-cigarettes.
Improving Heart Attack Care
As one of the nation’s top accreditation and certification organizations, the AHA oversees various initiatives to improve patient care. Many of these programs are based on AHA’s clinical guidelines covering various cardiac disease and stroke topics. Together with the health care evaluation organization The Joint Commission, the Association has developed new certifications for hospitals that treat stroke and cardiac patients.
Beginning in July 2019, hospitals can begin working toward the Primary Heart Attack Center (PHAC) and Acute Heart Attack Ready (AHAR) certifications. In addition to recognizing hospitals for providing consistent, evidence-based heart attack and stroke care, the PHAC and AHAR certifications support the AHA’s efforts to save lives by promoting health care excellence worldwide.
New Campaign Supports Native Nutrition
Since 2015, the AHA has worked with the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC) to support efforts aimed at Native-led dietary health advocacy. As part of this work, the AHA and SMSC have recently partnered with First Nations Development Institute and the American Indian Cancer Foundation to launch the Policy Innovation Fund.
Focused on improving nutrition and reducing health disparities in Native American communities, the $1.6-million fund will provide grants that tribes and Native-led organizations can use for nutrition and health policy initiatives at the tribal, state, and national levels. Administrators of the Policy Innovation Fund are in the process of soliciting proposals for competitive grants ranging from $75,000 to $100,000.
Research Goes Red Initiative
Through its Go Red for Women movement and other initiatives, the AHA raises awareness and funds lifesaving research focused on ending heart disease and stroke among women. During American Heart Month in February 2019, the Association announced the launch of the Research Goes Red initiative, which aims to engage women in valuable scientific research in the area of heart health.
Launched in collaboration with Verily’s Project Baseline, Research Goes Red will leverage the AHA’s Go Red for Women community to invite women nationwide to share their health information and volunteer for clinical research projects. The initiative supports the overall goals of Project Baseline, which seeks to improve lives by driving health care innovation.
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