medical science

A Look at 10 AHA-Backed Research Breakthroughs

AmericanHeartAssociationOver the course of nearly 100 years, the American Heart Association (AHA) has maintained a commitment to fighting heart disease and stroke by educating health professionals and the general public about the best ways to improve cardiovascular health. The organization’s work is also largely focused on supporting and advancing cardiovascular research. Since its inception in 1924, the AHA has invested over $4.1 billion into research projects and initiatives, which is more than any other US-based nonprofit organization.

Over the years, the AHA’s funding has supported a number of research breakthroughs in the areas of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disease. Many of these research breakthroughs have helped to improve global health by advancing understanding and/or treatment of heart- and vascular-related issues. In order to provide a better understanding of the AHA’s impact on health care worldwide, here is a brief look at 10 groundbreaking research projects that were backed by funding from the AHA:


  1. Study on Diuretics and Blood Pressure

In 1949, AHA-funded research helped Dr. Alfred Farah to pioneer the study of how diuretics affect heart and kidney function. His research into diuretics, which help to control blood pressure by ridding the body of excess water and sodium, led to advancements in the pharmacological treatment of heart disease. Diuretics are still considered one of the best classes of drugs for controlling blood pressure and treating heart failure.


  1. Research on Dietary Fat and Cholesterol

Before the 1950s, there was little understanding of the link between dietary fat and serum cholesterol levels. This changed after the AHA backed research led by Dr. Ancel Keys, a physiologist who spearheaded what has become known as the Seven Countries Study. The study linked fat and cholesterol for the first time and led to dietary recommendations that remain in place today.



  1. Pacemaker Research

The earliest advancements in pacemaker technology and research were supported by the AHA. In 1957, Dr. William Weirich used the first pacemaker to treat a patient with heart blockage. His work on early battery-operated wearable pacemakers led to the creation of today’s fully implanted pacemaker devices.


  1. Artificial Heart Valves

In addition to pacemakers, the AHA helped to support the advancement of artificial heart valves, which were first developed by Dr. Albert Starr and Lowell Edwards. The pair’s work in the 1960s has had long-lasting effects. Over the years, the Starr-Edwards valve, which is still used today to help people with diseased heart valves, has saved millions of lives.


  1. CPR Research

Widely known as the fathers of CPR, physicians James Jude, Guy Knickerbocker, and William Kouwenhoven pioneered the use of external cardiac massage with the support of AHA funding. Research into the lifesaving potential of CPR was first reported in 1961 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.


  1. Advancement of Microsurgery

Used across a range of surgical disciplines, microsurgery was first performed by Dr. Julius Jacobson in the early 1960s. His work, which was funded in part by the AHA, has led to widespread advancements in surgical practices.


  1. The Work of Biochemist Mildred Cohn

For 14 years, the AHA provided funding to support the research activities of Mildred Cohn, the AHA’s first female career investigator. Cohn was a pioneer in the use of new technologies to study and measure organic chemical changes. Her work as a biochemist contributed greatly to the understanding of nuclear magnetic resonance. It also led to the development of new medical technologies, including nuclear magnetic resonance, which remains one of the most advanced imaging methods in use today.


  1. Blood Pressure Research

With the help of AHA funding, Dr. Maurice Sokolow led a 20-year study that examined the effects of high blood pressure. The results of his study, which were published in 1966, showed that chronic high blood pressure reduces one’s life expectancy and can lead to various complications affecting the heart and other areas of the body. Dr. Sokolow also designed and built one of the first portable blood pressure recorders, which helped to advance later blood pressure studies.


blood pressure


  1. Children’s Heart Health

In 1990, the Food and Drug Administration approved the first drug to treat respiratory distress syndrome, which affects premature infants with defects of the heart and lungs. The drug, Exosurf Neonatal, was developed by Dr. John Clements, who served as an AHA Career Investigator for decades. In later years, the AHA continued its work in the area of children’s heart health by partnering with the Children’s Heart Foundation to provide $22.5 million for research into congenital heart defects.


  1. Study on Oxygen and Physiology Function

Over the years, the AHA has supported several researchers who went on to earn the Nobel Prize for their work. One of the most recent is Dr. Gregg L. Semenza, a John Hopkins University researcher who received the 2019 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine for his discoveries related to the interplay between cell metabolism, physiological function, and oxygen availability. Since 1993, Dr. Semenza’s Nobel Prize-winning work has been supported by funding from the AHA.


Disclaimer: This website contains general information about medical conditions and treatments. This information is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. No guarantee is given regarding the accuracy or validity of any statements or information provided on this website. Do not rely on this information as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or another professional healthcare provider. You should seek immediate medical attention if you think you are suffering from a medical condition. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website.


Pursuing Social Good – A Look at the History of Goodwill Industries

Now in its second century of operation, Goodwill Industries has a history dating back to the first years of the 1900s. Today, the organization is stronger than ever as it works to help individuals and families attain better futures through the power of work. Read on for an overview of Goodwill’s history and to get a closer look at how the organization continues to improve lives throughout the United States and other countries around the world.


Reverend Edgar J. Helms and Goodwill’s Beginnings

goodwill logoLaunched through the efforts of one man, Goodwill was established in 1902 when a Boston-based Methodist minister named Edgar J. Helms began a system of collecting items from Boston’s wealthy residents and repairing them for resale to those who were less fortunate. Reverend Helms hired people in need to help with the repair and resale of the items he collected, giving rise to a self-help system that continues at Goodwill Industries today.

As Helms expanded his program, the repairing and reselling grew to include not only clothing but also furniture and other household goods. In Boston, this work was performed early on under the name of Morgan Memorial Industries and Stores. This name came from the Unitarian Church’s multidenominational Henry Morgan Memorial Chapel, which Helms led in Boston’s South End. Later, the Unitarian Church withdrew its support for the project, and Helms moved his next self-help operation to Brooklyn, New York, where the Goodwill Industries name was first used.


Goodwill Expands Nationwide and Beyond

With the success of his early efforts to help those in need, Helms took his message of “not a charity, but a chance” to other areas of the country. By the 1920s, Goodwill Industries had opened in US cities outside of the East Coast, including Cleveland, Denver, and Los Angeles.

As the number of Goodwill centers in the United States grew, Helms toured the world, visiting Europe, Japan, Korea, and the Middle East with his self-help idea. This laid the groundwork for what would become Goodwill Industries International, which now has a presence in 12 countries outside of the United States and Canada.

While the Great Depression changed Goodwill Industries’ direction in the US, the organization was still able to grow while other nonprofit groups failed because it depended on donations of goods rather than cash. In the 1930s, Goodwill Industries was thriving in over five dozen US cities and several communities outside of the country.


Goodwill’s Work in the Mid-1900s

In 1942, Reverend Edgar J. Helms died, but not before seeing the promising beginnings of what would become the thriving network of more than 150 community-based organizations that Goodwill Industries is today. During the remainder of the 1940s, the nonprofit group played an important role in assisting with the World War II home front effort by helping returning servicemen and servicewomen find gainful employment after combat.

Throughout the 1950s, the Goodwill network continued to grow, and the organization began to play a leading role in providing jobs to people living with disabilities. The 1950s also saw the majority of Goodwill agencies become self-supporting and nondenominational, moving away from the Methodist Church.

As the 1960s arrived, Goodwill stepped up its activities employing people with disabilities. Between 1960 and 1966, the organization increased the percentage of employees with developmental and/or physical disabilities from 32 percent to 42 percent. The 1960s also saw the adoption of the now-iconic “Smiling G” logo, which is still used today.


Featured Image by Mike Mozart | Flickr

Entering the Modern Era

After the nation’s first Goodwill drop-off donation center opened in the early 1970s, the organization entered a new era of accepting and selling household goods while putting underserved individuals to work. Throughout the 1980s and into the 1990s, Goodwill Industries expanded its employee population to include people with employment barriers such as lack of education, criminal history, and advanced age. During this time, the group also began to incorporate high-tech training programs into its offerings alongside those focused on basic skills development.

Another big event in Goodwill’s history came in 1999, when the organization launched its e-commerce website, which was the country’s first nonprofit online auction site. With the opening of the new millennium, Goodwill also continued to expand its traditional brick-and-mortar stores.

The number of member organizations during this time grew worldwide, providing more revenue to support programs focused on career training and job placement for people of limited employability. This work continues today as Goodwill seeks to help more people find success in the 21st century.


Goodwill Looks to the Future

What began with an innovative idea about how to help those in need has grown into a $6 billion organization with a reach extending into communities across the United States and several other countries. Over 115 years after its founding, Goodwill is looking to the future with programs and services focused on equipping people with 21st-century skills. Currently, the group is working with corporate partners such as Google, Accenture, and Indeed to provide digital skills training and other services to help people attain employment, enhance their resumes, and build their careers in the modern workplace.

jogging exercise

A Complete Look at the AHA’s Latest Diet and Lifestyle Tips

For nearly a century, the American Heart Association (AHA) has been focused on helping people live healthier lives. The organization does this by supporting research and advancing treatments in the areas of cardiovascular and stroke care.

In addition, the AHA serves as a public resource for people looking to better their health through diet and lifestyle choices. Keep reading to learn more about the AHA’s most recent diet and lifestyle recommendations.


Focus on Nutrition from All the Food Groups

For many people, eating enough food is not a problem, but they may still lack some of the vital nutrients needed to make them feel their best. To ensure that you’re getting the right nutrition, the AHA recommends that you follow a diet comprising healthy food choices from every food group. This includes a variety of fruits and vegetables with every meal and snack. The AHA also reminds people that all forms of vegetables are great options, including those that are fresh, frozen, canned, or dried.

In addition to promoting the consumption of fruits and vegetables throughout the day, the AHA recommends that people make whole grains, skinless fish and poultry, low-fat dairy products, and nuts and legumes a part of their daily diet. Moreover, beans and other legumes can be especially beneficial because they are a great source of protein, minerals, and fiber, but they don’t contain the saturated fat found in some animal proteins. Beans can also help you feel full longer and may even reduce blood cholesterol, which is a risk factor for heart disease.

Finally, the AHA reminds people that healthier fats should be included as part of a well-rounded diet. These include monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which have been associated with better heart health. The AHA points out that some great sources of these types of fats are certain cooking oils, including olive, canola, safflower, and soybean.



Read Nutrition Labels and Cut out the Junk Food

As many people know, following a healthy diet is as much about what you don’t eat as it is about what you do eat. The AHA recommends carefully reading nutrition labels to avoid foods that are high in calories but low in nutrients. Reading nutrition labels is the best way to avoid consuming high levels of saturated fat, trans fat, and sodium, which have all been tied to heart disease.

To make it easier for people to identify nutrient-dense foods while avoiding junk calories, the AHA provides a nutrition label guide on its website. The guide outlines each section of the Nutrition Facts label, from the “Amount per Serving” information at the top to the “% Daily Value” at the bottom.

Finally, the AHA reminds consumers that the information shown on the Nutrition Facts label is based on a 2,000-calorie per day diet, which is a baseline target that is not appropriate for everyone.


Burn the Calories You Take in

Knowing how many calories you should be eating and drinking each day to maintain your weight is based on several factors, including your age, gender, and level of physical activity. The AHA points out that avoiding weight gain can be as simple as burning at least as many calories as you consume each day. To help keep the weight off, you can burn more calories by increasing the amount and/or intensity of your physical activity.

As a baseline, the AHA suggests that all people aim for a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise each week. The AHA’s recommendations are based on the 2nd edition of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, published by the US Department of Health and Human Services. Scientific evidence supports that there is a strong connection between physical activity and healthy weight as well as disease prevention and overall health and well-being.

The AHA offers several tips to add more activity to your daily routine. This includes parking farther away from your destination and opting to take the stairs rather than the elevator. The AHA also outlines several options for both moderate-intensity and vigorous-intensity aerobic activities. Brisk walking, dancing, and gardening all fall into the moderate-intensity category, while activities such as running, jumping rope, and cycling over 10 miles per hour are all considered vigorous-intensity aerobic exercises.



Avoid Tobacco/Vaping

For many years, the AHA has been working hard to help people quit tobacco, a product that puts them at a much higher risk for heart disease and stroke. Today, in addition to focusing on traditional tobacco products, the AHA warns against the dangers of vaping, which health officials have recently connected to many cases of serious medical problems. To help people avoid the dangerous health effects associated with tobacco and vaping, the AHA raises awareness of the dangers and provides tips for quitting.

The organization’s five steps to quit smoking are as follows:

  1. Set your “Quit Day.”
  2. Choose your quitting method.
  3. Talk to your doctor for assistance.
  4. Make a plan for going forward after quitting.
  5. Quit tobacco for good starting with your Quit Day.

More information about these steps and the AHA’s other tips for healthy living are available at


Disclaimer: This website contains general information about medical conditions and treatments. This information is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. No guarantee is given regarding the accuracy or validity of any statements or information provided on this website. Do not rely on this information as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or another professional healthcare provider. You should seek immediate medical attention if you think you are suffering from a medical condition. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website.