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American Heart Association
Founded in 1924, the American Heart Association (AHA) is a non-profit organization in the US that promotes appropriate cardiac care to reduce disability and deaths caused by cardiovascular disease and stroke. AHA is a national voluntary health agency whose mission is: Building healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke. Its motto is Learn and Live.
Headquartered in Dallas, TX, AHA is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization devoted to fighting cardiovascular diseases and stroke. Founded by six cardiologists in 1924, the organization now includes more than 22 million volunteers and supporters, supported by more than 150 local offices and ~ 2,800 employees. The association funds innovative research, fights for stronger public health policies, and provides lifesaving tools and information to save and improve lives.
Founded 1924
Founders Joseph Sailer, Robert B. Preble, Lewis A. Conner, Robert H. Halse, Hugh D. McCulloch and Paul Dudley White
Headquarters Dallas, Texas
Type Health
Recent Year Revenue $554,400,000
Charity Navigator 61.32 / 70.00
BBB Accredited 20/20
GS Silver 7/7
AHA publishes a standard for providing basic and advanced life support, including standards for proper performance of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). The organization is the nation’s leader in CPR education training. AHA offers the most widely accepted certification for basic life support (BLS) and is (now) also a provider of training for first aid, along with CPR. The association helps people understand the importance of healthy lifestyle choices. AHA provides science-based treatment guidelines to healthcare professionals to help ensure the best treatment for every patient, every time.
AHA has developed a strategic plan -- 2020 Impact Goal -- focused on an ambitious health goal for the entire nation. The organization works toward improving the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20%, and reducing deaths from cardiovascular diseases and stroke by 20% by 2020. As the data builds up, so does the progress toward the 2020 Impact Goal. Fewer people are dying of heart disease and stroke -- in line with meeting half of AHA’s goal of reducing deaths by 20%. So far, there has been a drop of 8.8% over the last four years. Also, there has been significant progress in the key areas of coronary heart disease (decreased 12%) and stroke (decreased 10%). While the combined category of other cardiovascular diseases slightly increased in the latest annual figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the group shows a 3.2% improvement from where it started.
The AHA volunteer experts select scientific research most worthy of funding. Since 1949, the association has provided more than $3.5 billion for research, more than any organization outside the federal government. In FY2013, AHA continued to be the largest contributor toward cardiovascular and stroke research (outside the federal government), funding 978 research projects chosen from more than 6,000 applicants. AHA has funded 13 Nobel Prize winners and lifesaving advancements, such as the first artificial heart valve, cholesterol-inhibiting drugs, heart transplant capabilities, and CPR techniques and guidelines.
Heart disease is the cause of the most number of deaths, killing more than 788,000 Americans each year -- roughly equivalent to the entire population of Charlotte, NC, or Fort Worth, TX. Stroke ranks fourth, and is the leading cause of severe disability. The association wants everyone to understand the threat, and to know that cardiovascular diseases and stroke are largely preventable.
The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association is a national voluntary health organization dedicated to building healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke. Research is a major part of AHA’s effort toward reducing cardiovascular diseases and stroke.
Much of the research funded by AHA will help it reach its 2020 Health Impact Goal. AHA funds research programs that support the development of early stage research and those that enrich existing bodies of knowledge by identifying new ways to prevent, detect, and treat cardiovascular disease and stroke. Since 1949, the American Heart Association has spent more than $3.4 billion on basic, clinical, and population research to improve knowledge about cardiovascular diseases and stroke. Some of the Association’s research programs are as follows:
The Cardiovascular Genome Phenome Study (CVGPS) is a collaborative effort, spearheaded by AHA, toward advancement of cardiovascular medicine. It is a collaborative effort between the AHA, Boston University (BU), and the University of Mississippi Medical Center UMMC -- the academic coordinating center homes, respectively, of the Framingham Heart Study FHS and the Jackson Heart Study JHS. The Jackson Heart Study also involves Jackson State University JSU and Tougaloo College TC as partner institutions. CVGPS combines the power of long-term population studies with the precision of molecular analysis to unravel key distinctions between and within sub-groups of patients. The discoveries it generates will point the way toward better-targeted, safer, and more effective treatments, based on a deeper understanding of patients’ characteristics, including risk profiles and therapeutic needs.
Through the rich diversity of constituent participant/patient populations, CVGPS research intends to bring inter-individual and patient-to-patient differences into sharper focus for common diseases such as atherosclerosis and hypertension. To accomplish the promise of CVGPS, AHA offers two funding opportunities to investigators -- CVGPS Pathway Grants (funded at $250,000 per year for two years) and CVGPS Grand Challenge Awards (funded at $500,000 for four years for a total of $2 million).
The Science & Technology Accelerator Program is a translational science program created to help fill a void -- bringing together scientific innovators with investors and clinical development experts, who can quickly move potentially lifesaving advancements to the market. Inventors and scientists are working to bring new treatments and innovations to market to fight heart disease and stroke. Unfortunately, early-stage investments to support such developments are rapidly declining. These diseases bring with them a heavy financial burden. By 2030, total costs are projected to reach nearly $1.3 trillion. Scientists are working to develop treatments, but research funding in the US is declining at an alarming rate.
The Science & Technology Accelerator program was created to help fill the gap between laboratory validation of revolutionary innovations and their real-world application. This will help improve outcomes by “de-risking” them to sufficiently attract private funding and make them available in the market. AHA’s cadre of expert clinical development, regulatory affairs, intellectual property, and commercialization advisors and mentors are committed to the success of accelerator investments, with the aim of accelerating the movement of these technologies from the bench to the bedside. AHA gathers candidates for investment from many sources. Each innovation undergoes initial screening by experts in the applicable field for scientific validity and potential for significant impact on outcomes. Surviving candidates then undergo full due diligence evaluation for both their scientific and commercial potential, including likelihood of repayment of investment. A committee of volunteer experts from multiple disciplines reviews the due diligence reports and selects innovations that will receive investment funds.
Tobacco Regulation and Addiction Center. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), as part of an on-going inter-agency partnership, awarded a total of up to $53 million to fund tobacco-related research in fiscal year 2013 to create 14 Tobacco Centers of Regulatory Science (TCORS). Despite decades of work to reduce tobacco use in the US, it continues to be the leading cause of preventable death and disease. A new, first-of-its-kind, regulatory science tobacco program, TCORS has been designed to generate research to provide information regarding the regulation of tobacco products (to protect public health).
The TCORS program brings together researchers and investigators from across the country to aid in the development and evaluation of tobacco product regulations. Each TCORS application identified a targeted research goal. Taken together, the TCORS sites will help increase knowledge across the full spectrum of basic and applied research on tobacco and addiction. The program will also provide young investigators with training opportunities to ensure the development of the next generation of tobacco regulatory scientists. The American Heart Association is one of 14 centers that received funding from the TCORS grant. The AHA Tobacco Regulation and Addiction Center (A-TRAC) has been formed from this grant. The research, supported by the new initiative, will focus on the following seven tobacco-related research areas: diversity of tobacco products; reducing addiction; reducing toxicity and carcinogenicity; adverse health consequences; communication; marketing of tobacco products; and economics (and policies).
Cardiovascular disease refers to any disease that affects the cardiovascular system, principally cardiac disease, vascular diseases of the brain and kidney, and peripheral arterial disease. The causes of cardiovascular disease are diverse but atherosclerosis and/or hypertension are the most common. In addition, with aging come a number of physiological and morphological changes that alter cardiovascular function and lead to increased risk of cardiovascular disease, even in healthy asymptomatic individuals. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of deaths worldwide, though, since the 1970s, cardiovascular mortality rates have declined in many high-income countries. At the same time, cardiovascular deaths and disease have increased at a fast rate in low- and middle-income countries. Although cardiovascular disease usually affects older adults, the antecedents of cardiovascular disease, notably atherosclerosis, begin in early life, making primary prevention efforts necessary from childhood. There is therefore increased emphasis on preventing atherosclerosis by modifying risk factors, such as healthy eating, exercise, and avoidance of smoking tobacco.
The brain is an extremely complex organ that controls various body functions. If a stroke occurs and blood flow can't reach the region that controls a particular body function, that part of the body won't work as it should. If the stroke occurs toward the back of the brain, for instance, it's likely that some disability involving vision will result. The effects of a stroke depend primarily on the location of the obstruction and the extent of brain tissue affected.
Right Brain -- The effects of a stroke depend on several factors, including the location of the obstruction and how much brain tissue is affected. However, because one side of the brain controls the opposite side of the body, a stroke affecting one side will result in neurological complications on the side of the body it affects. For example, if the stroke occurs in the brain's right side, the left side of the body (and the left side of the face) will be affected, which could produce any or all of the following: Paralysis on the left side of the body; Vision problems; Quick, inquisitive behavioral style; and Memory loss.
Left Brain -- If the stroke occurs in the left side of the brain, the right side of the body will be affected, producing some or all of the following: Paralysis on the right side of the body; Speech/language problems; Slow, cautious behavioral style; Memory loss.
Brain Stem -- When stroke occurs in the brain stem, depending on the severity of the injury, it can affect both sides of the body and may leave someone in a ‘locked-in’ state. When a locked-in state occurs, the patient is generally unable to speak or achieve any movement below the neck.
Age -- The chance of having a stroke approximately doubles for each decade of life after age 55. While stroke is common among the elderly, a lot of people under 65 also have strokes.
Family history -- Your stroke risk may be greater if a relative has had a stroke. Some strokes may be symptoms of genetic disorders like CADASIL, which is caused by a gene mutation that leads to damage of blood vessel walls in the brain, blocking blood flow. Most individuals with CADASIL have a family history of the disorder — each child of a CADASIL parent has a 50% chance of inheriting the disease.
Race -- African-Americans have a much higher risk of death from a stroke than Caucasians do. This is partly because blacks have higher risks of high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity.
Gender -- Women have more strokes than men, and stroke kills more women than men. Use of birth control pills, pregnancy, history of preeclampsia/eclampsia or gestational diabetes, oral contraceptive use, and smoking, and post-menopausal hormone therapy may pose special stroke risks for women. Be sure to discuss your specific risks with your doctor.
Prior stroke, TIA or heart attack -- The risk of stroke for someone who has already had one is many times that of a person who has not. Transient Ischemic Attacks are "warning strokes" that produce stroke-like symptoms but no lasting damage. TIAs are strong predictors of stroke. A person who's had one or more TIAs is almost 10 times more likely to have a stroke than someone of the same age and sex who hasn't. Recognizing and treating TIAs can reduce your risk of a major stroke. TIA should be considered a medical emergency and followed up immediately with a healthcare professional. If you've had a heart attack, you're at higher risk of having a stroke, too.
Please visit the AHA website for risk factors that can/can’t be controlled
Allocation of Expenses
As per AHA’s annual report for the year ended June 30, 2013, the association received public support and revenues of $686.5 million. Against this, total expenses stood at $614.6 million. Fundraising activities related to expenses amounted to 12.2% of the total expenses.
How one can help
AHA needs the time and talent of volunteers to help it create a healthier world, free of heart disease and stroke. Whatever be the capabilities and interests, AHA finds the suitable opportunities for volunteers. To volunteer for the community, one needs to complete and submit the volunteer form, and AHA contacts the volunteers. The association also relies on the generous contributions of supporters to help fund the research initiatives and deliver its other services. Anyone with the means and desire to donate and assist game-changing medical innovations reach the market, where they can significantly improve outcomes, is welcome to donate.
To Donate:
Annual Report 2012-2013