CEO Nancy Brown: AHA dedicated to health equity for all

Nancy Brown2 Sessions #aha20 Presidential Address

AHA CEO Nancy Brown kicked off the 93rd Scientific Sessions — the first of which to go virtual — by announcing the organization’s new 2024 Impact Goal:

Every person deserves the opportunity for a full, healthy life. As champions for health equity, by 2024, the AHA will advance cardiovascular health for all, including identifying and removing barriers to health care access and quality.

Brown said the AHA can achieve its goal by increasing investments in health equity research and advocating for the National Institutes of Health to do the same.

Brown gave a nod to the AHA’s new presidential advisory announced Tuesday that focuses on the devastating health impacts of structural racism.

"Our work will continue to help accelerate social equity, galvanized by this declaration that structural racism is a major cause of poor health and premature death for Black, Hispanic and Native American people,” Brown said. “We cannot solve these crises without addressing this issue.”

While events in 2020 have brought health equity issues to the forefront, the AHA has long been committed to the well-being of all people everywhere, Brown said. This year alone the AHA has contributed:

  •  $20.8 million through the Bernard J. Tyson Impact Fund and the Social Impact Fund to invest in social entrepreneurs working in under-resourced communities
  • $14 million grant from the Robert Wood-Johnson Foundation Board of Trustees to support Voices for Healthy Kids
  • $4.8 million gift from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust to launch Mission: Lifeline Stroke in Montana
  • More than $50 million from the Helmsley Charitable Trust’s Rural Healthcare Program since 2010 to Mission: Lifeline Projects across the upper Midwest
  • Presidential advisory released in February that prioritized funding for rural hospitals and clinics and expanding Medicaid in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Rapid Response Grants to fund and fast-track 15 research projects and four technology-focused projects to combat COVID-19
  • COVID-19 CVD Registry, a nationwide data registry with more than 165 enrolled hospitals and nearly 100,000 consecutive days of data on more than 22,000 hospitalized patients, with the help of the Moore Foundation
  • Don’t Die of Doubt national media campaign encourages people to seek immediate medical attention — even in a pandemic — when experiencing symptoms of heart attack, stroke or other health problems
  • $3.3 million investment into heart and brain technology research
  • $2.8 million investment to the fifth center at Health Technologies and Innovation Strategically Focused Research Network at Boston University, which is the leading center for the early detection and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (an additional $500,000 will support all five centers in a collaborative project to enhance how research data is shared)
  • $5.6 million donation by Sarah Ross Soter, her family and the Soter Kay Foundation to continue research on women’s biology led by Judith Hochman, MD, and Harmony Reynolds, MD
  • $7.9 million investment from the trustees of the Henrietta B. and Frederick H. Bugher Foundation to establish AHA-Bugher Foundation Centers of Excellence in Hemorrhagic Stroke at Massachusetts General Hospital, Yale University and the University of California San Francisco, plus a Centralized Training Center at UCSF to begin in 2021
  • $17 million contribution to fast track research on the health effects of e-cigarettes and nicotine among youth
  • AHA National Heart Failure Initiative scheduled for early next year in collaboration with Novartis and Boehringer Ingelheim Lilly.