The American Heart Association is a national voluntary health agency building ealthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke
A pioneering group of physicians and social workers formed the first Association for the Prevention and Relief of Heart Disease in New York City in 1915. They were concerned about the lack of heart disease information. At that time, heart disease patients were considered doomed, limited to complete bed rest. So these physicians conducted studies in New York City and Boston to find out whether heart disease patients could safely return to work. Similar groups in Boston, Philadelphia and Chicago evolved into heart associations in the 1920s.
Interest spread widely in other cities across the United States and Canada. Recognizing the need for a national organization to share research findings and promote further study, six cardiologists representing several groups founded the American Heart Association in 1924.
The mid-1990s were a time of great change in the American Heart Association. The association's scientific findings began to move more quickly from laboratories and clinics to physician's offices and American households. The AHA took positions on important issues and made clear, simple statements about controlling risk factors. Volunteers and staff agreed on a strategy for improving affiliate research programs, and the national organization created new divisions dealing with stroke and emergency cardiac care. To reduce costs and increase international circulation, the association outsourced the publication of its scientific journals and began publishing them online.
Finally, and most profoundly, AHA volunteers and staff began transforming the organization into an enterprise that could be vibrant and relevant in the 21st century. The change was deeper than anything since 1948, when the AHA transformed itself from a scientific society into a voluntary health agency. The first step was in identifying the organization's strategic driving force in March 1995: Providing credible heart disease and stroke information for effective prevention and treatment.