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Organization - American Heart Association

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American Heart Association
Last updated on August 30, 2016


The American Heart Association's mission is to build healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke. That single purpose drives all we do. The need for our work is beyond question.

Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of Americans. We can reduce heart disease by promoting a healthy diet and lifestyle, so the American Heart Association has a new national goal: By 2020, to improve the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20 percent while reducing deaths from cardiovascular diseases and stroke by 20 percent.
We work in the community by improving treatment and quality of care. Our Get with the Guidelines program is a premier hospital-based quality improvement program, currently implemented in 5 hospitals in Pierce County. We advocate for better health. We have fought to increase and sustain funding for our state's nationally recognized tobacco prevention program, our Clean Indoor Air Act (I-901) and nutrition labeling on menus.
We also reach out to high-risk populations, provide CPR training, inspire adults and companies to get active and fundraise for continued medical research.

In 1924 six cardiologists representing several groups founded the American Heart Association.
By the late 1930s, AHA members began considering ways to expand their activities to reach the general public. To broaden its scope, the AHA reorganized in 1948 and brought in non-medical volunteers with skills in business management, communication, public education, community organization and fund raising.

The American Heart Association made its public debut in late 1948 during a network radio contest, "The Walking Man," on the "Truth or Consequences" program hosted by Ralph Edwards. Millions of Americans sent contributions to the AHA along with guesses on the walking man's identity. The effort netted $1.75 million before Jack Benny was identified as the "Walking Man."

A small national staff in New York City then began to organize American Heart Association divisions across the country. They launched the first national fund-raising campaign the following year in February 1949, raising $2.7 million.

The American Heart Association's Growth

Since 1949, the American Heart Association has grown rapidly in size, financial resources, involvement with medical and non-medical volunteers, and influence -- both nationally and internationally. The AHA moved the National Center from New York City to Dallas in 1975 to better serve affiliates and local divisions nationwide. The volunteer-led affiliates and their divisions form a national network of local AHA organizations involved in providing research, education, and community programs and in raising money to support the association's work. The network continues to gain strength as it expands at the grass-roots level.

The AHA completed significant internal changes between 1980 and 1986, allowing it to reach the public with a louder, clearer voice. During the next eight years, the association became a much more visible champion of public health. The AHA also developed guidelines for the nation's healthcare system and supported the federal government's attempt to improve access to healthcare.

At the same time, the AHA continued to strengthen its internal programs and its internal management. The association revised its mission statement and focused its planning in three areas: cardiovascular science, cardiovascular education and community programs, and fund raising efforts. Achievements included stricter research standards, new healthcare site modules, and development of several new cookbooks. Large gifts allowed the AHA to support new research projects, move all scientific staff into one building, and sponsor creative professional education programs. Efforts to include more women and minorities in the leadership ranks began to pay off by the late 1980s, resulting in more efforts to understand the effects of heart disease and stroke on women and minorities.

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.

Despite strong opposition from the tobacco industry, the American Heart Association continued to be an advocate for the American public, especially children.

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.

Contact people:

 Joellen Brassfield, Office Manager, (703) 248-1784, (email)
Myrna Shuey, Administrative Assistant, (703) 248-1723, (email)

Main office number: (703) 248-1784
Office fax number: (703) 248-1795


 4601 North Fairfax Drive
Suite 700

Arlington, VA 22203
This location is handicap accessible
(See a map)

Web Site:


 We are conveniently located inside the Beltway a short walk from the Ballston Metro on the orange and silver lines, near a wide variety of eateries and other services at the intersection of I-66 and Glebe Road.
  Nearest Metro/Subway Stop: Ballston,
  Walk distance (in minutes): 5
Last updated on August 30, 2016

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