We're putting our heart into health equity as never before. Health equity — the state that would exist if all people had the just opportunity to be healthy — is something the American Heart Association has long championed.
But this work took on even more urgency because of the tragic, historic events of this past fiscal year. The COVID-19 pandemic and violence against people of color laid bare the systemic and historical inequities that have disproportionately harmed the health of Black, Latino and Indigenous people.
The American Heart Association responded strongly and quickly — backed by the strength of more than 40 million volunteers and supporters, as well as partners and collaborating organizations.
Throughout this annual report you’ll find many examples of our efforts to ensure everyone deserves the opportunity for a full, healthy life. Here are just a few:
The AHA established and now champions 10 Commitments designed to break down barriers to health equity. The Commitments leverage our strengths in research funding, advocacy, community investment, workplace health, scientific publications and more.
One of those Commitments recognizes the crucial role of high blood pressure in cardiovascular health disparities. The AHA is partnering with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as part of their $121 million National Hypertension Control Initiative to improve blood pressure control among Black, Latino and Indigenous communities. Through a $32 million award to the AHA, we will engage health centers to elevate quality, education and patient engagement to improve blood pressure control.
In yet another Commitment, our CEO Roundtable crafted a comprehensive roadmap with employer resources, actionable strategies and sample policies to support employers on their journey toward building health equity in the workplace and communities.
Another Commitment focuses on inspiring locally led solutions to address social determinants of health through our Social Impact Fund, the Bernard J. Tyson Impact Fund and community issues campaigns, including Voices for Healthy Kids. Together, we have invested $90.1 million in 233 organizations and individuals who bring health solutions to their own communities.
Throughout the fiscal year the AHA continued to apply the best science to respond to the evolving menace of COVID-19.
We continued our work with the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory on the protein atlas study, which was also leveraged to combat COVID-19.
Research published and funded by the AHA was significant. For example, researchers found Black and Latino people are more likely to be hospitalized for COVID-19 and those hospitalized are younger and less likely to have insurance. Additionally, AHA-funded research has confirmed that blood pressure medications don't increase the chances of COVID-19 infection, hospitalization or death.
The AHA’s response to the pandemic included significant adjustments to how we do business. We restructured our workforce for even more efficiencies. And we shifted our many important fundraising events to innovative and engaging all-virtual experiences.
Thanks to continued support from generous volunteers, donors and supporters everywhere, the AHA emerged from the initial punch of the pandemic as a stronger organization. That support led to $1 billion in annual revenue for the first time in the AHA’s nearly 100-year history.
None of these successes would have been possible without the unprecedented support of our partners throughout the U.S. and abroad. We look forward gratefully to continued growth in the future.
Bertram L. Scott, Chairman of the Board, 2019-21
Mitchell S. V. Elkind, M.D., M.S., FAHA, President, 2020-21