Partnering to reduce risks and improve cardiovascular outcomes: American Heart Association initiatives in action for consumers and patients.


The mission of the American Heart Association (AHA) is summarized by the statement, “Building healthier lives free of cardiovascular disease and stroke.” Reaching this goal will take significant advances in both science and clinical care but also will require a new level of engagement and action on the part of the public and patients in their health and health care. Recently, the AHA published “Translating Research Into Practice for Healthcare Providers: The American Heart Association’s Strategy for Building Healthier Lives Free of Cardiovascular Disease and Stroke,”1 which summarizes the AHA’s efforts to actively foster cardiovascular research and evidence-based clinical care among healthcare providers. Although assisting the work of scientists and clinicians is critical to achieving the AHA’s mission, it remains only part of the equation. Consumers and patients must be educated and engaged both to prevent cardiovascular events and to improve their outcomes after events occur. Recognizing this, the AHA has embarked on a robust set of initiatives designed to help individuals understand and modify their cardiovascular risk factors, to seek care when appropriate, to partner with their physicians and healthcare professionals to better treat their disease, and to help make changes in industry and workplaces. This report, the second of a 2-part series, summarizes the AHA’s consumerand patient-related activities to motivate healthy behaviors, improve risk factor control, and manage cardiovascular disease (CVD) and stroke. It is clear that achieving lasting risk factor modification is a challenging endeavor. From a behavioral perspective, the substantive change occurs only after individuals move through several states: from a precontemplative to a contemplative state, from a preparatory to an action state, and finally to a maintenance state. Thus, the AHA has designed a series of initiatives and programs to address each of these states (Figure 1). The public must be made aware of the scope and impact of CVD and stroke, which remain the No. 1 killer and No. 3 killer of both women and men of all race and ethnicities in the United States. Individuals must understand both the general risks of CVD and stroke and their individual risk (and modifiable risk factors) so they can be motivated to take action. Once motivated and ready for change, individuals must be given the tools to take action for themselves or effectively engage in an active partnership with their physicians to promote health maintenance and disease management. At a societal level, regulatory or legislative changes may be needed to support healthy lifestyles and consumer or patient engagement. One can also visualize the AHA’s initiatives as affecting successive strata of a pyramid (Figure 2). At the base are the AHA’s cause initiatives. These are directed at various segments of the general public and are designed to raise health awareness regarding CVD and stroke. Consumers and patients also need to be provided with tools to help identify and reduce risks and educational materials to promote healthy

DOI: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.108.191328

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@article{Jones2009PartneringTR, title={Partnering to reduce risks and improve cardiovascular outcomes: American Heart Association initiatives in action for consumers and patients.}, author={Daniel Jw Jones and Eric D. Peterson and Robert Ogden Bonow and Raymond J . Gibbons and Barry A . Franklin and Ralph L. Sacco and David P . Faxon and Vincent J. Bufalino and Rita F . Redberg and Neil M Metzler and Penelope Solis and Meighan Girgus and Kathy L Rogers and Patrick Wayte and Timothy J. Gardner}, journal={Circulation}, year={2009}, volume={119 2}, pages={340-50} }