Beyond Living Longer, AHA Aims to Extend Healthy Life

Megan Brooks

January 31, 2020

Life expectancy increased in 2018 for the first time in the United States in 4 years, federal health officials reported this week. But beyond living longer, the American Heart Association (AHA) has set its sights on helping people live healthier for more years of their life.

In a presidential advisory, the AHA says it will work with American and global partners to equitably increase healthy life expectancy beyond current projections, from 66 years to at least 68 years nationally, and from 64 years to at least 67 years worldwide, by 2030.

The AHA's 2030 Impact Goals were published online January 29 in Circulation.

The AHA also published in Circulation its annual statistical update on heart disease and stroke, which shows that deaths from heart disease and stroke continue to decline, although the trend has slowed in recent years.

Building Bridges to Success

"Guided by the AHA's new mission statement, to be a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives, the 2030 Impact Goals is anchored in an understanding that to achieve cardiovascular health for all, the AHA must include a broader vision of health and well-being and emphasize health equity," the authors of the advisory write.

To accomplish its goals, the AHA will develop new collaborations with organizations and communities around the world that focus on overall health and well-being and address equity among everyone, regardless of race, ethnicity, income, or other demographic or geographic characteristics.

"Through these 2030 Impact Goals, the AHA is signaling to the domestic and global communities to the importance of this moment to build bridges and to work collectively toward a goal that no single organization can achieve alone," the writing group says.

"Much of this will be an expansion of efforts already underway with many committed collaborators, but it will be critical to bring in new ideas and resources to connect the collective vision with the creativity and innovation needed to make real change," AHA President Robert A. Harrington, MD, says in a news release.

"We'll be inviting more people to the table, but even more importantly, we're asking likeminded stakeholders to invite us in. Let us help be a catalyst, bringing together elements that can create a healthier world for everyone," said Harrington, the Arthur L. Bloomfield Professor of Medicine and Chair of the Department of Medicine at Stanford University in California.

The AHA will track progress meeting its goals with the Health-Adjusted Life Expectancy (HALE) metric, a comprehensive single metric that provides an estimate of overall health across a person's lifetime and captures both physical and mental health conditions.

In a companion policy statement in Circulation, the AHA provides recommendations for effective cardiovascular health and disease surveillance going forward, which includes tapping the potential of digital technologies, electronic health records, and mobile health apps.

"We describe the action and components necessary to create the cardiovascular health and cardiovascular disease surveillance system of the future, steps in development, and challenges that federal, state, and local governments will need to address," the policy authors say.

"Development of robust policies and commitment to collaboration among professional organizations, community partners, and policy makers are critical to ultimately reduce the burden of cardiovascular disease and improve cardiovascular health and to evaluate whether national health goals are achieved," they note.

Circulation. Published online January 29, 2020. Impact goals, Policy statement

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