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AHA releases community guide to heart health


The American Heart Association has released new recommendations for policymakers and public health providers to combat heart disease and stroke on a local level.

“The future burden of cardiovascular disease, unless we can prevent it, is projected to have an enormous economic impact,” Thomas A. Pearson, MD, MPH, PhD, the co-lead author of the study, said in a news release. “Public health goals should focus on developing interventions that help make an individual’s default decisions healthy.”

Maintaining optimal cardiovascular health can “avert the continuing progression of cardiovascular disease risk in each generation, which continues to demand remedial strategies that are too costly, too limited and often too late,” said Pearson, senior associate dean for clinical research and director of the Clinical and Translational Science Institute at the University of Rochester (N.Y.) School of Medicine and Dentistry.

Published March 21 on the website of the journal Circulation, the guide focuses on:

• Changing behaviors such as smoking, physical inactivity and unhealthy eating habits.

• Increasing awareness of risk factors such as high cholesterol, hypertension and diabetes, and adherence to treatment.

• Identifying community settings from work-sites to barbershops that best affect health.

• Specifying the types of interventions — media, organizational partnerships and policy change — that may affect health.

Since the previous guide, issued in 2003, the association has created new goals based on recent evidence that demonstrates the substantial impact of obesity, sodium consumption and air pollution on cardiovascular health.

“The AHA Community Guide offers 125 opportunities to optimize the cardiovascular health where we live, work, play, learn, worship, and stay well,” Latha Palaniappan, MD, MS, co-lead author and associate investigator at the Palo Alto (Calif.) Medical Foundation Research Institute.

A PDF of the guide is available at


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