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how did american heart association start?

1 Answer

  • 8 years ago
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    A pioneering group of physicians and social workers formed the first Association for the Prevention and Relief of Heart Disease in New York City in 1915. They were concerned about the lack of heart disease information. At that time, heart disease patients were considered doomed, limited to complete bed rest. So these physicians conducted studies in New York City and Boston to find out whether heart disease patients could safely return to work. Similar groups in Boston, Philadelphia and Chicago evolved into heart associations in the 1920s.

    Interest spread widely in other cities across the United States and Canada. Recognizing the need for a national organization to share research findings and promote further study, six cardiologists representing several groups founded the American Heart Association in 1924. The founding members were Drs. Lewis A. Conner and Robert H. Halsey of New York; Paul D. White of Boston; Joseph Sailer of Philadelphia; Robert B. Preble of Chicago; and Hugh D. McCulloch of St. Louis. Drs. James B. Herrick of Chicago and William S. Thayer of Baltimore were also instrumental in the early planning. Dr. White, president of the AHA in 1941, once described the early years as a time of "almost unbelievable ignorance" about heart disease. The early efforts of the American Heart Association to overcome that ignorance included enlisting help from hundreds, then thousands, of physicians and scientists.

    By the late 1930s, AHA members began considering ways to expand their activities to reach the general public. In 1946 the American Legion donated $50,000 to the AHA for research and to develop a community rheumatic fever program. Public support and funds established this and other programs. 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.

    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.

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