Statement Highlights:

  • A new American Heart Association policy statement addresses the impact of urban provisioning systems – those that provide, energy, mobility, housing, green infrastructure, water and waste management - on the cardiovascular and metabolic health of urban dwellers nationwide.
  • The statement identifies innovative urban spatial planning and infrastructure upgrades as key strategies for improving heart health for growing urban populations.
  • The Association supports a collaborative, interdisciplinary strategy for urban evolution that engages stakeholders from health care, urban planning, environmental engineering and public policy advocacy to ensure heart health and sustainability are cornerstones of urban design and operation.

DALLAS, March 4, 2024 – The prevalence of cardiometabolic disease, which is the leading cause of disease and death in urban areas, can be markedly influenced by the spatial design of cities and their infrastructure and food provisioning system. A new policy statement from the American Heart Association outlines public policy recommendations for a collaborative, interdisciplinary strategy to ensure these urban systems are beneficial to heart health as well as to ecological and economic vitality. The statement was published today in Circulation, the Association’s flagship peer-reviewed scientific journal.

The policy statement encourages health policy research, urban health impact assessments and educational outreach that recognize the importance of urban spatial planning and the design of provisioning systems to support heart health.

“As the global urban population swells – it is projected to encompass more than two-thirds of humanity by 2050 – we must adapt our cities for heart-healthy, sustainable living,” said Sanjay Rajagopalan, M.D., American Heart Association volunteer, Chief of Cardiovascular Medicine, University Hospitals Harrington Heart and Vascular Institute, director and professor, School of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University, who chaired the policy statement writing group.

The policy guidance outlines a shared commitment to:

Integrated Urban Spatial Planning – Creating compact, inclusive urban spaces to decrease reliance on motor vehicles, promote active lifestyles and advance equitable access to health care and other essential services.

Transformative Supply-Side Innovations – Transitioning to clean energy sources, sustainable food systems, electric vehicles and resource-efficient construction to reduce environmental footprints and promote heart health.

Engagement and Equity – Mobilizing coalitions and networks to foster sustainable and equitable urban redevelopment.

Partners in Health – Engaging government agencies, non-governmental organizations and community-based organizations to advance sustainable practices such as reducing emissions and waste.

Policy Integration – Adopting a “Health in All Policies” approach to ensure health implications are central to all public policy decisions in ways that improve population health and health equity.

“This policy statement serves as a blueprint for creating sustainable urban environments that promote heart and brain health,” said writing group vice chair Anu Ramaswami, M.D., American Heart Association volunteer, professor of India Studies and professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies, and the High Meadows Environmental Institute.

The policy statement was prepared by the volunteer writing group on behalf of the American Heart Association Advocacy Coordinating Committee. American Heart Association policy statements position the Association on issues that will impact cardiovascular health and mortality, guide our advocacy work at all levels of government, allow us to support the important work of others, and inform policymakers, practitioners, health care professionals, researchers, the media and the public.

Additional co-authors and members of the writing group are Aruni Bhatnagar, Ph.D.; Robert D. Brook, Ph.D., FAHA; Mark Fenton, MS; Christopher Gardner, Ph.D., FAHA; Roni Neff, Ph.D.; Armistead G. Russell, Ph.D.; Karen C. Seto, Ph.D.; Laurie P. Whitsel, Ph.D., FAHA; on behalf of the American Heart Association Council on Hypertension; Council on Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health; Council on Peripheral Vascular Disease; Council on Lifelong Congenital Heart Disease and Heart Health in the Young; and Council on Cardiovascular Surgery and Anesthesia.

The Association receives funding primarily from individuals. Foundations and corporations (including pharmaceutical, device manufacturers and other companies) also make donations and fund specific Association programs and events. The Association has strict policies to prevent these relationships from influencing the science content. Revenues from pharmaceutical and biotech companies, device manufacturers and health insurance providers and the Association’s overall financial information are available here.

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About the American Heart Association 

The American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. We are dedicated to ensuring equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with numerous organizations, and powered by millions of volunteers, we fund innovative research, advocate for the public’s health and share lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for a century. During 2024 – our Centennial year – we celebrate our rich 100-year history and accomplishments. As we forge ahead into our second century of bold discovery and impact, our vision is to advance health and hope for everyone, everywhere. Connect with us on heart.orgFacebookX or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.

For Media Inquiries and AHA/ASA Expert Perspective: 214-706-1173

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