DALLAS, July 26, 2022 — A new three-year initiative by the American Heart Association® aims to eliminate rural health disparities by helping hospitals and clinicians provide high-quality, consistent, timely and appropriate evidence-based care.

People who live in rural communities live an average of three years fewer than urban counterparts and have a 40% higher likelihood of developing heart disease (14.2%) compared with their counterparts in small metropolitan (11.2%) and urban (9.9%) areas, a gap that has grown over the past decade.[1] Additionally, rural communities face a critical shortage of health care professionals, including public health workers, which negatively impacts care. This leaves many people vulnerable to increased morbidity and mortality that could be prevented with appropriate identification and treatment.

The American Heart Association, the world’s leading nonprofit organization focused on heart and brain health for all, is launching its Rural Health Care Outcomes Accelerator to provide up to 700 rural hospitals with no-cost access to Get With The Guidelines® quality programs for coronary artery disease, heart failure and stroke. In addition, the American Heart Association will launch a rural recognition program for these hospitals to assist in communicating their commitment to care excellence with the communities they serve.

“Patients and health care professionals in rural areas face unique challenges and opportunities — this project aims to improve equitable cardiovascular care for all Americans, regardless of where they live,” said Karen E. Joynt Maddox, MD, MPH, volunteer expert for the American Heart Association, co-author on “Call to Action: Rural Health: A Presidential Advisory From the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association” and co-director of the Center for Health Economics and Policy at the Institute for Public Health at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.

The Association will convene rural clinical experts and leaders over three years to develop and publish rural quality and outcomes research. Participating hospitals also will have access to professional education, an online rural community network that encourages peer-to-peer connection and provides resources to support model practice sharing, and collaborative innovation.

“This new initiative will help ensure all Americans living in rural areas have the best possible chance of survival and the highest quality of life attainable,” said Tim Putnam DHA, MBA, EMT, FACHE, volunteer expert for the American Heart Association, past president of the National Rural Health Association (NRHA) and former CEO of Mary Margaret Mary Health in Batesville, Indiana.

Addressing the unique health needs of people in rural America is critical to achieving the American Heart Association’s 2024 impact goal for equitably increasing healthy life expectancy nationwide. Innovative approaches like this are key to improving rural health across the nation.

Visit the Rural Health Care Outcomes Accelerator project website to learn more. Interested hospitals can sign up online to receive more information.

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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 nearly a century. Connect with us on heart.orgFacebookTwitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.  

For Media Inquiries: 214-706-1173

Michelle Rosenfeld: 214-706-1099; michelle.rosenfeld@heart.org

For Public Inquiries: 1-800-AHA-USA1 (242-8721)

heart.org and stroke.org

[1] American Heart Association issues call to action for addressing inequities in rural health. February 10, 2020. https://newsroom.heart.org/news/american-heart-association-issues-call-to-action-for-addressing-inequities-in-rural-health; American Heart Association. Public Health AmeriCorps to address health inequity in rural communities. April 6, 2022. https://newsroom.heart.org/news/public-health-americorps-to-address-health-inequity-in-rural-communities.