Editor’s note: In early 2020, in light of the global COVID pandemic, the American Heart Association, adjusted its organizational goals to focus on new 2024 Impact Goal replacing the 2030 Impact Goal addressed in this release.

Embargoed until 8 a.m. CT/9 a.m. ET Tuesday, March 17, 2020                                                                                                                   

DALLAS, March 17, 2020 — The American Heart Association and its thousands of science volunteers are poised and ready to provide urgent support to ensure optimal care for patients with cardiovascular disease who contract COVID-19 (coronavirus), according to a new article on the American Heart Association President Page, published today in the American Heart Association’s flagship journal Circulation.

The Association recognizes the urgency and increased risk of contracting COVID-19 for the approximately 120 million people in the U.S. who currently have one or more cardiovascular disease. Data from China, published last month, indicates cardiovascular disease and hypertension were associated with an increased COVID-19 case fatality rate: 10.5% and 6.0%, respectively. Among patients who died from COVID-19, substantial cardiac damage was observed. In addition, elderly persons with heart disease or hypertension were more likely to be infected and to develop more severe symptoms and complications from COVID-19.

This President Page, from AHA President Robert A. Harrington, M.D., FAHA; AHA President-Elect Mitchell S.V. Elkind, M.D., M.S., FAAN, FAHA; and AHA Immediate Past-President Ivor J. Benjamin, M.D., FAHA, details the Association’s necessary role and commitment to addressing the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Details include:

  • The AHA recommends strategies to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 as well as preparedness among health care teams to adapt quickly. Many AHA clinical care volunteers will be on the front lines of providing care to patients with COVID-19.

  • The AHA will be monitoring and convening experts as needed to ensure timely and accurate dissemination of the latest evidence regarding care for people who contract COVID-19 – for the public, patients, caregivers and health care professionals.

  • The AHA will collaborate with national and global health colleagues to address urgent clinical care issues as they arise for people with cardiovascular disease, e.g. joint statement issued today: HFSA/ACC/AHA statement addresses concerns re: using RAAS antagonists in COVID-19

  • The American Heart Association has recommended that patients with cardiovascular disease should receive the annual influenza vaccine to prevent flu and flu-related respiratory diseases and complications. This recommendation was issued jointly with the American College of Cardiology originally in 2006. Please note: the influenza vaccine provides no protection from COVID-19.

  • The AHA’s expanded mission, as detailed in our 2030 Impact Goals, published in January, is focused on optimized cardiovascular health, brain health and mental health, which are integral to extending healthy life expectancy. The AHA will be focused on improving outcomes for patients who contract COVID-19.

  • The AHA has long recognized the impact of social determinants of health, including education, income, geographic location and access to care. They are essential to overall health and well-being. COVID-19 will likely clearly illuminate the dramatic ways in which social determinants affect patient health and well-being outcomes. The AHA will continue to monitor and advocate as needed.

  • COVID-19 will also show us the functionality of the U.S. health care system and help us identify what is needed to achieve health equity – accurate health information, access to health care, and optimal public health response regardless of gender, race or ethnicity.

  • The AHA will continue to be a catalyst and a convener – to activate and collaborate with government, public and private partners nationally and around the globe, including across the various institutes of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO), to help address the COVID-19 crisis multisectorally.

“COVID-19 presents us with a compelling challenge and opportunity to fulfill our health care mission to serve, care and protect. Together with thousands of colleagues around the world, we stand ready to provide leadership, care and support for all – to prevent COVID-19 to the fullest extent possible; ensuring people with COVID-19 can be diagnosed and receive care; developing treatments and a vaccine, ultimately stopping COVID-19; and laying the groundwork for a robust public health and health care system future,” said AHA President Robert A. Harrington, M.D., FAHA, Arthur L. Bloomfield Professor of Medicine and chair of the department of medicine at Stanford University.

Additional Resources:

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 device corporations and health insurance providers are available at https://www.heart.org/en/about-us/aha-financial-information.

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.org, Facebook, Twitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.


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

Michelle Kirkwood: 703-457-7838, michelle.kirkwood@heart.org

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

heart.org and stroke.org