The American Heart Association outlines its role in the global COVID-19 pandemic

Photo of Robert A. Harrington, M.D., FAHA, President-elect, American Heart Association

Circulation Journal Report

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.

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