About our Research Program

Updated:Jun 4,2014

More than 2,150 Americans die from cardiovascular diseases each day — one every 40 seconds. Cardiovascular diseases claim more lives each year than cancer and chronic lower respiratory diseases combined. An American dies from a coronary event about every minute, and someone is stricken by such an event about every 34 seconds. Someone in the United States has a stroke every 40 seconds and someone dies from stroke about every four minutes.

Research Facts

  • A comparison of the most recent information available demonstrates that the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association compares favorably with other health organizations.
  • Since 1949, the American Heart Association has spent more than $3.5 billion on research to increase our knowledge about cardiovascular diseases and stroke.
  • The AHA currently funds more than 2,100 scientists around the United States.
  • Although we funded 972 new research awards in 2011-12, we didn’t have the additional $138.7million to cover 987 other highly meritorious grant and fellowship applications. 
  • Our research programs have contributed to many important scientific advances, including the first artificial heart valve, techniques and standards for CPR, implantable pacemakers, treatment for infant respiratory distress syndrome, cholesterol inhibitors, microsurgery and drug-coated stents.
  • The AHA has funded the winners of 11 Nobel Prizes.
  • At least 28 cents of every publicly donated dollar to our seven affiliates is channeled into research. For each dollar, 13 cents supports the association’s National Research Program, and at least 15 cents supports the affiliate research program.

Research: Science Focus

The American Heart Association funds research broadly related to cardiovascular function, cardiovascular diseases and stroke. Within this broad range of topics, the following shows the 2011-12 commitment to awards related to specific risk factors or populations:

2012 commitment (in millions)*
2012 commitment (in millions)*
Hispanic/Latino Americans
Basic biomedical research
Behavioral research
Outcomes research
Pediatric research
Clinical research
Physical activity/inactivity
Congenital heart defects
Quality of care
Emergency cardiac care
Epidemiological research
Stem cell
Heart attack
Heart failure
Surgical techniques
Heart rhythm disorders
Heart valves
Treatment/patient care
High blood pressure
Women’s health

*The figures in this table do not equal the 2011-12 total, as one project may encompass more than one category.

Source:  Research Facts 2011-2012

Download a PDF copy:

2012-2013 Research Facts (PDF)
2012-2013 Pediatric Research Facts (PDF)


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