About our Research Program

Updated:Oct 8,2014

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 invested more than $3.7 billion in research to increase our knowledge about cardiovascular diseases and stroke.
  • The AHA currently funds more than 2,000 scientists around the United States.
  • Although we funded 978 new research awards in 2011-12, we didn’t have the additional $163.7 million to cover 1,209 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 13 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 2012-13 commitment to awards related to specific risk factors or populations:

Topic2013 Commitment (in millions)*
African Americans$2,083,267
Asian Americans$52,000
Basic biomedical research$80,203,947
Behavioral research$3,827,772
Clinical research$18,374,932
Congenital heart defects$6,687,292
Emergency cardiac care$1,671,015
Epidemiological research$5,815,351
Heart attack$21,454,460
Heart failure$31,844,252
Heart rhythm disorders$10,075,741
Heart valves$3,796,504
High blood pressure$17,209,073
Hispanic/Latino Americans$569,000
Native Americans$95,224
Outcomes research$8,400,540
Pediatric research$6,787,049
Physical activity/inactivity$2,950,088
Quality of Care$1,081,190
Stem cell$11,630,136
Surgical techniques$2,525,736
Treatment/patient care$7,701,006
Women's health$5,589,841

*The figures in this table do not equal the 2012-13 total, as one project may encompass more than one category.

Source:  Research Facts 2012-2013

Download a PDF copy:

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


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