American Heart Association NYC: Headlines that may impact your heart health

Since 1949, the American Heart Association has invested more than $5 billion toward scientific research, more than any other non-profit organization outside of the federal government. The research we’ve funded through the generosity of our donors is helping more and more people survive heart disease and stroke. Our core research programs have launched or furthered the work of many of this country’s brightest researchers. And we’ve added research awards that foster team science and accelerate discovery.

Throughout the year, we publish this research in our scientific publications and journals with the goal of informing patients, practitioners, and policymakers to make more informed healthcare decisions. We also work with media reporters, writers, producers and editors from newspapers, magazines, online news services, wire services, radio or television networks, individual stations and blogs to raise awareness about our science and mission.

Here is a brief summary of three stories from our American Heart Association Newsroom that made headlines over the last few months:

#1  Summer break weight gain is real, with Latino children especially at risk

July 12, 2023 — School’s out for the summer, and millions of children are home relaxing, working or frolicking in the sun. But, summer’s also a time when many kids can gain weight quickly – and at unhealthy levels.

The obesity rate for children in the United States has nearly quadrupled in recent decades, from about 5% in the 1970s to 19.8% – about 14.5 million kids – by 2020, American Heart Association statistics show. Obesity rates are disproportionately higher among Hispanic children, affecting about 30% of Hispanic boys and 23% of Hispanic girls. And research suggests Hispanic children may be more susceptible to summer weight gain than most of their peers.

“Childhood obesity has really tremendous implications for adult health,” said Eduardo Bustamante, an assistant professor of kinesiology and nutrition at the University of Illinois at Chicago. If left untreated, he said, obesity can continue into adulthood and lead to medical conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and Type 2 diabetes. It also has been associated with depression, anxiety and other mental health issues.

Read the full story here.

#2 Particulate air pollution a growing risk for premature CVD death and disability worldwide

August 9, 2023 — The impact of particulate matter air pollution on death and disability is on the rise worldwide, according to new research published today in the Journal of the American Heart Association, an open access, peer-reviewed journal of the American Heart Association.

Previous research established the association of particulate matter (PM) pollution to CVD death and disability. However, questions remain about the worldwide impact from this type of pollution and how it has been changing over time, the study authors noted.

“We focused on examining the burden globally because particulate matter pollution is a widespread environmental risk factor that affects all populations worldwide, and understanding its impact on cardiovascular health can help guide public health interventions and policy decisions,” said Farshad Farzadfar, M.D., M.P.H., D.Sc., senior author of the study and a professor of medicine in the non-communicable diseases research center of the Endocrinology and Metabolism Research Institute at Tehran University of Medical Sciences in Iran.

The researchers analyzed PM pollution as a risk factor for death and disability using freely available data from 204 countries collected between 1990 and 2019 and detailed in the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) study. Exposure to PM pollution was estimated using a tool from the 2019 update to the GBD study that incorporated information from satellite and ground-level monitoring, computer models of chemicals in the atmosphere and land-use data.

Read the full story here.

#3 $20 million awarded to lead next century of heart disease and stroke scientific research

July 21, 2023 — More than 100 scientists from across the U.S. are receiving special grants to support their research work in finding innovative solutions to fight heart disease and stroke. The grants, totaling $20 million, are part of the Second Century of Science Initiative of the American Heart Association, the world’s leading voluntary organization dedicated to a world of longer, healthier lives. The financial awards are announced as the Association, the largest non-government supporter of heart and brain health research in the U.S., prepares to celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2024 and will be funded for a three-year period from July 1, 2023 through June 30, 2026.

“When the American Heart Association was founded in 1924, heart disease was considered a death sentence and we knew even less about stroke and other types of cardiovascular diseases. It has only been through the dedication and passion of the thousands of scientific explorers who have come before us that we have learned so much about how to diagnose, treat and even prevent most of these conditions,” said Joseph C. Wu, M.D., Ph.D., FAHA, American Heart Association volunteer president, who is the director of the Stanford Cardiovascular Institute and the Simon H. Stertzer, M.D., Professor of Medicine & Radiology at the Stanford University School of Medicine. “Yet too many lives are still lost as these continue to be the leading causes of death around the world. Even with all the knowledge we have there are gaps, particularly in ensuring health and the delivery of health care for people in diverse and underrepresented populations. That is why research projects like the Second Century of Science Initiative are so important for our future.”

Read the full story here.

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