About the American Heart Association
The American Heart Association is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. Founded by six cardiologists in 1924, our organization now includes more than 22.5 million volunteers and supporters. We fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies and provide critical tools and information to save and improve lives.
Our nationwide organization includes 156 local offices and more than 3,000 employees. We moved our national headquarters from New York to Dallas in 1975 to be more centrally located. The American Stroke Association was created as a division in 1997 to bring together the organization’s stroke-related activities.
What We Do: To improve the lives of all Americans, we provide public health education in a variety of ways. We’re the nation’s leader in CPR education training. We help people understand the importance of healthy lifestyle choices. We provide science-based treatment guidelines to healthcare professionals to help them provide quality care to their patients. We educate lawmakers, policymakers and the public as we advocate for changes to protect and improve the health of our communities.
Our lifesaving history
Before the American Heart Association existed, people with heart disease were considered to be doomed to complete bed rest – or worse. But a handful of pioneering physicians and social workers believed it didn’t have to be that way. They conducted studies to learn more about heart disease, eventually leading to the founding of the American Heart Association in 1924.“We were living in a time of almost unbelievable ignorance about heart disease,” said Paul Dudley White, one of six cardiologists who founded the organization.
The early American Heart Association enlisted help from hundreds, then thousands, of physicians and scientists. The association reorganized in 1948, transforming from a scientific society to a voluntary health organization composed of both science and lay volunteers and supported by professional staff. Since then, the American Heart Association has grown rapidly in size and influence – nationally and internationally.
In 1975, the headquarters moved from New York City to Dallas to be more centrally located. Volunteer-led affiliates formed a national network of local organizations providing research funding, education, community programs and fundraising.
In the 1980s, the association became a much more visible champion of public health, starting advocacy efforts that remain active today locally across America in all 50 states and in Washington DC. Large gifts allowed the association to support new research projects and education programs, including more efforts to address heart disease and stroke in women and minorities.