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Background: American Heart Association (AHA) public policy advocacy strategies are based on its Strategic Impact Goals. The writing group appraised the evidence behind AHA’s policies to determine how well they address the association’s 2020 cardiovascular health (CVH) metrics and cardiovascular disease (CVD) management indicators and identified research needed to fill gaps in policy and support further policy development. Methods and Results: The AHA policy research department first identified current AHA policies specific to each CVH metric and CVD management indicator and the evidence underlying each policy. Writing group members then reviewed each policy and the related metrics and indicators. The results of each review were summarized, and topic-specific priorities and overarching themes for future policy research were proposed. There was generally close alignment between current AHA policies and the 2020 CVH metrics and CVD management indicators; however, certain specific policies still lack a robust evidence base. For CVH metrics, the distinction between policies for adults (age ≥20 years) and children ( < 20 years) was often not considered, although policy approaches may differ importantly by age. Inclusion of all those < 20 years of age as a single group also ignores important differences in policy needs for infants, children, adolescents, and young adults. For CVD management indicators, specific quantitative targets analogous to criteria for ideal, intermediate, and poor CVH are lacking but needed to assess progress toward the 2020 goal to reduce deaths from CVDs and stroke. New research in support of current policies needs to focus on the evaluation of their translation and implementation through expanded application of implementation science. Focused basic, clinical, and population research is required to expand and strengthen the evidence base for the development of new policies. Evaluation of the impact of targeted improvements in population health through strengthened surveillance of CVD and stroke events, determination of the cost-effectiveness of policy interventions, and measurement of the extent to which vulnerable populations are reached must be assessed for all policies. Additional attention should be paid to the social determinants of health outcomes. Conclusions: AHA’s public policies are generally robust and well aligned with its 2020 CVH metrics and CVD indicators. Areas for further policy development to fill gaps, overarching research strategies, and topic-specific priority areas are proposed.


Institute for Health and Ageing

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Journal Article

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