DALLAS, April 6, 2022 — Rural Americans have a 40% higher prevalence of heart disease (14.2%) compared with their counterparts in small metropolitan (11.2%) and urban (9.9%) areas, a gap that has grown over the past decade[i]. Additionally, rural communities face a critical shortage of health care professionals, including public health workers, which negatively impacts the care rural populations receive. This leaves many people vulnerable to increased morbidity and mortality that could be prevented with appropriate identification and treatment.
The American Heart Association, a global force for healthier lives for all, today announced that it has received a multi-million-dollar Public Health AmeriCorps grant to address health in rural areas. The goal is to grow a sustainable pipeline of public health workers, reducing cardiovascular risks among rural residents, and accelerating the adoption and implementation of systems changes to improve access to quality care.
Public Health AmeriCorps, a partnership between AmeriCorps and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, supports the recruitment, training and development of a new generation of public health leaders. Supported by a five-year, $400 million investment from the American Rescue Plan Act, Public Health AmeriCorps will help meet public health needs of local communities by providing surge capacity and support while also creating pathways to public health-related careers.
“The American Heart Association envisions a world where everyone has the opportunity to live a full, healthy life,” said Nancy Brown, American Heart Association Chief Executive Officer. “The Public Health AmeriCorps initiative will accelerate our work to advance more equitable health outcomes for rural communities and build the foundation for our rural health efforts. Leveraging our public health expertise, strategic alliances and extensive training models and resources, we believe we can bridge the gap in rural health worker shortages and build a dedicated and sustainable public health workforce.”
According to the Association's 2020 Rural Health presidential advisory, there is a three-year life expectancy gap, on average, between rural and urban populations, with rural areas having higher death rates for cardiovascular disease and stroke than urban areas. Once deployed, these community health workers will help fix that gap, one person at a time.
To learn more about the American Heart Association’s work to improve rural health, see the 2020 Rural Health Presidential Advisory.
The official launch of the initiative will take place in September when 100 AmeriCorps members will be deployed to 50 rural communities comprising 26 states across the country (see the full list of states included here). The program will prioritize areas with high rates of uncontrolled blood pressure or cardiovascular disease, increased social vulnerability and shortages of health professionals.
Learn more about the project and funding priorities at www.AmeriCorps.gov/PublicHealth.
About the American Heart Association
The American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. We are dedicated to ensuring equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with numerous organizations, and powered by millions of volunteers, we fund innovative research, advocate for the public’s health and share lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for nearly a century. Connect with us on heart.org, Facebook, Twitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.
[i] According to the 2017 CDC National Health Interview Survey