Policy Statement: AHA Recognizes Structural Racism as a Driver of Health Disparities

The American Heart Association (AHA) recently issued a policy statement in Circulation calling out structural racism as a major driver of health disparities in the U.S.

The AHA acknowledged that while it had previously published statements addressing cardiovascular and cerebrovascular risk and disparities among racial and ethnic groups in the U.S., those statements had not adequately recognized structural racism as a fundamental cause of poor health and disparities in cardiovascular disease.

Several principles emerged from an advisory panel review of the historical context, current state, and potential solutions to address structural racism: racism persists; racism is experienced; and the task of dismantling racism must belong to all of society. The panel states that the path forward requires:

  • A commitment to transforming the conditions of historically marginalized communities
  • Improving the quality of housing and the neighborhoods of marginalized populations
  • Advocating for policies that eliminate inequities in access to economic opportunities, quality education, and health care
  • Enhancing allyship among racial and ethnic groups
  • Acceleration of research on racism and investigation of the joint effects of multiple domains of racism.

With this advisory, the AHA declares it unequivocal support of anti-racist principles.

Keith Churchwell, MD
Yale New Haven Hospital
AHA Writing Committee Chair