American Heart Association Brings Hypertension Group Into Its Fold

The two organizations—one with a focus on research and the other with mostly clinician members—will bring different strengths and perspectives to a joint fight against a major cause of cardiac deaths.

After more than 30 years, an association dedicated to hypertension issues has been folded into the American Heart Association. Both groups describe the move as a way for researchers and practitioners to better collaborate against a leading risk factor for cardiac deaths in the United States.

On Tuesday, the American Society of Hypertension announced that it was “dissolving as a singular enterprise” and that its members and programming would become part of AHA’s Council on Hypertension. Last fall, ASH informed its approximately 1,000 members that it was exploring consolidation with AHA. According to ASH President John D. Bisognano, MD, PhD, the board decided to put a proposal to a vote of membership, which ratified the decision.

“The two organizations have really been doing the same thing but at different scales when it comes to hypertension,” said Bisognano, a cardiology professor at the University of Rochester. However, he adds, while AHA has traditionally emphasized research, most ASH members are clinicians. “Their clinical perspective is going to benefit the American Heart Association, but it also gives us, as members of the American Society of Hypertension, a bigger platform in making clinical guidelines and certifying centers. It’s a perfect match.”

Clinicians want to know what research is coming out, and scientists want to know what’s clinically important.

“At their core, the mission and vision of the AHA and ASH have always aligned,” AHA President John J. Warner, MD, said in a statement. “We are thrilled to welcome the membership of ASH and work with them to expand our efforts to prevent and more effectively treat hypertension through research, public education, health policies, and professional development.”

The move preserves some of ASH’s activities, such as its journal, and ASH board members will become part of the leadership committees of the AHA Council on Hypertension. But ASH’s own annual meeting has dissolved, becoming a clinical track folded into AHA’s annual conference on hypertension.

Bisognano said he believes people who work in the laboratory and examining room can benefit from combining forces at the meeting.  “Clinicians want to know what research is coming out, and scientists want to know what’s clinically important, what people who treat high blood pressure really do,” he said.

He added that he’s confident that concerns in the ASH community will be heard within AHA.

“When two organizations like this come together, I think there has to be a belief that the little bit of autonomy that you lose is going to be outweighed by the benefit that you have in the variety and scope of what you have,” he said. “But this is the era of collaboration and translational medicine, and this epitomizes bringing people around all aspects of a certain disease and educating each other.”


Mark Athitakis

By Mark Athitakis

Mark Athitakis, a contributing editor for Associations Now, has written on nonprofits, the arts, and leadership for a variety of publications. He is a coauthor of The Dumbest Moments in Business History and hopes you never qualify for the sequel. MORE

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