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Since 1924, the American Heart Association has been fighting heart disease and stroke and helping people to live longer, healthier lives. Our local AHA shares ways that you can stay healthy, get involved and help raise awareness right here in NEPA.

Confronting health challenges faced by 66 million people in rural U.S. communities through science, education and advocacy

Small towns have a big problem with health care. But they also have the resilience to meet the problem. People in rural communities live almost three years fewer than urban dwellers, and they’re more likely to die early from heart disease or a stroke.

The reasons are varied and not always understood.

Higher rates of tobacco use, physical inactivity, obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure increase the risk for serious diseases. Rural communities face severe shortages of health care professionals. People may live a long way from hospitals or clinics. Or they may reside in “food deserts,” remote from reliable access to healthy food.

Even so, the advantages of rural life, including a strong sense of connection, of neighbors helping neighbors, provide a sturdy foundation for overcoming these health disparities.

The American Heart Association has issued a Presidential Advisory identifying rural health challenge as one of three main barriers to health equity and is making a wide-ranging effort to address it in close cooperation with communities that are affected.

The Advisory highlights the urgent needs to increase access to care, improve quality of care and reduce risk factors.

Initiatives in Action

Removing barriers to health in rural areas is a top priority for the American Heart Association, which is directing energy and resources to close the gap between rural and urban care. Here’s how:

The American Heart Association is dedicated to removing barriers to health – such as the challenges rural Americans face. Learn more and join our efforts to combat issues in rural America and in other communities at