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An unlikely alliance has been formed in an effort to curb rates of heart disease. The American Heart Association (AHA) announced earlier this month that it would be teaming up with Google to fund a $50 million project to fight heart disease.

Google Life Sciences (GLS) and the AHA will each invest $25 million of their own money over the next five years to support new strategies for understanding, preventing, and treating coronary heart disease and the complications it brings.

Google Life Sciences is a branch of Google that focuses on proactive health care instead of reactive. The vast majority of the population waits until the sick to see the doctor, which is known as reactive health care (e.g. you are reacting to the problem). But proactive health care takes a different approach, with the individual taking measures to prevent diseases and health problems before the symptoms begin to manifest.

While rates of heart disease have declined over the past decade, thanks largely in part to new medicine and a greater awareness among the general public, it remains the leading cause of death. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 600,000 people in the United States lose their lives to heart disease each year, attesting to this widespread problem. Google and the AHA are hoping to change these numbers by launching their ambitious new project.

Of course, you might be wondering why Google is even playing a role in this project. After all, isn't its specialty in search engine technology, not health and medicine? As the two companies pointed out in a press release, technology is going to play a major role in the development of new strategies and treatment options for heart disease patients, and no company has a greater view of modern-day technology than Google.

"This is a fundamentally different kind of model for funding innovation,” said Andy Conrad, CEO of Google Life Sciences. "The team leader will be able to bring together clinicians, engineers, designers, basic researchers and other experts to think in new ways about the causes of coronary heart disease. We’re already imagining the possibilities when a team like that has access to the full resources of both Google Life Sciences and the AHA -- and we can’t wait to see what they discover."

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