Friday, April 30, 2010

Get Out and Act!

The weather is finally nice here in the Northeast, so I want to step out from behind my computer for a bit and get outside! You can do the same in your fight against heart disease and stroke. You've been sending valuable messages to lawmakers online, but now you're ready to take the next step? We have some ideas for you here!

Meeting in-person with your lawmaker: These meetings are often brief, and AHA staff can provide information for the lawmaker to look over when they have more time. These meetings have the greatest impact when the issue is humanized for the lawmaker, so be sure to share your first-hand knowledge of why this issue deserves their attention. Survivors, loved ones, health care professionals all provide compelling personal stories that magnify the importance of the sought-after policy change.

Drop-by Visit: To stop at a lawmaker's office and speak with them or a staffer and/or leave materials for the lawmaker to look over. You can do this even without and appointment!

Attend Lawmaker Events: Appearing at your lawmaker's public events and asking specific questions about heart and stroke issues helps keep our cause front and center on their agenda. It can also force a lawmaker to address an issue and give us a response!

Phone-banking: Calling a list of people, generally in your local area, to speak with them regarding the issues. You could also help by making calls to lapsed networkers encouraging them to reengage.

Phone calls to lawmakers: The purpose is to alert the lawmaker to the issues and inform them about why they should support the upcoming legislation. Be clear, brief, and educated. Mention upfront that you are a constituent.

Door-to-door canvassing: Going around your neighborhood, knocking on doors to engage the residents in conversation about our issues and inviting them to become engaged in You're the Cure.

So are you ready to take your action offline? Contact your local staff partner and they'll help you get started!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Action Needed on NEW Schools Act

Today’s kids need our help to stay healthy. With increasing demands on schools, parents and families, it’s becoming harder to ensure our children to maintain healthy lifestyles, complete with regular physical activity and proper nutrition.

It’s something we’re all concerned about, and now’s the time to turn that concern into real action!

Last week, the Nutrition Education and Wellness in Schools Act (NEW Schools) was introduced in the U.S. House of Representative and we need your help to build support for the bill.

Please ask Representative to become a co-sponsor of the NEW School Act today!

Currently there is no accountability and insufficient guidance for schools to follow through with implementing their wellness policies. To help address that gap, the NEW Schools Act would:
  • Ensure school districts' plans to reach their physical activity and nutrition goals are actually implemented
  • Ensure parents and other key stakeholders are informed and involved in the process of developing and achieving school wellness goals
  • Ensure schools have access to the necessary information and resources to make progress toward their wellness goals, and
  • Increase funding for schools to enhance their nutrition education and promotion programs
With Congress currently working on school nutrition policy, our voices are more critical than ever. With your help, we can push for improvements to the school environment that will foster healthy, active kids.

Urge your Representative to join you in being a champion for healthy kids by co-sponsoring the NEW Schools Act.

House Passage of FIT Kids Praised by Champions

On April 22nd, the American Heart Association joined other champions of the Fitness Integrated with Teaching Kids Act (FIT Kids) for an event on Capitol Hill to celebrate the passage of the bill by the U.S. House of Representatives!

You’re the Cure advocate and AHA spokesman Dr. Robert DiBianco (far right), a cardiologist from Maryland, praised the House for taking action and stressed the need for a renewed focus on the health of our kids. He said, “Sadly, more and more of our kids have become more inactive than ever before. In fact, a growing body of evidence suggests that the childhood obesity epidemic is largely due to a decline in regular physical activity and a diet high in empty and fat-laden calories. One of the most important ways to address this issue is through strong physical education programs in our nation’s schools.”

The AHA and Dr. DiBianco were joined by the bill’s Congressional champions, Representatives Ron Kind (D-Wis.) and Zach Wamp (R-Tenn.N), as well as Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller (D-Calif.), fitness guru Richard Simmons, and fellow supporting organizations.

With the help of advocates like you, the AHA will be continuing to work to advance the FIT Kids Act, to help ensure our kids have access to regular, quality physical education for healthy, active lifestyles.

Check out video highlights of the event at

State Spotlight! Maine and Virginia Pass Telemedicine Bills

As we mark Stroke Month in May, it is important to take a look at the great progress that is being made in states around the country to improve stroke treatment and care. Recently, Maine and Virginia passed important legislation that will help improve patients’ access to timely, medical expertise through telemedicine. Telemedicine enables medical professionals to use information technologies to deliver critical care to patients from a distance. Congratulations to Maine and Virginia advocates on these important stroke policy successes!

Maine- As part of a campaign to develop a stroke system of care for their rural state, the AHA/ASA’s Maine You’re the Cure team, and its partners, knew passage of the telemedicine bill was a critical part of improving stroke treatment in the state. Thanks to the work of dedicated staff and advocates, such as Shawn and Andrea Withers, who have worked tirelessly for years to raise awareness with lawmakers about the need to address stroke in the state, the bill (LD 1073) passed the legislature with great support. Passage of the bill was a major step in enabling community hospitals and their physicians to collaborate with a major stroke center with 24-hour telemedicine consultation service and receive reimbursement for providing the service as physicians would in “face to face” patient consultations.

Virginia- Recognizing the need to make telemedicine services more accessible and affordable to Virginians, AHA/ASA advocates teamed up with state Senator William Wampler to see the telemedicine bill, SB 675, through the legislature and signed into law this year. The new law requires health insurers in the state to provide reimbursement for services provided through telemedicine. Dr. Nina Solenski, a stroke neurologist at the University of Virginia, led the team of dedicated You’re the Cure advocates to ensure the bill’s success. Dr. Solenski met with key legislators, provided testimony, and even mobilized and motivated others in her community and on the Virginia Stroke Systems Task Force, which she chairs, to act too! Hundreds of emails and phone calls were generated by advocates to support the bill.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Dashing Salt From our Diets

A recent report from the Institute of Medicine urges the government to reduce the amount of sodium that manufacturers and restaurants are allowed to add to food and beverages.

The report highlights what has long been recognized as a major contributor to heart disease and stroke. Reducing the amount of sodium in our diets will save thousands of lives from heart attacks and strokes, not to mention the billions of dollars in health care costs.

AHA President Clyde Yancy was quoted in a recent USA Today article about this report, saying that “sodium contributes to most people’s high blood pressure, and for some it may be the primary driver.” He also noted that we’ve ignored advice on sodium in the past because Americans are “driven by convenience, and sodium makes a fast-food lifestyle very easy. To change, we would need to live and eat differently.”

The report has already sparked some action, with 16 companies and restaurants in the New York area have pledged to cut the amount of salt in bacon, flavored rice, and other products. This is a great start, but more will need to be done to address the silent killer that high sodium diets have become.

What are you doing to reduce sodium in your diet?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

House Passes FIT Kids Act! Send a Thank You Note to Your Representative

All the action we asked you and other You’re the Cure advocates to take this week has paid off! The U.S. House just passed the FIT Kids Act, which brings us another step closer to helping improve the health of our nation’s kids. This bill would establish a framework for schools to closely look at the quality and quantity of PE they are providing, and to supply parents with that information to better understand the PE their kids are receiving.

Before we start pushing for the bill in the Senate, let’s take a minute to thank the Representatives who voted in favor of the legislation. You can find out more information and send a message to your Representative through our web site.

And, of course, we’d like to thank you once again for your activism. Your involvement in advocating for this legislation will go a long way to ensure our kids are getting quality physical education in their schools, which will help them grow into healthier and smarter adults.

Keep an eye out for future updates on this issue, but please take a minute to thank your Representative today.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

FIT Kids Vote - Now 24 Hours Away

Yesterday we wrote about the FIT Kids Act, and the fact that Congress will be voting on it tomorrow.

This bill will establish a framework for schools to look at their physical education programs, both in terms of quality and quantity, and will give parents a better understanding of the level of activity their children are receiving at school.

So few kids get the exercise they need at school, and some kids get none, so it's critical to do everything we can to increase physical education within our nation's schools.

If you haven't taken action yet, please do so today by using the link below:

Thank you for your activism....and we hope you'll share this action with others on Facebook, Twitter or other social networks!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Action Needed: FIT Kids Vote in 48 Hours

The Fitness Integrated with Teaching Kids Act is on the move!

In 48 hours, the House of Representatives will vote on the FIT Kids Act, which promotes increased quality physical education (PE) in our nation's schools.

Which means... It's time to act!

Currently, only 3.8% of elementary, 7.9% of middle, and 2.1% of high schools provide daily PE- and shockingly, 22% of schools do not require students to take any PE at all. But with childhood obesity greatly impacting the health of our nation's kids, we must expect more.

The FIT Kids Act would help us take a step in the right direction by establishing a framework for schools to closely look at the quality and quantity of PE they are providing, and to supply parents with that information to better understand the PE their kids are receiving.

The vote on Wednesday is a critical hurdle in advancing the bill, so we need your quick action today!

Thank you for stepping up for healthy, active kids!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Death and Taxes: How One Can Reduce the Other

During “tax week” when we often hear people joke that the only things certain in life are death and taxes. However, it’s also true it that taxes can prevent deaths, at least according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report on excise taxes on cigarettes and tobacco products!

This report, and other studies, show that one of the most effective tools to keeping cigarettes out of the hands of children and adults is to increase tobacco taxes as they directly affects the cost of a cigarette thus discouraging youths and young adults from picking up the habit, prompting more frequent attempts to quit, and reducing average cigarette consumption among those who continue to smoke.

With many states looking for ways to balance budgets and reduce deficits, increasing tobacco taxes are a great way to both promote public health and give individuals an added incentive to stop smoking. All states should look to raise their tobacco taxes, but we especially encourage the 30 states and territories that currently have a cigarette tax below $1.50 per pack to consider the benefits of a cigarette tax increase of at least $1.00 per pack.

The CDC report is another reminder for state and local legislators that tobacco tax increases bring long-lasting benefits with improved quality of life and a stronger fiscal environment. Legislators should not hesitate to do what’s best for their constituents.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

You’re the Cure Facebook Action Center

When notorious 1930’s era bank robber Willie Sutton was asked why he robbed banks, he simply replied, “Because that’s where the money is.” That same line of thought can be used today by organizations that have starting using Facebook as part of their communications and advocacy efforts – it makes sense because that’s where the people are!

A lot people these days are spending time on Facebook. Is there any better place to see what your all of your friends are collectively up to – or to post photos of your kid's birthday party? Studies show that the average active Facebook user spends over 20 minutes a day on the site! It’s no wonder Facebook is now one of the top sites in the world – with a total user base greater than the entire population of the United States! Its reach is so wide that Facebook has become an almost a second Internet on to itself.

That’s why we are so excited to leverage Facebook’s popularity for advocacy purposes and announce the launch of the You’re the Cure Facebook Action Center. You can find it by clicking the “Take Action” tab on our You’re the Cure Facebook page, which can be found at:

The You’re the Cure Facebook Action Center empowers people to send messages to their elected officials and to opt-in to receive more information from the Heart Association -- all without ever leaving Facebook. The action center also gives activist the opportunity to share the actions with their existing group of Facebook friends, which helps spread our messages even further on the popular social media site.

We think this tool will really take our outreach efforts to the next level, but not without your help. Please become a “fan” on our page on Facebook and use the “Take Action” tab to send a message to a decision maker. It’s quick and easy, and when you’re done you’re only a few click away from millions of other things on Facebook!

Monday, April 5, 2010

National Start! Walking Day is April 7th

You know that heart disease is this country's No.1 killer. But did you know that exercising for as little as 30 minutes each day can reduce your risk?

Even though the benefits to regular exercise are well proven, it’s not always easy to find the time. Adults are spending more time at work than ever before and as a result Americans have becoming increasingly inactive. This is a problem when you consider the fact that physical inactivity doubles the risk of heart disease!

You can help reverse this trend and support the fight against heart disease by participating in National Start! Walking Day on Wednesday, April 7th. This is the day that adults nationwide can make the pledge to Start! walking and to become active and heart healthy, especially in the workplace.

On this day, employees are encouraged to wear sneakers to work and take at least 30 minutes out of their day to get up and walk. It's a great way to raise awareness of the Start! movement and to give your coworkers a friendly push toward a healthier life.

The Start! Movement is all about:
  • Walking more.
  • Eating better.
  • Living a longer, healthier life.
There are countless physical activities out there, but walking has the lowest dropout rate of them all! It's the simplest positive change you can make to effectively improve your heart health.

Countless people across the country are jumping on board. Join them in the Start! Movement, get walking and start taking a more active role in your health!

Will you bring your walking shoes to work? It’s time to Start! Walking

Friday, April 2, 2010

Another 4 People Just Died

Sadly, by the time you finish reading this blog entry, another four Americans will die from disease, stroke or some other form of cardiovascular disease (CVD). More than 432,000 women die each year from CVD, but even more tragic is that so many of those deaths could have been prevented.

It’s up to activists like us to work to save these lives!

Programs like WISEWOMAN, which screens low-income women for stroke and heart disease risk and provides follow-up for those who need help, are a big part in stopping these needless deaths. Unfortunately, WISEWOMAN only has enough funding to operate in 20 states. Meanwhile, millions of women across the country are forced to wait.

Congress needs fund crucial prevention programs like this that save lives – but they haven’t committed to doing so yet!

It makes you wonder what the hold-up is.
  • We know cardiovascular disease is still the leading killer of women in the United States
  • We know WISEWOMAN has been effective in providing at-risk women with the tools they need to prevent heart disease and stroke.
  • We know this program is woefully under funded.
So, what’s stopping them??

Give your Members of Congress a little push and ask what it will take to reach more states, screen more eligible women, and save more lives. Tell them to invest in WISEWOMAN - the program that is leading the fight against the No. 1 killer in American women.

After you send your message, post a comment below and let us know you took action!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

State Spotlight! Washington Improves Systems of Care

On March 15, 2010, Washington’s Governor Christine Gregoire, signed into law a bill to improve care across the state for heart disease and stroke patients. This bill creates the framework and essential building blocks for an emergency cardiac and stroke systems of care for Washington’s citizens. This will help ensure that if an individual suffers a heart attack or stroke and calls 9-1-1, medical dispatch will send the right vehicle to them and the patient to the right hospital.

You’re the Cure advocates were instrumental every step of the way! Advocates used their personal stories to provide testimony and let Governor Gregoire know why Washington needs improved care for heart and stroke patients. Over 500 emails were sent and phone calls were made in support of the bill. And at the Go Red for Women Luncheons in the state, hundreds of petitions were collected and delivered to the Governor, urging for her support of the legislation!

Great job Washington You’re the Cure advocates and thank you for using your voices for heart disease and stroke patients in your state.