Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Facebook Chat with the AHA's President This Week!

Don't forget! Join us for a Facebook chat with Dr. Ralph Sacco, neurologist and American Heart Association president, on ideal brain health at 1:30 p.m. EST on Thursday, December 16th. To find out more and start asking your questions, go to http://on.fb.me/gLGCgI.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Therapies for Stroke Patients Protected for Another Year

Good news to report from Capitol Hill! On December 9th, Congress passed the Medicare and Medicaid Extenders Act of 2010, which will allow stroke patients on Medicare to continue to get the therapies they need for another year, without facing arbitrary caps on coverage.

Thank you so much to our advocates for their quick action to ensure Members of Congress knew that therapy must be protected for these 4.4 million patients!

The exceptions process that was extended puts the power in the hands of patients and their doctors to determine the amount of therapy needed to recover from their stroke, rather than having their care determined by a pre-set limit.

As we celebrate this victory, it is also critical to understand that we still have a fight ahead of us. This extension of the exceptions process will only last until December 31, 2011, so we will need your help to continue to push Congress to pass a permanent fix for the therapy caps issue.

Thank you, advocates, for standing-up for stroke patients- and congratulations on this important win!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Child Nutrition Act Passes!

On December 2nd, the U. S. House of Representatives made a tremendous investment in the health of our nation’s children with the historic passage of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. This action completes Congress’ work on the bill and sends it to the President’s desk to be signed into law.

The legislation, which passed by a vote of 264 to 157, will give our kids a healthy start in life with access to nutritious meals and more opportunities for physical activity during the school day. All of us here at the American Heart Association strongly believe a healthier school environment will nurture academic achievement and reduce childhood obesity rates. With one in three American kids and teens overweight or obese, our youth are at greater risk for high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes, both of which are risk factors for heart disease! Teaching kids to eat well and stay fit must become a priority not just at home, but in our schools and communities.

We can all be proud that the final bill contains provisions that will help ensure a healthier school environment for our kids, including removing junk foods from schools, strengthening school wellness policies, and increasing funding for more nutritious school lunches.

Find out how your Representative voted, then join us in thanking supportive Representatives for their vote by sending a quick message!

Well done, advocates!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Smoke-free Ballot Initiative Victories = Smoke-free Communities!

November was the month of smoke-free ballot initiatives! Missouri, Texas, and South Dakota each saw smoke-free victories, both on the local and state levels. Congratulations to You’re the Cure advocates in each state who fought for these victories…

        1. Missouri can celebrate two hard-fought smoke-free victories this year. Voters in Fulton, MO and Jefferson City, MO made it clear that smoke-free air is important to them by passing strong ordinances in both communities. These victories are important steps in ultimately helping Missouri join the ranks of smoke-free states in the near future. The expectation is that these victories will lead to more local wins, and to eventually carry over to the state level, where advocates are focusing their efforts on educating Missouri legislators on the many benefits of smoke-free air.

        2. The city of San Angelo, Texas became the 34th city to become a smoke-free community. With over 61 percent voter approval, this city will now provide a comprehensive smoke-free work place ordinance for over 92,000 residents. You’re the Cure advocates were critical to the local campaign and many thanks go to board members, Dr. Michael Blanc for a compelling editorial to the local paper, Lisa Burger for co-chairing the local coalition, Joyce Gray for going door to door and local Corporate Market Director Frann Smith who kept the team engaged on the effort and helped guide the Coalition and You’re the Cure advocates!

        3. South Dakotans went to the polls Tuesday, November 2, and said YES to a comprehensive smoke-free law. The campaign found widespread support and You’re the Cure advocates were engaged on a Smoke-free South Dakota Facebook page, which reached thousands of supporters during the campaign. The law took effect on November 10, the day after the state’s official election canvass. You’re the Cure advocates were instrumental in both the 2009 legislative effort and during the 2010 campaign. Passage of this smoke-free law represents more than 812,000 lives protected in South Dakota.

        Advocate Spotlight! The Haskew Family

        Eric and Tina Haskew and their three kids, Sarah, Daniel and Noah, know first-hand that research saves lives. That’s because Daniel and Noah were born with congenital heart defects.

        Daniel was born with critical aortic stenosis and atrial septal defect (ASD) and was only 36 hours old when he went into congestive heart failure and was life-flighted to Tulane University Children’s Hospital in New Orleans for open heart surgery. Noah was also born with ASD, ventricular septal defect (VSD), and a bicuspid aortic valve. However, thanks to the advances in the diagnosis and treatment of their conditions, they are both healthy, young boys today.

        Now, the family of advocates shares their story to help advance research. “Without a doubt I've enjoyed the speaking events the most,” says Tina. “I can't tell you how many people have come up to me afterwards and said how moved they were by our story. This is where the difference is made. When people can see firsthand what research has done, they are more willing to help, and the more they help, the more research can be done.”

        In March 2010, the Haskews flew to Washington, DC to share their story with their Alabama legislators to advocate for increased funding for research through the National Institutes of Health. Eric and Tina have also been very active with their community Heart Walk, raising thousands of dollars to support research and AHA programs, as well as participating in Go Red for Women luncheons and speaking on behalf of the Association at their local hospitals.

        The family says they will continue to do what they can to advance research. In November, Daniel had his aortic valve replaced at the University of Alabama Hospital. His surgery was a success and the new valve will most likely carry him into adulthood without another procedure.

        Thinking about getting more involved with AHA’s advocacy efforts? Tina and her family encourage you to go ahead and do it! “You won’t regret it,” says Tina. “It’s more rewarding than you could ever imagine. You never know when you might be able to make a positive change in someone else’s life.”