Friday, June 24, 2011

We're moving!






We've recently redesigned our You're the Cure blog and have moved to a new location! Be sure to bookmark our new address to continue following our great advocacy work. Thank you for your conversation here, be sure to bring that with us as we move - we don't know what we'd do without you!

New address:

http://yourethecureblog.heart.org/ ... easier to remember, too :)

Friday, June 3, 2011

Advocate Spotlight! Keith Ahrens

When you meet Keith Ahrens, a You’re the Cure advocate from Nevada, you are immediately drawn in by his passion to inspire others to live healthier lives. After suffering a heart attack, undergoing open heart surgery, and losing 200 lbs by changing his diet and exercise routine, he knows firsthand how critical it is to advocate for changes that promote prevention.

Keith has advocated for smoke-free regulations, bans on trans fats, and other nutrition issues within his state- and in April, he came to Washington, DC to lobby for NIH research funding and the FIT Kids Act. He has even taken his advocacy efforts 35,000 feet in the air! While on his return flight to Nevada from DC, he recognized Representative Shelley Berkley on his plane and took the opportunity to share his story and ask for her support for our issues.

Ask Keith which of the advocacy campaigns he’s been involved with that he thought was most significant and he says, “That’s a really tough question – there have been so many! Giving testimony to the Nevada Assembly. Standing in front of the Capital with my arms raised, knowing that we were there to deliver a message. They’ve all been important. The advocacy in the moment is the most important thing. It could seem big or little at the time but there’s always so much potential.”

In addition to influencing lawmakers, Keith also inspires his peers to take action, whether it is through his work as an author, motivational speaker and fitness trainer, or virtually through social media.

As Keith says, “You may not think you are an advocate, but chances are you are if you’re paying attention to the issues. It’s just a matter of how soft or how loud you want your voice to be. You’re the Cure is the best vehicle for a small person to let their voice be heard very big. It empowers you to go to a level you never thought possible.”

Monday, May 23, 2011

AHA wins THREE Awards at PR News!

The American Heart Association received three honors during PR News’ PR Awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. for our great work in the nonprofit communications arena.

Our 2009-2010 Advocacy Online Annual Report -- Progress in Policy won two Honorable Mention awards for "Annual Publication" and "Internal Publication".

We also received an Honorable Mention in the “Event PR” category for the 2010 Scientific Sessions in Chicago.

We are very excited AHA has been recognized among a distinguished circle professionals and nonprofit organizations and thank all You're the Cure advocates who helped give us victories to report out about!


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown says CDC Report on Children’s Food Environment Underscores Need for Strong Public Policies

Our nation’s youth face major roadblocks to good health with easy access to calorie-laden snacks, sugary beverages and other unhealthy foods in their schools and communities. With about 1 out of every 6 children in the U.S. considered obese, we are condemning our kids to a bleak future of premature health problems such as type-2 diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and other risk factors for heart disease. The CDC Report: Children’s Food Environment State Indicator Report is a painful reminder that many children continue to lack access to fruits, vegetables and nutritious food close to home. We must place a greater emphasis on making healthier food choices more accessible and affordable, particularly for families living in food deserts where the nearest supermarket could be miles away and for those surrounded by fast food restaurants or corner stores with less healthy offerings.

Parents, schools, child-care facilities and communities have the potential to improve the health of young people by providing the tools they need to learn lifelong healthy behaviors. By strengthening nutrition standards in schools, pre-schools and day care settings, we can help limit kids’ exposure to unhealthy options. We must also support measures to reduce sodium and eliminate trans fat in the food supply, increase community and school gardens, reduce children’s exposure to marketing and advertising of unhealthy foods and require calorie information to be displayed on menus and menu boards in all restaurants.

Strong public policies and community programs to increase access to healthy foods will help children develop heart-healthy eating habits that could significantly reduce childhood obesity rates across the country. To access the report, go to www.cdc.gov/obesity/downloads/ChildrensFoodEnvironment.pdf

Monday, April 25, 2011

140,000 Strong for School Nutrition

School nutrition advocates across the country sent a powerful message to the United States Department of Agriculture in April. The American Heart Association joined other groups, including PreventObesity.net, the Kids’ Safe and Healthful Foods Project, Jamie Oliver Foundation, Center for Science in the Public Interest, National Urban League, MomsRising and the National Alliance for Nutrition and Activity, in generating 140,000 comments to the USDA in support of improved nutrition standards for school meals from advocates like you.

You’re the Cure advocates contributed over 24,000 messages, asking the agency to approve standards that would require school meals to include more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, while limiting the amount of unhealthy fats and sodium. Thank you to all of our advocates who participated!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown Hails Progress in Smoke-Free Policies

Over the last decade, we have made steady progress in protecting Americans from the deadly consequences of tobacco use with passage of comprehensive smoke-free policies. But it’s too soon to rest on our laurels. Twenty-five states and the District of Columbia have enacted smoke-free laws for workplaces, bars and restaurants since 2000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and if current trends continue, the nation could be 100 percent smoke-free by 2020. However, nearly half of the country still lacks comprehensive smoke-free laws, hampering efforts to reduce tobacco use and smoking-related illnesses in the southern region of the country where heart disease and stroke death rates remain high. Tobacco use is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, the nation’s No. 1 killer. We must zero in on those areas that continue to lag despite studies that show smoke-free policies benefit public health and the local economy with lower health care costs.

The CDC report, State Smoke-free Laws for Worksites, Restaurants, and Bars - United States, 2000-2010, indicates approximately 88 million Americans are still exposed to secondhand smoke and several states have exemptions that put too many nonsmokers at risk. This remains a hurdle that must be addressed with passage of strong legislation to close loopholes. Elected officials, particularly those in the south, must do more to enact comprehensive smoke-free laws and give citizens a greater opportunity to breathe clean air.

For more information, visit the CDC website.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Go Red Goes to Washington

Myrna Aguilar, a Go Red spokeswoman and single mom from California, knew her family’s history of heart disease put her at risk as well. Coming from a Latin American family that “likes to eat well”, she realized she needed to make changes to her lifestyle. She started by signing up for a bike marathon last fall and committed to regular exercise and a healthier diet. She has maintained her healthy lifestyle and is working to inspire her young son and other family members to do the same.


Recently, Myrna took her push for prevention to another level by participating in the American Heart Association’s You’re the Cure on the Hill lobby day. “I wanted to share my story with lawmakers because I’m concerned for the future of my son and his generation,” she said. Myrna joined fellow advocates in urging lawmakers to address childhood obesity by supporting the FIT Kids Act and Safe Routes to School legislation, as well as to support increased funding for medical research to improve the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease. Myrna realized her actions made a difference when Representative Laura Richardson (shown with Eric Batch, Jacqueline Hernandez, and Myrna) agreed to co-sponsor the FIT Kids Act after their lobby day meeting. Simply by sharing her story and concerns as a mother, Myrna and other advocates across the country have been able to raise awareness and garner support from our nation’s lawmakers.


Myrna further reflects, “I heard the most amazing stories and left even more inspired by all of the great work You’re the Cure advocates are doing!” To join Myrna in taking action, visit http://www.yourethecure.org/ today!

Friday, April 15, 2011

AHA advocates urge Congress to support research, fight childhood obesity

More than 300 American Heart Association advocates met with their representatives in Congress this week and urged them to appropriate $35 billion for the National Institutes of Health for the 2012 fiscal year, co-sponsor the Fitness Integrated with Teaching Kids Act and support the Safe Routes to Schools program.

The FIT Kids Act would encourage quality physical education and activity during the school day, and the Safe Routes to Schools program promotes the development of walking and biking paths for schoolchildren.

Currently, NIH invests only 4 percent of its budget on heart research and a mere 1 percent on stroke research. "These funding levels are simply not enough to advance research and bring us closer to a cure," said AHA President Ralph L. Sacco, M.D.

In addition to the action on Capitol Hill, over 12,000 emails were sent and nearly 200 phone calls were made by advocates across the country, who participated in the event virtually. Thanks to these active advocates, our message of prevention was delivered to 530 congressional offices!

Sen. Saxby Chambliss, (R-Ga.) and Rep. George Miller, (D-Calif.) received the association's Congressional Public Service Awards for their leadership in the passage of the Child Nutrition Act- and four outstandig volunteers were awarded with the Association's Advocate of the Year awards, including Dr. Stephen Cook (NY), Cindy Flynn (PA), Newt Williams (TN), and Abby Michaelsen (CA).

Star Jones of "The Celebrity Apprentice" also participated in the event sharing her journey of recovery from heart disease with fellow advocates and legislators alike.

For more information and event pictures, visit www.heart.org/yourethecureonthehill

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

AHA Honors Advocates of the Year

On April 11th, the American Heart Association honored its 2011 Advocates of the Year at the Heroes Luncheon held at You’re the Cure on the Hill. The awards were presented by Debra Lockwood, Chair, and Nancy Brown, CEO. These outstanding advocates have demonstrated their commitment to advancing the mission of the Association through their advocacy work on the local, state, and federal levels. Congratulations to this year’s awardees.

2011 Science Advocate of the Year- Dr. Stephen Cook

Dr. Stephen Cook from Fairpoint, New York “embodies the ideals of translational research”. He was instrumental in developing the Healthi Kids initiative in Monroe County and its policy agenda to reverse childhood obesity. This coalition involved community, government and academic sectors to increase physical activity and improve nutrition for children. Dr. Cook is also the Chairman of the childhood Obesity Committee for the New York State chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics; serves on state and national committees of the American Heart Association; and is a member of the National Advocacy Task Force of The Obesity Society.

2011 Survivor Advocate of the Year- Cindy Flynn

Cindy Flynn from Glen Mills, Pennsylvania has actively and enthusiastically participated in association events and has been an unstoppable advocate for heart and stroke issues. As a four-time stroke survivor and a passionate You’re the Cure advocate, she has established strong relationships with lawmakers to help advance heart disease and stroke legislation. She takes her role and responsibilities as a Pennsylvania State Advocacy Committee Field Representative very seriously and reaches out to advocacy staff regularly with updates about the work she is doing. She has also received the Distinguished Achievement Award from the association’s Great Rivers Affiliate and been recognized for her efforts to engage federal and state officials in Go Red for Women activities and policy issues.

2011 Volunteer Advocate of the Year- Newt Williams

In addition to his passion, Newt Williams of Nashville, Tennessee has brought his extensive knowledge of the legislative process and relationships with key officials to his work as a You’re the Cure advocate. He played a key role in the passage of local menu labeling regulations and has actively advocated for accessible and affordable health care for all Americans. He has served as a spokesperson and a media advocate- and takes every opportunity to educate others on our issues and recruit new advocates.

2011 Youth Advocate of the Year- Abby Michaelsen

Abby Michaelsen of Newport Beach, California has been a role model to other young people in her community and has demonstrated amazing leadership in educating and helping others live healthier lives. After losing her father to heart disease, Abby became an advocate for the association to help prevent heart disease in her community. In 2009, she founded Newport Harbor High School’s first Heart and Health Club and since then over 50 students have regularly organized community events including a Heart Month health fair and the Great American Smokeout. She has mobilized her peers to get the message out on tobacco-free legislation and testified to policymakers to support smoke-free parks. Abby has even developed a “Start Your Own Heart Club Toolkit”, so that students at other local schools can start and run their own clubs.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Texas Youth Advocates Take on State Capitol

Twenty-eight students from all over Texas helped the American Heart Association advance its mission by supporting key legislative issues at the state Capitol on March 16. The youth-advocates began the day with "telling your story" training and an interactive role-playing exercise to prepare them for their meetings with lawmakers on issues including Smoke-Free Texas and trans fats in schools.

Following lunch with State Rep. Mark Strama and a performance by the Murchison Elementary "Hot Shots" Jump Rope For Heart team, the youth-advocates took to the halls of the capitol. They visited over 60 offices, including meetings with Rep. Myra Crownover, who authored of the Smoke-Free Texas bill and Rep. Diane Patrick, who authored a bill to limit trans fats.


"It was a highly successful day for the AHA and our mission," said Grassroots Coordinator Brian Bowser. "I believe it helped Smoke-Free Texas retain some of the momentum it accumulated earlier this month and gave a good spark to the trans fats bill that was just introduced. In addition it provided a great learning experience for the youth involved and gave many of them their first taste of civic involvement."

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

NC Advocates Share Their Story to Mark the 1-Year Anniversary of the Affordable Care Act

Today, Kay LaVelle and Jill Morin, AHA advocates and Go Red for Women spokespersons from North Carolina, participated in a news conference at the State Legislature about the Affordable Care Act. Today’s event was organized by Rep. Verla Insko and focused on the provisions within the new law that help ensure women are able to access and afford the quality health care they need.

Kay and her daughter Jill told their moving story as heart survivors and the resulting concerns about their health insurance coverage. As small business owners, struggling to make ends meet in the tough economy, Kay and Jill have worried about how they would find coverage given their pre-existing conditions, if they lost their business. However, thanks to the protections in the new law, they now have the peace of mind that they would have coverage options.

Currently, those who have been uninsured for 6 months or more and have pre-existing conditions may be eligible for a new insurance program, called Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plans. These plans are intended to provide transitional coverage to those who are currently uninsured until January 2014, when additional insurance options and assistance with paying premiums will be made available through state-based health insurance marketplaces called exchanges.

For more information, visit http://www.pcip.gov/ or http://www.healthcare.gov/.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Advocate Spotlight! Libbie Hough

Libbie Hough, a You’re the Cure advocate from North Carolina, came to Capitol Hill on March 17th to share her story and urge Congress to preserve the Affordable Care Act to ensure children with heart disease and other pre-existing conditions have access to affordable, quality care.

Libbie’s 19-year-old daughter, Natalie, suffered cardiac arrest about 18 months ago in school, due to LongQT Syndrome, a life-threatening and usually genetic heart condition that unexpectedly claims thousands of lives every year, often with no symptoms or warning signs.

“We’re very appreciative of the peace of mind that the Affordable Care Act provides,” she said. “Thanks to the law, we are assured that Natalie can stay on our family’s health insurance policy until she turns 26 and other patients with pre-existing conditions now have options for affordable care. Before the law, affordable individual coverage for patients like Natalie with pre-existing conditions was essentially non-existent.”

Libbie was joined at the briefing by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and other members of Congress, doctors, nurses, patients, and small business owners to mark the one-year anniversary of the law.

For more information about the Affordable Care Act, visit http://www.heartsforhealthcare.org/ and http://www.healthcare.gov/.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Rep. Kind, Senator Harkin Reintroduce FIT Kids Act, Calling for More P.E. in Schools

U.S. Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI) and U.S. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today reintroduced the Fitness Integrated with Teaching Kids Act (FIT Kids Act), a bill to combat childhood obesity by strengthening physical education programs in schools throughout the country.

The FIT Kids Act, H.R. 1057, renews the emphasis on physical education in schools. The Act would work to ensure kids are active during the school day and are given opportunities that promote overall health and wellness. The legislation would engage parents and the public by requiring all school districts and states to report on students’ physical activity, including the amount of time spent in required physical education in relation to the recommended national standard. The Act would further ensure appropriate professional development for health and physical education teachers, fund research to examine the link between children’s health and their academic achievement, and recommend effective ways to combat childhood obesity and improve healthy living and physical activity.

“This bill gets to the simple truth: in order to develop a healthy mind, you need a health body,” said U.S. Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI), co-chair of the Congressional Fitness Caucus. “Providing increased physical education in public schools will give every child an opportunity – regardless of their background – to learn healthy habits and get moving. We will see the benefits in their math and reading test scores, get to the root of the obesity epidemic, and get kids on a healthy path early in life. I hope that Congress can consider the importance of physical education in our schools when they take a closer look at education reform later this year.”

“To ensure that our kids will lead healthy and active lives, we need to help them develop good habits early on,” said Senator Tom Harkin, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. “This bill would combat rising rates of childhood obesity, which have become a pressing public health crisis that we must address. Kids who get more exercise throughout the day are more fit, more focused in the classroom, and get better sleep – also a welcome benefit for their parents! This bill empowers schools, teachers and parents to help improve our kids’ health.”

“With childhood obesity rates that have tripled over the last few decades, we must make every effort to help children reduce their risk for heart disease, stroke and other life-threatening illnesses,” said Nancy Brown, CEO of American Heart Association. “More than 80 percent of adults support daily physical education yet such programs have been on the decline in many school districts. The FIT Kids Act would help educate parents about the quality and quantity of physical education in their child’s school.”

“America’s children receive too little opportunity to be physically active, and that is a major contributor to the nation’s obesity epidemic, said Penny Lee, Executive Director of the Campaign to End Obesity Action Fund. “Lack of physical activity for children has a negative effect on our military preparedness, their ability to learn and their overall wellness. Now is the time to drill down on solutions which is what this legislation provides. It allows for more information to parents, educators and communities so they recognize the gaps in activity and have the opportunity to address them ­-- a major step in the right direction.”

“The National Association for Sport and Physical Education commends Senator Harkin and Congressman Kind on introducing the FIT Kids Act which will strongly support our common goal of increasing the quality and quantity of physical education opportunities in the U.S.,” says NASPE President, Lynn Couturier of State University of New York at Cortland. “Physical education, an essential component of a quality, well-rounded education, not only teaches students how to achieve and maintain lifelong healthy habits but contributes to their academic success.”

“We are proud to support Senator Harkin and Congressman Kind on their reintroduction of the Fit Kids Act,” said NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell. “This legislation furthers our shared goal of eliminating childhood obesity and encouraging children to lead healthy lifestyles.”

The FIT Kids Act has been endorsed by the following organizations: The American Diabetes Association, The American Heart Association, National Association for Sport and Physical Education, Grocery Manufacturers Association, National Football League, Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association, YMCA.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Affordable Care Act Programs Every Patient Should Know About

Did you know that March 23rd marks the 1-year anniversary of the Affordable Care Act being signed into law? Within 365 short days, critical patient protections have been implemented, making health care more affordable and accessible to many Americans.
However, despite the progress that has been made, many patients still don’t know about all of the options that may be available to them to ensure they have the coverage they need. Here are two important programs every heart disease and stroke patient should know about:

Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plans: If you or a loved has a pre-existing condition, like heart disease or stroke, and been without health insurance coverage for at least six months, then you may be eligible for a new insurance program, called Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plans, that was created by the Affordable Care Act.

This program is available for children and adults in all 50 states and the District of Columbia who have been locked out of the health insurance market because of a pre-existing condition. However, the exact terms and conditions of the coverage will vary depending on which state you live in.Although these new plans may not be a feasible option for everyone, they could be a more affordable insurance option for individuals who’ve had difficulty getting coverage in the individual insurance market because of their medical condition. In most states, the monthly premium for the standard option plan ranges from about $116 to $626.

These plans are intended to provide transitional coverage to those who are currently uninsured until January 2014, when additional insurance options and assistance with paying premiums will be made available through state-based health insurance marketplaces called exchanges.
For information about how to apply, go to http://www.pcip.gov/ or call 1-866-717-5826 (TTY 1-866-561-1604).

Consumer Assistance Programs: Thirty states have received funding under the Affordable Care Act to create Consumer Assistance Programs (CAPs), which provide assistance to individuals experiencing difficulties with their health insurance. For instance, CAPs will help consumers who need help filing complaints or appeals with their insurance companies, answer questions about their rights and responsibilities with respect to insurance coverage, or help individuals sign up for coverage.

To find the CAP program in your state or other resources that may be helpful, please visit www.healthcare.gov/consumerhelp.

Friday, March 4, 2011

New "Make the Move" Report Guides Implementation Efforts of the National Physical Activity Plan

The National Physical Activity Plan (NPAP) has established national implementation priorities in a new digital report, Make the Move, which provides an outline of short-term and long-term goals to implement policies, programs and initiatives to get more Americans moving. The report was developed by the National Coalition for Promoting Physical Activity (NCPPA), the national coalition charged with implementing the nation’s first ever National Physical Activity Plan.

The American Heart Association is a founding member of NCPPA helping to lead implementation efforts alongside the numerous national organizations involved in the initiative. The association is co-leading the Business and Industry sector of the National Physical Activity Plan to help increase physical activity and promote best practices in the workplace. The association’s Start! campaign is an example of how employers and individuals are promoting physical activity throughout communities and in workplaces. Start! provides individuals and companies with the tools and resources to be physically active and heart healthy. Resources offered by Start! include a local walking path finder, activity and meal tracker, tools to connect people in their areas, and grocery list builders to name a few. www.heart.org/start.


The Start! campaign demonstrates the American Heart Association’s commitment to help people become physically active and healthy, working with the goal of the Plan. The Make the Move Implementation Report highlights other examples of local activities that support the Plan. In Ohio, a manufacturing company with limited access to technology took part in a Virtual Walk across the U.S. and 56 percent of employees participated, increasing overall wellness. Each employee was assigned a pushpin on a map that marked each company location across the country and using the pedometers they were given, employees tracked the miles they walked to see who could get to each location the fastest.

NCPPA President Laurie Whitsel states: “This is a great opportunity to begin collecting all of the exciting stories about the different ways organizations, communities, and passionate advocates are making the National Physical Activity Plan a reality and hearing how people across the U.S. are making physical activity a regular part of their day.”

Unite forces with American Heart Association and the NPAP to Make the Move in your business or at home today! Learn more at http://www.ncppa.org/ or to get involved visit www.facebook.com/PhysicalActivityPlan

Thursday, March 3, 2011

News from the Hill: New Study Stresses the Importance of Constituent Communications

It is no surprise that with technology advancements come additional ways to reach and influence legislators. But you might wonder just how effective your online messages are in advocating for the issues you care most about.

According to Communicating with Congress: Perceptions of Citizen Advocacy on Capitol Hill, a new study by the Partnership for a More Perfect Union at the Congressional Management Foundation, citizens have more power than they realize.

While traditional face-to-face interaction will never be beat, Capitol Hill offices report that the internet is a useful and effective way for constituents to relay information to their representatives. The study reveals, “What matters most is the content, not the vehicle”.

The most important thing to remember about communicating with Congress is that the most effective and impactful messages are ones that are personalized. Key pieces of information such as discussing the impact a bill will have on your state state or district, providing your reasons for supporting or opposing a bill, and including a relevant personal story will make your messages stand out.

Social media tools, such as Facebook and Twitter, are also becoming widely used methods of communication and Members of Congress are paying attention. Nearly two-thirds of Capitol Hill staff surveyed (64%) think Facebook is an important way to understand constituents’ views and nearly three-quarters (74%) think it is important for communicating their Members’ views.

State Spotlight! A Warm Reception for Arizona’s Halle Heart Children’s Museum

The impressive renovation to the Halle Heart Children’s Museum, the only cardiovascular health museum for children in the country, premiered with an unforgettable Arizona You’re the Cure legislative reception on Tuesday, February 22nd.

Attendees included more than 100 advocates, volunteers, and public officials, including Arizona House of Representatives Minority Whip Dr. Matt Heinz, Representative Jeff Dial, and House Health and Human Services Chair Cecil Ash, who is also the sponsor of House Bill 2157, Stroke Systems of Care.

During the reception program, attendees had the opportunity to hear from stroke survivor Maria Tapia, Phoenix Board of Directors President Dr. John Schaller, and Heart Ball Chair Julie Prusak, who were all able to stress the importance of the AHA’s mission, highlight current initiatives, and present the AHA’s legislative priorities for the year.

The reception also led to an outstanding opportunity. “Representative Dial was so impressed with the museum, the mission of the AHA, and our priorities that on Thursday, February 24, he invited staff and volunteers to the Arizona House of Representatives so he could recognize us from the floor,” says Tim Vaske, Director of Government Affairs in Arizona.

The successful legislative reception foreshadows the future achievements for the AHA and the Halle Heart Children’s Museum. The museum, now open to the general public and for guided tours, is a unique, fun, and educational part of the Tempe community.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Women and CVD: Reversing the Trend through Prevention

It is critical to make sure our mothers, sisters, daughters, wives, and all the other important women in our lives understand the very real dangers of heart disease – the No. 1 killer of women. Sadly, almost half of America’s women are unaware of their risk. As a result, they are less likely to receive the recommended care to treat or prevent this deadly disease. We must change that.

The good news is that women today have greater access to the kind of care that can help prevent heart disease.

In the past, the high price tag on even a routine doctor’s visit could keep women from detecting heart problems early. Now, thanks to the health care law, the Affordable Care Act, women who join new health insurance plans and those on Medicare can get free preventive care, including screenings that detect raised levels of cholesterol, elevated blood pressure and other cardiovascular disease risk factors.

One of the best ways to take control of your heart health is by keeping track of these important health indicators. The health insurance reform law makes this easier than ever.

But prevention cannot stop at the doctor’s office door. Most of us know how important it is to eat right and exercise. But when we’re in a hurry, it can seem easier to get a burger from the local drive-thru than to prepare a healthy meal at home. After a long day at work, the couch may be more appealing than the treadmill. And these choices make a big difference: if you do just four simple things—eat right, be physically active, don’t smoke, and keep a healthy weight—you can reduce your risk of heart disease by as much as 82 percent.

Together, we are committed to helping women make these healthy choices. As part of the health law, we have redoubled our efforts to help state and local governments and community organizations reduce risks for heart disease, like obesity and tobacco use.

We’re supporting programs that bring fresh fruits and vegetables to neighborhoods where healthy food is hard to find or too expensive for low-income citizens. We’re making calorie information available on many restaurant menus and vending machines. And we’re working to increase the number of tobacco-free workplaces.

In addition, we are reaching out directly to women to make sure they have the information they need to live a healthy life. For example, access to emergency care within the first hour of a heart attack can help avoid lasting heart damage or death. But many women do not recognize the warning signs or symptoms of heart disease and delay seeking care.

That’s why, earlier this month, with the support of the American Heart Association, WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease, and more than a dozen other groups, the Department of Health and Human Services launched the Make the Call, Don’t Miss a Beat campaign. This program will help women recognize the seven warning signs of a heart attack and encourage them to call 9-1-1 as soon as any of these symptoms occur.

While government and health organizations have a responsibility to educate the public, we can’t solve this problem alone. The people who can help America make the biggest gains in the fight against heart disease are women themselves.

Women need to have frank conversations with our doctors about our heart health. You can learn more by consulting websites like HealthCare.gov, hearttruth.gov, womenheart.org, and goredforwomen.org. These sites have everything you need to get started towards a healthier heart, from online profiles that determine your risk to healthy recipes and tips to keep your heart healthy. WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease also provides on-line and in-person support networks for women living with heart disease.

For your own sake and for the people you love, take control of your heart health and make sure you’re treating your heart right. It’s the only one you’ve got.

-Nancy Brown
CEO, American Heart Association

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

"Why is America Still Smoking?"

Today Dr. Ralph Sacco and others joined U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin for a congressional briefing on the Tobacco epidemic – “Why is America Still Smoking?” The event was in response to the Surgeon General’s recently issued report that details the biological damage tobacco smoke wreaks on the body and how smoking causes cardiovascular disease and cancer, among other conditions.


Saturday, February 19, 2011

Recording Now Available: State of Women's Heart Health Call

For those of you who were unable to join the State of Women's Heart Health call on 2/17, we are pleased to share that the call was recorded and is now available online for you to listen to.

We also wanted to draw your attention to some of the outstanding resources mentioned on the call. First, we heard from Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius and HHS Assistant Secretary for Health Dr. Howard Koh about the improvements being made through the Affordable Care Act to ensure women and their families are able to access affordable, quality care. We encourage you to learn about the new law and the options that may be available to you at www.heartsforhealthcare.org or www.healthcare.gov.

Additionally, Dr. Lori Mosca, lead author of the AHA’s new Guidelines on Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease in Women, shared an overview of the new recommendations. More information on these important updates can be found on the AHA’s website.

Dr. Suzanne Haynes from the HHS Office of Women’s Health also spoke about a new campaign- Make a Call. Don’t Miss a Beat- which encourages women to learn the signs and symptoms of heart attacks and take immediate action if they experience them.

And as always, the AHA’s Go Red for Women movement continues to be a great source of helpful information to aid in the fight against heart disease in women, including recipes, tools and tips for improving your heart health.

Friday, February 11, 2011

You're Invited! State of Women's Heart Health Call

Did you know that 90% of women have one or more risk factors for developing heart disease? Do you want to learn more about women’s heart health and the steps being taken to help raise awareness and improve access to care? Then join the American Heart Association and some of our country’s leading health experts for a call to discuss The State of Women’s Heart Health!

WHO: You!

WHAT: A conference call with Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, HHS Assistant Secretary for Health Dr. Howard Koh, a leading cardiologist, and fellow survivor-advocates to learn about some of the latest women’s heart health news, a new campaign aimed at raising awareness, and changes to the health care system that could affect you and your family.

WHEN: Thursday, February 17, 2011 at 6:00pm EST (5:00 CST)

WHERE: Your phone

HOW: Join us by calling 1-877-918-2509 (passcode: 3321527). Please RSVP your attendance prior to the call! Space is limited.

The experts will take some of your questions at the end of the call, so come prepared to participate in the discussion!

We are looking forward to having you join us for this exciting American Heart Month event!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

AHA Celebrates Let’s Move! First Anniversary

This week marks the one year anniversary of the First Lady's Let's Move campaign- and the American Heart Association applauds the campaign's successes, big and small, that are helping our nation's kids become healthier and proactively combat heart disease!

‘Let’s Move!’ has made a concerted effort to engage Americans where they live, work, learn and play- and has been successful in bringing citizens, communities, businesses, government officials and public health groups together around the shared mission of turning the tide on childhood obesity.

Read AHA CEO Nancy Brown's full statement about the Let's Move one-year anniversary-http://bit.ly/e5iyGt

Monday, February 7, 2011

Pop Quiz: How much do you really know about the Affordable Care Act?

How much do you know about the new patient protections available to you under the new health care reform law, the Affordable Care Act? The new law contains many significant reforms that will help heart disease and stroke patients’ access and afford the quality care they need and deserve– and as informed consumers, it is important to understand these changes.

Take our short quiz today to test your knowledge of the reforms that have already taken effect and those yet to come in the months and years ahead.

The AHA is continuing our efforts to work with Congress, the Administration, and fellow patient-advocacy organizations to monitor, inform and advocate for the effective implementation of the Affordable Care Act– and to build on the progress made by the new law.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Training the next generation of lifesavers- students!

A new scientific advisory, published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, calls for state legislatures to mandate that CPR and AED training be required for graduation- and You’re the Cure advocates in a number of states are helping to make it happen to help save lives from sudden cardiac arrest.

“Training of all secondary education students will add a million trained rescuers to the population every few years,” said Mary Fran Hazinski, R.N., M.S.N., co-author of the advisory and professor at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing in Nashville, Tenn. “Those students will be ready, willing and able to act for many years to come, whenever they witness an emergency within the community.”

Last school year, 36 states had a law or curriculum standard encouraging CPR training in schools- and a number of states are pursuing legislation this year. In New York, for example, advocates, including paramedics, survivors, CRP instructors, and families of those affected by sudden cardiac arrest, are leading the charge to advance legislation that will ensure all students in the state receive CPR training prior to graduation. They have collected 1500 petition signatures so far and will be taking their message to the state capital in March to meet with lawmakers.

In Tennessee, advocates will be working with state lawmakers and the Department of Education to strengthen their existing law. Currently, CPR is taught as part of the lifetime wellness curriculum, but the AHA is pushing for hands-on-practice during this instruction for all students.

And in Iowa, advocates will be playing defense to protect their law which requires students to be trained in CPR before graduating. Some legislators, concerned with the time and cost the existing law requires, have suggested repealing it. However, the AHA is actively promoting the immeasurable benefits by sharing personal stories from students who have saved a life.

For more information on the new advisory, click here.

Advocate Spotlight! Teresa Rice

Teresa Rice, a You’re the Cure advocate from Kentucky, was only 38-years-old when she suffered from a heart attack. Now with a heart healthy diet, regular exercise, and a less stressful lifestyle, Teresa has become an advocate for lifestyle changes and policy changes that can reduce an individual’s risk for heart disease and stroke.
“I feel that it is important to be an advocate because I believe, as a constituent, I am going to be able to reach lawmakers and send a more powerful and personal message to them than an organization would be able to do. Hearing from thousands of individuals across the county through You're the Cure sends a tremendous message to our leaders,” she said.

As a You’re the Cure advocate for the past three years, Teresa has emailed, called, and visited with local, state, and national lawmakers to help advance legislation to improve access to quality health care, to educate the public about heart disease, and to increase funding for research.
One campaign in particular stands out to Teresa. Using her personal story and the relationships she had with some of the council members in her hometown of Bardatown, KY, Teresa was able to help get a local smoking ban passed.

“Because I know some of the council members personally, I took the opportunity to share my opinions with them,” she said. “Since I have had a heart attack, I could relate to them about truly personal concerns of being exposed to cigarette smoke. The ban was passed and went into effect in June, 2010.”

Her advice to others? “I would recommend becoming involved with You're the Cure. It doesn't take a lot of time, but the end result can touch thousands of lives.”
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Do you know some of your local, state, or federal legislator, like Teresa does? Visit http://www.yourethecure.org/ today to update your profile to share that information with us!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

President Obama Honors Heart Month

This February marks the 48th year of “American Heart Month.” On January 31, 2011 President Barack Obama released a proclamation encouraging all Americans to recognize the significance of American Heart Month and to join in the fight against cardiovascular disease. President Obama highlights the dire need to improve heart health – heart disease is the leading cause of death and one in three adults are living with a form of cardiovascular disease.

The Obama Administration is committed to taking proactive measures to reduce the risk factors creating heart disease. Efforts to eat a balanced diet, maintain a healthy weight, limit sodium consumption, exercise regularly, avoid tobacco, and moderate alcohol intake will reduce the life threatening factors leading to heart disease.

The need for prevention is recognized by the Obama Administration, the Affordable Care Act is one live saving mechanism that enforces all news individual and group health plans to provide recommended preventive care and services without a copayment, coinsurance, or deductible. Also, First Lady Michelle Obama has implemented the Let’s Move! initiative to begin prevention against heart disease early in life by combating childhood obesity.

President Obama also encourages all Americans to show their support of women’s heart health by wearing red or the campaign’s Red Dress Pin on National Wear Red Day, Friday, February 4. This day increases awareness of heart disease among women.

February is a time to rededicate ourselves to raising awareness for heart disease and improve our own heart health and the heart health of those we love by committing to efforts of prevention.

To learn more about risk factors, prevention of heart disease, and to increase the awareness of women’s heart disease visit: www.CDC.gov/HeartDisease and www.HearthTruth.gov

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Nancy Brown Speaks at National Press Club

American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown spoke at a National Press Club Newsmaker event in Washington, D.C. on January 24, 2011 about a new AHA policy statement indicating cardiovascular disease (CVD) costs will triple in the U.S. by 2030. Brown revealed that the $545 billion increase is due in part to an aging population and the skyrocketing financial burden makes it necessary to implement effective strategies to prevent these chronic illnesses. “Unhealthy behaviors and unhealthy environments have contributed to a tidal wave of risk factors among many Americans,” said Brown. “Early intervention and evidence-based public policies are absolute musts to significantly reduce alarming rates of obesity, hypertension, tobacco use and cholesterol levels.”

During her keynote, Brown discussed Life’s Simple 7 (mylifecheck.heart.org), seven key health factors and behaviors that the association believes are essential for successful prevention including physical activity, proper diet, abstinence from smoking, weight management and control of blood pressure, blood cholesterol and blood sugar. She also mentioned the effect these diseases and costs have on many Americans who have limited health insurance coverage. Brown shared a compelling story about Frank Amend, an underinsured heart survivor whose family was impacted by huge medical costs for his treatment.

Paul Heidenreich, MD and Justin Trogdon, PhD, two members of the report’s expert panel, commented on the methodology of the findings and remarked that despite the successes in reducing heart disease, we still face an enormous financial burden in medical costs. Members of the media including CNN, Reuters, National Journal, Congressional Quarterly and Politico were in attendance along with representatives from various health organizations.

View video highlights of the event and the full report!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

News from the Hill– Get Ready for the 112th Congress

On January 5, members of the 112th Congress were sworn in on Capitol Hill, beginning the first session of the new Congress. This marks a change in power in the House of Representatives and the start for 13 new Senators in the Senate.

As we prepare to influence this new group of lawmakers to prioritize our nation’s health, it is particularly important for advocates to pay close attention to the 2011 congressional calendar. In-district work periods, or recess breaks, are a prime opportunity to meet with your legislators about the issues that matter most to you. So, mark your calendars and stay tuned for opportunities to help deliver the You’re the Cure message when your Members return home.

View the 2011 Congressional Calendar today!

You’re the Cure Gets a Facelift

Have you visited www.yourethecure.org lately? Go ahead and take a look!

http://www.yourethecure.org

We have just updated our action center to help provide you with the tools you need to stay informed, get involved, and take action in the fight against heart disease and stroke. Whether you take action on our action alerts, share your story, register for an event, or recruit others to the cause, you can have an impact. Make sure to bookmark the site on your computer and check back often!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

State Outlook for 2011

Over the past few months, American Heart Association volunteers and staff in all 50 states have been developing their legislative agendas and preparing plans on how to assure heart disease and stroke related issues are prioritized in legislatures across the country in 2011. In addition to the three states that are continuing their legislative sessions, which started in 2010, we will see 42 states, plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, go into session in January with another four states beginning their sessions by April.

When legislatures reconvene this year, the political landscape will look significantly different in many states. As a result of the November 2010 elections, 13 state legislatures changed party majority and 29 new Governors will be place. These changes will result in many legislatures reorganizing and we are sure to see new committee structures, chairs and legislative leaders in place in 2011. These changes will make for an interesting and exciting 2011.

For 2011, states are prioritizing a variety of heart disease and stroke related issues, ranging from requiring high school students be taught CPR prior to graduation to developing telemedicine systems that will assure those in the most remote locations will be able to receive critical specialty care. The issues which are being addressed most widely are: promoting physical education programs in schools; creating or strengthening stroke system of care; securing or protecting tobacco prevention funding; and establishing strong secondhand smoke policies. Each of these policy issues are on the legislative agendas in more than 30 states.

Of special concern for states will be significant state budget deficits. According to a recent report, jointly released by the National Governor’s Association (NGA) and the National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO), fiscal conditions will remain a major challenge for state budgets and state will continue to face slow revenue growth, increased spending demands and the end of the stimulus funds provided to state buy the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

State budget deficits provide an opening for staff and volunteers to establish the benefits of a tobacco tax increase. The AHA supports tobacco excise tax increases because of the many well-known health benefits however they can also provide much need fiscal resources to state coffers. At least nineteen state advocacy teams crafted strategic plans around a tobacco excise tax increase for their state. State budget deficits also make the plans our state teams carry out around increasing and protecting heart disease and stroke prevention funding even more critical.

For more information about the state policy agenda in your state please contact your local state advocacy staff.