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CVS Quits Tobacco

The first national pharmacy chain to stop selling tobacco said all 7,700 stores had halted sales by Wednesday — about a month earlier than planned — and announced a name change from CVS Caremark to CVS Health to reflect its commitment to health.

CVS announced its tobacco-free plan in February, saying the profits are not worth the larger cost in public health. Smoking is the No. 1 cause of death in the U.S., killing 443,000 Americans and costing the nation $193 billion in healthcare expenses and lost productivity each year.

CVS Health also announced Wednesday a new “comprehensive and uniquely personalized smoking cessation program” developed by national experts.

Read more at blog.heart.org.

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Miriam "Mim" Gaines, Alabama

Mim Gaines, Alabama

Last year Miriam "Mim" Gaines retired after working 25 years at the Alabama Department of Public Health. While serving as the Nutrition and Physical Activity (NPA) Director, Mim developed strong partnerships. An example includes The Alabama Obesity Task Force (OTF).  This  volunteer membership organization addresses obesity through advocacy, changes and programs. The American Heart Association is a key partner in the OTF. In addition, the American Heart Association supported the NPA Division on many wellness efforts, such as blood pressure checks and stroke awareness programs.  

It was a natural fit for Mim to become active on the American Heart Association's Alabama Advocacy committee. Mim laughs and says, "Being a volunteer for the American Heart Association is a great way for me to ease into retirement. They let me continue to be vocal about my strong passions, such as easy access to produce, having safe walking areas and smoke free cities." 

Mim began serving as chair of  the Alabama Advocacy Committee in December 2013. She helped organize the second annual Legislative Breakfast in Red at the State House in February, participated in the Healthy Food Access campaign kick off in May, and provided strong continuous leadership to staff and volunteers. We look forward to working with Mim, as she continues to serve as chair for 2014-15.

Mim recommends others to become more involved. She says, "There is always room for another volunteer!" 

 

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What is Pediatric Cardiomyopathy?

Did you know that one in every 100,000 children in the U.S. under the age of 18 is diagnosed with a diseased state of the heart known as cardiomyopathy?  While it is a relatively rare condition in kids, it poses serious health risks, making early diagnosis important.  As the heart weakens due to abnormities of the muscle fibers, it loses the ability to pump blood effectively and heart failure or irregular heartbeats (arrhythmias or dysrhythmia) may occur.

That’s why we’re proud to team up with the Children’s Cardiomyopathy Foundation this month- Pediatric Cardiomyopathy Awareness Month- to make more parents aware of this condition (signs and symptoms) and to spread the word about the policy changes we can all support to protect our youngest hearts.
 
As a You’re the Cure advocate, you know how important medical research is to improving the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of heart disease.  And pediatric cardiomyopathy is no exception.  However, a serious lack of research on this condition leaves many unanswered questions about its causes.  On behalf of all young pediatric cardiomyopathy patients, join us in calling on Congress to prioritize our nation’s investment in medical research.
  
Additionally, we must speak-up to better equip schools to respond quickly to medical emergencies, such as cardiac arrest caused by pediatric cardiomyopathy.  State laws, like the one passed in Massachusetts, require schools to develop emergency medical response plans that can include:

  • A method to establish a rapid communication system linking all parts of the school campus with Emergency Medical Services
  • Protocols for activating EMS and additional emergency personnel in the event of a medical emergency
  • A determination of EMS response time to any location on campus
  • A method for providing training in CPR and First Aid to teachers, athletic coaches, trainers and others – which may include High School students
  • A listing of the location of AEDs and the school personnel trained to use the AED

CPR high school graduation requirements are another important measure to ensure bystanders, particularly in the school setting, are prepared to respond to a cardiac emergency.  19 states have already passed these life-saving laws and we’re on a mission to ensure every student in every state graduates ‘CPR Smart’.
   
With increased awareness and research of pediatric cardiomyopathy and policy changes to ensure communities and schools are able to respond to cardiac emergencies, we can protect more young hearts.

Have you or a loved one been diagnosed with cardiomyopathy?  Join our new Support Network today to connect with others who share the heart condition.   

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New Study: Hospitalizations, Deaths from Heart Disease, Stroke Drop in the U.S.

The rates of U.S. hospitalizations and deaths from heart disease and stroke dropped significantly in the last decade, more so than for any other condition, according to a study released Monday in the journal Circulation

A research team led by Harlan Krumholz, M.D., national American Heart Association volunteer and director of the Center of Outcomes Research and Evaluation at Yale-New Haven Hospital in New Haven, Connecticut, said the drop was mainly due to a steady increase in the use of evidence-based treatments and medications, as well as a growing emphasis on heart-healthy lifestyles and behaviors.

The study examined data on nearly 34 million Medicare Fee-For-Service recipients from 1999 to 2011 for trends in hospitalization, dying within a month of being admitted, being admitted again within a month and dying during the following year. Age, sex, race, other illnesses and geography also were considered.

Read the full article on blog.heart.org.

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ANR Recognizes Alabama's Local Smokefree Efforts

On Aug. 14, 2014, Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights (ANR) announced winners of its National Smokefree Challenge Award for local smokefree efforts in 2013. We're thrilled that Alabama tied with South Carolina for 2nd place. Other award recipients include Mississippi with 1st place and Missouri, Louisiana and California all tying for 3rd place.   

“While we are thrilled to see more 100% smokefree laws passing locally in southern states and in the Midwest, we face a stalemate at the state level,” said Cynthia Hallett, Executive Director of ANR.

As such, the American Heart Association will continue to support local smokefree efforts and to urge the Alabama State Legislature to take action. Non-smokers exposed to secondhand smoke at work increase their risk of heart disease and lung cancer by up to 30%. To fight this threat, we want a 100% comprehensive smoke free law to protect all workers from secondhand smoke exposure.  

Visit ANR’s website to read more about Alabama’s award.  

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Smokefree ordinance breaks through in Alabama’s capital city

As the state capital, the City of Montgomery should be leading the way on every important issue that affects the people of Alabama. Currently, twenty-six Alabama communities have recognized the significant public health problem posed by exposure to secondhand smoke and have implemented smokefree ordinances.

It’s time for Montgomery to pass an ordinance that protects everyone who lives and works in the city from the thousands of chemicals in secondhand smoke. The American Heart Association and its broad based coalition partners have been initiating contact with Mayor Strange and members of the Montgomery City Council.

With the help of You’re the Cure advocates in Montgomery, it is our hope that passage of a strong comprehensive smokefree ordinance in Montgomery will lead the way and add to the momentum needed to pass a statewide bill.  

 If you live or work in Montgomery, here’s how you can help:

  • Raise awareness about the dangers of secondhand smoke and our local campaign efforts by sharing our Facebook page with your social network.
  • Show your support by signing a Letter of Support
  • Host a meeting with a Smokefree Montgomery representative at your community organization or neighborhood association event. Please contact Stephanie Christie at smokefreemontgomery@gmail.com.

 We hope all You’re the Cure advocates in Montgomery will join us as we take a stand against secondhand smoke.

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Medicaid expansion takes center stage in fall Alabama gubernatorial races

As Gov. Robert Bentley and former U.S. Rep. Parker Griffith of Huntsville prepare to engage in the fall gubernatorial campaign, the issue of Medicaid expansion is heating up!

The governor has continued to oppose Medicaid, insisting he does not have plans to expand it. Although Griffith voted against the Affordable Care Act while serving his term in Congress, he does offer a Medicaid expansion proposal.

A recent article in The Montgomery Advertiser states that Griffith’s proposal “would follow a model pioneered in Arkansas, where Alabama would take money targeted for Medicaid expansion and use it to purchase private insurance for those earning 138 percent of the federal poverty line or less — about $16,104 for an individual, and $32,913 for a family of four. The federal government would pay 100 percent of the costs through 2017; after that, the federal share would slowly decline to 90 percent of total costs by 2022.”

Most political observers expect the Medicaid expansion debate to continue throughout the campaign.

To learn more about the candidates, visit Ballotpedia.org.

 

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Denise Pippen, Alabama

At the time my story begins, my two children were in their twenties.  My husband and I had experienced only the usual ripples of rearing children.  All of that changed when doctors discovered that my daughter has a heart defect and will probably need a heart transplant someday.  

Today, she's in her thirties and leads quite an active life.  But her health issue is always in the back of my mind.  

My daughter is why I dedicate my personal time as a volunteer for the American Heart Association.  I enjoy working with my staff partners to obtain necessary funds for continued research.  Being a You're the Cure advocate has given me the opportunity to help my daughter and others like her.

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Alabama Examines Tobacco Control Efforts

Last month, the Coalition for a Tobacco Free Alabama held its quarterly meeting at the Lakeshore Foundation in Birmingham to learn about the latest tobacco control data for Alabama and to discuss the progress and direction of the state coalition.  Members include smokefree advocates, public policy experts and public health officials.

“Today’s meeting was about the progress and work that lies ahead in Alabama,” said Coalition Chair, Ashley Lyerly Director of Public Policy, American Lung Association of the Southeast, “With the recent passage of the Gadsden Smokefree Ordinance [in June], residents and workers in 27 municipalities will be protected by comprehensive smokefree protections. The members of the Coalition for Tobacco Free Alabama at today’s meeting are a big part of the progress being made in Alabama; however, many workers and residents are still left unprotected from the dangers of secondhand smoke.”

The Coalition for a Tobacco Free Alabama is an organization whose goal is to achieve a tobacco free society. Learn more at www.tobaccofreealabama.org or check us out on Facebook at Tobacco Free Alabama.  

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Healthy Food Access Campaign Makes Progress in Alabama

Recently, policy experts, healthy food supporters and grassroots advocates from a wide variety of organizations attended a Healthy Food Access Campaign training and planning session sponsored by VOICES for Alabama’s Children and the American Heart Association in Montgomery.  As an outcome of the meeting, we now have a Letter of Support we’d like you to sign.

Click here to express your support for increasing Alabamians’ access to affordable healthy foods in underserved areas. 

We understand this issue can be a lot to digest. So, we invite you to check out this excellent op-ed by Melanie R. Bridgeforth, MSW, Executive Director for VOICES for Alabama’s Children, that explains the issue more in depth.  Here’s a quick excerpt: 

I take my neighborhood grocery store for granted. There are three of them within a mile of my home. If one of those stores happens to be out of an item that I need for dinner that night, I can make a second stop without breaking a sweat.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, for more than one million Alabamians, including 245,000 children, there are no grocery stores down the street. There are no neighborhood markets next door either. In fact, for many of these families, there are no grocery stores across town. They live in what are known as food deserts --- areas where it is difficult to buy healthy and affordable foods. Food deserts are more than an unfortunate inconvenience.

We hope you’ll take the first step in the Healthy Food Access Campaign today! 

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