American Heart Association - You’re the Cure

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Dieters Need Close Access to Healthy Food

You're obese, at risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and so motivated to improve your diet that you've enrolled in an intensive behavioral program. But if you need to travel more than a short distance to a store that offers a good selection of healthy food, your success may be limited.

A new study from UMass Medical School and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health finds that not having close access to healthy foods can deter even the most motivated dieters from improving their diet, suggesting that easy access to healthy food is as important as personal motivation and professional guidance from health care providers.

"Community health programs should be evidence based, but many studies have showed conflicting associations between the distance to grocery stores and lower or higher prevalence of obesity and diabetes," said principal investigator Wenjun Li, PhD, associate professor of medicine and director of the Health Statistics and Geography Lab in the Division of Preventive and Behavioral Medicine at UMMS and senior author of the study.


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Montgomery Advocates, Will You Help?

We are at a critical point in the Smokefree Montgomery campaign and need the help of You're the Cure advocates more than ever before.

This month, Councilor C.C. Calhoun  is expected to introduce a smokefree local ordinance that the American Heart Association and its Smokefree Montgomery coalition partners support.

We need to know which Montgomery advocates are willing to express their support for a smokefree city by:

  • Meeting with City Councilors. In partnership with the Smokefree Montgomery coalition, we're arranging materials with City Councilors for all interested advocates. A staff member of the Smokefree Montgomery coalition will attend all meetings.
  • Writing Letters.
  • Attending a Public Hearing.

If you're interested in any of these opportunities, please email today.

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New Report Highlights Where Healthy Food Access Can Make a Difference

A new report released today highlights areas across Alabama where increasing access to healthy, fresh and affordable foods would make the biggest impact.

The report, “Fresh Food for All: Improving Access to Fresh Food in Alabama,” was authored by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Wealth Creation Clinic and Emerging ChangeMakers Network (“ECN”), a Mobile-based organization that seeks to assist emerging leaders to make positive changes in economically challenged communities.

Using a combination of zip code and census tract data, the ECN report has identified well over 140 communities in Alabama that lack access to healthy, fresh and affordable foods, areas that are popularly referred to as “food deserts” or “areas of food imbalance.” People living in areas of food imbalance are more likely to have lower cognitive functioning, lower productivity, increased rates of obesity, and a higher rate of diet-related disease and death, the report finds.

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Trick or Treat?

Candy Corn, Gummy Bears, Peanut Butter Cups, Swedish Fish, Candy Bar, Bubblegum and Cotton Candy… These may sound like treats the neighborhood kids are hoping to pick up when they go trick-or-treating later this month, but they’re actually the tricks used by companies to hook our kids on nicotine. These are flavors of e-cigarette liquid available for purchase today.

With alluring flavors like those and a dramatic increase in youth exposure to e-cigarette advertising, the rising popularity of e-cigarettes among youth shouldn’t come as a surprise. Still, it raises concerns. Strong regulations are needed to keep these tobacco products out of the hands of children. We’ve asked the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to prohibit the marketing and sale of e-cigarettes to minors, and we’re still waiting for them to act.

Meanwhile, CDC launched this week their #20Million Memorial. 20 million people have died from smoking-related illnesses since the 1964 Surgeon General’s report on smoking and health. Has smoking affected you and your family? Check out this moving online memorial, then share your story or honor loved ones lost too soon with the hashtag #20Million.  

AHA staff and volunteers across the country are preparing to fight the tobacco epidemic in upcoming state legislative sessions. They’ll ask for state funding for tobacco prevention programs and for increased tobacco taxes, a proven deterrent for youth smoking.

This Halloween, don’t let our kids continue to get tricked by the tobacco companies. Help end the tobacco epidemic for good. To amplify our message with lawmakers, ask friends and family members to join us, then watch your inbox for opportunities to act!  

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Healthy Food Access: One Way to Help Alabamians Live Healthier

According to the latest data provided by the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, adult obesity rates increased in six states over the last year.  The State of Obesity report states that Mississippi and West Virginia have the highest rates of adult obesity at 35.1 percent, while Colorado has the lowest rate at 21.3 percent.  Alabama ranks eighth with its 32.4 percent rate of adult obesity. Twenty states have rates at or above 30 percent, 43 states have rates of at least 25 percent and every state is above 20 percent.

We know that Alabama has a long way to go to become healthier and it will take all of us to get on the right track. Efforts are being made to make a difference in Alabama.

The American Heart Association has partnered with VOICES for Alabama's Children and more than 50 organizations and multiple statewide task forces to address one of the greatest threats to Alabama's children -- childhood obesity. In order to do so, healthy eating must be a part of the equation. Sadly, many Alabama families do not have limited access to healthy food.

Healthy food access in Alabama was recently featured on Read more by following this link.

More than one million Alabamians, of which 245,000 are children, live in communities with limited access to healthy foods. Healthy food financing and education about healthy food choices can make a difference. Learn more about healthy food financing and the campaign to bring healthy food closer to home.

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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.


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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

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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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