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Kudos to Albany County!

Albany County Legislators just passed a ban on the sale of tobacco in pharmacies...Yup, many pharmacies still sell tobacco!  You wouldn't see tobacco sold at the doctor's office and you shouldn't see them when filling up your prescription.   If signed by County Executive McCoy, it will be the first law of its kind in New York!  Way to go Albany County!!

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Be One In A Million

Million Hearts is an answer. Heart disease and stroke are the first and fourth leading causes of death in the United States. Heart disease is responsible for 1 of every 4 deaths in the country and the #1 killer of women.  But effective community CVD prevention interventions have been underutilized due to a lack of a coordinated national effort.  We must do something to change this, but what could be big enough?

Million Hearts is a national initiative by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that has set an ambitious goal to prevent one million heart attacks and strokes by 2017.

Million Hearts aims to prevent heart disease and stroke by:

  • Improving access to effective care.
  • Improving the quality of care.
  • Focusing clinical attention on the prevention of heart attack and stroke.
  • Activating the public to lead a heart-healthy lifestyle.
  • Improving the prescription and adherence to appropriate medications.

Each year there are approximately 2 million heart attacks and strokes in the United States. The campaign is expected to produce a 10 percent reduction in the rate of acute cardiovascular events each year for 5 years resulting in one million heart attack and strokes prevented.

The AHA applauds the launch of Million Hearts and is grateful for the opportunities we have been provided to help inform, shape, and support the initiative. We look forward to joining and partnering with the HHS in implementing this initiative, which has the potential to advance the mission and work of the AHA dramatically and to help us achieve our ambitious 2020 Health Impact Goal.

This initiative will focus, coordinate, and enhance cardiovascular disease prevention activities across the public and private sectors in an unprecedented effort to prevent one million heart attacks and strokes by 2017 and demonstrate to all that improving the health system can save lives.

Will you be one in a million?  Be one who makes the commitment to lead a heart-healthy lifestyle….do your part to live a life free of heart disease and stroke. 

Watch your inbox for our action requests to support You’re the Cure policy efforts around healthy living and prevention.  Open and click to help more of the million get there!

 

Thanks to volunteer writer/YTC advocate Karen Wiggins, for help developing this blog post.

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New crusader in fight to reduce consumption of sugar drinks

The Alliance for a Healthier Vermont is poised to fight for a 2 cent per ounce tax on sugar-added drinks to fight obesity in Vermont. And our coalition has an experienced leader joining the fight.

Anthony Iarrapino will be the sugar sweetened beverage tax campaign coordinator.  He has served previously as one of the leading environmental advocates in the state as the Senior Attorney for the Conservation Law Foundation. Over his 8 years at CLF- his expertise has included lobbying, grassroots organizing and mobilizing, media outreach, coalition building, campaign planning and implementation.

When coming on board, Anthony said, "In my career as an environmental attorney, I gained substantial experience successfully fighting for precedent-setting policies to protect and improve public health conditions in the face of tough opposition from industry. With strong support from the American Heart Association and a broad coalition of Vermont's other public health organizations, I am excited to set another important precedent by helping Vermont become the first state to tax sugary drinks as a means of curbing their overconsumption, leveling the playing field for healthier alternatives, and reducing obesity and related illnesses."

Join us in welcoming Anthony to our team!

Photo courtesy of Vermont Public Radio.

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Burlington event focuses on sugar's impact on cardiovascular disease and health

The American Heart Association recommends no more than 100 calories or 6 teaspoons of added sugar a day for women and 150 calories of 9 for teaspoons for men. But the reality is people are consuming far more. And sugary drinks are the primary source of added sugars in American diets.

Learn more about the impact of sugar on your health, including sugary drinks, from a local and national expert.

AHA volunteer and University of Vermont Professor of Nutrition and Food Sciences and Pediatrics Rachel Johnson, R.D., M.P.H., Ph.D., will be speaking about sugar’s impact on health at Community Medical School at the UVM College of Medicine in Burlington on October 7th at 6 pm. The event, which takes place in Carpenter Auditorium in the Given Building, is free and open to the public. For more information, call 802-847-2886.

The following are excerpts from Professor Johnson’s February 2013 testimony to the Vermont legislature about sugary drinks and their impact on health.

On average Americans consume 22 teaspoons - or 352 calories - of added sugars a day, the equivalent of about 2, 12 ounce soft drinks. Teens (age 12-17 years) and children (age 6 – 11 years) average 17 percent of their total calorie intake per day from added sugars.

The majority of Americans’ added sugars intake comes from sugar-sweetened beverages – soft drinks, energy drinks, sport drinks and fruit drinks account for about half of our added sugars intake. Regular calorie soft drinks are the NUMBER ONE single source of calories in the US diet.  This means that nutrient-void, empty-calorie soft drinks contribute more calories than any other food and beverage consumed by Americans. 

A systematic literature review published in 2010, concluded that “all lines of evidence consistently support the conclusion that the consumption of SSBs has contributed to the obesity epidemic.” 

There has been a proliferation of public health campaigns designed to limit Americans’ SSB consumption. 

Why do these recent public health interventions solely target SSBs and not foods like candy, cookies, cakes or other sugary treats? One primary reason is because energy consumed as a beverage is believed to be less satiating than energy consumed as solid food, and the body does not adjust for the liquid intake. According to the American Public Health Association’s policy statement on SSBs they “trick” the body’s food regulatory system and add to total energy intake rather than displacing other sources of calories. Another reason, also pointed out in the APHA’s statement, is that “food is essential to life, but SSBs are not. SSBs are a food-like substance that contribute only empty, nutrient void calories to the diet and exacerbate many chronic health problems.” Lastly, unlike food, there are many beverage options that have no-calories or are low in calories. 

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Are New Hampshire Roads Safe for Biking and Walking?

New Hampshire has a unique opportunity to make roads going through our communities to be safe for all. By adopting a "Complete Streets" policy, the NH Department of Transportation can help us all be a little more physically active. And that is good for the health of Granite Staters! You may be asking "What is a Complete Streets policy?" Its a policy whereby federally funded road construction or reconstruction would be planned and built so that they are safe and convenient for all users and all modes of transportation, including bicyclists and pedestrians. Let's make our community parks, playgrounds, and roadways to get to them, more accessible for hearthealthy lifestyles. Visit http://www.smartgrowthamerica.org/complete-streets/ to learn more about the Complete Streets initiative.

 

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Our new anthem: life is why

School behavioral specialist Carla Leonard had her hand on her heart during the Pledge of Allegiance when a heart attack nearly killed her. Her doctor didn’t mince words with her family afterward: “If I didn’t have surgery, they should pick out a dress for my funeral,” she said. “Plain and simple.”

But Leonard wanted to live — to see her daughter graduate from high school — so after surgery she started on a new path that continues today. She kicked her soda habit, started visiting her doctor regularly and got healthy enough to experience many important milestones in her life.

Leonard exemplifies the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s new brand tagline, “Life Is Why.” The phrase, which began appearing with the logo on Heart.org on Aug. 1, is much more than a slogan. It’s the singular idea that stands behind all the lifesaving work the AHA has carried out for 90  years – and it’s the very basic idea that people should be healthier so they can enjoy their lives more.

“The work we do matters,” American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown said. “It has mattered to my family and I’m sure it has mattered to your family. Life is why.”

(Please visit the site to view this video)

Brown’s grandfather had a blockage of his carotid artery in the early 1970s. During surgery, he suffered a stroke, and his life was never the same — nor was his family’s. He died a few years later after another stroke. “I missed my grandfather then and I continue to miss him today,” Brown said.

But she pointed out that scientific research and treatment guidelines have led to much better outcomes for many others in the decades that followed. One of those survivors is Brown’s sister, who is thriving despite two recent strokes. She received treatment at one of the AHA’s primary stroke centers, helping her working through rehabilitation and regain her life.

“My sister is why, my grandfather is why — and all of you are why,” Brown told the organization’s volunteers and staff when announcing the adaptation of “Life Is Why” as a focal point of the AHA’s brand.

The American Heart Association is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary health organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke — the two leading causes of death in the world. The AHA fights these diseases through a wide variety of tactics, yet “Life Is Why” can be attached to every facet of the organization’s work.

Life is why the AHA helps people eat healthier foods and get more active — among the many activities the organization has to help people live healthier lives.

Life is why Roni Noone decided to lose weight so she could enjoy her life with her family.

Noone, a 38-year-old Baltimore mom who struggled with her weight in her teens and 20s, has lost a total of 70 pounds because she wants to be there for those special moments with her family. She has joined a gym and even run a marathon – saying she didn’t want to set a poor health example for her sons Ryan, 9, and Evan, 3.

Roni Noone is motivated by the special moments with her family.

“Last year I took Ryan whitewater rafting, and it was really emotional for me. Now I’m doing all the things I got healthy for,” said Noone, a fitness blogger who’s also writing a book. “I want to run a half-marathon with him when he’s 18. And I want to be able to do all these things that I’m doing in my 30s when I’m in my 50s.”

Life is why the American Heart Association has funded more than $3.6 billion in heart disease and stroke research, more than any other organization outside the federal government. Life is why the association works to develop treatment guidelines that help healthcare providers follow scientifically proven treatment standards.

Life is why the AHA is the nation’s leader in CPR training and science, and why the AHA has helped pass many laws and policies that have improved the public health. In fact, now that 17 states have passed laws requiring CPR as a high school graduation requirement, more than 1 million seniors will leave school every year with this lifesaving skill.

Leonard, 52, has gone on to be an AHA advocate for CPR in schools and screenings to detect heart defects in newborns. And she did get to see her daughter Yasmine finish high school, just one of many milestones she has experienced since her surgery eight years ago.

“The highlight of them all was when I heard that my child had used my life-and-death experience to write her entrance essay for college,” she said. “I want to be able to look back on my life and say that I did not waste the second chance I was given.”

And as 13-year-old Natalia Bascunan of Nutley, New Jersey, will attest, loved ones and special moments are the most important illustration of Life Is Why. Natalia made the Little League all-star team years after facing two open-heart surgeries for a heart defect.

“They loved it because she was the only girl in the state on an all-boys team,” said Natalia’s mom, Roe Corsi. “When they found out she had a heart condition, they loved her even more.”

Another person who has embraced life’s special moments thanks to better health is Bernie Dennis, a longtime volunteer with the AHA who is now the chairman of the board.

Dennis said he didn’t appreciate the risks he was taking with his health until he had three heart attacks in one month, followed by a quadruple bypass. While he recovered, he started realizing some of the things he’d taken for granted.

“I can remember the fact that I was sitting on my porch saying to myself, ‘this is the first time in my life I’ve appreciated the warmth of the sun in May,’” he said.

Getting healthier has meant Dennis has gone on to experience precious family time that he would’ve missed. A high school graduation. A wedding. Playing with his “two beautiful granddaughters.” And dressing up as Santa Claus at Christmas.

“There’s a choice you get to make about living or not living,” he said. “My wife’s hand gave me reason to live. My wonderful family gave me reason to live.”

Learn more at www.lifeiswhy.org 

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Summer is Sweet Enough Without Sugary Drinks

Sugar sweetened beverages are the primary source of added sugars in Americans’ diets. Consumption of these drinks has increased 500% in the last fifty years!

It’s no wonder we’re in the midst of an obesity epidemic that’s responsible for 21% of all health care costs.

Join our fight to reduce consumption of sugary drinks.  Summer is a great time to start. Begin at home, then make a pledge to help spread the word. Choose one of the options below or come up with your own idea. But take action!

  • Share your story with our Government Relations Director tina.zuk@heart.org concerning how sugary drinks have negatively impact your life or the life of a patient, friend or family member.
  • Write a letter to your local paper saying a tax on sugary drinks could help reduce obesity.
  • Ask a local business to offer more healthy drink options.
  • Ask your kids’ summer camp to encourage parents to only pack water and discourage fruit drinks and sports drinks.
  • Ask community leaders to improve water quality in parks and schools.
  • Ask your dentist to talk to all his/her patients about the effects of sugary drinks.
  • Serve or bring no-sugar drinks to your next community event.
  • Tell other parents and caregivers about how much sugar is in sports drinks, juice drinks and sodas and why you choose healthy drinks.

The American Heart Association is working together with the Alliance for a Healthier Vermont to tackle obesity and sugary drinks in Vermont. Learn more by visiting:  http://allianceforahealthiervt.org/.

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New York City Tackles Obesity!

Did you see the news?  New York City recently announced that they've achieved a significant drop in the rate of severe obesity among our city's kids.  A nearly 10% decline of this leading cause of heart disease and stroke is a tremendous achievement!  However, the thing I liked most about this announcement (linked below), is the city's eye to the future.  It's right there in Commissioner's Bassett top quote.  More needs to be done.  Chancellor Farina's quote is an important one as well.  If health and wellness are truly top priorities for this administration - let's work together to pass laws that will serve to protect more kids from the dangers of inactivity and poor nutrition!

http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/pr2014/pr019-14.shtml

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Meet the Newest Member of the Advocacy Team: Violet J. Ruiz

Written by Violet R., Government Relations Director, Los Angeles

Hello YTC advocates! It is my pleasure to write this post as the new Government Relations Director in Los Angeles. It is an honor to serve the American Heart Association in building healthier lives free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke. I look forward to working with you in achieving our 2020 Impact Goal: to improve the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20% while reducing deaths from cardiovascular disease and stroke by 20%, by 2020.

I have made it my lifelong mission to help others achieve successful, productive, and happier lives. My career and passion to improve the health for all started with the death of my dear grandmother. She passed away in 2001 from sudden cardiac arrest due to small cell lung cancer. She was the most humble, giving, and caring person I ever knew. She exemplified the importance of giving back to the community and shaped the person I am today. Join me in taking a stand against heart disease-the number one killer of women.

Prior to joining the American Heart Association I worked as a Field Representative with the California State Legislature. During my time with the Legislature I was able to further develop my knowledge and passion for healthcare access to all communities. I helped the local district office educate constituents regarding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and how to access benefits. Most recently I served as a Grant Field Monitor, helping administer the Education and Outreach and Navigator grant programs for Covered California (California’s Health Benefit Exchange).

My dream job has always been focused on helping others and advancing the health of our community. I am thrilled to “hit the ground running” and work with you! YTC advocates are the most important and influential partners of the American Heart Association. I look forward to working with you in advocating for important public health policies. Please contact me, or Josh Brown - Grassroots Advocacy Director, if you have any questions or are interested in volunteering.

Thank you for your dedication, enthusiasm, and participation towards saving lives!

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Oklahoma Releases 2014 State of the State Health Report

The 2014 State of the State’s Health Report is an in-depth look at the health status of resident in Oklahoma based off various health measures.

Two critical measures of the health of Oklahoma – infant mortality and smoking rates – have shown signs of decrease, as a result, of the state’s investment in evidence-based practices and approaches implemented by community coalitions and statewide organizations. Enactment of required Pulse Oximetry screenings is an example of such a practice that is already saving lives in Oklahoma

The state ranks 44th in overall health status of its residents compared to other states in the nation. Oklahoma still has a high prevalence of death due to heart disease and stroke. Oklahoma has the third highest rate of death due to heart disease and fourth highest rate of death due to stroke in the nation.  Causes are attributed to unhealthy lifestyles and behaviors such as low physical activity and lack of fruit and vegetable consumption, along with a high prevalence of smoking and obesity.

For more information, please visit the Oklahoma Health Department’s website: http://www.ok.gov/health/pub/boh/state/

How would you recommend Oklahoma reverse these numbers?

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