American Heart Association - You’re the Cure

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You're Invited: Join Us to Learn More About Advocacy

We have a special opportunity from the NC Alliance for Health (NCAH), our statewide coalition advocating for obesity prevention and tobacco control policy change. The American Heart Association is a proud member of the NCAH.

NC Alliance for Health Healthy Food Access Training

You are invited to an interactive training on combating obesity and other chronic diseases by increasing access to healthy foods. There will be a discussion of food insecurity in North Carolina, and the many different ways people around the state are working to increase access to healthier foods.

You will how you can help make a difference. Attendees will have an opportunity to sharpen their advocacy skills, and learn tips to be more effective with media and decision-maker advocacy.

If you have questions or would like more information, please contact Sarah Jacobson at

Thursday, November 20, 2014
12:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Location: Forsyth County Health Department
799 N. Highland Avenue, Winston-Salem, NC 27101

Lunch will be served!

Register here by Thursday, November 6!

PS: Don't forget to post pictures of what you see in your food environment on your favorite social media with the hash tag #healthyonthegoNC!

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RI Awarded $3.5 Million to Prevent Obesity, Diabetes, Heart Disease and Stroke

Good news for Rhode Island...and many thanks to our You're the Cure advocates who fight for federal funding that comes back to our state! 

Following is a press release from the RI Department of Health:

Rhode Island Department of Health Awarded $3.5 Million to Drive Down Chronic Diseases: New program addresses obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke

The Rhode Island Department of Health was awarded a grant of $3.5 million to support implementation of population-wide and priority population approaches to prevent obesity, diabetes, and heart disease and stroke, and reduce health disparities in these areas among adults on a statewide basis.

The State and Local Public Health Actions to Prevent Obesity, Diabetes, and Heart Disease awards are part of a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) initiative to support public health efforts to reduce chronic diseases, promote healthier lifestyles, reduce health disparities, and control health care spending. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will administer the grants, which will run for 4 years, subject to availability of funds.

Overall, HHS awarded $69.5 million in new grant awards to 21 state and large-city health departments to prevent obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke and reduce health disparities among adults through combined efforts of communities and health systems. The State and Local Public Health Actions awards are financed by the Prevention and Public Health Fund of the Affordable Care Act. This new program complements and expands on a state-level program, State Public Health Actions, that began in 2013.

"The Department of Health is responsible for providing leadership and technical assistance to selected communities since fifty percent of these funds will be awarded to communities. We will ensure overall coordination in four key areas that are common to multiple disease and risk factor prevention programs such as, epidemiology and surveillance, environmental approaches, health system improvements and community-clinical linkages to enhance coordination across program activities for the greatest public health impact and to maximize these investments" said, Ana Novais, MA, Executive Director of Health.

States will sub-award half of their funds to support activities in four to eight communities each. Community approaches will build support for lifestyle change, particularly for those at high risk, to prevent diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Health system efforts will focus on linking community programs to clinical services for populations with the largest disparities in high blood pressure and pre-diabetes.

Specifically, the work that communities will do to have a statewide impact will be to employ strategies that promote health, support and reinforce healthful behaviors, and build support for healthy living for the general population and particularly for those with uncontrolled high blood pressure and those at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Priority populations include people with racial/ethnic or socioeconomic disparities, including inadequate access to care, poor quality of care, or low income.

"Achieving the best preventive health care is vital to successful health outcomes. Primary care providers supports the work of the health care system through provision of services such as mammography and tobacco cessation counseling for underserved populations, work on issues of health care access, planned care, self-management, patient navigation, and quality prevention services. Through community-based public health efforts that support intensive and sustained interventions that include health care settings, together we can improve population health outcomes," said Michael Fine, MD, Director of Health. "In this country, chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes are the leading causes of death, disability, and health care costs, accounting for 7 of 10 deaths among Americans each year, and more than 80 percent of the $2.7 trillion our nation spends annually on medical care."

To learn more about Rhode Island's prevention and wellness projects, visit


Release date: 10-03-2014

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WIN! Tobacco Cessation Funding Granted

The American Heart Association and our You’re the Cure advocates and partners made a big win this month!

After years of campaigning to increase funding for tobacco prevention and cessation in the District, our efforts have finally been rewarded. On October 1, 2014, DC Council granted $2 million dollars to the District’s tobacco control program. This has been a long, hard campaign that will save a lot of lives, and is something to be celebrated!

The Need For Funding:
Twenty percent of District residents smoke, and 700 die from tobacco related causes each year.

DC tobacco taxes rake in $35 million dollars annually, yet, as little as three years ago, none of this funding was going towards tobacco prevention and cessation efforts in the District.

The Center for Disease Control recommends that $10.7 million be dedicated to the District’s tobacco control program each year. DC has long lagged far beneath this recommendation. Before the funding increase at the beginning of the month, DC’s tobacco control program did not even have enough funding to adequately support the District’s Quitline.

Although the District is still far from CDC’s recommended $10.7 million, this $2 million increase is a huge leap in that direction.

Shout out to Our Partners and Volunteers:
The American Heart Association has been working to increase budget appropriation for tobacco control for a long time and is thrilled with this recent $2 million appropriaton.

We would like to give a big thanks to our partners who helped us achieve this win:
        American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network
        Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids
        DC Tobacco Free Coalition

We would also like to thank our many You’re the Cure advocates who helped make our campaign a success.  Our advocates contributed greatly to the cause by making phone calls, drop-by visits, face-to-face visits, sending letters in the mail, bearing oral testimonies, acting as spokespeople, and putting on rallies.

Thank you! Your efforts have made a world of difference in the success of this campaign.

Hope for the Future:
We are confident that the health department will make the most of the funds it has been given for tobacco prevention and cessation efforts. We, along with our partners, will continue to work diligently to secure the CDC-recommended funding level of $10.7 million. This is the start of great things to come concerning tobacco cessation and prevention efforts in Washington, DC.












(Thank you to Catherine Christiansen for development of this blog post)


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Stories from Central and Eastern Oregon

Guest Blogger: Sarah Higginbotham, Oregon Government Relations Director

Recently, I have had an opportunity to connect with a special kind of survivor: those who live in rural Oregon.

From Deschutes County in the high desert of Central Oregon, to Umatilla County in the rugged, wheat-growing region of Eastern Oregon, our fellow Oregonians living in these regions face unique challenges when it comes to caring for their health.

Their challenges become even greater when managing the effects of cardiovascular disease or stroke. With fewer hospitals and fewer providers, time and distance to receive care can be much longer.

In particular, I had the great privilege of meeting two incredible women—both survivors living east of Oregon’s more populated western corridor.

Both were willing to discuss their challenges with health care and to stand with the AHA to call for improvements in rural Oregon. They share an impressive self-sufficiency and a deep pride in their community.

Anne of La Pine knows that in addition to ensuring stroke survivors have access to the consistent rehabilitation therapy, access to public transportation is just as important for her and her husband. While she has great admiration for her various medical providers, systematic improvements could be made to help her coordinate care between them.

Cathy, whose family roots go back generations in Umatilla County, will tell you that she doesn’t like to complain—she does the things that need to be done, and knows that things can be even tougher for others. Cathy, like many survivors, has the daunting task of managing multiple prescriptions to treat her heart condition and diabetes. As a caregiver to family members also managing chronic conditions (including her son, a stroke survivor), Cathy also sees to the appointments and needs of her loved ones.

The AHA advocates for the care of all Oregonians with decision makers in DC and in the state—but that advocacy would fall flat if it weren’t for brave survivors like Anne and Cathy being willing to speak up.

We have the deepest gratitude and appreciation for their recent efforts—and I feel lucky to have met them. They took the time and energy to go the extra mile to join our advocacy efforts—and like everything else for them—they had to work go a little further than many of us to do so.

If you are a survivor or know survivors of heart disease or stroke anywhere in Oregon, I would love to hear from you. Please contact me at

Here’s to the survivors in Oregon’s more rugged and absolutely inspiring landscapes!

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Breaking Up is Hard to Do

Guest Blogger: Erica Phung, Senior Government Relations Director, Southern California

If you’re reading this blog – you’ve obviously been thinking about heart-health lately, which is a wonderful thing.  Maybe you walk your dog after work, or even prepare healthy meals for your family or friends.  And just maybe you’ve cut down on the sugar-sweetened beverages.  But what about sodium? 

Sodium you say?  Wait – it couldn’t be all that bad, right?

Sodium is a mineral that’s essential for life. It’s regulated in the body by your kidneys, and it helps control your body’s fluid balance. It also helps send nerve impulses and affects muscle function.  But most of us go far over the AHA/ASA guideline of 1,500mg – without even knowing it.

When there’s extra sodium in your bloodstream, it pulls water into your blood vessels, increasing the total volume of blood inside. With more blood flowing through, blood pressure increases. It’s like turning up the water supply to a garden hose — the pressure in the hose increases as more water is blasted through it. Over time, high blood pressure may overstretch or injure the blood vessel walls and speed the build-up of gunky plaque that can block blood flow. The added pressure also tires out the heart by forcing it to work harder to pump blood through the body.  Increased blood pressure is very dangerous – and is known as being the ‘silent killer’ because its symptoms aren’t always obvious. 

Even if you haven’t been diagnosed with high blood pressure, eating less sodium can help blunt the rise in blood pressure that occurs with age, and reduce your risk of heart attack, heart failure, stroke, kidney disease, osteoporosis, stomach cancer and even headaches. The extra water in your body can also lead to bloating and weight gain.

Breaking up is hard to do, especially if it’s with Sneaky Salt.  But we’re here to help.  First, make a pledge to reduce sodium in your diet here, secondly, do a little inventory of the sodium in your daily diet and see how close you are to the 1,500mg benchmark and make an action plan for you and your family.  If you’re stumped, check out the resources and recipes here

One estimate suggested that if Americans moved to an average intake of 1,500 mg/day sodium, it could result in a 25.6 % overall decrease in blood pressure and an estimated $26.2 billion in health care savings!  Another estimate projected that achieving this goal would reduce deaths from cardiovascular disease by anywhere from 500,000 to nearly 1.2 million over the next 10 years!  Breaking up with salt isn’t easy – but it could just save your life!

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Simple Cooking with Heart - Tailgate Chili

Guest Blogger: Erica Phung, Senior Government Relations Director, Southern California

The leaves are changing colors, and your favorite team is on the field. Fall is officially here!  When the weather turns cool, there’s nothing better than a warm, hearty bowl of comforting soup or chili to keep you going.  At Simple Cooking with Heart, we’ve got some great recipes that will keep you satisfied and heart-healthy! Here’s a fun one to try at your next tailgate or game-day party.

Click here to watch the how-to video!

4 Servings; about $3.44 per serving


1 pound 95% lean ground beef (or ground white meat chicken or turkey for a healthier option) 
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
1 medium jalapeno, chopped (optional, only if you like spicy chili)
2 teaspoons minced garlic from the jar or 4 cloves minced
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander 
1 (15.5 oz) can no-salt-added or low-sodium pinto or kidney beans, undrained 
1 (14.5 oz) can  no-salt-added or low-sodium diced tomatoes, undrained 
3/4 cup jarred salsa (lowest sodium available)


  1. Spray large saucepan with cooking spray. Cook beef and onion over medium-high heat for 5-7 minutes, stirring constantly to break up beef. Transfer to colander and rinse with water to drain excess fat. Return beef to pan.
  2. Stir in bell pepper, garlic, chili powder, and cumin, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer, cover and cook for 20 minutes.
  4. Optional – serve topped with low-fat grated cheese, a dollop of fat-free sour cream, sliced avocado, snipped cilantro or chopped green onions.

TIP: if you want 5-alarm chili, add 1 teaspoon Cheyenne pepper

Per serving:



Total Fat 

6.0 g

Saturated Fat 

2.5 g

Trans Fat

0.5 g

Polyunsaturated Fat

0.5 g

Monounsaturated Fat 

2.5 g


62 mg


288 mg


29 g


7 g


8 g


31 g

Dietary Exchanges:  1 starch, 3 vegetable, 3.5 lean meat

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You're the Cure Volunteers in Hawaii Have Jumpstarted the Debate on E-cigarrettes

In case you missed it: our You’re the Cure volunteers in Hawaii jumpstarted the debate about e-cigarettes with an Aug. 25 news conference delivering the association’s new policy statement.

At the AHA press briefing Lila Johnson RN, MPH, program manager of the Hawaii State Department of Health’s Tobacco Prevention and Education Program, was especially eloquent when commenting on the appeal of e-cigarettes among young people. Please click here for the full story.

As the e-cigarette debate continues to gain momentum please take a moment and think about what can you do in your community to make sure the e-cigarette industry’s aggressive and unregulated marketing efforts do not obscure the harmful effects of smoking.  For more information on e-cigarettes and public health click here.

If you are interested in seeing how you can help our efforts, please contact Don Weisman at or contact  Grassroots Director Grace Henscheid.


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Share Your Story: Mark Olson

Mark Olson Richfield, MN

Beware the Ides of March, little did I know that this saying would gain new meaning for me on the morning of March 15th 2008. My wakeup call came in the form of shortness of breath and chest pain the evening of March 14th. I figured I was just having an asthma attack even though the chest pain was new. So I used my inhaler and went to bed having received some relief. Around 3:30 am on the 15th I awoke feeling chest pain again. I immediately dressed and drove to the hospital about 1 mile away.  Boy did I get a lot of grief for driving myself from both family and hospital personnel. The emergency room personnel quizzed me and had me in cardiac care suite within minutes. Tests were run nitroglycerin was administered and a mild heart attack was diagnosed. I was surprised! I was frightened! I was too darn young to have a heart condition.

As I spent the next few days in hospital I learned that I wasn’t too young, that I shouldn’t have been surprised and that in this instance fear is a pretty powerful motivator. In consulting with my family I found that my maternal uncle had experienced a heart attack at the same age. We then began discussing the cardiovascular history of my family and found that my surprise was also misguided. When we started counting heart attacks, strokes and aneurisms in family members there was significant reason for the entire family to look at the one thing we can control lifestyle.

I can’t speak for my entire family but I can certainly share what I have done since my personal Ides of March. In order to live healthier I have added doctor prescribed medication to control cholesterol and blood pressure.  I have made walking a focus of my day. I have made dietary choices that increase heart health a focus of my meal plans. I have eliminated things that caused me stress and added things that bring me happiness. Thanks to my niece I have rediscovered a passion for theater and boy is that fun.  This combination has helped me to reduce my risk and live a happier life.  

Ah, but those personal changes were not enough for me. I wanted to make a difference for my niece, nephews and generations to come. Having dabbled in policy change in my work life, I decided I should use the skills I have gained to change health policy. Yeah, I know, there goes that reducing stress concept right. But I took the leap connected with the American Heart Association and have been a volunteer advocate ever since. Working with AHA staff and volunteers has been a good kind of stress. We have had a lot of victories in Minnesota since I joined the State Advocacy Committee like a smoke-free state, an increase in the state’s tobacco tax, CPR as a graduation requirement for all Minnesota high school students to name a few.  I look forward to having more victories on things like AED registries, comprehensive stroke and STEMI systems and funding a state Safe Routes to School program and I want you to be a part of it. Join the You’re the Cure Network at  and work with me and many others to bring them about.

I’ve made changes to my lifestyle that improves my health. I’ve connected with the health advocacy community to make change happen for everyone. And I can now say that having a heart attack at age 46 has led me to be a healthier happier person.  Follow my lead folks make changes to live healthier and happier but skip the heart attack.  By making changes now you probably will.


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Year in Review: Look What YOU Have Done!

The American Heart Association’s commitment to building a culture of health is why we seek to advance science-based public policy initiatives at the local, state, and federal level. To be successful in this endeavor, we use a combination of legislative strategy, lobbying, and media advocacy, along with the passion and activism of the Association’s grassroots volunteer advocatesour You’re the Cure network. Check out our Year in Review and see what YOU did!

Over the course of the 2013-2014 year, You’re the Cure advocates across our five Great Rivers Affiliate states—Delaware, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia—sent an impressive 42,511 emails in support of our policy issues to lawmakers. Additionally, advocates met face-to-face with their legislators, made phone calls, testified at legislative hearings, spoke with the media, wrote op-eds and letters to the editor in support of our policy issues for a record 5,423 "offline" actions in FY 13-14, an impressive 92% increase over the previous year! These personal, heartfelt activities put a face on our issues and make an enormous impact on elected leaders.

Your dedication to the mission of the American Heart Association puts the "YOU" in You’re the Cure. Your actions helped to advance important public policies that will improve the health of citizens across the Great Rivers Affiliate! Thank you and congratulations on that success!

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Healthy Corner Stores, Healthy Communities, Healthy People!

In some communities in New Jersey, it is easier to find grape soda than an actual grape! In areas that lack easy access to grocery stores, people go to corner stores and other small retailers to buy the items they need to feed their families. Unfortunately, many small business owner face challenges in offering healthy staples like whole grain breads, low fat milk and fresh produce. The American Heart Association is hoping to change that!

We are working with our partners at The Food Trust and New Jersey Partnership for Healthy Kids to form the New Jersey Healthy Corner Stores Initiative. This initiative will bring in business owners, public health officials and economic development professionals to study the problem and offer solutions. There have been several small, local Healthy Corner Store efforts in various areas of the state and we are looking to expand the success of those programs throughout New Jersey.

Every family in New Jersey deserves access to healthy foods. I will be attending all the Fall Heart Walks in October. If you are there, please feel free to stop by the “You’re the Cure” table to say hi and learn more about this effort. 

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