American Heart Association - You’re the Cure
WELCOME! PLEASE LOGIN OR SIGN UP

LoginLogin with Facebook

Remember me Forgot Password

Be the Cure, Join Today!

  • Learn about heart-health issues
  • Meet other likeminded advocates
  • Take action and be heard
SIGN UP
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!

Read More

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

Ingredients:

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)

Directions:

  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:

Calories

297

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

Cholesterol

62 mg

Sodium 

288 mg

Carbohydrates

29 g

Fiber

7 g

Sugars

8 g

Protein

31 g

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

Read More

Vance Lobe - What the Affordable Care Act means for me

Vance Lobe

It’s been almost one year now since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchanges were implemented and I thought it was time to reflect on how this has affected my life. 

I am a two time heart attack survivor, starting with the first one about five and a half years ago.  I was gainfully employed at the time and had, what I thought, was good insurance through my employer.  I only learned after the attack that it wasn’t as good as I thought, as a lot of things slipped through the cracks.

I lost my job through layoffs just prior to the second attack and was fortunate to at least have the COBRA insurance, even though, it caused serious financial hardship, as I was unemployed and had a large financial obligations for this care. 

For a year and a half I was unemployed without any healthcare insurance, as I was “uninsurable” due to my pre-existing heart condition.

During this time, every time I felt a little pain or just not feeling right, I would think about what would happen to me if I had another heart attack without any insurance.  I couldn’t  even afford "well care" as I was still unemployed and I made too much on unemployment to take advantage of any subsidies for any of the medicines that I needed or any other assistance.

That all changed this past January when I was finally able to get insurance through ACA.  I am able to receive “well care” for almost nothing, receive my life prolonging medicines for free and I no longer stress about my health as I know the insurance will cover the balance of my care in case something else happens.  While I am once again employed, I have chosen to continue to stay in the program, as it’s a good plan for me.

Read More

Protecting the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act

written by Violet Ruiz, Government Relations Director, Greater Los Angeles

The U.S. is in the midst of a full-blown obesity epidemic that has disproportionately affected our children. Currently, nearly one third of children are overweight or obese. The health consequences of obesity in children are staggering. Recent research shows that an obese child’s arteries can resemble those of a middle-aged adult and obese adolescents have an overwhelming chance of becoming obese adults. Students consume 35%-50% of their daily caloric intake at school, where they are often exposed to junk foods and sugary drinks that have little to no nutritional value. Schools can institute a healthy environment by promoting and proving nutritious meals. 

In 2012, the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act went into effect and for the first time in generations, the national school lunch, breakfast, and competitive foods nutrition standards were updated.  We know that nutritious school foods are essential to heart health, teaching life-long healthy habits, and helping children perform better academically- and there is strong evidence that the new standards are making a difference. Yet there are some in Congress who want to turn back the clock and slow the progress in providing children healthy foods in schools. 

During the month of August, You’re the Cure Advocates made special deliveries to legislators across the county in support of healthy school meals and snacks.  Our message to Congress was that that healthy school meals ‘fit’ into a successful school day for kids- and we are ‘puzzled’ by efforts to weaken or delay the important nutrition standards. Advocates delivered over 70 puzzles, in which 4 puzzle pieces fit together to display a healthy school meal and 1 piece shows unhealthy food that doesn’t fit.

The USDA has reported that over 91% of schools are meeting the updated nutrition standards, up from just 14% of schools meeting the old standards in 2009-2010. This demonstrates that schools are willing and able to make these important changes. Experts also agree that the USDA is doing a good job in providing training and technical assistance to schools. They have been responsive to school food service feedback, adjusting guidance, and proving flexibility. Furthermore, Harvard researchers found the updated school meal(s) standards have led to increased fruit and vegetable consumption.

Together we can take a stand and urge Congress to continue protecting healthy school meals. Kids are adjusting to the new meals and appropriate portion sizes. A healthy school environment helps improve children’s physical well-being, enhances learning, can minimize behavior problems, and increase attendance.

If you are interested in protecting healthy school nutrition standards in your community, please contact your local Government Relations Director for Volunteer opportunities. You can also call or write your local congressional legislator to take action now!

Read More

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.   

Read More

Intern Spotlight: Elizabeth Shaeffer

Written by Elizabeth Shaeffer

My name is Liz Shaeffer and I am an intern here at the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association in Sacramento, California.  I am a junior at University of Southern California in Los Angeles, and I came home for the summer looking for an internship that would teach me a little bit more about the lobbying and advocacy processes.  I became interested in Advocacy after taking a class on interest groups and elite behavior last spring.  In this class, a representative from a lobbying firm in Sacramento came to address to our class, and suddenly all of my course readings started to make sense.  From this experience, I became interested in interning for the American Heart Association because my grandfather has always been very active in the organization, so it was a familiar place to begin my first internship. 

On my first day of work I was thrown into the fire and was tasked to follow Callie Hanft (California’s Government Relations Director) around the Capitol building.  I learned first-hand how to successfully lobby against a bill.  It was a unique experience that taught me about the advocacy process that I wouldn’t learn from my classes at school or from an online seminar. 

I play lacrosse at USC, but my other interests include cooking and hiking.  I am currently double-majoring in both Sociology and Political Science. The first major I chose was Sociology because I have always been interested in the way people interact with one another and how we create social norms.  I then added the Political Science major after taking a few political science classes and realizing that I could use that background knowledge from my sociology courses on a bigger stage to help influence laws and government.

After I graduate, I hope to stay in Southern California for a few years and work in the government relations sector of a company, or anything else advocacy-related.  One thing I’ve definitely learned so far as an intern is that there is much more to advocacy than the lobbyist that actually goes in the Capitol.  But ultimately, I aspire to become a lobbyist in Sacramento. 

Read More

The Case for Hands-Only CPR Training

Written by Brittni Chicuata, Gov. Relations Director, Greater Bay Area

Here at the American Heart Association, optimal cardiovascular health for all is paramount. We have set a 2020 Impact Goal of improving the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20 percent while reducing deaths from heart disease and stroke by 20 percent. To reach our goals I am appealing to you, our volunteers, for input and advocacy.

Approximately 424,000 people in the United States experience Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) annually in places outside of the hospital, and roughly only 10% survive the event. Despite these devastating and sobering numbers, the majority of people who experience SCA do not receive the necessary assistance from bystanders, since 70% of Americans either do not know, are afraid, or have forgotten how to perform CPR effectively.

Since releasing our groundbreaking statement on Hands-Only CPR in 2010, which emphasizes the importance of preparing the general public with lifesaving skills, the American Heart Association has worked tirelessly to build awareness around the value of knowing how to perform Hands-Only CPR. Additionally, we have implemented Hands-Only CPR initiatives nationwide and committed ourselves to training 20 million Americans in CPR by the year 2020. To date, 18 states have passed legislation making Hands-Only CPR training a high school graduation requirement, which is incredible. Still, there is much work to be done in the remaining states.

The need for public education on the lifesaving skill of Hands-Only CPR is emphasized not only by the number of unprepared bystanders who will face an emergency, but also by the health disparities associated with survival and quality of life after SCA. There are cultural barriers to seeking and providing help for medical emergencies, variances in EMS response time depending on one’s zip code, and disparities in health outcomes following those emergencies. For example, African-Americans who experience cardiac arrest at home, work or in another public location at higher rates and younger ages than other ethnicities, yet their survival rates are twice as poor as those of whites.

Together we can increase survival rates following Sudden Cardiac Arrest. By advocating for Hands-Only CPR training in schools, by increasing outreach in faith and other community-based organizations, and by working with community stakeholders, we can grow awareness around this pivotal issue and prepare everyday people to help save a stranger or loved-one’s life. Tomorrow’s emergencies are unpredictable.

If you are interested in creating a generation of life savers via the training of Hands-Only CPR in your community, please contact your local Government Relations Director for volunteer opportunities.

Read More

What is all the fuss about e-cigarettes?

Written by Erica Phung, Sr. Government Relations Director, Southern California

Have you been to the movies lately or out at a café and noticed someone puffing on an e-cigarette and wondered – just what are those things?  Who’s making them? And what’s in that cloud coming out the end of it?

Since the Office of the Surgeon General released the first report on the dangers of tobacco use, smoking rates declined significantly across the United States.  As such, lower smoking rates have forced tobacco companies to seek new ways to appeal to a new generation of smokers, including through the manufacturing and marketing of e-cigarettes.

E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that have cartridges or refillable tanks that contain a liquid mixture primarily comprised of propylene glycol and/or glycerol and nicotine, as well as other flavors or chemicals.  Proponents argue they don’t expose the user to the same harmful toxins found in conventional cigarette smoke and could help people quit smoking.  However, the devices have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for smoking cessation or been proven to be safe.  

The AHA has concerns that e-cigarettes could fuel and promote nicotine addiction, and that their acceptance has the potential of re-normalizing smoking, especially amongst youth who are drawn to candy flavors.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that youth rates of e-cigarette use has skyrocketed, doubling from 2011 to 2012. The CDC estimated that by 2012, 1.78 million youth had tried e-cigarettes.  The AHA also has concerns of second or third hand exposure to e-cigarette vapor and constituents. 

Because of these concerns, the AHA believes that e-cigarettes should be included in existing smoke-free laws, taxed like conventional tobacco products and be included in laws that prohibit the sale and marketing of tobacco to minors.  We also promote educating health care workers, so they can adequately counsel their patients regarding comprehensive tobacco cessation strategies.  Further research and surveillance is also needed regarding the short, medium and long-term physiological effects of e-cigarettes.

In California, our AHA You’re the Cure Advocates have helped pass e-cigarette legislation in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and numerous other cities.  Does your city include e-cigarettes in its smoke-free laws? If not – contact us to help advocate for change! All Californians deserve to breathe clean air.

Read More

Have a Heart Healthy Summer

Guest Blogger: Kami Sutton, Grassroots Advocacy Coordinator

Happy Summer, You’re the Cure Advocates! As the temperatures are rising and we are all preparing for the fun activities of summertime, I thought I would share with you my favorite low sodium summertime recipe! As a congenital heart defect survivor and someone who is in a constant battle against Congestive Heart Failure, I have learned how to eat a healthy low sodium diet.

Even for healthy hearts it is important to eat a well-balanced diet to prevent heart disease and that includes a diet low in sodium and processed foods. Choose and prepare foods with little or no salt. To lower blood pressure, aim to eat no more than 2,400 milligrams of sodium per day. Reducing daily intake to 1,500 mg is desirable because it can lower blood pressure even further.

With that in mind I present to you a delicious low sodium recipe to take to your next summer picnic or BBQ!

Black Bean Salad (or Salsa)

6 servings

 

About $0.84 per serving

 

1 15.5-ounce can no-salt-added or low-sodium black beans, drained

1 15-ounce can no-salt added or low-sodium kernel corn, drained or ¾ cup frozen corn, thawed

1 medium red bell pepper or 1 tomato diced

1/2 cup red onion, diced

1 teaspoon minced garlic from jar

2 tablespoon chopped cilantro

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

3 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

Juice of 1 lime

 

Toss all together, chill at least one hour.

TIP: Serve this as a side salad to a meal or warm in microwave and use as a filling for tacos!

For nutrition facts and links to more healthy recipes, visit: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/HealthyCooking/Black-Bean-Salad-or-Salsa_UCM_429539_Article.jsp

Read More

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!

Read More

[+] Blogs[-] Collapse