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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

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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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Legislative Updates from the Capitol

Can you believe it’s June already? Time really flies when you’re having fun!  May and June are busy months at the Capitol, and things tend to change VERY fast.  In this post, I will provide a quick update on the status of AHA/ASA pending priority legislation.

The AHA/ASA is proud to sponsor SB 912 (Mitchell), and to work closely with the public health community supporting SB 1000 (Monning).

SB 912 (Mitchell) will maintain current nutritional standards in vending machines on state property by eliminating the sunset date on current law, set to expire January 1, 2015.  This modest, yet important measure, will ensure that state employees and visitors to state property will continue to have healthy options available for purchase in vending machines.

SB 1000 (Monning) requires that a warning label be placed on certain containers of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs).  SSBs are classified as beverages that have added sugar and contain 75 calories or more per 12 ounces (or the equivalent amount). Did you know drinking just one soda a day increases an adult’s likelihood of being overweight by 27%, and for children that likelihood increases to 55%? In California, 41% of children and 62% of teens drink at least one SSB drink every day. The average adult in the United States consumes 45 gallons of SSBs each year. California is in the midst of an obesity epidemic, placing many Californians at an increased risk of heart disease and other chronic illnesses.  

A warning label will allow consumers to make more informed purchasing decisions, and is just one of many important public health policies to address the obesity epidemic. 

SB 1000 passed off the Senate Floor on Thursday, May 29th on a vote of 21-13, and now awaits a hearing in the Assembly Health Committee on June 17th. SB 912 is scheduled for a vote in the Assembly Business, Professions, and Consumer Protection Committee on Tuesday, June 24th.

Please visit our Action Center to stay up-to-date on the progress of these two bills, and to find out ways in which you can help support the passage of these important public health policies with your action.

 You’re the Cure!

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One Million Milestone

Did you hear the big news?  We’ve reached an amazing milestone in our campaign to teach all students to be ‘CPR Smart’!  17 states now require CPR training as a graduation requirement, which adds up to over one million annual graduates who are prepared to save a life.  Congratulations to all of the You’re the Cure advocates and community partners who have spoken-up for training our next generation of life-savers.   

But with every advocacy celebration comes a new call to action.  33 states still need to pass legislation to make CPR a graduation requirement and you can help us get there!  Here are a couple simple things you can do right now to get the word out:

1) Watch Miss Teen International Haley Pontius share how a bad day can be turned into a day to remember when students know CPR.  And don’t forget to share this PSA on social media with the hashtag #CPRinSchools!

(Please visit the site to view this video)

2) Do you live in one of the 33 states that have not made CPR a graduation requirement yet?  Take our Be CPR Smart pledge to show your support and join the movement.  We’ll keep you updated on the progress being made in your state. 


 

 

We hope you’ll help keep the momentum going as we support many states working to pass this legislation into 2015.  Several states have already had success in securing funding for CPR training in schools, but now need to push for the legislature to pass the graduation requirement and in Illinois, the Governor recently signed legislation that requires schools to offer CPR & AED training to students. 

Bystander CPR can double or triple survival rates when given right away and with 424,000 people suffering out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) each year, this law is critical to helping save lives.  Thank you for being part of our movement to train the next generation of life-savers!


PS- Inspired to be CPR smart too?  Take 60 seconds to learn how to save a life with Hands-Only CPR.

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Recap: 12th Annual California Lobby Day

Wednesday, April 23rd was a big day for the American Heart Association! On this day, we hosted our 12th annual California Lobby Day at the Capitol in Sacramento to raise awareness about heart disease as well as advocate for heart healthy topics designed to make California a healthier place to live.  Specifically, these topics include: Senate Bill 912 (Healthy Food Options in vending machines), Senate Bill 1000 (Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Warning Label Act), and tobacco control and legislation.

If enacted, SB 912 will maintain current nutritional standards in vending machines by eliminating the expiration date on current legislation. SB 912 is a modest, yet important measure, and now is not the time to take a step backward in our efforts to reduce obesity.  Additionally, if enacted, SB 1000 will require that a warning label be placed on containers of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs), such as sodas, sports drinks, and energy drinks, which have added sugar and contain 75 calories or more per 12 ounces (or the equivalent amount). The text of the label is: “Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay.”

SB 912 and SB 1000 are two bills of a multi-pronged strategy to combat the obesity epidemic. Things change very fast at the Capitol, so we invite you to please visit here to stay up-to-date on recent developments!

Lastly, we raised awareness about the Surgeon General’s 50th Report on smoking in hopes to lay a strong foundation for future tobacco control and prevention legislation. For more information please visit here.

Thanks to the participation of more than 150 attendees (including high school students, You’re the Cure advocates, and staff), California’s 12th Annual Lobby Day was a huge success.  Highlights from the day start with a series of talented speakers and an advocacy training where volunteers and experts shared insight on our three topics as well as tips on how to meet with a lawmakers. Additionally, Joe Debbs served as our passion speaker where he shared the importance of volunteerism and why he continues to stay heavily involved with the AHA.  Attendees also participated in scheduled legislative meetings and a fun physical activity – the Cupid Shuffle!  Please see some of the photos here.

I am very fortunate to be a part of such an impactful event.  Thank you for your support: whether you joined us in Sacramento or took action online, your efforts are truly appreciated and they truly make a difference.  Please contact me if you are interested in future volunteer opportunities or if you have any legislative questions.

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Advocate Spotlight - Karen Dionne

Karen Dionne, Washington

At age 37, I envisioned my whole life ahead of me as I was planning my wedding to Michael, the man of my dreams.  I was successful at my job as a sales representative at a golf resort.  I was physically active, for fun I played co-ed softball, golf, and tennis.  My life quickly changed in an instant.  One quiet morning, I would leave my old life as I knew it behind and begin my life over struggling to survive as a stroke survivor.

Four months prior to my wedding, I had a hemorrhagic stroke causing paralysis on my left side. I had no known stroke risk factors. Blood pressure was normal, healthy cholesterol, didn’t do drugs, not on birth control pills, and was not overweight. 

On Friday morning March 2, 2007 while making breakfast with my fiancé Michael, I told him that I was feeling dizzy, light headed and I had a severe headache. It felt as if I could pass out.  Warning sign #1.    

As I sat on the couch, I started to feel immediate fatigue. My head was just not right. It started to hurt more.  Warning sign #2.  

I got up and started to walk again. However, this time I stop and just stood there.  I looked down at my feet in disbelief.  I described to Michael that I was looking down at my left foot but I could not feel it. Warning sign #3. 

The sensation quickly traveled up the left side of my body. I could not feel it. It was like it went to sleep without the pins and needles feeling.  Something was terribly wrong.  “Help me!” I exclaimed. 

Michael started putting all the pieces of the puzzle together. He looked at me and asked me to smile. He could see the left side of my facial muscles were not equal to my right side.  Warning sign #4.  

He said to me, “Karen, everything you’re telling me says you’re having a stroke!” This all took less than 5 minutes.

Michael SAVED MY LIFE that day by recognizing that I was having a stroke.  There was no doubt in his mind.  He wasted no time getting me to the emergency room.  A CT Scan revealed I was bleeding in my brain. I was having a hemorrhagic stroke. 

The stroke took many things from me including my lower left quadrant vision. It left me without feeling on my entire left side including in my left hand, I had to learn to walk again and I still have a small limp. With hard work, determination, and complete love and support from my husband Michael, I was able to walk down the aisle four months later on our wedding day. 

I later asked Michael how he knew I was having a stroke. He replied that he read it somewhere but he doesn’t remember where. Only that somewhere he remembered that lifesaving bit of information that he stored in his memory. I say that because everything we do to raise awareness about heart disease and stroke adds up. Even if it’s one person we touch, that one person could save a life someday.  And it could be YOUR life.  Or YOU could save someone you love.

Social media has been a great tool throughout my recovery efforts. During my journey on the road to recovery, I founded a support group for young adult stroke survivors called facebook.com/Reclaiming Ourselves.  Nearly a thousand of young adult stroke survivors from around the world encourage each other online with our goals and successes.  We are also available on Twitter @Stroke_Survior, and Pintrest. 

I volunteer as a Go Red For Women Ambassador with the American Heart Association. I do public speaking throughout my community educating others about the warning signs of heart disease and stroke and controllable risk factors in order to save lives.  As a Go Red For Women Ambassador is not just about heart, it's about stroke too.  Our goal as Ambassadors is to raise awareness about heart disease and stroke in order to reduce deaths from these diseases.  And the focus is not just about Heart month in February, it's about every month, for every woman, for every life.  

Being a voice for the millions of stroke survivors and their families is very important to me. That’s why I’m a You’re The Cure advocate. Recently, I met with our Washington state Governor and other elected officials to discuss tobacco prevention, childhood obesity, safe routes to schools and CPR in schools in order to save lives.  It’s easy to be an advocate and the American Heart Association makes it easy. 

I was honored to be asked to be on the Board of Directors in the South Sound.  It’s another way to give back to my community and support an organization that gives so much to help so many. 

Do I still work on my recovery?  Every day!! I stay very active with my gym membership.  My goal is to work out 4-5 times a week and do physical events such as 5K’s, 10K’s or even half marathons. This year was the second time I completed The Big Climb in Seattle up Columbia Tower (69 flights and 1,311 steps).  I believe there is no finish line.  I’m always looking for ‘what’s next’ and challenge others to join me. 

How do you recognize a stroke?  Remember F.A.S.T. 

F. Face

A. Arms

S. Speech

T. Time call 9-1-1 immediately

Please, make it your mission to educate yourself on the warning signs of stroke so you can be there for the ones you love. And make it your mission to educate the ones you love so they can be there for you. 

Karen Dionne, Stroke Survivor

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Take Control of Your Health

Did you know high blood pressure has also been called the “silent killer”? That’s because its symptoms are not always obvious, making the need for regular check-ups important.  As we recognize High Blood Pressure Awareness Month, here are the facts:

• High blood pressure (aka: hypertension) is one of the major risk factors for heart disease.

• It’s the leading risk factor of women’s deaths in the U.S., and the second leading risk factor for death for men.

• One-third of American adults have high blood pressure. And 90 percent of American adults are expected to develop high blood pressure over their lifetimes.

• More than 40 percent of non-Hispanic black adults have high blood pressure. Not only is high blood pressure more prevalent in blacks than whites, but it also develops earlier in life.
 
• Despite popular belief, teens, children and even babies can have high blood pressure. As with adults, early diagnosis and treatment can reduce or prevent the harmful consequences of this disease.

Now that you know the facts, what can you do to take control? The answer is a “lifestyle prescription” that can prevent and manage high blood pressure. A healthy lifestyle includes exercise, stress management, and eating a healthy diet, especially by reducing the sodium you eat. To learn more about taking control of you blood pressure, be sure to visit our online toolkit!

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Last Reminder to RSVP for California's Lobby Day - April 23rd

California Lobby Day will take place on Wednesday, April 23rd on the West Steps of the Capitol building in Sacramento.  If you haven’t registered already, please RSVP here before it’s too late! 

This year’s 2014 Lobby Day highlights will include: an opportunity for you to connect with other AHA/ASA advocates, an advocacy training to ensure you are prepared for the day, motivational speakers and survivors connected to the AHA/ASA mission, the opportunity for you to directly communicate with your state legislators, and a heart-healthy lunch.

Additionally, we will be hosting a teleconference training for those interested about a week prior to the event.  Please keep an eye out for an action alert with more information!

We hope you will join us for this exciting and important day! Click here to visit our event page

Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have questions: josh.brown@heart.org.

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A Heartfelt Thanks

Each year, we like to pause and give thanks during National Volunteer Week (April 6th-12th) for the amazing contributions of volunteers like you.  We know you have a choice when deciding which organization to dedicate your time and talents to and we’re honored you’ve chosen to contribute to the American Heart Association’s mission.  Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of getting to meet many You’re the Cure advocates in person to say ‘thanks’, but since getting together isn’t always possible, I wanted to share this special video highlighting the progress you’ve made possible.

(Please visit the site to view this video) 

You’ll see we are making strides to create smoke-free communities across the country, develop the next generation of life-savers trained in CPR, and ensure all students have healthy meal choices in schools.  The effort you’ve made to contact your lawmakers, share your story, and spread the word through your social networks have led to those successes and more. In fact, in just the last eight months, You’re the Cure advocates have helped contacted local, state, and federal lawmakers more than 140,000 times and it’s these messages that can lead to policy wins.

So take a moment to pat yourself on the back and enjoy a job well done!  I look forward to continuing our efforts to pursue policy changes that will help build healthier communities and healthier lives for all Americans. We couldn’t do it without you – thanks!

- Clarissa

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Getting My First Stents

Part II of a Special Guest Series by Steve Irigoyen, a You’re the Cure Advocate who’s an 9-time heart attack survivor and 2-time stroke survivor

After the paramedics arrived and found me on the garage floor, they asked me “on a scale of 1-10 what’s your pain level?” and I replied “10+”!  With a 1-2-3 I was loaded on a gurney and hoisted into the ambulance by strong Paramedics and EMTs.  I’d never been in an ambulance before, and it was a rush.  I could feel us speeding along, and quick hands attached EKG leads on my chest.  They gave me three nitros, which didn’t work at all, and then gave me morphine, which barely seemed to dull the pain. Sirens were blaring and lights were flashing.  I winced, realizing that things were actually be pretty bad. 

Once I arrived at the hospital, I was quickly unloaded in the emergency room and seen immediately for treatment.  Cardiologists discovered two main arteries were blocked – one at 98%, and the other at 95%.  My Mom and Dad arrived, and I felt myself slipping away and could barely speak. “Mom, Dad, I’m so sorry but I’ve gotta go.  But don’t worry I’ll be by your side every day.”

They were sobbing, and my Mom pleaded, “No! No Steve we need you to stay with us!”

Consciousness started to drift away and I closed my eyes.  My parents watched my lips turn blue and thought I was dead.  A Cardiologist zipped in and explained, “We’re taking him in for an angioplasty. Don’t worry – he still has a chance! Hold tight!” and wheeled me away.

When I regained consciousness, I realized I felt immediately 100% better. What a difference!  I WAS ALIVE!!! Two stents were placed in my arteries, providing access to critical blood flow.  Two days later I was discharged and went to my parent’s house for a little extra care.

Those two stents saved my life.  Since my first heart attack, I discovered that the American Heart Association has funded lifesaving research – including important developments in stents – that saved me.  Years ago, I wouldn’t have had a chance at survival, and would have made good on my promise to my parents that I’d be by their sides in spirit. Thankfully, I am alive and am grateful to be an advocate for research. 

In addition to the lifesaving research of the American Heart Association – the National Institutes of Health research has provided critical advances in cardiac care.  Sadly, NIH continues to be woefully underfunded.  Heart disease and stroke remain our Nation’s No. 1 and No. 4 killers, respectively, but NIH invests only 4% of its budget on heart research and a mere 1% on stroke research.  Join me to advocate for research – and help improve the future of cardiovascular disease and stroke treatment.  Visit  www.rallyformedicalresearch.org to learn more about our call on Capitol Hill and find out how to be further involved.

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