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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!

  • Ask a local business to offer more healthy drink options.
  • Ask my 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 my dentist to talk to all his/her patients about the effects of sugary drinks.
  • Serve or bring no-sugar drinks to my next community event.
  • Tell other parents and caregivers about how much sugar is in sports drinks, juice drinks and sodas and why I 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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You Can Help Prevent Childhood Obesity

Obesity is a major risk factor for cardiovascular and other chronic diseases. Despite New Hampshire being rated one of the healthiest states in the country, we are battling our own obesity epidemic. The rate of overweight and obesity in our adult population is about 60%. And perhaps more startling, almost a third of NH children are also overweight. The American Heart Association knows obesity is a complex issue, both its causes and its remedies, and will require a multi-pronged approach to solve the problem. Won’t you join the AHA’s movement to learn how you can help advocate for healthier environments for our children? Visit www.preventobesity.net to see how we can improve nutrition and physical activity opportunities in our schools and communities.

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End of Session Wrap-up

The NYS Session has wrapped up and we're happy to report substantial progress in many areas.  Here's a quick recap.

CPR in Schools bill passes both houses:  Thanks to the help of our dedicated advocates and the bill sponsors, Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg and Senator Mark Grisanti, we took a major step to ensure NYS students learn CPR before graduation.  The CPR in Schools bill will now be sent to the Governor.  The new proposal specifically calls for the following:

  • The Commissioner of the State Education Department would have 180 days to make recommendations to the Board of Regents regarding the adoption of CPR/AED instruction in the curriculum.  
  • The Commissioner would need to seek input from interested parties – teachers, administrators, parents, students and other interested parties; and consider time and financial impacts.
  • The Board of Regents would then have 60 days to accept or reject recommendations.

CPR “So Many Reasons” Campaign launched:  This May, the American Heart Association launched a heartwarming campaign entitled “So Many Reasons.  Starting in May and until the CPR bill passed both houses, we sent a “reason” to our state lawmakers about why the CPR in Schools bill should pass. The reasons were real stories about real New Yorkers - people alive because of CPR and/or AED use; or people who are not alive because CPR wasn’t started, or not started soon enough.

Brianna’s Law passes NYS Assembly:  Legislation to ensure all police officers are certified in CPR every two years passed the NYS Assembly.  

Our first ever CPR Rally:  On June 3rd the Capitol was a sea of red at our first ever CPR rally!  Approximately 100 volunteers traveled to the Capitol to show lawmakers how to keep the beat.  Following a press conference, volunteers from throughout the state all performed CPR together to the beat of Stayin’ Alive.  Volunteers then spoke directly with lawmakers.

Physical Fitness and Activity Bill to be sent to the Governor: We know how important physical activity is for our heart health.  The American Heart Association supported legislation to create a New York State Physical Fitness and Activity Education Campaign. This campaign would encourage physical activity which will improve the fitness of the people of NYS and will complement existing programs administered by the department of health that develop and promote nutrition and wellness activities.

E-cigarettes:  The American Heart Association is supportive of legislation to include e-cigarettes in the state’s Clean Indoor Air Act (CIAA).  Why?  Electronic cigarettes didn’t exist when we enacted the CIAA and we don’t know the impact that long term exposure has on cardiovascular health. Bills moved in both houses this session however it did not come up for a full vote by the Senate or the Assembly.

Trans Fat:  Legislation to eliminate the use of sneaky trans fat in restaurants moved in both houses however the bill couldn’t compete with the many other priorities of legislators and didn’t pass this session.  We will continue to push to take this dangerous fat off the menu.

Protecting your health - Funding maintained for Obesity prevention and Tobacco Control:  Despite attempts to consolidate funding for chronic disease programs, we were able to garner support to reject this approach and maintain transparency.  And funding for programs designed to prevent heart disease and stroke was maintained.

Not one, but two successful Lobby Days! For the first time ever, we held two NYS State Lobby Days.  And the results speak for themselves.  Our volunteers are just the best!  We maintained funding for heart/stroke prevention and passed a CPR in Schools bill! 

Thanks for all that you do!

 

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Mindy's Trip to Augusta - Hanging with the Cool Kids

My Trip to Augusta by Mindy Beyer

About a week ago I had the pleasure of joining Becky Smith our Government Relations Director in Augusta. Before my trip, I really didn't know what to expect. I had been to the state house before. I had also talked to legislators before, but for some reason this trip seemed like it was going to be different—and it was!

I think that some of the reasons that this trip was different was due to the fact that I got to see Becky in her day-to-day role when she is at the state house.

The day started like most everyone's day does—with a cup of coffee. Once we were sufficiently caffeinated, we went up to the state house library to stow our belongings as we did our work. It was in the library that I first felt the sense of excitement, it felt like a high school study hall where the "cool kids" were conversing and planning strategies to advance their cause. Now, please don't get ruffled feathers that I just compared the work of important lobbyists and advocates to high school students but to me I felt a real ownership to the cause, an ownership that had the same determination and innocence I had when was young and didn't have the stresses of everyday adulthood.

Once our belongings were in place, we made our way to the hallway in front of the House Chambers where we waited for my Representative so I could voice my opinion on how she should vote for an American Heart Association priority bill, LD1719, which funds important tobacco and obesity initiatives with tobacco settlement funds.

One thing that I have learned from my time on the American Heart Association Advocacy Committee is that my voice matters. If you take one thing from this blog post please let it be that Your Voice Matters!!

During my day in Augusta, I was able to speak face-to-face with both my Representative and my Senator. After the LD1719 vote I looked at the way the Representatives and Senators who I spoke to voted. My Representative did not vote the way I hope she would (which was not a surprise). However, another Representative who I spoke with (and had some valid reasons in our conversation as to why he might not vote in favor) DID!! My Senator also supported LD1719.

That is really the main reason I had an overall excitement about my trip to Augusta. Who knows—it might have been me talking to that Representative that convinced him vote the way he did.

My voice might have made the difference!

Going back to my high school analogy, like many high schoolers legislators want to please. They want to do what they believe is best for the majority of their voting constituents and they want to be popular. That is why we all need to make our voices heard. That is why you all need to know that although it is hard to understand how people that help run the great state of Maine need our help, they do. They work for us and they need to know what we as Mainers and American Heart Association volunteers want and need.

You don’t need to travel to Augusta like I did, you can use many different outlets: calls, letters, editorials or one of my personal favorites www.yourthecure.org. Please don't hesitate to get your voice heard. For more information on the advocacy work of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association please contact Becky Smith. Becky.Smith@Heart.org

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Congressman Marc Veasey Encourages Constituents to Get Healthy at AHA Event!

Congressman Marc Veasey recently attended an AHA luncheon in Arlington to promote Check.Change.Control and encourage his constituents to not only know their blood pressure reading, but control it.

 Why? High blood pressure, or hypertension, affects about 78 million Americans. It increases your risk of heart disease and stroke, and it can cause permanent damage to the heart before you even notice any symptoms.

 It’s particularly prevalent among African-Americans, who are 33 percent more likely to die from heart disease and stroke than other races. Yet despite how widespread it is and damaging it can be, high blood pressure is still unknown, misunderstood or ignored by many people.

 That’s why the American Heart Association offers Check. Change. Control. The program began in 2013 and is uniquely tailored for communities around the country to help African-Americans monitor their blood pressure.

 Learn more at: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/HighBloodPressureToolsResources/Check-Change-Control-Blood-Pressure-Program_UCM_449318_Article.jsp

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How Healthy is Your County?

Here's a great, newly updated for 2014 resource for you to check out!  You can visit http://www.countyhealthrankings.org/, click your state and then see where your county stacks up against others when looking at morbidity or mortality, or numerous different health factors.  Do you live in one of the healthies counties or one of the least healthy?  No matter where you land, you can always visit our AHA Action Center and contact your lawmakers about making your state a healthier place to live, work and play!

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Save the Date: North Carolina State Lobby Day 2014!

Mark your calendars now! Reserve Tuesday May 27 and Wednesday May 28 for the 2014 NC AHA You're the Cure at the Capitol State Lobby Day.

The event will begin at 3:00 pm on Tuesday May 27th with an issues overview, advocacy training, and dinner with your fellow advocates. The following day will be spent at the legislature, meeting face to face with lawmakers, and will wrap up at 3:00 pm. To register email Kacie Kennedy at kacie.kennedy@heart.org

This year we will be talking about important policies that will build a healthier North Carolina and your presence is needed. Make plans now to join us. Save the dates today!

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Welcome, Kim!

The Mid-Atlantic Government Relations team is pleased to announce that the American Heart Association Grassroots’ staff is growing.  Please join us in welcoming to our team, Kim Chidester, Director of Grassroots and Local Advocacy.  Kim will be focusing on North and South Carolina and is based out of our office in Charlotte.  Kim’s first day was January 13th and we are excited to have her on board.   Read this greeting from Kim and then comment below to welcome her to the American Heart Association and You’re the Cure!

 

Greetings from the Queen City!

I am beyond excited to join the AHA Grassroots and Advocacy family of North and South Carolina.  Before we work together, I will fill you in a little bit on who I am.  I was born and raised in Charlotte (I’m told I’m 1 of 4 natives!) and I am the third of four kids.  I graduated from UNC-Charlotte with a major in Business Management, and I am very much a huge “Niner Nation” football fan.  I have a Shih Tzu I adore, and in my free time (when I have it) I am an incredibly passionate and devoted Carolina Panthers fan (I am always happy to talk football any day of the week!), I love to run and play golf, and travel to the mountains of NC.  The wineries aren’t too bad to visit either!

I am most excited to be joining this team because I feel like our priorities really make a difference in the lives of people everywhere.  Throughout my professional career, my main objective has been to serve and to work for my volunteers and our community in the ways that will most make the largest, most positive impact - and the greatest part of coming to AHA is that we do this every day.  I know that in 2014 and beyond we will continue to make a deep imprint with the AHA policies and programs in the communities where we work, and I’m really looking forward to meeting and working with each and every one of you.   

With Heart,

Kim

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I'm Too Young To Have A Heart Attack

Part I of a Special Guest Series by Steve Irigoyen, a You’re the Cure Advocate who’s an 8-time heart attack survivor and 2-time stroke survivor

The reason I advocate is because someone advocated for me and I want to give back.  It’s my turn to go out and save another life.  My first heart attack was in 1999, I was getting ready for my son Tristan’s open house at school and I had a bit of a headache, some chest pains and a touch of nausea.  My left arm started to hurt a bit but I was in a hurry to get out the door and just shook it off.  Must have been a touch of the flu or a cold I thought to myself. 

Honestly, I couldn’t tell you who was more excited for the open house – me or Tristan!  At 5 years of age, Tristan was very excited to be in kindergarten.  Although he was a bit of a mommy and daddy’s boy who loved being at either my ex-wife’s house or mine - he truly relished being at school and making new friends.  For weeks he’d been working on craft projects with his new teacher and really looked forward to showing them off.

On the way to the open house, my headache got worse.  I stopped off at 7-Eleven to pick up some Tylenol, and then was back on the road and shortly arrived at the school.  The open house was great – I enjoyed meeting Tristan’s teacher, and of course all the artwork Tristan had so lovingly made.  Tristan went home with his mom and I headed back to my condo. 

When I arrived home the headache and pain in my chest had not gone away, so I decided to call my sister Roberta, who knows all kinds of homemade remedies.  After telling Roberta my symptoms she said, “Steve! You’re having a heart attack!” and I didn’t believe her.  So she put her husband on the line and I reiterated my symptoms and he said, “Steve, you’re having a heart attack! Call 911 right now!”

I replied, “I’m 39 years old. There’s no way I’m having a heart attack.  But I’ll drive to the hospital and get myself checked out.” 

I walked to the garage to get back in the car – and hit the floor.  The crushing pain knocked me down.  Despite my protests, fortunately Roberta dialed 911.  Because of her quickness to call 911, and a robust emergency response system, I was saved.  

Since my heart attack, I’ve learned that sadly, where you have a heart attack matters in terms of the type of care you receive.  Where I lived in Rancho Cucamonga, there was a quick emergency response system in place ensuring that heart attack patients arrived to the right hospital with advanced cardiac equipment.  Part of my advocacy work now with the American Heart Association is advocating for timely emergency response systems.  Everyone deserves the best chance at quick, timely treatment!    Join me by taking action here on www.yourethecure.org to help ensure that all cardiac patients get the best of care.

 

 

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