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Idaho is One of Six States Where Obesity Rates Are Still Going Up

Guest Blogger: Grace Henscheid, Grassroots Advocacy Director

In early September the State of Obesity Report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Trust of America’s Health was released and it is clear there is still much work to be done in our fight against obesity.

While there are many statistics in the report one of the numbers that stood out to us was that Idaho is one of six states where obesity rates are still on the rise.

Idaho’s obesity rate in 2013 was 29.6% up from 21.8% in 2003. There are many factors that contribute to this increased number but the American Heart Association is determined to help every state control and improve these numbers. 

In order to lower these numbers we need to build communities that encourage healthy eating and active lifestyles. One of the programs the American Heart Association offers for free to people that are trying to improve their health is the “Life’s Simple 7” program. This program helps participants to manage heart risk by understanding the importance of getting active, controlling cholesterol, eating better, managing blood pressure, losing weight, reducing blood sugar and stopping smoking.

In addition to this program, the AHA is working in our communities to educate people about their risk factors and how they can take personal control over their health.

We are working to build healthier communities by passing state and local legislation. In the 2015 legislative session we will try again to pass minimum time requirements for physical education in our K-12 schools. We believe that by establishing physical activity early in life it will help children transition into active adults; one of the many factors in maintaining a healthy adult lifestyle.

While the news about Idaho’s obesity rate might be discouraging we aren’t giving up on turning around this dangerous trend. With help from advocates like you we believe it is a battle we can win.

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Trick or Treat?

Candy Corn, Gummy Bears, Peanut Butter Cups, Swedish Fish, Candy Bar, Bubblegum and Cotton Candy… These may sound like treats the neighborhood kids are hoping to pick up when they go trick-or-treating later this month, but they’re actually the tricks used by companies to hook our kids on nicotine. These are flavors of e-cigarette liquid available for purchase today.

With alluring flavors like those and a dramatic increase in youth exposure to e-cigarette advertising, the rising popularity of e-cigarettes among youth shouldn’t come as a surprise. Still, it raises concerns. Strong regulations are needed to keep these tobacco products out of the hands of children. We’ve asked the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to prohibit the marketing and sale of e-cigarettes to minors, and we’re still waiting for them to act.

Meanwhile, CDC launched this week their #20Million Memorial. 20 million people have died from smoking-related illnesses since the 1964 Surgeon General’s report on smoking and health. Has smoking affected you and your family? Check out this moving online memorial, then share your story or honor loved ones lost too soon with the hashtag #20Million.  

AHA staff and volunteers across the country are preparing to fight the tobacco epidemic in upcoming state legislative sessions. They’ll ask for state funding for tobacco prevention programs and for increased tobacco taxes, a proven deterrent for youth smoking.

This Halloween, don’t let our kids continue to get tricked by the tobacco companies. Help end the tobacco epidemic for good. To amplify our message with lawmakers, ask friends and family members to join us, then watch your inbox for opportunities to act!  

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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.

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August Recess - Supporting the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act

written by Nicole Olmstead, Government Relations Director, Arizona

This fall students are heading back to healthier school lunches.  As a result of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, schools are now required to provide meals with more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.  They must limit the amount of sodium, fats and calories.  And for the first time, this year, snacks and fund raisers are included in the standards. 

However, there are groups out there that are working to weaken the standards.  86% of the schools in the United States are complying with these standards.  We are finally making strides in offering better breakfasts and lunches to our children.  Let your legislators know that you support full implementation of the rules by taking action in the Action Center here.  Let’s ensure our school children have the best meals they can while at school. 

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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.   

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J. Antonio G Lopez, MD FAHA

J. Antonio G. Lopez, MD FAHA

The American Heart Association (AHA) has supported and played a pivotal role throughout my career in cardiovascular research, leading to my focus on the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease. Presently, I am the Director of Preventive Cardiology, the Lipid clinic, and LDL apheresis Program, and Hypertension Consultation Service at the Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise Idaho. Without the support for cardiovascular research, the understanding of disease processes that lead to important scientific advances would not be possible. Our current knowledge of risk factors (high cholesterol, low good cholesterol (HDL), diabetes, smoking, high blood pressure and family history of premature heart disease) leading to the development of atherosclerosis and coronary artery disease was based on epidemiologic research.  Advocacy is fundamental to continue our progress.

I support advocacy on behalf of the American Heart Association chiefly for the health of our communities. For example, the AHA supports coverage of preventive benefits in private and public health insurance plans and the implementation of policies that provide adequate resources and encourage healthy choices. Locally, the AHA as a member of the Smokefree Idaho coalition is working to make communities across our state smoke free, inspiring more Americans to live in an environment that supports a heart-healthy lifestyle. Moreover, through our education efforts the AHA is reaching at-risk populations with cause initiatives and online tools. Thus, strong advocacy, sustained efforts, and programs such as “You’re The Cure” will significantly impact the reduction of cardiovascular disease.

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Mark Your Calendar for the EmpowerMEnt Challenge!

We’re gearing up for National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month and we want you to be in on all of the action!  Throughout September, we’re encouraging families across the country to take control of their healthy by participating in the EmpowerMEnt Challenge.  Each week, families and kids will pursue a different goal, including eating more fruits and veggies, limiting sugary drinks, reducing sodium intake, and increasing physical activity.  Each goal is fun, simple, won’t break the bank and can be done as a family.  And by the end of the month, families will be a step ahead on the road to a heart-healthy life. 

So mark your calendar for the challenge kick-off on September 1st!  Complimentary templates and activities, broken down into the themed weeks, are now available on www.heart.org/healthierkids.  In addition, you're invited to join our EmpowerMEnt Challenge Facebook group, where you can make the commitment to take the challenge and share your progress with others.  

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Advocate Spotlight - Max Stein

Max Stein, Idaho

This month, we wanted to feature and thank our Smokefree Idaho Community Educator, Max Stein.  Max has been working tirelessly in communities across the state to educate individuals and businesses on the harms of secondhand smoke.  Because of his work, Smokefree Idaho has reached an important milestone: more than 100 organizations and businesses have now signed on as endorsers!  He has been out at community events, getting much needed postcards and petition signatures. 

We here at the American Heart Association would like to say a huge THANK YOU to Max and his many hours to Smokefree Idaho!  We couldn’t have made all the progress we have without him!  If you agree with us that everyone deserves the right to breathe clean air and would like to help us make that a reality in your community, email Adrean at adrean.cavener@heart.org.

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Help Make Our Communities Smokefree

The American Heart Association as a member of the Smokefree Idaho coalition is working to make communities across our state smokefree. With help from advocates like you we have helped pass smokefree ordinances in Boise and Ketchum that include all indoor places including bars.

There is overwhelming scientific evidence that secondhand tobacco smoke is directly linked to heart disease, the number one killer of both men and women. The U.S. Surgeon General has declared that there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke.

We believe that everyone has the right to breathe clean air. We believe that workers should not be forced to choose between their job and their health.

If you would like to help us make your community smokefree please click here and share your comments of support.

We need your help to make our cities healthier places.

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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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