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Giving Thanks for a Great Year!

As fall draws to a close, we are taking the time to thank all of our volunteers and celebrating a great year. Together, You’re the Cure advocates, like you, successfully advocated for heart healthy and stroke smart policies in their communities and states. We could not achieve the positive change in our communities without each and everyone of you. We are truly thankful for all that you do!

Below are just a few of the accomplishments we are thankful for this year: 

 

  1. Six new states require CPR as a graduation requirement. That means over 1.1 million students will be trained in life-saving CPR every year! With your help, we can add even more states to this list!
  2. Twelve new states require newborn screening for congenital heart defects before they leave the hospital. The earlier we can detect an issue with these little hearts, the better chances at a healthy life. Thirty-two states now require this screening.
  3. A half-a-dozen states increased funding for heart disease and stroke related programs.
  4. Advocates from all over the country made their voice heard in Washington D.C. on issues from more physical education in school to increasing funding for more heart and stroke research.

Once again, thank you for all the work you have done this year and for years to come! We cannot wait to see what the next 12 months brings us, but with your help, we know we will improve the lives of heart and stroke patients across the country.

Want to learn more about what we do? Check out the video below and share it with others!

(Please visit the site to view this video)

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November is National Family Caregivers Month.

Each November, the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association recognizes National Family Caregivers Month (NFCM) to acknowledge the millions of family caregivers who are caring for their loved ones with a chronic disease. With 2.2 million stroke family caregivers in the U.S., the AHA/ASA strives to provide the post-stroke resources, information, and recognition family caregivers need to not only help their loved one, but to find the time for self-care they often lose. Join us in recognizing these amazing caregivers this November and beyond.

Click here to visit our website to get more information about National Family Caregivers Month and check out our five easy ways to help support the campaign:

  • Download and share Caregiver Resources to help you and/or your loved ones through the caregiving journey.
     
  • Join the new Support Network to connect with other stroke survivors and caregivers, share your story and more. 
     
  • Recognize your family caregiver by nominating him/her as a Stroke Hero on ASA's Facebook page.
     
  • Take the Spot A Stroke F.A.S.T. Quiz so you can be prepared in a stroke emergency.
     
  • If you're a healthcare professional or provider, you can also use our resources available on the Stroke Resource Center to help educate your staff, patients and community about stroke.  

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National Eating Healthy Day is on November 5, 2014

Take the first step to making healthier food choices by taking part in the American Heart Association's National Eating Healthy Day on Wednesday, November 5, 2014.

On this day, Americans are encouraged to commit to healthier eating and we created Eating Healthy Day to help keep your families and employees healthy.  Use our resources to kick off a new wellness campaign for your employees or add to an existing one.  When companies make a pledge to increase their employee's health, it not only helps  the community but also helps our entire country.

A healthy diet and lifestyle are your best weapons to fight cardiovascular disease.  To assist you in making healthier food choices, the American Heart Association has developed a toolkit for your use.  Included in the toolkit are recipes, heart-smart grocery shopping tips, helpful guidance on dining out, seasonal eating strategies and much more.  We encourage individuals, families, companies, organizations and schools and churches to register at www.heart.org/nationaleatinghealthyday to take advantage of all of the resources available. 

There is no one simple solution to the issue of obesity in our country. However, in order to reach our goal of improving cardiovascular health, we call on all American to recognize the severity of the obesity crisis, the toll it takes on our nation's national health and health care system. In addition to the programs, tools and advocacy efforts in place, the American Heart Association will continue to identify solutions to help Americans reverse obesity rates and improve their overall health.

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Share Your Story: Kristy Sidlar

Kristy Sidlar Michigan

So there I was on the side of the road by myself, lying next to my bicycle. I was fading in and out of consciousness, honestly wondering if these were going to be my last moments. My plans to compete in the triathlon I was training for were far from my mind. What I was thinking was, “Why is this happening? Why today?” It was my 31st birthday.

After about 40 minutes of my heart racing at 280 beats per minute, another cyclist finally rode by and called 911. Paramedics arrived and used an automatic external defibrillator (yep…the shock paddles) to normalize my heartbeat. I was rushed to the hospital where doctors spent 10 days trying to find a diagnosis for my erratic and very fast heat beat. The doctors said, “We can’t fix you, but we can save your life.”

They planned to do a relatively standard procedure called radiofrequency ablation but once they “got in” they realized my heart was riddled with cells that conduct extra impulses, causing rapid heartbeat. The best option available to me at that point wasn’t the ablation; they decided to install an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD). It’s a device about the size of a pager that is essentially a set of shock paddles inside my chest. And they prescribed a bunch of meds to get my heart rate under control.

I can hardly believe it’s been almost 15 years since I was diagnosed with Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Dysplasia. At the time I wasn’t really worried about the surgery or the shocks from the ICD. What really tore me up was when the doctors told me I wouldn’t be able to train again. I was a bit of a fitness-crazed young woman, and I couldn’t imagine living without this part of my life.

 I didn’t listen at first. I couldn’t let it go. Finally, after I went flying off a treadmill and into the mirror at the gym when my ICD went off during a running workout, I realized that it just wasn’t worth it anymore. Now I walk, workout at a moderate pace on the elliptical and do yoga. My big mindset shift was: “I don’t have to be competitive. I need to do what keeps me healthy.”

 For 13 years now I have been a volunteer and spokesperson for the American Heart Association. These are my two core messages:

 • You don’t have to be old or fat or eat fried food to be at risk for heart disease.

 • Be proactive with your doctors.

Too often people (women in particular) get dismissed by doctors saying that their irregular heartbeats or high blood pressure are stress related or caused by other factors like pregnancy. Maybe they are…but maybe they AREN’T! My experience with this was a six-month-long pursuit for answers after a fainting episode in my late twenties. I was told I was dehydrated. I was told I hadn’t eaten enough, I was told it was the caffeine. Finally, doctors ran the right tests and determined I had a problem with my right ventricle and they treated me accordingly.

Living a heart healthy life can be both easy and hard. It’s taking those first few steps that are the hard part, but healthy habits can become so easy to live by. Please check out the many resources at heart.org to see how you can know your risks, know your numbers and take the right steps to great heart health. And pass this information on to your friends and family. Every little bit of education helps…everyone!

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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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October is Sudden Cardiac Awareness Month

Do you know the difference between a heart attack and sudden cardiac arrest? 

People often use these terms interchangeably, but they are not synonyms. A heart attack is when blood flow to the heart is blocked, and sudden cardiac arrest is when the heart malfunctions and suddenly stops beating unexpectedly. A heart attack is a “circulation” problem and sudden cardiac arrest is an “electrical” problem.  Click here to learn more about the differences!

Do you know why it is important for schools to be prepared for sudden cardiac arrest?

"Perhaps you know of an athlete who collapsed on the athletic field from a sudden cardiac arrest.  Or maybe it was a student in the classroom.  Or an adult spectator.  Or a coach.  Most often the person was thought to be healthy, with nothing to suggest an underlying cardiac problem.  Afterwards families and the community search for clues as to what the trigger was.  Often there were no warning signs, even in retrospect, and a medical explanation may be lacking as to why the heart rhythm suddenly became ineffective."

Click here to read full article written by Dr. Monica Gobel, who is a member of the Michigan Advocacy Committee for the American Heart Association.

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The State of Obesity: Michigan's Report

In recognition of Childhood Obesity Awareness month, we are pleased to be able to provide our advocates with the most recent statistics on childhood obesity in our state and across the nation. The State of Obesity report (formerly F as in Fat), a project of the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, provides a close-up look at our progress toward reducing childhood obesity, and the work that lies ahead of us to ensure our kids are growing up healthy and strong.  You can read the full report by clicking here to visit www.stateofobesity.org

For the past 11 years, this report has raised awareness about the serious nature of obesity, and encouraged the creation of a national obesity prevention strategy.  The American Heart Association has worked alongside our partners at the Trust and RWJ Foundation, and others, to develop effective approaches for reversing the obesity epidemic at the state and federal level.

Michigan is ranked 11th among all states and the District of Columbia.  Click here to see our state report.

The report also highlights the various policy objectives that are important in our fight to reduce obesity:  physical activity before, during and after school, school nutrition, access to healthy and affordable food, food and beverage marketing, etc.  Reducing obesity in our communities will take dedication, focus, innovation and cooperation.  Please join us in this fight!  See how you can take action at www.yourethecure.org

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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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Get connected! Join us on social media today!

Did you know that the American Heart Association has a great online presence on Facebook and Twitter?  You can check out all the wonderful updates, pictures, and postings by getting connected with us online.  Click below to join the page that is in your area and be sure to share and like our posts!

 

Facebook pages:

Mid-Michigan:  https://www.facebook.com/AHAMidMichigan

Southeast Michigan:  https://www.facebook.com/AHASEMI

Southwestern Michigan:  https://www.facebook.com/AHASWMichigan

West Michigan:  https://www.facebook.com/AHAWestMI

You're the Cure:  https://www.facebook.com/yourethecure

 

Statewide Twitter:

Mid-Michigan:  @AHAMidMichigan

West Michigan & Southwestern Michigan:  @AHA_WestMI_SWMI

American Heart Association Advocacy:  @AmHeartAdvocacy

 

 

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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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