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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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Share Your Story: Beth Keith

Beth Keith Missouri

August 16, 2011 proved to be another wonderful birthday with my husband and children in such an unexpected way, one that I didn’t expect. I didn’t feel very well but chalked it up to being a tired mommy. That evening, while getting ready for bed, I felt the left side of my face become numb. After about 10 minutes it became so intense that I immediately went to the mirror to check my face; no drooping. Then within another 5 minutes some of my left finger tips became numb. I told my husband "I think I am having a stroke!" We jumped in the car and went to the emergency room. After many tests I was told I suffered a TIA and that they found a hole in my atria wall. A birth defect that lay silent for 37 years. Dr. Stephen Kuehn was able to fix the hole in my heart with what seemed like a breeze. Little did I know that would be the easy part.

The next months would prove to be a challenge as I had to deal with anxiety, depression and fear. Getting knocked off your path raises many questions. It also forced me to take an inventory of how I’m living my life and what is truly important. This experience was not so much about my physical body but my journey to raise the bar in my life. I love differently, I understand loved ones from a different view, and I am realizing that there is more to my existence than what I gave myself credit for.

I believe some people ignore what their body is telling them for fear of hearing bad news. What I have learned is that sometimes your body is trying to deliver good news. My husband and I joke that a TIA was the best birthday present I have ever received! If I hadn’t had a TIA, it may have been another 37 years before I learned of the hole in my heart and the results may not have been so good. The biggest lesson I learned from this experience is to pay attention to the warning signs of stroke and take action. It is this advice that saved not only the quality of my life but possibly my life as a whole.

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Share Your Story: Jenny Mhire

Jenny Mhire Missouri

With a degree from Missouri State in sports medicine, and as the owner of CrossFit Springfield, Jeremy Mhire knew all about performing CPR.  He’d never used those skills, though – not until his wife needed her life to be saved.

It was April 2008, and Jeremy, Jenny and their 8-week-old son Vincent were traveling along Highway 44 in Missouri. They were headed to Jenny’s parents’ house in Joplin to drop off the baby, then the couple were going to visit Lawrence, Kansas.  Jeremy looked into the backseat at Jenny – his high school sweetheart, his “Jenny ShineShine” – and at Vincent. He got the baby to laugh, and snapped a picture.

About a half-hour into the drive, Jenny was asleep when a truck veered into their lane. The commotion it caused woke her up. She then gasped and slumped over, her mouth and eyes open.  “She was lifeless,” Jeremy said.

Jeremy immediately pulled the car to the side of the road and placed Jenny on the ground so could check her pulse and listen for her breathing.  Jenny had no pulse. She wasn’t breathing. And she was starting to turn a bluish color.  Jeremy started doing chest compressions and giving mouth-to-mouth breaths.

“I just focused on the task at hand, blowing in the air, making sure her head was tilted back, that the airway was clear and her tongue wasn’t falling back,” Jeremy said. “When you learn CPR, you go through the motions, but to use it, what that feels like, I just can’t describe it. I’m really thankful I had training. I just started doing those first few cycles of compressions and breaths.”

A highway patrol officer eventually pulled over to help. He carried a defibrillator, a device that uses electric shock to restore the heart’s rhythm. Jenny still wasn’t responding.  An ambulance arrived, emergency medical technicians established a heart rhythm and Jenny was rushed to the hospital.

Several days later, while still in the hospital, Jenny said her heart felt funny.  That’s when her heart stopped again.  “She completely flat-lined,” Jeremy said.

Rushed to surgery, Jenny had a pacemaker and defibrillator implanted to help maintain a normal heart rhythm. She also eventually received an explanation. Her problems were caused by a condition known as Long QT syndrome.

Long QT syndrome is a rare genetic disorder that can occur in otherwise healthy people and disrupt normal heart function. The condition occurs more often in women, and can be misdiagnosed or overlooked entirely. Long QT syndrome affects about 1 in 7,000 people in the United States and may have caused between 3,000 and 4,000 sudden cardiac deaths in children and young adults each year. The condition often doesn’t have any symptoms; when it does, among the most common is unexplained fainting, which is caused by not enough blood reaching the brain. Jenny acknowledged that she fainted suddenly a few weeks before collapsing in the car, but had attributed it to postpartum fatigue. Jenny had no known history of heart problems or risks for heart disease.

She now takes beta blocker drugs, and regularly visits her cardiologist. Data from her pacemaker is automatically transmitted to her care team so they can spot any irregular heartbeats. Since the pacemaker was implanted, Jenny has not experienced any problems. Pacemakers typically last about five years, and later this year, Jenny will undergo her first surgery to have her pacemaker replaced.
Jenny’s two children also underwent genetic testing for the Long QT syndrome gene mutation. She and Jeremy were relieved when the results were negative.

Jenny, now 34 and a mother of two, hasn’t been slowed by her condition.  She’s a business manager at a hospital in the Springfield, Missouri, area and has since become a yoga instructor. She is obviously very thankful that her husband knew what to do when the moment of need arose, and has become a vocal advocate for the importance of learning CPR.  “You can save a life just by learning some basic steps,” she said.  Jeremy’s quick thinking and CPR training saved his wife’s life.

“I honestly wouldn’t be here without him,” she said.

“It’s a tool in your toolbox you hope you never have to use,” said Jeremy, also 34. “Heart disease and heart conditions can affect any one at any age. I think that’s easily taken for granted especially among people in their 20s and 30s. But you can be proactive with your life. We’re so humbled by the opportunity to share our experience and hopefully raise awareness.”

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Advocate Spotlight: Quality Physical Education - What is it?

Breon Schroeder Derby Spearfish SD and Chadron NE

Some individuals may remember a time where ‘gym’ class revolved around an unstructured chaos of playing dodge-ball, being picked last for teams, and sitting on the sidelines while the instructor focused on getting his or her athletes prepared for the big game. This ‘roll out the ball’ era is a stigma that continues to plague the field of physical education.

Having progressed well beyond ‘gym’ class, the field, as its name suggests, focuses on education; a continuous process that provides individuals with the knowledge, skills, tools, and resources necessary to enhance their well-being throughout their lifetime. Unlike other content areas, physical education focuses on the development of the whole child by emphasizing the three domains of learning: 1). Cognitive, 2). Affective and, 3). Psychomotor.

Physical education not only provides individuals with the opportunity to engage in physical activity, but it also offers a diverse, standards-based curriculum and a variety of quality assessment practices so that each student can find something they enjoy and will continue to participate in throughout their lifetime. In addition, the physical education environment fosters real-world skills essential to being successful in today’s competitive job market, such as teamwork, cooperation, and responsibility. Physical education also plays a crucial role when it comes to high stakes testing and financial gain for school districts, as several studies have shown a link between physical activity and academic success.   “Exercise improves learning on three levels: first, it optimizes your mind-set to improve alertness, attention, and motivation; second, it prepares and encourages nerve cells to bind to one another, which is the cellular basis for logging in new information; and third, it spurs the development of new nerve cells from stem cells in the hippocampus” (Ratey, 2008, p.53).  It has been proven that healthier students learn better (CDC, 2014a). Quality physical education can aid in student success by decreasing absenteeism, increasing fitness levels, and enhancing cognitive function.

However, despite the vast advantages physical education provides, including the education on the one thing people use every day, their bodies, it is often the first content area to be let go when school districts are faced with budget cuts.  With over $147 billion dollars spent annually on preventable, obesity-related illnesses, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers (CDC, 2014b), educating students on the importance of lifetime physical activity through quality, daily physical education could have a substantial impact on both the health and economic status of our nation. If people are truly concerned about the success and well-being of our students, our future, they will get informed and become an advocate for quality, daily physical education.

Breon Schroeder Derby has a B.S in Physical education with minors in health and coaching from Black Hills State University in Spearfish. She has a M.Ed in curriculum and instruction with an emphasis in PE from Chadron State College and is currently working on her dissertation to complete her Doctorate in Health Education from A.T Still University. Breon taught physical and health education at Lead Deadwood High School and for the past two years was an instructor in the HPER department at Chadron State College. She currently serves as instructor of HPER at BHSU.

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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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Share Your Story: Dr. Jim Blaine

Dr Jim Blaine Missouri

As an Emergency physician for 17 years, Dr. Jim Blaine is very aware of the devastation caused by cardiovascular disease.  As a Family Physician for the last 15 years, he acknowledges that most cardiovascular disease can be prevented.

Recently, Dr. Blaine has become a Provider Champion with the Missouri Million Hearts initiative.  The Million Hearts program seeks to coordinate and encourage ASHD prevention and Dr. Blaine is eager to be included in that effort.  By joining the Million Hearts initiative in Missouri as a physician champion, he will be an expert resource providing suggested activities and educational opportunities for the program here in Missouri.

He is currently the Medical Director for the Ozarks Technical Community College Health & Wellness Clinic in Springfield, MO.  He also chairs the Greene County Medical Society's Community Health Advisory Committee and the Missouri State Medical Association's Public Affairs Commission.

He has an extensive history supporting the American Heart Association that goes way back and includes supporting the initiatives of smoke free air in MO, Prop B tobacco tax increase campaign, AEDs in schools and AED Solutions to name a few.

 

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Teaching Gardens = Learning Laboratories for Kids

Studies show that when kids grow their own fruits and vegetables, they’re more likely to eat them. That’s the idea behind the American Heart Association Teaching Gardens.  While 1/3 of American children are classified as overweight or obese, AHA Teaching Gardens is fighting this unhealthy trend by giving children access to healthy fruits and vegetables and instilling a life time appreciation for healthy foods.

Aimed at first through fifth graders, we teach children how to plant seeds, nurture growing plants, harvest produce and ultimately understand the value of good eating habits. Garden-themed lessons teach nutrition, math, science and other subjects all while having fun in the fresh air and working with your hands.

Over 270 gardens are currently in use nationwide reaching and teaching thousands of students, with more gardens being added every day.  You can find an American Heart Association Teaching Garden in your area here or email teachinggardens@heart.org to find how you can get involved.

               

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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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Share Your Story: Janell Husky

Janell Husky Missouri

I have been a registered nurse for the past 30 years. I had some familiarity with heart disease, early on, as my career began with critical care but just not in the cardiac unit. In 2003, I decided to further my career through Nursing Education. This path has allowed me to get more involved with heart patients.

I have a family history of heart disease. My older brother had a heart attack in his 30s. It was a surprise to all as he was in great shape – ate right, biked and ran. I could not believe he could have a heart attack. Fortunately, he survived and it challenged me to start thinking about risk factors that I may have. I try to eat better and exercise more often but I am still on medication for my high blood pressure.

A few years ago, I became more involved with the American Heart Association by participating in their Heart Walk. My involvement continues to grow as I became involved with the Go Red for Women movement.

In 2009, I had the opportunity to become a member of the Bi State Stroke Consortium. My passion for raising awareness about heart disease and stroke continues.

In April, 2013 I attended the You’re the Cure on the Hill in Washington, D.C.  I was part of a group that traveled to our nation’s capital to attend a Rally supporting funding for Medical Research and also to be a part of Lobby Day on the Hill. During the trip, I met great friends who were survivors or had been touched by heart disease in some way. We were able to share our passion and stories with our legislators about the importance of research and funding for prevention of heart disease and stroke.

I continue to be passionate about sharing the message about prevention and recognition of heart disease and stroke. I am thankful for all the friends I have made who work for the American Heart Association or who have been touched by heart disease and stroke. They are my heroes.

 

 

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Share Your Story: Keri Mathews

Keri Mathews Missouri

In 2011, our family had the privilege of being featured as the Kansas City Heart Walk family. During this experience, we shared our story of how heart disease has touched our lives through the generations. It was an honor to have shared our story and help further the mission of the American Heart Association.

You see, our family has truly been blessed and benefited from the many medical advancements made in cardiac care over the past 30 years. My dad has had two open heart surgeries (the first in 1985, and his second in 2008). Recently, was my 10 year anniversary celebration of my open heart surgery to correct a congenital heart defect (aortic stenosis and bicuspid aortic valve disease) that both my dad and son possess. Additionally, I received a pacemaker three years ago. Unfortunately, I also suffered a Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA), or stroke this past summer of 2013. Thankfully, I made a full recovery with the help of today’s medical advancements.

While my son Dakota, who is now almost 16 years old, also lives with the same congenital heart defect as my Dad and I, we know that his future is bright and he will be able to continue to live an active and full life. As a family, we continue to strive to live a heart-healthy life and count the many blessings we have been given. It is also very important to our family to do all that we can to give back and help the American Heart Association in their mission. Together, we can help raise awareness and lifesaving funds for continued research so other families and future generations can benefit, just as we did.

From the bottom of our hearts, thank you for your continued support of the American Heart Association and continued funding of cardiovascular research and education.

 

 

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