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Smoking Linked to Increased Risk of Dementia

We've known for years of the increased health risks caused by smoking and tobacco-related products.  A new study now links smoking with an increased risk of dementia.  The World Health Organization (WHO) and Alzheimer’s Disease International are reporting, based on a review of scientific studies, that smokers have a 45 percent higher risk of developing dementia compared to non-smokers.  

Tobacco use is the world’s number one cause of preventable death, killing about six million people worldwide each year.  Without strong action, tobacco use is projected to kill one billion people worldwide this century.  The links between smoking and dementia reinforce the urgent need to address this global epidemic. For more on this story, CLICK HERE.   

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School Nutrition: Help to Solve the Nutrition Puzzle

Congress is working on appropriations bills and school nutrition standards have been a hot topic in the agriculture appropriations debate.  The House bill would allow schools to get waivers from these standards and the Senate bill would delay the sodium standards supported by the AHA.  Other amendments of concern to health advocates have also been discussed.  Thanks to AHA advocate interest and activation, in coordination with our larger coalition, we have been able to turn the debate around on this issue and ensure Members were hearing all sides on this important issue. Given differences on this issue and others, as well as the leadership shake-up in the House, it is looking less likely that Congress will pass an agriculture appropriations bill this year, and will instead aim to pass a continuing resolution.

Given what’s happening (or not happening) with appropriations, we will now shift our attention to a long-term strategy.  Next year, the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act is up for reauthorization, which means many of the same battles we fought over the last couple months will emerge again.  That’s why it’s critical that we continue to stress to Congress that the nutrition standards should not be delayed or weakened.  

How can you help?  During the August recess, we will continue the drum beat on this issue, and we have an exciting drop-by activity for the recess break.  Our message to Congress is that healthy school meals ‘fit’ into a successful school day for kids- and that we’re ‘puzzled’ by efforts to weaken or delay the important nutrition standards.  To help our advocates deliver that message, we’ve created puzzle pieces, 4 of which fit together to display a healthy school meal and 1 showing unhealthy food that doesn’t fit.  Each puzzle piece contains a fact on the back.  We’re asking for your help to deliver these puzzle pieces to the district offices of targeted Members next month.  

If school nutrition is an important issue to you, and you are concerned about obesity prevention, especially among our youth, then we need your help!  Please email Pamela Miller and volunteer to do a drop-by visit at one of our federal district offices.  Drop-by visits are a great way to earn You're the Cure points, as well as engage our federal lawmakers on issues important right here in our state.  We will provide you with the puzzle pieces and a few talking points to assist you in your visit.  Better yet - bring a child along with you and encourage their involvement on an issue that affects them directly!  

August recess is the perfect time to talk with our lawmakers about heart-health issues - and school nutrition is on the top of the list! Email Pamela Miller today and volunteer to help put school nutrition puzzle together!  

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New Sodium Campaign Aimed to Raise Awareness of Sodium Intake

Americans eat too much salt, and most have no idea how much they are eating, according to new consumer research by the American Heart Association.

Nearly all of the 1,000 people surveyed by the American Heart Association (97 percent) either underestimated or could not estimate how much sodium they eat every day. Too much sodium in the diet can increase risk for high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease and other major health problems.

Most people who underestimated their sodium consumption in the survey were off by around 1,000 milligrams. That’s a significant amount, considering the American Heart Association recommends 1,500 milligrams a day for ideal heart health. Most Americans consume more than double that.

In an effort to help people better understand and limit their sodium intake, the American Heart Association has launched a new awareness campaign called “I Love You Salt, But You’re Breaking My Heart.”  The campaign includes a new website,, with an online pledge for people to commit to reduce how much sodium they eat, along with a new video, “Don’t Let Salt Sneak Up on You” (, to show how sodium is sneaking into our foods. The site also features a blog, sodium quiz and infographics, links to lower-sodium recipes, and educational articles.

Limiting salt in the bigger picture—the U.S. food supply—is an important goal of the campaign. That’s because 75 percent of Americans’ sodium consumption is from processed, prepackaged, and restaurant foods—not the salt shaker.

“It’s challenging for Americans to stick to sodium intake recommendations because most of the sodium we eat in this country is added to our food before we buy it,” said Brian Krannawitter, AHA Government Relations Director for Nebraska. “In order to really make a difference in the health of all Americans, we must reduce sodium in the food supply through the support of food manufacturers, food processors and the restaurant industry.”

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My Story: Lisa Bockman

Lisa Bockman Nebraska

It was a typical Monday night for the Bockman family - they had just finished dinner and were getting ready to watch a movie together.  Suddenly, without warning, Lisa collapsed and stopped breathing.  Her son Darian, remembering that their neighbor was a nurse, went and got her and told her his mom wasn't breathing.  She immediately started CPR.  What happened next can only be described as miraculous!  Everyone should learn CPR because you never know when someone you love may need it.  (Please visit the site to view this video)

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Life-Saving Technology for Nebraska's Rural Areas

Twelve-lead electrocardigram equipment is now available in rural Nebraska thanks to grant funding through the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services Division of Emergency Medical Services.  The funding was approved by the legislature during last year's session.  

What does this mean for rural Nebraska?  It means that heart attack victims in rural areas will now have a better chance of survival.  Moving people having a heart attack into the cath lab as quickly as possible is the key to survival and to minimizing damage to the heart and other vital organs.  Identifying those patients who need cath intervention is faster and easier thanks to these 12-lead monitors.  

According to Assistant Fire Chief Trent Kleinow of the North Platte Fire Department, "If someone is a candidate for the cath lab, we can bypass the emergency room and go straight there which can save a half an hour to an hour of the patient being re-evaluated and then turned over to the cath lab."  

The North Platte Fire Department has used this equipment for about six years and now the rescue squads in Maxwell, Thedford, Curtis and Maywood will be able to equip their amulances as well.  

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Where's the AED? Selfie Campaign Raises Awareness To Save Lives

Now that we have raised awareness for the importance of knowing CPR during CPR Week, hopefully you have taken a minute to watch the 60-second video on Hands Only CPR.  Share it with your friends and family so that everyone around you knows the basics of 1) calling 9-1-1, and 2) doing compressions hard and fast in the center of the chest.  But do you know where the nearest AED is in case you need it?  

AEDs (automated external defibrillators) are located in public places, libraries, schools, business, etc. Chances are, there is one very near where you work or go to school.  This is a great opportunity to locate the nearest AED to you and raise awareness for where they located throughout your community.  

To help raise awareness for AEDs, we are launching the AED “Selfies Save Lives” campaign.  Snap and share a selfie when you spot an AED - then post it to social media useing #AEDandME! 

Where is YOUR nearest AED?  

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Will Nebraska be Next to Teach CPR in Schools?

It’s time for Nebraska to join the growing list of states that are now requiring CPR as a graduation requirement.  This month we are asking the Nebraska State Board of Education to make this a requirement.  Approximately, 424,000 out of hospital cardiac arrests occur nationwide.  That is more than 1,000 people a day every year.  Cardiac arrest is a leading cause of cardiovascular death.  Nine out of 10 of these victims will not survive.  The combination of early, immediate CPR and defibrillation can more than double the victim’s chance of survival.  For every minute without life-saving CPR and defibrillation, chances of survival decrease 7-10%.  The AHA supports CPR training as a high school graduation requirement as literally thousands of potential lifesavers would be trained every single year. CPR training in high schools can teach a substantial portion of the population how to deliver this lifesaving technique. Sixteen states, including Iowa, have this requirement. 

Encourage the Board of Education to make CPR training a high school graduation requirement.

Kelsey Neal, who grew up in Lincoln and is now in college, was just 14 years old when she had a sudden cardiac arrest. Her dad saved her life by performing CPR - something he learned how to do in high school.   Let’s not wait to become the 30th, 40th, or 50th state to require this life-saving training.   Training students in CPR will fill schools, as well as entire communities, with lifesavers. The more people trained in CPR equals more lives saved.  Someone like Kelsey. 

The Board of Education recently heard testimony on why including CPR training is so important, and why Nebraska should be next to make this life-saving skill a high school graduation requirement.  Please send your note to the Board of Education today encouraging them to include this training in our schools.  


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Nebraska Celebrates 5 Years of Clean Indoor Air

On June 1, 2009, Nebraska joined the growing list of states to implement a Clean Indoor Air law, thereby reducing the exposure to secondhand smoke within our state.  According to the Surgeon General's report, there is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke - any exposure to tobacco smoke is harmful.  In recognition of the 5th anniversary of this law, we want to provide Nebraskans with the resources available to further reduce the impact of tobacco on our state.  If you are thinking of quitting smoking, there are resources available to you!  And, it's important to know your rights related to clean indoor air. 

We are proud of Nebraska for taking this important step toward better health and reducing the impact of tobacco across our state.  

According to the Nebraska Adult Tobacco Survey, Joseph M. Acierno, Director of the Division of Public Health and Chief Medical Office for the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, stated that, "support for the law remains high at 86 percent, and 90 percent of non-smokers support the law, with smokers’ support for the law increasing from 39 percent before the law went into effect in 2008 to 62 percent in 2012.” For more on this article in the Scottsbluff Star Herald, CLICK HERE.  

To read the Surgeon General's report on the impact of second hand smoke, CLICK HERE.

To access the Nebraska Health and Human Services Smoke Free Nebraska site for additional resources, CLICK HERE.  

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CPR Saved My Dad

Pamela Miller Grassroots Advocacy Director

In my work as Grassroots Advocacy Director for the AHA, I advocate every day for policies that improve our cardiovascular health – things like smoke free air, research funding, access to AEDs and learning CPR. I am passionate about our mission and how it positively impacts our communities. However, I never imagined that it would become so personal. 

On the evening of May 14th, my Dad was driving to his office in a small town in rural Minnesota.  Suddenly, without warning, my Dad realized that something was very wrong.  He tried to guide his vehicle to the side of the street but ended up on someone’s lawn.  An off-duty EMT saw his vehicle in a place where it didn’t belong, and she acted immediately.  She recognized my Dad was in distress; his heart had stopped and he wasn’t breathing.  Without hesitation, she did what she had been trained to do: she had someone call 911 for help and she started CPR.  Within minutes, police officers were on the scene with an AED, and they were able to re-start my Dad’s heart.  With the help of emergency medical personnel, doctors, and nurses – my Dad was able to experience the high school graduation of three of his grandkids the following weekend. 

Anyone 12 years and older can, and should, learn Hands-Only CPR.  With CPR Week upon us, I ask that you use this opportunity – and my Dad’s experience – to take time to learn Hands Only CPR.  CPR saved my Dad.  

 I also want to recognize the contributions and the impact our emergency medical professionals have on our communities.  In so many instances, they are the unsung heroes when an emergency happens.  They are the first responders to assess an emergency and implement the system of care for those in need.  They are passionate, professional, and trained to act under stressful conditions, often when seconds make the difference between life and death.  We celebrated National EMS week May 18-24, to thank first responders for the countless ways they serve our community, and for the lives that they save. But these individuals are busy saving lives throughout the year – when you have the opportunity, please thank these lifesavers for their work.

I believe very strongly in the mission of the American Heart Association, but advocating for learning CPR, placement of AEDs in public places, research for pacemakers and defibrillators and funding support for training and equipment for emergency personnel has never been more personal. 

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Share Your Story: Paul Ansaldo

Paul Ansaldo Kansas

I was 29 years old when I had my stroke, which changed my life forever. As I look back, my life has been altered, not for the better or worse, it just became different. I now face a few more challenges in my day to day living and at 53 years young, I’m writing my stroke story for the first time.

I will always remember October 6, 1990 not only as a beautiful sunny day in Ocala, Florida but also the date of my event. I have no idea why the medical profession refers to it as an event but they do. I woke up feeling fine with plans to go to the Florida Gators vs. LSU Tigers football game in Gainesville, Florida. Go Gators! My only concern that morning was can the Gators beat the Tigers? I showed no symptoms or warning signs of what was to come. I was able to drive to the game, felt fine, no headache, and my speech was intact.

During the second quarter of the football game, it all changed. Suddenly, I was having difficulty reading and seeing the numbers on the back of the players’ jersey. I was starting to feel a bit dizzy so I went to the restroom to splash cold water on my face. It was on the way back to my seat that I quickly became disoriented. I was stumbling, walking into people and doing my best to try to stay upright. As soon as I made it back to my seat, I fell forward on the person in front of me and passed out. I was in and out of consciousness. Within minutes, stadium security called for medical assistance. The paramedics were able to give a preliminary diagnosis of stroke as my face was distorted, and speech was slurred.

I was informed a few days later that I had a left Middle Carotid Artery (MCA) dissection, cutting off blood flow to my brain which ultimately resulted in a massive stroke. My Initial deficits were: total paralysis on the right side of my body, global asphasia: unable to produce recognizable words, and had little to no understanding of the spoken language. The doctors were concerned that I would never walk, talk or have a rational thought again. They did not paint a positive future for me as I could not do basic commands, did not recognize my family and had no idea of my situation.

Within ten days, I regained feeling on my right side, my paralysis almost completely went away and I started to walk. I was then released from the hospital. In reality, this is a relatively short amount of time given my situation. I did not have to have surgery. The majority of my paralysis went away and I started to walk. A true blessing that is unexplainable even 23 years later. My communication skills took the longest to regain, especially the task of putting together a sentence with somewhat clear pronunciation. It’s been years later and it is still my speech that prevents me from achieving full recovery.

A few months into my recovery, I was having somewhat clear thoughts and I knew that time was not my friend. When my stroke occurred, my daughter was five and my son was just three years old. It is from them I got my inspiration to work hard every day to gain back the abilities I had lost.

The fact that I am a stroke survivor is something that I chose not to share with others. Once people would find out, their expectations of me were lowered along with their confidence in my abilities; some would even question my intellect. So for a long time, I chose to keep my experience to myself. I would only confide in those I’m close to. Now, after 23 years of living with and working through the outcome of my stroke, my philosophy has changed. I want to share my story in hopes that it will help others. I no longer want to stay quiet. I feel I have gained the insight and wisdom that allows me to help other courageous stroke survivors.


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