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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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Update on Efforts to Combat Childhood Obesity

Crafted by  Ben Schmauss, Government Relations Director, Nevada

It has been an incredible last 6 months working as the Gov. Relations Director in Nevada for the American Heart Association. I have worked on issues related to CPR in Schools, heart screenings for newborns, healthy vending, smoke free communities, and obesity to name a few.

I have been in the public health and education field for the better part of my 10 year career and the last 5 years I have worked directly with K-12 schools addressing childhood obesity. Yet I never fully understood how everything affects the heart. Prevention is the key and children are the future.

The United States, including Nevada, is in the midst of a full-blown obesity epidemic and this public health crisis includes youngsters. Currently, one third of our youth are overweight or obese. The health consequences of obesity in children are stunning. Research shows that an obese child’s arteries resemble those of a middle-aged adult and overweight adolescents have an overwhelming chance of becoming obese adults. These children are being condemned to an early future of cardiovascular disease, disability, and possible death.

There has never been a more critical time to address and improve the environment where children spend the majority of their waking hours – school.  Schools need to be part of the solution by establishing an environment that fosters a foundation of healthy behaviors in the next generation of children. One way schools can do this is by providing nutrition education and ensuring that the school environment promotes healthy eating habits and physical activity.

In December 2010, the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act became law, giving the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) the authority to update national nutrition standards for school meals and establish nutrition standards for other foods, called competitive foods, sold on school campuses throughout the school day. These provisions will help schools give children the jump start they need for long, healthy lives.

For the past 4 months I have been participating in the Nevada Statewide Wellness Policy Revision that aims to update our current policy to meet the new federal “Smart Snacks” guidelines established in the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010.  These revisions will help foster a healthy school environment in the following ways:

  • It will eliminate unhealthy fundraisers during school hours
  • It will ban carbonated beverages from being sold on school grounds
  • It requires that food sold on school properties meet nutritional standards established by the USDA
  • This policy defines physical activity and outlines guidelines for students having the opportunity to move daily.

This wellness policy revision is a good start to creating a healthier tomorrow but there is still room for state and local advocacy to bolster our laws and policies around the health and wellness of children.  To help, please contact our Grassroots Director – Josh Brown.

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My Efforts to Train the Next Generation of Life Savers in Nevada

Guest Blogger: Steve Schauer, CPR/AED Task Force Chair, Nevada

In 2011 I had a sudden cardiac arrest at my office and thanks to the quick actions of a coworker – I am alive and well today. Thankfully my coworker was CPR certified and was nearby to immediately assess the situation and act. He began chest compressions while directing others to simultaneously call 9-1-1 and bring the automated external defibrillator (AED) to the scene. The ambulance arrived fairly quickly, however I believe it was my coworker’s quick administration of CPR and AED that not only saved my life but also protected me from any permanent heart or brain damage.

Currently, 4 out of 5 sudden cardiac arrests occur outside of the hospital setting and less than 12 percent of victims survive the event. Effective bystander CPR provided immediately after sudden cardiac arrest can double or triple a victim’s chance of survival, but only 41 percent of cardiac arrest victims get CPR from a bystander.

Since my cardiac arrest I am now actively volunteering for the American Heart Association and I am the CPR/AED taskforce chair in Nevada.  I have helped pass the CPR/AED bill (Nevada Assembly bill 414) that will require students in Nevada schools to learn CPR prior to graduation, as funding is available.  It’s exciting to see that this bill will allow schools to train thousands of students each year to save a life via Hands-Only CPR techniques and hopefully help save countless numbers of lives.  As CPR/AED Taskforce Chair, I hope to help guide the implementation of AB 414 to make sure schools, teachers, EMTs, and volunteers are properly prepared to train the next generation of lifesavers. 

Next legislative session we aim to secure statewide funding for AB 414 so that we can ensure that each student in Nevada will learn this life-saving skill prior to graduation.  If you are interested in volunteering to help with the implementation of AB 414 please contact Ben Schmauss.

In addition, my wife and children have volunteered with the American Heart Association and have all become certified in CPR.  Do you know Hands-Only CPR? If not, please take 1 minute to see how simple saving a life can be.  For more information, please visit here

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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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When My Mother Had A Stroke

Guest Blogger: Namya Malik; 15 year old daughter of a stroke survivor

Two years ago, I woke up in the morning to my dad yelling at my brother and me that there was something wrong with my mother. When I rushed out of bed, I found my dad trying to help my mother walk down the stairs. My mom’s face was droopy, her speech was slurred, and her movements were uncoordinated – all the warning signs of a stroke that no one in my family recognized at the time. My dad took her to the hospital, and my brother and I waited at home. A few hours later, my dad called and told us that she had suffered a stroke. The doctors discovered that she had a congenital heart defect called atrial septal defect. This defect enabled direct blood flow between two compartments of her heart which caused a blood clot and prompted the stroke.

My mother spent three weeks in rehabilitation and has had several surgeries to repair her heart defect, but her stroke has had a lasting impact on her life. She lives with a condition called atrial fibrillation which puts her at great risk for another stroke. Her right hand is still weak, and she writes very slowly. Her speech is impaired also, and she often slurs and mispronounces words. Yet, she has shown remarkable courage, made significant progress, and can perform daily activities without help.

When my mother suffered the stroke, I barely knew what a stroke was, and I was oblivious to its severity and consequences. Seeing my mother live with her disabilities has motivated me to raise awareness about stroke. By educating other people about heart health and stroke, I hope to prepare them to recognize the symptoms of a stroke so that they can help in an emergency. For certain types of strokes, doctors can minimize damage to the brain tissue if a patient reaches the medical facility within four hours, so recognizing the symptoms of stroke is crucial. I have recently started working with the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association to help raise awareness about heart disease and strokes in my community. I plan to start a club in my school that promotes heart health and encourages students to lead healthy lives, and I intend to talk about and demonstrate CPR in classrooms.

I would like to invite everyone reading this to get involved and help raise awareness about stroke. Research shows that stroke is the number one preventable cause of disability in the United States, so increasing awareness is pivotal if we want to avoid the debilitating consequences of strokes. Whether you want to organize a large fundraising event to support stroke research or simply discuss ways to lead healthy lives with your friends, your actions can help reduce the prevalence of strokes. Your efforts could save a life or prevent a person from living with a disability.

Think F.A.S.T. and get to know the warning signs of stroke: StrokeAssociation.org/warningsigns.

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Advocate Spotlight - Karen Dionne

Karen Dionne, Washington

At age 37, I envisioned my whole life ahead of me as I was planning my wedding to Michael, the man of my dreams.  I was successful at my job as a sales representative at a golf resort.  I was physically active, for fun I played co-ed softball, golf, and tennis.  My life quickly changed in an instant.  One quiet morning, I would leave my old life as I knew it behind and begin my life over struggling to survive as a stroke survivor.

Four months prior to my wedding, I had a hemorrhagic stroke causing paralysis on my left side. I had no known stroke risk factors. Blood pressure was normal, healthy cholesterol, didn’t do drugs, not on birth control pills, and was not overweight. 

On Friday morning March 2, 2007 while making breakfast with my fiancé Michael, I told him that I was feeling dizzy, light headed and I had a severe headache. It felt as if I could pass out.  Warning sign #1.    

As I sat on the couch, I started to feel immediate fatigue. My head was just not right. It started to hurt more.  Warning sign #2.  

I got up and started to walk again. However, this time I stop and just stood there.  I looked down at my feet in disbelief.  I described to Michael that I was looking down at my left foot but I could not feel it. Warning sign #3. 

The sensation quickly traveled up the left side of my body. I could not feel it. It was like it went to sleep without the pins and needles feeling.  Something was terribly wrong.  “Help me!” I exclaimed. 

Michael started putting all the pieces of the puzzle together. He looked at me and asked me to smile. He could see the left side of my facial muscles were not equal to my right side.  Warning sign #4.  

He said to me, “Karen, everything you’re telling me says you’re having a stroke!” This all took less than 5 minutes.

Michael SAVED MY LIFE that day by recognizing that I was having a stroke.  There was no doubt in his mind.  He wasted no time getting me to the emergency room.  A CT Scan revealed I was bleeding in my brain. I was having a hemorrhagic stroke. 

The stroke took many things from me including my lower left quadrant vision. It left me without feeling on my entire left side including in my left hand, I had to learn to walk again and I still have a small limp. With hard work, determination, and complete love and support from my husband Michael, I was able to walk down the aisle four months later on our wedding day. 

I later asked Michael how he knew I was having a stroke. He replied that he read it somewhere but he doesn’t remember where. Only that somewhere he remembered that lifesaving bit of information that he stored in his memory. I say that because everything we do to raise awareness about heart disease and stroke adds up. Even if it’s one person we touch, that one person could save a life someday.  And it could be YOUR life.  Or YOU could save someone you love.

Social media has been a great tool throughout my recovery efforts. During my journey on the road to recovery, I founded a support group for young adult stroke survivors called facebook.com/Reclaiming Ourselves.  Nearly a thousand of young adult stroke survivors from around the world encourage each other online with our goals and successes.  We are also available on Twitter @Stroke_Survior, and Pintrest. 

I volunteer as a Go Red For Women Ambassador with the American Heart Association. I do public speaking throughout my community educating others about the warning signs of heart disease and stroke and controllable risk factors in order to save lives.  As a Go Red For Women Ambassador is not just about heart, it's about stroke too.  Our goal as Ambassadors is to raise awareness about heart disease and stroke in order to reduce deaths from these diseases.  And the focus is not just about Heart month in February, it's about every month, for every woman, for every life.  

Being a voice for the millions of stroke survivors and their families is very important to me. That’s why I’m a You’re The Cure advocate. Recently, I met with our Washington state Governor and other elected officials to discuss tobacco prevention, childhood obesity, safe routes to schools and CPR in schools in order to save lives.  It’s easy to be an advocate and the American Heart Association makes it easy. 

I was honored to be asked to be on the Board of Directors in the South Sound.  It’s another way to give back to my community and support an organization that gives so much to help so many. 

Do I still work on my recovery?  Every day!! I stay very active with my gym membership.  My goal is to work out 4-5 times a week and do physical events such as 5K’s, 10K’s or even half marathons. This year was the second time I completed The Big Climb in Seattle up Columbia Tower (69 flights and 1,311 steps).  I believe there is no finish line.  I’m always looking for ‘what’s next’ and challenge others to join me. 

How do you recognize a stroke?  Remember F.A.S.T. 

F. Face

A. Arms

S. Speech

T. Time call 9-1-1 immediately

Please, make it your mission to educate yourself on the warning signs of stroke so you can be there for the ones you love. And make it your mission to educate the ones you love so they can be there for you. 

Karen Dionne, Stroke Survivor

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Take Control of Your Health

Did you know high blood pressure has also been called the “silent killer”? That’s because its symptoms are not always obvious, making the need for regular check-ups important.  As we recognize High Blood Pressure Awareness Month, here are the facts:

• High blood pressure (aka: hypertension) is one of the major risk factors for heart disease.

• It’s the leading risk factor of women’s deaths in the U.S., and the second leading risk factor for death for men.

• One-third of American adults have high blood pressure. And 90 percent of American adults are expected to develop high blood pressure over their lifetimes.

• More than 40 percent of non-Hispanic black adults have high blood pressure. Not only is high blood pressure more prevalent in blacks than whites, but it also develops earlier in life.
 
• Despite popular belief, teens, children and even babies can have high blood pressure. As with adults, early diagnosis and treatment can reduce or prevent the harmful consequences of this disease.

Now that you know the facts, what can you do to take control? The answer is a “lifestyle prescription” that can prevent and manage high blood pressure. A healthy lifestyle includes exercise, stress management, and eating a healthy diet, especially by reducing the sodium you eat. To learn more about taking control of you blood pressure, be sure to visit our online toolkit!

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Spring has Arrived - Time to Get Outside and Get Active

Did you know that Wednesday April 2 was National Walking Day? In most parts of the US, the weather is starting to warm up now that spring has arrived. After a cold winter it's always nice to be able to get out and enjoy the warmer temperatures.

In the spirit of National Walking Day we encourage you to lace up your sneakers and take at least 30 minutes out of your day to get up and walk.  National Walking Day is a great way to raise awareness of the importance of physical activity and also a wonderful way to get family, friends and co-workers started on the way to a healthier life.

Even though National Walking Day has passed, we still encourage you to take some time out of every day to walk and be physically active. Lack of physical activity is one of the major risk factors for heart disease and stroke.  The America Heart Association has even developed a website and an app that can help you find walking paths near wherever you are.  Check it out here to find a path near you.

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A Heartfelt Thanks

Each year, we like to pause and give thanks during National Volunteer Week (April 6th-12th) for the amazing contributions of volunteers like you.  We know you have a choice when deciding which organization to dedicate your time and talents to and we’re honored you’ve chosen to contribute to the American Heart Association’s mission.  Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of getting to meet many You’re the Cure advocates in person to say ‘thanks’, but since getting together isn’t always possible, I wanted to share this special video highlighting the progress you’ve made possible.

(Please visit the site to view this video) 

You’ll see we are making strides to create smoke-free communities across the country, develop the next generation of life-savers trained in CPR, and ensure all students have healthy meal choices in schools.  The effort you’ve made to contact your lawmakers, share your story, and spread the word through your social networks have led to those successes and more. In fact, in just the last eight months, You’re the Cure advocates have helped contacted local, state, and federal lawmakers more than 140,000 times and it’s these messages that can lead to policy wins.

So take a moment to pat yourself on the back and enjoy a job well done!  I look forward to continuing our efforts to pursue policy changes that will help build healthier communities and healthier lives for all Americans. We couldn’t do it without you – thanks!

- Clarissa

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Pleased to Meet You!

Guest Blogger: Ben Schmauss, Government Relations Director, Nevada

I am excited to write my first blog post and introduce myself as the new Government Relations Director for the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association in Nevada. I am truly honored to be part of furthering our mission.

Prior to joining the American Heart Association, I worked for the Alliance for a Healthier Generation facilitating the implementation of the Healthy Schools Program across Nevada and New Mexico while earning a Master of Public Health Degree from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Earlier in my career I had the opportunity to teach in the Clark County School District.

I am passionate about health, education and the opportunity for each of us to be an agent of change.  I became a teacher because a teacher changed my life by giving me a second chance. I became a health educator because I thought I could make a difference, similarly I joined the American Heart Association because I believe in power of united hands and voices standing together to make a difference and I want to stand with you as we fight to reduce heart diseases and stroke.

Nevada has been my home for the last 14 years. I was born and raised in North Pole, Alaska and moved to Nevada for college in January of 2000.  I met my amazing wife Christy here and we were married in May of 2005.  We have three, very active children. Ruby (7), Wyatt (4) and Blake (2). We live in Old Henderson and love to get outside and walk, run and bike.  Hope to see you around town!

I look forward to working with you as we join together to make a healthier tomorrow.

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