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Watch Out for Sneaky Salt!

Did you know that most Americans eat more than twice the American Heart Association’s recommended amount of sodium? Chances are, that includes you—even if you rarely pick up the salt shaker. The worst part is, most of us don’t even realize how much salt we’re taking in. But sure enough, Salt is sneaking up on us—mostly when we go out to restaurants or eat packaged foods.

Check out this new 1-minute video to see for yourself:

(Please visit the site to view this video)

It’s true; many of us love salt. In fact, sodium is an essential nutrient! But the excess amounts we’re eating put us at risk for elevated blood pressure which means an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. As much as we might have an affinity for salt, it’s just not worth the cost to our hearts. There are plenty of other ways to enjoy tasty food with less salt. Check out our new website to get the 411 on sodium, including our blog, quiz, infographics, links to lower-sodium recipes and more. 

That’s why the American Heart Association is kicking off a new campaign, “I love you salt, but you’re breaking my heart.”  Click the image below to pledge to reduce your sodium intake today!


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Speak Up for Tobacco Regulation

The Food and Drug Administration has proposed a new rule that would regulate all tobacco products, including cigars, electronic cigarettes, pipe tobacco, hookah tobacco, nicotine gels and dissolvables. This is a good step, as the FDA must have authority over these products to protect public health.

Among the new rule's requirements, manufacturers would have to disclose ingredient lists for their products and include warning labels on product packages and advertisements. It would ban the sale of these products to anyone under the age of 18, however, the rule does not go far enough to protect young people from the harms of tobacco.

As proposed, the rule does not prohibit the use of candy and fruit flavorings in these tobacco products. It also does not restrict marketing, despite a recent study showing a sharp increase in youth exposure to e-cigarette advertising in recent years. Candy and fruit flavorings and advertisements may account for the rapid rise in cigar and e-cigarette use by young people. These measures must be added.  

The public has until July 9th to submit comments on the proposed rule before it is finalized by the agency. You can tell FDA stronger standards are needed for all tobacco products. Add your voice today!

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Your American Stroke Month Mission...

Did you know that stroke is our nation’s 4th leading killer? Or that someone has a stroke every 40 seconds in the United States? May is American Stroke Month and the goal is to raise awareness that stroke is preventable, treatable, and beatable.

Over the next few weeks (and beyond), there are many opportunities for You're the Cure advocates to participate! Below are a few great opportunities to get you started! 


Contact Congress

It is crucial that our federal lawmakers are involved. Washington must do more to help stroke patients and their caregivers, but it’s up to us to make stroke a priority on Capitol Hill! 

Send a letter to your Members of Congress today and tell them to make American Stroke Month a priority!

Your representative in Congress can participate in three simple ways to highlight the importance of American Stroke Month. They include:

  • Attend the American Stroke Association / National Stroke Association Congressional briefing on May 14th, which will highlight the issues and challenges facing stroke caregivers.
  • Speak on the floor of the House or Senate about the importance of American Stroke Month or highlight the month in their constituent newsletter.
  • Join the Congressional Heart and Stroke Coalition. The Coalition, which is made up of more than 125 Members of the House and Senate, works to raise awareness of the seriousness of cardiovascular diseases and acts as a resource center on heart and stroke issues.

May is the month to get our nation's legislators focused on stroke. Urge Congress to step-up its commitment to fighting stroke during American Stroke Month!




Learn and Share the Facts about Stroke

Stroke can affect anyone at anytime. Therefore, it is crucial that we learn the facts about stroke and share them with friends and family! Below are four easy ways to raise awareness.

Keep checking the Pulse blog and the You're the Cure Facebook page for the latest news and opportunities around American Stroke Month!

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Help Cut Junk Food Ads Out of Schools!

It's pop quiz time!  One of these things are not like the others. Can you pick out the one that doesn’t belong?

A) Students
B) Physical education
C) Teachers
D) Books
E) Junk food ads

Did you pick E?  Me too, because all of these things belong in our nation’s schools except junk food advertising.  From vending machines and stadium sponsorships to cups and posters in cafeterias, unhealthy foods and drinks are being marketed in schools across the country.  But we have an opportunity to help change that.

Will you join the chorus of nutrition advocates speaking-up against junk food marketing in schools?

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has proposed updates to standards for local school wellness policies, which include common-sense guidelines for food marketing in schools.  Basically, if a food or drink doesn’t meet the nutrition standards to be sold in schools, it shouldn’t be marketed in schools. 
 
Make sense to you? 
 
Please take two minutes to submit a letter to the USDA expressing your support for moving forward with these important changes.  The agency is only accepting public comments until April 28th, so don’t delay. 

In addition to food marketing, the proposed changes address a variety of ways to keep our students healthy. Nutrition and physical activity must be cornerstones of a solid education for every student and these new regulations would help school districts and communities come together to achieve that goal.

Thank you for all you do to help build healthier school environments for kids!

 

PS- Once you take action, please encourage your network to add their voices too!  Share this post on Facebook & Twitter to help us reach our goal of 5,000 comments to the USDA.

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Spring Has Sprung and So Has Budget Season!

It’s that time of year again.  While we wait for the cherry blossoms to bloom in Washington, D.C., budget discussions are heating up between the White House and Capitol Hill. 

On March 4th, the President released his budget proposal for 2015 and now Members of Congress are working to establish their funding priorities to begin the appropriations process and eventually pass a budget.  And that’s where you come in! 

With tight economic times, we need to continue to make the case for heart disease and stroke research and prevention funding that helps drive innovation, cuts health care costs, improves the health of our workforce, protects the health of our youngest generations, and saves lives.  Basically, your lawmakers need to hear from you that the fight against our nation’s No. 1 and No. 4 killers, heart disease and stroke, must be prioritized. 

In addition to funding that would help communities support walking, biking, and recreation, and funding for nutrition programs that would improve access to healthy food and nutrition education, the President’s budget included two key issues that deserve a special note:

  • On the positive side, the budget included a public health ‘win-win’ by proposing an increase to the federal tobacco tax, which would help curb youth smoking rates, to pay for efforts to improve early childhood education, which includes nutrition and physical education for our youngest Americans. 
  • On the negative side, the budget proposed near level funding for the National Institutes of Health, which is disappointing for research-advocates who are continuing to push our nation’s lawmakers to restore significant cuts to the NIH that took place last spring.  As our AHA President Dr. Mariell Jessup said in a statement, “With a meager 1 percent increase over last year, President Obama’s proposed budget for the National Institutes of Health is utterly inadequate.”

But the President’s budget proposal isn’t the end of these decisions.  The work now shifts to Members of Congress to consider these proposals, set their priorities, and negotiate to pass a final budget.  In fact, right now, our legislators are submitting their funding priorities to leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate and we need your help to speak-up for heart disease and stroke research!  Will you take two minutes to send a quick message to Congress?  

Without us speaking up- loud and clear- for important funding increases to the NIH, we will see progress and innovation in the way we prevent, diagnose, and treat heart disease and stroke slip backward.  From the jobs it creates to the lives it saves, medical research must be made a priority in the U.S..  Speak-up today! 

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You're Invited!

Throughout American Heart Month, you've helped raise awareness about heart disease in women by wearing red and speaking up about the risk factors we face.  But just how much progress is being made in the fight against our nation's No. 1 killer of women?  To answer that question and more, join us for the 4th Annual State of Women's Heart Health webinar on Wednesday, February 19th at 5:00 pm EST (4:00 pm CST)! 

This LIVE, virtual discussion will feature some of our nation's leading health experts, including Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius and National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Director Dr. Gary Gibbons, so come with your questions ready.

To participate, RSVP today!

Do you have friends who may be interested in joining too?  Share this invitation and the registration link (http://bit.ly/1igJnZp) on Facebook! 

 

 

 

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Let's Improve the American Diet

If something could be done to prevent over 10,000 heart attacks and over 3,000 deaths per year, shouldn’t we do it?

Last fall the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) took action to save lives and improve the American diet by declaring industrially-produced trans fats – known as partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs) – unsafe for use in food. The decision would require food producers to remove PHOs and use healthier ingredients in their products. However, the FDA needs to hear from you to make this decision official.

Tell the FDA to save lives by eliminating trans fats in our food!

Trans fats are known to increase bad cholesterol which heightens your risk for heart disease and stroke. By eliminating trans fats from the American diet, we could prevent 10,000 – 20,000 heart attacks and 3,000 -7,000 deaths due to coronary heart disease every year!

Many foods have harmful trans fats, including fried foods, pastries, pizza dough and even crackers. The food that we eat should be safe and everything should be done to improve the health of Americans. Eliminating PHOs, or industrially-produced trans fats, is one way to accomplish this.  

Show your support for eliminating trans fats by contacting the FDA today! We even have a letter started for you!

Thank you again for all that you do!

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Share Your Medical Research Story

With terms like continuing resolutions, sequester and budget cuts, federal funding for medical research conducted at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) can be very confusing (check out our latest blog post for more details!). Fortunately, the way to influence lawmakers is simple. As a You’re the Cure advocate, you possess the most powerful tool to sway the mind of elected officials: your story. And we need those stories more than ever.

Due to sequestration cuts last spring, five percent, or $1.5 billion, was cut from medical research and could potentially result in the loss of 20,500 jobs, 640 research grants and countless medical breakthroughs. I think you would agree that enough is enough!

Your story shows how important medical research is to all Americans. Has your life been improved by medical research? Tell us your story today!

Need help getting started? Here are a few ideas:

  • Have you or a loved undergone a lifesaving surgery?
  • Do you or someone you know take blood pressure medication or another prescription regularly?
  • Do you have a medical condition and are hoping on a medical breakthrough in the near future?
  • Are you a researcher and have felt the effects of these budget cuts in your work?

Research is crucial for advancing our country's medicine. Work at the NIH holds the key to saving countless numbers of lives, but that can only happen if Congress continues investing.

Will you please share your story with us, so we can put a face to medical research?

Earlier this week, a bipartisan committee from both the House and Senate announced a deal that would set overall government spending for the next two years. If both the House and Senate pass this deal, the next step is for committees in both chambers to decide how much funding government programs receive, including NIH. That is where we will need your help again. Stay tuned for more ways to protect medical research in the future!

P.S. In order to share your story, you will need a complete community profile. If you have not done so yet, click here!

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Help Stop Therapy Caps

If you had a stroke and needed therapy to regain your ability to walk, talk, and carry out daily activities, would you want there to be a limit on the amount of therapy your health care plan covered? 

For stroke patients on Medicare, these ‘therapy caps’ are a real concern.  Limits on outpatient speech, physical, and occupational therapy could force beneficiaries needing therapy beyond the caps to pay out-of-pocket for costly care, or forgo additional therapy they need… unless Congress acts now. 

Our legislators have the power to repeal the caps, or extend an ‘exceptions process’ that has eased the impact of the caps, but they need to take action by December 31st.   Will you take two minutes to ask your legislators to stop the caps? 

The typical Medicare beneficiary has a $1,900 therapy cap.  On average, that amounts to a single evaluation and just 19 therapy sessions.  However, stroke survivors often need 3-5 therapy sessions a week, which means they’d reach the caps in less than two months.  We must do better for these survivors. 

Over 50 groups, including the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, have joined together to push Congress to address the Medicare therapy caps- and you can be part of the action!  Here’s how you can help:

1)      Send a quick email to your Members of Congress today.  It’s easy… we even got the message started for you. 

2)      Encourage others to act too.  Share this link-http://bit.ly/17zpYPK - on Facebook and Twitter, using the hashtag #StopTheTherapyCap in your message.

Thank you for speak-uping to protect vital therapy for stroke patients!  We’ll keep you updated on the progress we’re making on Capitol Hill on this important issue.  

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The Government is Shut Down, but Our Fight Is Not

Turn on any cable news station these days and you’ll see it… the continuously running clock that is tracking the hours and minutes of the government shutdown.  When I see it, I can’t help but think about what could or should have been accomplished during that time, especially when it comes to important policy changes that can help Americans live healthier lives. 

Will you speak-up and tell Congress that we can’t afford inaction when it comes to the fight against heart disease and stroke?  

You see, the 10 days our nation’s elected officials have spent trying to figure out how to reopen the government is time they could have used to:

1) Restore funding for the National Institutes of Health, which supports life-saving heart disease and stroke research.

2) Make progress toward the passage of an education bill that includes the regular, quality physical education our kids need to stay active and healthy.

3) Extend the Medicare therapy caps exceptions process which is necessary in order to ensure Medicare beneficiaries who have a stroke are able to access and afford the rehabilitation they need. 

With less than three months left before the end of the year, we need a quick resolution to the government shutdown to ensure Congress is able to address these key issues and others.  And while our lawmakers have been doing a lot of talking lately, it is time for them to listen… to you!

Please take two minutes right now to remind Congress about the work left on their ‘to-do’ list that heart disease and stroke patients, caregivers, researchers, and advocates are counting on them to accomplish. 

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