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Stroke survivors need Congress to act now!

Stroke survivors on Medicare have been put through enough! Year after year, they are hit with the possibility of facing a punitive cap on their rehabilitative therapy. Thankfully Congress routinely allows for an exceptions process, but it must be renewed every year. That usually happens at the last minute, right before the old exceptions process expires, leaving survivors in limbo. Wouldn’t it make more sense to just remove these caps altogether?

Tell your member of Congress to remove these arbitrary caps once-and-for-all.

Right now, the current exceptions process expires in March of 2015. If Congress does not act before then, stroke survivors will face limits of $1,900 a year on outpatient therapy. On average, that amounts to a single evaluation and just 19 outpatient 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. Stroke survivors deserve better.

Even though the March deadline is many months away, the opportunity to permanently remove these caps is now. Currently, a bill that eliminates the therapy caps once-and-for all has 221 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives, a bipartisan majority, and 33 cosponsors in the Senate, one-third of the Senate. However, if this bill is not passed and sent to the President before the new Congress is sworn-in in January, we will have to start over next year.

We need your voice now! Tell your member of Congress that stroke survivors deserve better and to repeal the therapy caps!

For far too long, Congress has kicked the can down the road. But stroke survivors need to know that they will have the care they need in their recovery. The time to act is now, but time is running out. Contact your member of Congress today!

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The School Day Just Got Healthier

It’s that time of year again!  Kids across the country are heading back to the classroom and we want to help ensure their minds and bodies are fueled with nutritious foods to support a successful education.

Fortunately, the health of today’s school environment continues to improve.  Thanks to the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, cafeterias began offering school meals that meet updated nutrition standards last year.  School lunches and breakfasts now include more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains- and less sodium and unhealthy fats- and kids are adapting to the changes.  According to a recent study, 70 percent of schools reported that students seem to like their new lunches and 63 percent said students are no longer concerned about the new changes.

Now, it’s time for snacks sold in schools to get a healthy make-over too.  The ‘Smart Snacks in School’ standards took effect at the beginning of this school year, building on the progress made with school meals.  Foods and beverages sold in a la carte lines, snack bars, and vending machines, also known as ‘competitive foods’, must now meet strong nutrition standards as well.

For many schools, this is nothing new.  Thousands of schools had already found new ways of providing “smart snacks” for students – well in advance of updated federal lunch standards.  These schools serve as good examples that these changes can be made and embraced by students. 

So, how can you help make ‘Smart Snacks’ implementation successful for your child and your school district?  We know change is never easy.  Encouraging students to move away from sugary beverages and salty snacks will take some effort from schools and parents.  But it can be done and must be done for the health of today’s kids.  Join us!

1)      Do your homework- The United States Department of Agriculture has a host of resources to learn about the ‘Smart Snacks in School’ standards and the changes you can expect to see in your school district this year.  Take a look and help share them with fellow parents: 

2)      Get involved-

  • Ask your school administration about the changes that have been implemented in your district to improve nutrition.
  • Make time to join your child for lunch in the school cafeteria to see what is offered for meals and snacks.
  • When your child gets home from school, ask what was served and what (s)he ate for lunch.
  • Reinforce the healthier options your child has at school by serving healthier snacks and meals at home.
  • Be a role model. Let your child see you enjoying fruits, vegetables, and whole grains at meals and snacks.
  • Grocery shop together.  Talk about healthy choices and discuss where vegetables, fruits and grains, dairy and protein foods come from.

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Tell Congress WHY you support medical research

We don’t have to think twice about why we support more funding for organizations like the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to research cures for cardiovascular disease and stroke. But unfortunately the funding cuts continue.

We routinely tell Congress that NIH research leads to innovation, jobs, and life-saving medical breakthroughs. But right now they need to hear the personal reasons why research is important from advocates like you!

Tell us, WHY do you support medical research?

For me, I support the NIH because of advocates like Ryley. In 2013, Ryley, just a teenager, unexpectedly suffered from multiple strokes that affected five different areas of his brain. Since then, he has had to endure thousands of hours of physical therapy and testing to relearn to walk, talk, and function like his normal self. But despite the large obstacles he has faced, he has had the opportunity to share his story and help others like him.

Ryley has made tremendous progress in the face of such large obstacles, but doctors still have much to learn about his condition. With more available funding, NIH has the opportunity to find real cures for cardiovascular diseases, giving hope to families like Ryley’s who depend on research to provide clarity and answers.

For me, individuals like Ryley are why.

What about you? Tell Congress today why you support medical research!

Finding a cure doesn’t happen overnight; however, each step takes countless hours of research and manpower, trial and error, and hope and frustration. But each step is an opportunity to bring a new chance at life to families across the country. It’s why the work NIH does is so vital, and it’s why the work we do to protect NIH’s funding is so critical.

Ryley is why. A cure is why. Life is why. Show your support for NIH and tell us: what’s your why?

 

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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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