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Advocates Deliver "Lunch" and a Message

August was a busy month for many of our fantastic You're the Cure advocates as they met with members of Congress and their staff in their home districts to urge their support of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. Advocates from across the country, like Grace Oberholtzer of Pennsylvania, pictured at left with Congressman Dent, delivered special puzzles to lawmakers throughout the month to highlight that nutritious food 'fits' into a successful school day for every child.

Our sincere appreciation also goes out to the many other advocates who made "lunch" deliveries in the AHA Great Rivers Affiliate: Sandy Larimore, Cary Hearn and Malenda McCalister of Kentucky, Hilary Requejo, Elaine Bohman, Holly Boykin and Felicia Guerrero of Ohio, Theresa Conejo and Marlene Etkowicz (pictured at right ) in Pennsylvania, Dr. Dan Foster and Cinny Kittle in West Virginia, and Sarah Noonan Davis and Lynn Toth in Delaware.

It's not too late to raise your voice too. Speak-up for quality food in schools!

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ND Notes a Decline in Deaths From Cardiovascular Disease

According to new research in the American Heart Association journal "Circulation," hospitalizations and deaths from heart disease and stroke in the U.S. dropped significantly in the last decade. Shelly Arnold, manager of trauma, stroke and cardiac care at Sanford Health in Bismarck and chair of North Dakota's AHA Advocacy Committee, says one key in improving outcomes locally has been the establishment of statewide systems of stroke and cardiac care. In addition to the improvements in quality of care, also contributing to the decrease were public awareness, prevention strategies and improved lifestyle. For more on this story, CLICK HERE.  

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The Truth Lies in the Lunch Bag

During August, while Congress is on recess, advocates are keeping the importance of child nutrition standards in front our lawmakers!

We have been working to support the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, which provides strong nutrition standards for school meals.  Congress is working on appropriations, and the 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 we support.  Because members of Congress are on recess, this is the perfect opportunity to urge their support for keeping the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act strong. 

On August 20th, You’re the Cure advocates Mary Kay Ballasiotes, Michelle Ballasiotes, Dr. Sandra Burke, Tracey Perry, and Judd Rupp, along with advocacy staff, Kim Chidester, met with Travis Manigan, Charlotte Regional Liaison for Senator Kay Hagan.  In that meeting, they discussed the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act and how important it is to the students and families in North Carolina for Senator Hagan to support this legislation. 

Michelle Ballasiotes shared the reasons why, as a high school student, she brings her lunch to school and has for years: the food isn’t very good and she’d rather bring her food than buy at school.  Her testimony is evident of the larger problem: students in North Carolina, and across the county, need and want nutritious foods to eat for lunch – and with some students being given only 20 minutes to eat, a quick and healthy meal is vital to their well-being.

The meeting was very positive, and it was indicative of how easy it is to become involved in the political process as a You’re the Cure advocate on local and federal issues.

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August Recess Visit: Rep. John Kline

You’re the Cure advocate and Minnesota State Advocacy Committee member, Jolene Tesch and her two little ones Charlie and Raina visited Minnesota Representative John Kline’s office today to deliver a few special puzzle pieces highlighting nutritional foods that "fit" into a successful school day for every child. Like other advocates across the country, Jolene was puzzled by some Members of Congress are trying to roll-back strong nutrition standards for school meals. She especially wants to make sure her two little ones have healthy school lunches!  Thanks Jolene, Charlie and Raina for being great advocates and delivering this very important message and even snapping a picture while you visited the office.

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AHA Issues Statement on E-Cigs

Electronic cigarettes might help some people quit smoking, but the American Heart Association recommends them only as a last resort and only with several notes of caution.

AHA President Elliott Antman, M.D., underscored the careful approach Tuesday, a day after the organization’s first policy statement on e-cigarettes drew widespread media attention.  The policy statement called for strong new regulations to prevent access, sales and marketing of e-cigarettes to youth.

To read more, CLICK HERE.  

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AHA Releases First Policy Statement on E-Cigarettes

For five decades, our volunteers and staff have worked to curb tobacco use and prevent death and disease caused by smoking.  Now, the growing popularity of e-cigarettes, a new product on the tobacco landscape, demands our attention.

After a thorough examination of the available science, we’ve just released our first policy statement on e-cigarettes. American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown had this to say on today's release:

(Please visit the site to view this video)

 In the just-released statement, you’ll find:

  • Strong support for regulations that would prohibit marketing or selling e-cigarettes to minors
  • A recommendation that e-cigarettes be included in existing smoke-free laws
  • Guidance for healthcare providers who would counsel patients about e-cigarettes
  • A call for continued research and monitoring of these rapidly evolving products

You can read more about this policy statement on the main AHA blog. Then, take a moment to tell us what you think in the comments section below.

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FDA Announces Plan to Help Improve Health Equity for Women and Minorities

A new action plan released by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to increase the participation of women, minorities, and the elderly in research trials was welcomed today by four leading health organizations as taking an important step toward closing the health care disparities gap.  The groups called on the agency to implement the plan swiftly.

The American Heart Association, National Women’s Health Network, Society for Women’s Health Research, and WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease said the “FDA Action Plan to Enhance the Collection and Availability of Demographic Subgroup Data” will not only help boost representation of these population groups in clinical trials, but also will lead to more analyses on how medical drugs and devices affect women and men differently.

The groups particularly applaud the FDA for finalizing its guidance on the evaluation of sex-specific data in medical device studies and for establishing a steering committee and website to oversee and track progress on implementing the action plan. The groups, however, urged the FDA to do even more.  

The FDA’s Action Plan was required by the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act (FDASIA), signed into law in July 2012.  The act directed the FDA to review medical product applications to determine the extent to which data on how new drugs and devices affect certain subpopulations is being collected, evaluated and released publicly. By taking the actions outlined in the plan, the FDA will emphasize the need to look for sex, race, ethnicity and age-based differences through medical research, allow subgroup-specific data to be more widely available for use in medical practice, and improve the participation of women and minorities in research trials.

“Guaranteeing greater diversity in research trials will help ensure that patients and their health care professionals have the most up-to-date information needed to make the best decisions about care and treatment,” said the four organizations. “By carrying out the actions recommended by the FDA plan, we can advance our nation’s efforts to achieve the high quality health care that women and minorities want and deserve.”

While the organizations applauded the FDA’s work to address the many issues they highlighted in testimony before the agency earlier this year, they called on the FDA to:

  • Establish and clearly spell out for application sponsors the consequences of not collecting or analyzing subgroup data;
  • Take action to address concerns related to the under-inclusion of women, minorities and the elderly in early phase trials; and
  • More aggressively move forward with additional, standardized subgroup information in the labeling of medical products.

“Gender, race and age play a decisive role in how heart disease, stroke and other forms of cardiovascular disease affect us. Yet, these key populations are often left out of the research necessary to better understand the diverse impact of these diseases,” said Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association. “That’s why the FDA must not allow this new plan to just gather dust on a shelf. It’s critical that these actions be carried out rapidly and aggressively, and we look forward to working with the FDA to implement this plan.” 

“Women and their health care providers need complete and accurate information about the medical products available to them, particularly the specific benefits a drug or device might offer and the risks it might pose to her because she is a woman,” said Cynthia Pearson, executive director of the National Women’s Health Network. “The current lack of information exposes women to harm that could be avoided by more inclusive requirements for clinical trials. While the FDA Action Plan is a step in the right direction, the agency must do more than remind and encourage industry to include women and minorities in trials and analyze the data. The FDA must require that companies do this to ensure that that the products women use are safe and effective for them.”

“The Society for Women’s Health Research is pleased that the FDA heard our call for the need to release demographic data and establish training for all reviewers to look for sex differences. One of SWHR’s key priorities for more than 20 years has been making sure this data is appropriately analyzed and reported by the FDA,” said Phyllis Greenberger, president and CEO of the Society for Women’s Health Research.  “Still, the Action Plan falls short in several important areas. The FDA should do more to prioritize finding out how medical products affect women and men differently and report that information to patients and health care providers, especially since there have been significant discoveries of sex differences from biomedical research in the last two decades.”

“Women and their health care providers are tired of waiting for access to data demonstrating whether drugs and devices are safe and effective for their use. The FDA has studied this problem for decades, yet
the problem has not been fixed,” said Lisa M. Tate, CEO of WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease. “Implementation and enforcement of these recommendations would go a long way toward assuring that providers can recommend appropriate treatments for 51 percent of the U.S. population, including the 43 million women living with or at risk for heart disease.”

In the coming months, the organizations will submit additional comments and recommendations about the FDA Action Plan and work with the agency and Congress to address continuing areas of concern vital
to the health of women, minorities and older Americans.

Read what FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg had to say about this important step.

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American Heart Association Response to 8/21/14 GA BOE Smart Snack Vote

Today, Georgia’s Board of Education voted to allow 30 exempt fundraisers, each lasting 3 days. That equates to half the school year – 90 days – which could provide potentially unhealthy food options in the name of school fundraising.

The American Heart Association remains committed to improving cardiovascular health through sound policy, including ensuring our children are offered only healthy food and beverages while at school.  Georgia’s childhood obesity rate is well above the national average, and we encourage the state to enact policies that prioritize the health of our children over revenue. Allowing unhealthy foods to be sold in schools half the school year, and allowing districts to petition for additional exemptions does just the opposite. Children consume up to half of their calories at school each day. Choice is a good thing, but when it comes to our kids, choices offered at school should be healthy ones. Thirty states do not allow any exemptions for school fundraiser, and this policy drives Georgia to the bottom percent for good nutrition policy by adopting the weakest fundraiser policy in the nation. We can and should do better. The American Heart Association will continue to encourage schools to follow models of health by turning away from enticing kids with foods that are loaded with fat, salt, and sugar and, instead, embracing successful fundraising models that focus on healthy alternatives to fundraising, as have the majority of Georgia schools.  

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Rhode Island to Require Pulse Ox Screening for Newborns

Good news for Rhode Island's tiniest hearts!  The RI Department of Health recently finalized a regulation that adds critical congenital heart disease (CCHD) to the mandatory newborn screening panel in the Ocean State.  The new requirement will take effect on July 1, 2015.  Implementation is well underway – all birthing hospitals in RI have adopted pulse oximetry screening for CCHD as the standard of care.   

The Department of Health has been working with Rhode Island’s birthing hospitals over the past two years on this vital initiative.  We greatly appreciate the leadership of the Department and the many physicians, nurses and medical professionals who helped lay a strong foundation for this policy change.  

Special thanks to the many You’re the Cure advocates who supported this campaign – especially our Little Heart Heroes and families from Mended Little Hearts of Rhode Island!

Click the following link to thank Governor Chafee and Department of Health Director Dr. Michael Fine for expediting this important regulation: http://yourethecure.org/aha/advocacy/composeletters.aspx?AlertID=35354 

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Research & Advocacy = Results

In the last decade, U.S. hospitalization and death rates for heart disease and stroke have dropped significantly!  That means our research and your advocacy are paying off!  Let's keep it going to reach the American Heart Association’s 2020 goal — to improve the heart health of all Americans by 20 percent while reducing deaths from cardiovascular diseases and stroke by 20 percent by 2020.  Learn more here:

http://blog.heart.org/study-finds-significant-drop-in-hospitalizations-deaths-from-heart-disease-stroke/

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