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South Dakota Should Teach CPR in Schools

Everyone should know CPR. Anyone 12 years and older has the physical strength to do CPR.  Ann Thompson wants all kids to learn CPR before they graduate from high school.  Her son, Adam, died at home from sudden cardiac arrest. It can happen to anyone, at any time, anywhere.  Having more people trained in CPR will save lives.  CPR can double or even triple a victims chance of survival from sudden cardiac arrest.  See why Ann Thompson is encouraging all schools to teach CPR. For more on this story click HERE.  

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Paramedics Step Up to Reduce Hospital Readmissions

Paramedics in Carmel, Indiana, a fast-growing community just outside Indianapolis are stepping forward to reduce hospital admissions by implementing the Mobile Integrated Health Care program.  In the past decade, according to the Joint National EMS Leadership Forum, close to 300 fire departments, ambulance services and hospital systems nationwide have launched programs like Carmel’s, initiatives commonly known as community paramedic or community paramedicine. 

For more on this story, CLICK HERE

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October is Sudden Cardiac Arrest Awareness Month: Would You Know What To Do?

Do you know the difference between a heart attack and sudden cardiac arrest?  People often use these terms interchangeably, but they are not synonyms. A heart attack is when blood flow to the heart is blocked, and sudden cardiac arrest is when the heart malfunctions and suddenly stops beating unexpectedly. A heart attack is a “circulation” problem and sudden cardiac arrest is an “electrical” problem. 

A heart attack occurs when a blocked artery prevents oxygen-rich blood from reaching a section of the heart. If the blocked artery is not reopened quickly, the part of the heart normally nourished by that artery begins to die. The longer a person goes without treatment, the greater the damage.  Symptoms of a heart attack may be immediate and intense. More often, though, symptoms start slowly and persist for hours, days or weeks before a heart attack. Unlike with sudden cardiac arrest, the heart usually does not stop beating during a heart attack. The heart attack symptoms in women can be different than men.

Sudden cardiac arrest occurs suddenly and often without warning. It is triggered by an electrical malfunction in the heart that causes an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia). With its pumping action disrupted, the heart cannot pump blood to the brain, lungs and other organs. Seconds later, a person loses consciousness and has no pulse. Death occurs within minutes if the victim does not receive treatment.

Sudden cardiac arrest is a leading cause of death – nearly 400,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur annually in the United States.  The best chance of survival for a victim of sudden cardiac arrest is CPR. You can double or even triple a victim’s chance of survival by administering CPR and using an Automated External Defibrillator (AED).

Our state can be the next to join 19 other states across the nation that require CPR training as a high school graduation requirement.  Every year we would be placing thousands of life-savers into our communities who are trained to do CPR.  To learn more about Hands Only CPR visit our website

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National Healthy Eating Day: Your Toolkit for Success

Take the first step to making healthier food choices by taking part in the American Heart Association's National Eating Healthy Day on Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2014. 

On this day, Americans are encouraged to commit to healthier eating. Celebrating National Eating Healthy Day is fun and easy! We provide a complete toolkit of materials and how-to information for workplaces, schools, individuals and community organizations.

A healthy diet and lifestyle are your best weapons to fight cardiovascular disease. It’s not as hard as you may think!  Remember, it's the overall pattern of your choices that counts. Make the simple steps below part of your life for long-term benefits to your health and your heart.

Remember, making small changes can put you on the right path to better health.  Start by eating a variety of nutritious foods from all the food groups.  You may be eating plenty of food, but your body may not be getting the nutrients it needs to be healthy. Nutrient-rich foods have vitamins, minerals, fiber and other nutrients but are lower in calories. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables may help you control your weight, cholesterol and your blood pressure. Limit foods and beverages high in calories but low in nutrients. Also limit the amount of saturated fat, trans fat and sodium you eat. Read Nutrition Fact labels carefully — the Nutrition Facts panel tells you the amount of healthy and unhealthy nutrients in a food or beverage. 

To assist you in making healthier food choices, the American Heart Association has developed a toolkit for your use.  Included in this toolkit are recipes, heart-smart grocery shopping tips, helpful guidance on dining out, seasonal eating strategies, and much, much more. We encourage individuals, families, companies, organizations, schools and churches to register at to take advantage of all resources available.  

There is no one simple solution to the issue of obesity in our country. In order to reach our goal of improving cardiovascular health, we call on all Americans to recognize the severity of the obesity crisis, the toll it takes on our nation’s health and health care system, and the imperative need for collective action among food manufacturers, restaurants, government and consumers to change the direction we are headed.
In addition to the programs, tools and advocacy efforts already in place, the American Heart Association will continue to identify solutions to help Americans reverse obesity rates and improve their overall health. 

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Survivor Story: Michelle Meier

Michelle Meier South Dakota

Michelle Meier knew she needed to make some changes.  She had battled obesity for several years, which led to other medical issues and depression.  She took medication to control high blood pressure and had to use an inhaler.  Michelle was in her late 20’s and recognized she was headed along a dangerous pathway. 

Michelle made the decision to change her life.  Together with her physician, they made the decision to try gastic bypass.  Michelle had done her research and knew that the only way this procedure would work is if she also made a commitment to permanently changing her lifestyle habits.  She learned that exercise and diet were important components to long term weight management success.

Before she could have the surgery, her doctor told her she needed to lose 10 pounds. Michelle cut greasy, processed foods and soda pop from her diet and she started exercising. It took 4 weeks, but she lost the 10 pounds.  She already noticed a difference in how she felt – both physical and mentally.  Michelle was ready to start her new journey in life. 

Her surgery was successful and Michelle knew it was now up to her to meet her goal.  She worked closely with her physician and kept her routine checkups.  Every month she lost weight; she was eating right and exercising.  Michelle’s life changed in other ways throughout this journey, but she was determined to meet her weight loss goal in spite of these challenges. 

One year post-surgery, Michelle met her goal.  She went from 300 pounds to a healthy and trim 150 pounds – and was no longer taking medications for high blood pressure. 

Four years later, Michelle has maintained her weight at 135 pounds and continues to not need medication for high blood pressure. 

Michelle shares her inspiring story to encourage others to be bold and make changes in your life.  The key to her success was motivation, inspiration, and support. 

“It will be hard work and it will not be a fast fix.  Keep working on it and you can accomplish anything,” said Michelle.

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Georgia Morse Middle School First SD School to Achieve School Nutrition Award

Georgia Morse Middle School in Pierre is the first South Dakota school to receive a Healthy Schools Award through the Alliance for a Healthier Generation.  Former principal, Troy Wiebe accepted the award in Washington DC. 

The Alliance’s Healthy Schools Program brings parents, school staff, and students together to turn campuses into healthier places. Studies show that healthy kids have higher attendance rates, higher test scores and behave better in class. More than 24,000 schools nationwide are using the Healthy Schools Program to make this the norm at school.

At Georgia Morse Middle School, vending machines are serving healthier snacks, and students are choosing fruit and vegetable options more frequently in the cafeteria, just to name a few of the school’s healthy changes. The staff also organized a “Girls on Track” program to help girls train for a 5K race and managed a weight lifting program after school three days per week. “The Alliance’s Healthy Schools Program was essential in bringing incentives and awareness to our staff concerning national programs, expectations, and guidelines. The support we received from the Alliance was critical to the development of our team and provided excellent supports throughout the year,” said Principal Troy Wiebe. Staff are also making healthy changes by drinking more water and promoting participation in the district’s 5K run/walk.

We encourage more schools in South Dakota to follow their lead to ensure that all kids in South Dakota are on track toward a healthy lifestyle, including exercise and a healthy diet.  

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Advocdate Spotlight: Janelle Hoven and Katie Greenlee

In September 2009, Janelle Hoven and Katie Greenlee were invited to join the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women Luncheon Executive Leadership Team.  Janelle and Katie, a mother-daughter team, became involved with the mission of Go Red, the American Heart Association’s nationwide movement that celebrates the energy, passion and power of women banding together to wipe out heart disease.   Their involvement is fueled by their commitment to advocate for women’s health, specifically women’s heart health.  Statistics indicate that 90 percent of all women have at least one risk factor for heart disease and 43 million women are living with heart disease.  With heart disease prominent in their family, they want to spread the word to other families to become aware of the symptoms of heart attack and stroke and emphasize that many heart attacks can be prevented by making healthier life choices. 

Co-Chairing the Executive Leadership Team for the Go Red for Women Luncheon this year, Janelle and Katie hope to reach out to women who simply haven’t gotten the message as well as provide encouragement and education about heart disease and healthy choices.  The research and education done by the American Heart Association is of great value to everyone!  We live in a community that is awakening to embrace the issue of heart health and what it takes to make it our mission to fight this disease.     

Janelle and Katie have participated in numerous activities over the years to spread awareness about heart disease.   They both belong to the Circle of Red which is a dynamic, committed group that works to increase awareness and education.   Janelle and Katie have seen first- hand the positive strides that are being made right here in our community and encourage women to join the movement.   They have also participated in the Red Dress Dash, the Heart Walk, and hosted a jewelry fundraiser during Heart Month.  In 2011, Janelle and Katie were selected to receive a Heart & Stroke Heroes Award from the American Heart Association in South Dakota for their work to create healthier communities safe from the devastation of heart disease and stroke.

Janelle and Katie encourage everyone to learn to recognize the symptoms associated with heart attack and stroke, and to spread the word to friends and the community about making the right choices and taking action.  Go Red!

Katie is a registered nurse on the Cardiac Specialty Unit at Sanford Health and Janelle is a real estate agent at Ameri-Star Real Estate.

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State of Obesity Report: South Dakota

In recognition of Childhood Obesity Awareness month, we are pleased to be able to provide our advocates with the most recent statistics on obesity in our state and across the nation. The State of Obesity Report (formerly F as in Fat), a project of the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, provides a close-up look at our progress toward reducing obesity across all populations and demographics, and the work that lies ahead of us to ensure our kids are growing up healthy and strong. 

For the past 11 years, this report has raised awareness about the serious nature of obesity, and encouraged the creation of a national obesity prevention strategy.  The American Heart Association has worked alongside our partners at the Trust and RWJ Foundation, and others, to develop effective approaches for reversing the obesity epidemic at the local, state and federal level. 

We are pleased to see this report reflects that childhood obesity appears to be stabilizing among all children ages 0-18 – that is, it is not going up as significantly as in previous years.  However, much of the stabilization is among ages birth – two years old; unfortunately, the obesity rate among high school students has continued to increase over the past two years.

As you know, obesity has a dramatic impact on other chronic diseases including cardiovascular disease and stroke, diabetes, hypertension, cancer and other serious illnesses. 

South Dakota is ranked 21st among all states and the District of Columbia with an obesity rate of 29.9%.  That is an increase of more than 19% since 1990, and a 7.3% increase in the last ten years.  We have a lot of work to do to bring obesity rates down among all age groups, and racial and ethnic disparities continue to exist. 

The report also highlights the various policy objectives that are important in our fight to reduce obesity.  Policy change at the local, state and federal level all can have a dramatic impact on reducing the impact of obesity.  In South Dakota, we can change the upward direction of obesity by encouraging physical activity before, during and after school, by ensuring our kids have healthy school lunches, improving access to healthy and affordable food, and reducing sodium consumption. 

Combatting obesity in our communities will take dedication, focus, innovation and cooperation.  Please join us in this fight!  Let us know obesity prevention is a priority for you and that you want to help us in our efforts.  Sign in to your profile at and click on your name in the upper right corner.  Under the Interests tab, check Obesity Prevention and Nutrition, or send me and email and let me know of your interest. 

For more on the full State of Obesity report, CLICK HERE.  For South Dakota specific information, CLICK HERE.  

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Join Us on Social Media!

Having an active, busy lifestyle doesn't mean you're not well-informed of the news of the day!  We get our news differently than before and social media platforms provide us with up-to-the-second information.  The American Heart Association in South Dakota wants YOU to stay informed of the latest discoveries, health news, and opportunities for engagement. Cardiovascular disease is still our nation's number one killer and while we've made progress, we have much more work to do in fighting this deadly disease.  Social media is the place to be for all the latest on our efforts to build healthier lives free of cardiovascular disease and stroke.  

Come and be a part of our social media network: Like us on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter.  Encourage friends and family members - those who have been touched by heart disease - to join us as well.  

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AHA Applauds CVS Decision to Ban Tobacco Products

Last February, CVS Caremark Corp. announced it would end the sale of tobacco products by Oct. 1, becoming the first national pharmacy chain to do so. The company noted their decision would result in a $2 billion loss in revenue, including $1.5 billion in direct tobacco sales and $500,000 in related purchases. But the company decided that selling tobacco was not in keeping with its broad mission of providing health services and advancing innovation.  This week, CVS, which also announced it will change its name to CVS Health, announced it will pull tobacco products from it's shelves almost a month earlier than planned.  We applaud CVS for taking this important step forward in reducing access to these deadly products, and we applaud their courage to put public health above profits.

American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown issued the following statement on the decision by CVS Caremark to phase out tobacco sales:

“Smoking is the No. 1 cause of death in the U.S., killing 443,000 Americans and costing the nation $193 billion in healthcare expenses and lost productivity each year, according to a Surgeon General’s report released last month.

Today’s decision by CVS Caremark is an important step forward in reducing access to these deadly products, and we applaud their courage to put public health above profits.  We recognize that $2 billion in tobacco sales represents a significant sum for CVS Caremark, and that makes this decision even more admirable.

First use of cigarettes occurs by 18 years of age 87% of the time, and nearly all (98%) of first use is by 26 years of age.  There is no such thing as a ‘casual smoker’, as nicotine begins to addict immediately, and therefore removing the visibility and the availability of tobacco products from major retailers in an important step in preventing youth from ever having that first tobacco product.  Tobacco displays have a tremendous impact on our youth, with a direct corollary between exposure to tobacco marketing in stores and smoking initiation.   5.6 million young Americans who are alive today will die from smoking – unless there are more actions like this one today.

Many of our public health partners have joined us in our call for pharmacies to stop selling tobacco products, including the American Medical Association, the American Cancer Society and the American Lung Association. In fact, in 2010, the American Pharmacists Association urged pharmacies to stop selling tobacco and pushed state pharmacy boards to discontinue issuing and renewing licenses of pharmacies that sell these products.

The timing of the announcement today comes just weeks after the 50th anniversary of the historic first Surgeon General’s Report, which concluded that cigarette smoking causes lung cancer.  Since that 1964 report, evidence has linked smoking to diseases of nearly all the body’s organs.

Tobacco use persists as the leading preventable cause of heart disease and stroke in our country.  Indications of heart disease such as atherosclerosis, hypertension, increased tendency for blood clots, decrease of HDL (good) cholesterol as well as a decreased tolerance for exercise are all directly tied to tobacco use.  Inhaling cigarette smoke produces several effects that damage the cerebrovascular system, leading to stroke. In fact, the most recent Surgeon General’s report established more new links, including one between exposure to second-hand smoke and a 20 to 30 percent increased risk for stroke.

On the 50th anniversary of the first Surgeon General’s report, the American Heart Association stood alongside many public health partners in Washington, DC, and called for a new national commitment to end the tobacco epidemic for good.  We called for bold action to achieve three goals: 1) Reduce smoking rates, currently at about 18 percent, to less than 10 percent within 10 years; 2) protect all Americans from secondhand smoke within five years; and 3) ultimately eliminate the death and disease caused by tobacco.  Today’s action by CVS Caremark represents a positive step forward for this vision.

We call upon other tobacco retailers, in particular pharmacies that play a role in protecting the health of Americans, to follow the excellent example being set by CVS Caremark, and discontinue the sales of this deadly product.”

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