American Heart Association - You’re the Cure

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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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Advocate Spotlight: Quality Physical Education - What is it?

Breon Schroeder Derby Spearfish SD and Chadron NE

Some individuals may remember a time where ‘gym’ class revolved around an unstructured chaos of playing dodge-ball, being picked last for teams, and sitting on the sidelines while the instructor focused on getting his or her athletes prepared for the big game. This ‘roll out the ball’ era is a stigma that continues to plague the field of physical education.

Having progressed well beyond ‘gym’ class, the field, as its name suggests, focuses on education; a continuous process that provides individuals with the knowledge, skills, tools, and resources necessary to enhance their well-being throughout their lifetime. Unlike other content areas, physical education focuses on the development of the whole child by emphasizing the three domains of learning: 1). Cognitive, 2). Affective and, 3). Psychomotor.

Physical education not only provides individuals with the opportunity to engage in physical activity, but it also offers a diverse, standards-based curriculum and a variety of quality assessment practices so that each student can find something they enjoy and will continue to participate in throughout their lifetime. In addition, the physical education environment fosters real-world skills essential to being successful in today’s competitive job market, such as teamwork, cooperation, and responsibility. Physical education also plays a crucial role when it comes to high stakes testing and financial gain for school districts, as several studies have shown a link between physical activity and academic success.   “Exercise improves learning on three levels: first, it optimizes your mind-set to improve alertness, attention, and motivation; second, it prepares and encourages nerve cells to bind to one another, which is the cellular basis for logging in new information; and third, it spurs the development of new nerve cells from stem cells in the hippocampus” (Ratey, 2008, p.53).  It has been proven that healthier students learn better (CDC, 2014a). Quality physical education can aid in student success by decreasing absenteeism, increasing fitness levels, and enhancing cognitive function.

However, despite the vast advantages physical education provides, including the education on the one thing people use every day, their bodies, it is often the first content area to be let go when school districts are faced with budget cuts.  With over $147 billion dollars spent annually on preventable, obesity-related illnesses, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers (CDC, 2014b), educating students on the importance of lifetime physical activity through quality, daily physical education could have a substantial impact on both the health and economic status of our nation. If people are truly concerned about the success and well-being of our students, our future, they will get informed and become an advocate for quality, daily physical education.

Breon Schroeder Derby has a B.S in Physical education with minors in health and coaching from Black Hills State University in Spearfish. She has a M.Ed in curriculum and instruction with an emphasis in PE from Chadron State College and is currently working on her dissertation to complete her Doctorate in Health Education from A.T Still University. Breon taught physical and health education at Lead Deadwood High School and for the past two years was an instructor in the HPER department at Chadron State College. She currently serves as instructor of HPER at BHSU.

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Grab Your Sneakers for Heart Walks in Sioux Falls, Rapid City and Pierre

Grab your sneakers, your friends and family, and head on out to a Heart Walk near you!  The Eastern South Dakota Heart Walk is Saturday, August 23rd, at Falls Park in Sioux Falls, the Black Hills Heart Walk is Saturday, September 13th at the Main St. Square, and the Central South Dakota Heart Walk is Saturday, September 20th at Hyde Park.  Heart Walk educates South Dakotans about our risk of cardiovascular diseases & stroke, and what we can do to prevent them. Funds raised support medical research, public awareness, provide education & advocacy efforts of the American Heart Association. Through the efforts of a tremendous volunteer team, the Eastern South Dakota Heart Walk, led by Ken Baptist from John Morrell, has secured 60 Sioux Falls area companies and is on track to achieve their goal of raising $210,000 for the lifesaving mission of the AHA. Companies and individuals in Central and Western South Dakota are already supporting Heart Walk by organizing teams and encouraging their businesses to support our life-saving mission.  

It's not too late to sign up, organize a team, and help raise awareness for our number one killer - heart disease!  Join more than 4000 walkers across South Dakota to help fight cardiovascular disease and stroke.  

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Are E-cigs Winning the War?

According to a recently published online article, electronic cigarette companies are quietly winning the war on regulation by successfully lobbying state legislatures to exclude them from tobacco control laws. And their tactics are strategic and creative.  According to the article (posted Aug 4, 2014 on, "Public health officials and smoke-free advocates say industry-sponsored bills have the veneer of public health—with provisions about banning sales to minors—but avoid the more stringent rules other tobacco products must abide by." South Dakota is listed among the 6 states in the U.S. to define e-cigarettes as tobacco products.  For more on this article, CLICK HERE.  

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Many schools prepared for new federal lunch standards

Thousands of schools around the country have found new ways of providing “smart” snacks for students – well in advance of updated federal lunch standards that begin with the upcoming school year.

Schools across the country will be following updated Department of Agriculture rules governing snacks, drinks in vending machines, stores and à la carte lines. The guidelines — which begin for the 2014-2015 school year — limit the amount of calories, fat, and sugar, while encouraging whole grains, reduced fat, fruits and vegetables. For more on this story, CLICK HERE.  

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Key to Kids Eating Healthier; Make it Affordable

With the youth obesity crisis in our country, many efforts have been made to encourage our young people to eat healthier - less sugar, fewer empty calories, more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, etc.  But one of the biggest challenges in this effort is the cost.  Preparing and consuming a healthier diet can be more expensive.  The Sioux Falls School District is meeting that challenge head-on.  In an effort to encourage consumption of healthier foods, the Sioux Falls School District is piloting a morning healthy snacks program this fall at its high schools as part of its work to improve the health and wellness of the children it serves. For more on this story, CLICK HERE.  

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Smoking Linked to Increased Risk of Dementia

We've known for years of the increased health risks caused by smoking and tobacco-related products.  A new study now links smoking with an increased risk of dementia.  The World Health Organization (WHO) and Alzheimer’s Disease International are reporting, based on a review of scientific studies, that smokers have a 45 percent higher risk of developing dementia compared to non-smokers.  

Tobacco use is the world’s number one cause of preventable death, killing about six million people worldwide each year.  Without strong action, tobacco use is projected to kill one billion people worldwide this century.  The links between smoking and dementia reinforce the urgent need to address this global epidemic. For more on this story, CLICK HERE.   

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School Nutrition: Help to Solve the Nutrition Puzzle

Congress is working on appropriations bills and 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 supported by the AHA.  Other amendments of concern to health advocates have also been discussed.  Thanks to AHA advocate interest and activation, in coordination with our larger coalition, we have been able to turn the debate around on this issue and ensure Members were hearing all sides on this important issue. Given differences on this issue and others, as well as the leadership shake-up in the House, it is looking less likely that Congress will pass an agriculture appropriations bill this year, and will instead aim to pass a continuing resolution.

Given what’s happening (or not happening) with appropriations, we will now shift our attention to a long-term strategy.  Next year, the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act is up for reauthorization, which means many of the same battles we fought over the last couple months will emerge again.  That’s why it’s critical that we continue to stress to Congress that the nutrition standards should not be delayed or weakened.  

How can you help?  During the August recess, we will continue the drum beat on this issue, and we have an exciting drop-by activity for the recess break.  Our message to Congress is that healthy school meals ‘fit’ into a successful school day for kids- and that we’re ‘puzzled’ by efforts to weaken or delay the important nutrition standards.  To help our advocates deliver that message, we’ve created puzzle pieces, 4 of which fit together to display a healthy school meal and 1 showing unhealthy food that doesn’t fit.  Each puzzle piece contains a fact on the back.  We’re asking for your help to deliver these puzzle pieces to the district offices of targeted Members next month.  

If school nutrition is an important issue to you, and you are concerned about obesity prevention, especially among our youth, then we need your help!  Please email Pamela Miller and volunteer to do a drop-by visit at one of our federal district offices.  Drop-by visits are a great way to earn You're the Cure points, as well as engage our federal lawmakers on issues important right here in our state.  We will provide you with the puzzle pieces and a few talking points to assist you in your visit.  Better yet - bring a child along with you and encourage their involvement on an issue that affects them directly!  

August recess is the perfect time to talk with our lawmakers about heart-health issues - and school nutrition is on the top of the list! Email Pamela Miller today and volunteer to help put school nutrition puzzle together!  

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My Story: Sheri Keck

Sheri Keck South Dakota

Sheri Keck is an active, 54 year old physical education teacher and a coach at Rapid City Stevens High School.  Her first indication of trouble came in the form of back pain after a road trip which she wrote off as fatigue from the long car ride. Less than two months later Sheri experienced unexplainable shoulder pain. 

Sheri’s Father died in his mid 50’s due to Coronary Artery Disease, so with a family history and the encouragement of her two daughters (who both happen to be cardiac registered nurses), Sheri went to the emergency room for testing.  The results showed a slight shadow and she was immediately put under the care of a cardiologist.  After more testing, an Aortic Aneurysm was discovered and Sheri was immediately sent to Mayo Clinic where she underwent open heart surgery.  Because of Sheri’s quick response and the excellent care she received from local physicians, Sheri has conquered the family history of heart disease and is able to continue with her active lifestyle.

Sheri uses her experience to speak out to help other women who might, like her, not recognize important symptoms. She wants her story to be a warning to women who often overlook cardiac symptoms. She wants women to ask questions and push for more tests when they suspect something isn’t right.

She plans to talk with her students in PE classes and is allowing science classes at her high school to show the video of the surgery. She hopes that others will be saved before an aneurysm can take their life.

“That’s what it’s all about – educating people,” Sheri said.

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"I Love You Salt, But You're Breaking My Heart"

Americans eat too much salt, and most have no idea how much they are eating, according to new consumer research by the American Heart Association.

Nearly all of the 1,000 people surveyed by the American Heart Association (97 percent) either underestimated or could not estimate how much sodium they eat every day. Too much sodium in the diet can increase risk for high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease and other major health problems.

Most people who underestimated their sodium consumption in the survey were off by around 1,000 milligrams. That’s a significant amount, considering the American Heart Association recommends 1,500 milligrams a day for ideal heart health. Most Americans consume more than double that.

In an effort to help people better understand and limit their sodium intake, the American Heart Association has launched a new awareness campaign called “I Love You Salt, But You’re Breaking My Heart.”  The campaign includes a new website,, with an online pledge for people to commit to reduce how much sodium they eat, along with a new video, “Don’t Let Salt Sneak Up on You”  to show how sodium is sneaking into our foods. The site also features a blog, sodium quiz and infographics, links to lower-sodium recipes, and educational articles.

Limiting salt in the bigger picture—the U.S. food supply—is an important goal of the campaign. That’s because 75 percent of Americans’ sodium consumption is from processed, prepackaged, and restaurant foods—not the salt shaker.

“It’s challenging for Americans to stick to sodium intake recommendations because most of the sodium we eat in this country is added to our food before we buy it,” said Chrissy Meyer, South Dakota Communications Director for the American Heart Association.  “In order to really make a difference in the health of all Americans, we must reduce sodium in the food supply through the support of food manufacturers, food processors and the restaurant industry.”


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