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Have a Heart Healthy Summer

Guest Blogger: Kami Sutton, Grassroots Advocacy Coordinator

Happy Summer, You’re the Cure Advocates! As the temperatures are rising and we are all preparing for the fun activities of summertime, I thought I would share with you my favorite low sodium summertime recipe! As a congenital heart defect survivor and someone who is in a constant battle against Congestive Heart Failure, I have learned how to eat a healthy low sodium diet.

Even for healthy hearts it is important to eat a well-balanced diet to prevent heart disease and that includes a diet low in sodium and processed foods. Choose and prepare foods with little or no salt. To lower blood pressure, aim to eat no more than 2,400 milligrams of sodium per day. Reducing daily intake to 1,500 mg is desirable because it can lower blood pressure even further.

With that in mind I present to you a delicious low sodium recipe to take to your next summer picnic or BBQ!

Black Bean Salad (or Salsa)

6 servings


About $0.84 per serving


1 15.5-ounce can no-salt-added or low-sodium black beans, drained

1 15-ounce can no-salt added or low-sodium kernel corn, drained or ¾ cup frozen corn, thawed

1 medium red bell pepper or 1 tomato diced

1/2 cup red onion, diced

1 teaspoon minced garlic from jar

2 tablespoon chopped cilantro

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

3 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

Juice of 1 lime


Toss all together, chill at least one hour.

TIP: Serve this as a side salad to a meal or warm in microwave and use as a filling for tacos!

For nutrition facts and links to more healthy recipes, visit:

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Think Fast: Utah is the 18th State to Do What?

Utah has become the 18th state to require high school students to take CPR training, adding to the more than one million graduates Nationwide who will be equipped with this lifesaving skill every year.

Gov. Gary Herbert signed legislation into law in April that allocated $200,000 a year for hands-on CPR and automated external defibrillator training in high schools. A new provision of the legislation, formalized this month, requires students to receive CPR and AED training in 10th grade health class beginning in the 2014-2015 school year. That means nearly 35,000 sophomores will learn CPR techniques every year.

The American Heart Association encouraged lawmakers to include the training requirement, and worked closely with the Utah Department of Health, the State Office of Education, and the Utah Parent Teachers Association to make this happen.

Requiring CPR and automated external defibrillator training in high school is important.  A sudden cardiac arrest may strike at any time and bystander CPR can double or triple survival rates from cardiac arrest. Of the roughly 424,000 Americans who have a cardiac arrest outside of the hospital each year, only 40 percent get CPR from a bystander and only about 10 percent of these victims survive the event.

Utah joins 17 other states with CPR graduation laws: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia and Washington.

For the full story, please visit here.

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Recap of CPR and AED Awareness Efforts in Utah

Guest Bloggers: Utah Division Board President Lilian Khor and Board Chair Bob Cash

With CPR and AED Awareness Week (June 1-7) recently passed, the American Heart Association would like to congratulate the Utah Legislature and Governor Gary Herbert for their efforts to save Utahns from the devastating effects of cardiovascular disease. This year the state legislature restored funding to the CPR Training Program in high schools. This funding will give teachers the resources they need to ensure our children are trained in this lifesaving technique before they graduate from high school. All Utah high school students will have access to CPR training as part of their curriculum for Health.

Do you know CPR? Learn Hands-Only CPR in less than two minutes here!

The funding will also go towards training students in the use of an automated external defibrillator (AED). In recent years, the Legislature has appropriated funds to help schools and districts place AEDs in their buildings. The response to these funds has been tremendous and the placement of these devices and the potential for saving lives is substantial. Equipping our children with the knowledge of how to perform CPR and use an AED will train a new generation of lifesavers that will be equipped with the knowledge to intervene if the situation arises and make a significant impact in their community.

Sudden cardiac arrest is the leading cause of death in the United States, claiming over 360,000 lives each year. While 80 percent of sudden cardiac arrests occur outside of a care facility, effective bystander CPR can double or even triple the chance of survival for a sudden cardiac arrest victim. Immediate CPR from someone nearby often means the difference between life and death. Currently, less than one-third of victims receive CPR.

During this past legislative session, both the House and Senate had an opportunity to honor individuals across Utah who used CPR to save the life of someone in the community. Many of these individuals learned CPR in their teenage years and were able to recall that knowledge when an emergency arose. The Legislature honored individuals like Ryan Fowles, a student at SUU who helped save the life of Professor Joe Baker when he suffered a heart attack; and Scott Hunt, an employee at VLCM who helped save the life of fellow employee Kent Carothers when he suffered a heart attack in their office warehouse. These “heroes”, and many others across Utah, were honored for their lifesaving work as “Heart Savers” in our community. 

The American Heart Association is working diligently to reach a bold goal: “By 2020, to improve the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20 percent while reducing deaths from cardiovascular diseases and stroke by 20 percent.” The Utah Legislature’s support will undoubtedly help decrease the mortality rate for sudden cardiac arrest victims and is a critical step towards meeting this goal. We express our sincere gratitude to the Legislature for their efforts to save lives.

Please visit here to see the full article in the Salt Lake Tribune.

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Declaring May as Stroke Month --- To Do or Not To Do?!

Guest Blogger: Christie Thompson, RN, MSN, Utah

I have been a member of the Utah Stroke Task Force since 2006. Often times, the Government Relations Director, Marc Watterson, has challenged the members to get involved in legislative issues surrounding stroke and heart disease, as well as reaching out to local government officials to recognize and increase stroke awareness.

I am not one for politics --- in no way, shape, or form! So, you can imagine that as I sat in the April Utah Stroke Task Force meeting, I pretty much decided to block the invitation from Marc from my mind to reach out to my local governing bodies, requesting that they honor the month of May to be declared as Stroke Month.

However, as I left the meeting that day - and in the days following - I continued to think about the request for spreading the message about stroke. I sort of felt a responsibility and a duty as a Stroke Coordinator to reach out; after all, who else was going to do it?! Whenever I know I should do something, but I don’t want to do it, I get that sort of sick, nervous, butterfly feeling in the pit of my stomach. Well, that is just how I felt!

Remember, I don’t care much for politics and I really didn’t want to get involved. It all seemed very scary to me and I didn’t know where to start, who to talk to, or what to say --- the list of excuses goes on and on. As I thought about it more, I convinced myself that it really couldn’t be that hard to do. And, it also dawned on me that this could be a very easy and inexpensive opportunity for educating the community about stroke awareness and prevention.

So, I began typing an email requesting help from Marc. He was very helpful and sent me an email with clear-cut instructions on how to request a spot on the agenda at the different council meetings.

Guess what I found out?! It was easy! I emailed my agenda request and the language for the Stroke Proclamation to my city and county councils. I received email confirmations about the agenda request and information about where and when the council meetings would take place. Then, I showed up. The government leaders seemed very pleased and happy to have me and my colleagues there at their meetings. As the proclamation was read, you could tell that they understood the importance of our request and unanimously voted to declare May 2014 as Stroke Month!

Declaring May as Stroke Month --- To Do or Not To Do?! It is a definite TO DO! Most government leaders may not even think about declaring May as Stroke Month, so it’s up to us to get out there and DO IT!

Maybe it’s not Stroke Month that you want recognized by government officials, but whatever it is, I’ve discovered that it’s really not as scary as I once thought, especially with the support and guidance of a supportive and encouraging Advocacy Director.

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May is Stroke Month: Act FAST!!!

Guest Blogger: Marc Watterson, Government Relations Director, Utah

FAST – can you name the warning signs or symptoms of a stroke?

If you’re like nearly one third of all Americans, the answer is no. Fortunately, the acronym FAST contains the answer:

  • Face droopiness, numbness and weakness
  • Arm numbness and weakness
  • Slurred speech or trouble speaking or understanding
  • Time to call 911 if these or other symptoms occur

Thankfully, You’re The Cure volunteers, like yourself, generally have a strong desire to get involved with their community in raising awareness for heart and stroke related issues.  Right now, volunteers from across Utah are hard at work to bring awareness of stroke signs and symptoms to their local communities!

For example, Bob Cash, Chairman of the local Board of Directors for the American Heart Association|American Stroke Association has been working with Lehi City Mayor Bert Wilson and the City Council to adopt an AHA|ASA approved Stroke Month Proclamation which will see that Lehi recognize May 2014 as American Stroke Month!

Les Chatelain, another member of our Board of Directors, has succeeded in receiving the support of Holladay City to formally proclaim May as National Stroke Awareness Month.

And Chrisi Thompson, a Stroke Program Coordinator with IHC in northern Utah, will be meeting with both Ogden City and Box Elder County next week to do the same!

In Salt Lake our local AHA|ASA staff has worked with the state and recently received the Governor’s support in declaring May 2014 as Stroke Month in Utah, encouraging all Utahns to be familiar with potential risk factors for stroke and learn the FAST signs and symptoms of a stroke.

These are just a few of the amazing activities that are going on right now, but there is still so much more that can be done! While one key to beating stroke is to avoid it by knowing the risk factors (high blood pressure, sedentary lifestyle, obesity, family history, etc.), another relatively unknown key to effectively treating stroke is to get to the hospital as soon as possible! This is not one of those “I’ll see if I feel better tomorrow” kind of things – time lost is brain loss! A delayed time in treatment can lead to irreparable damage to the brain and even death! That is why we encourage everyone to do their part in raising awareness of stroke warning signs and symptoms during this critical month.

Take a moment to brainstorm ideas that you can do to help promote knowledge of FAST within your family, group of friends, and neighbors. Talk to your kids about it after school, bring it up in the office and discuss it with your co-workers, or even talk to your local congregation about posting the FAST signs and symptoms on a church bulletin board.

Whatever it is that you do, let us know about it! We would love to hear all your amazing stories of raising awareness in your community – all in the hopes of saving someone’s life! Also, please let me know if you would like a copy of the Stroke Month Proclamations that cities are adopting. We would love to have you do your part so that your city or town is the next one to take action!

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Take Control of Your Health

Did you know high blood pressure has also been called the “silent killer”? That’s because its symptoms are not always obvious, making the need for regular check-ups important.  As we recognize High Blood Pressure Awareness Month, here are the facts:

• High blood pressure (aka: hypertension) is one of the major risk factors for heart disease.

• It’s the leading risk factor of women’s deaths in the U.S., and the second leading risk factor for death for men.

• One-third of American adults have high blood pressure. And 90 percent of American adults are expected to develop high blood pressure over their lifetimes.

• More than 40 percent of non-Hispanic black adults have high blood pressure. Not only is high blood pressure more prevalent in blacks than whites, but it also develops earlier in life.
• Despite popular belief, teens, children and even babies can have high blood pressure. As with adults, early diagnosis and treatment can reduce or prevent the harmful consequences of this disease.

Now that you know the facts, what can you do to take control? The answer is a “lifestyle prescription” that can prevent and manage high blood pressure. A healthy lifestyle includes exercise, stress management, and eating a healthy diet, especially by reducing the sodium you eat. To learn more about taking control of you blood pressure, be sure to visit our online toolkit!

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Recap of Walking Day in Utah

Guest Blogger: Marc Watterson, Utah Government Relations Director

On April 2nd, 2014, people from across the nation gathered together for National Walking Day – a day set aside each year by the American Heart Association|American Stroke Association to encourage Americans to get active for their heart health.

Here in Utah this day was celebrated at various businesses, hospitals, stroke rehab centers, and government offices. Governor Gary Herbert recently declared April 2, 2014 as “Walking Day in Utah” where he joined with the American Heart Association “to encourage all our residents, both young and old, to increase our physical activity by starting to walk regularly, and fight against heart disease and stroke by reducing our risk for cardiovascular diseases.”

Additionally, the Summit County Council recently passed a Proclamation in support of National Walking Day. Based on the fact that “50 percent of adults and 62 percent of children do not engage in daily vigorous physical activity,” the County Councilmembers reached out to all County Employees and encouraged them to go for a 30 minute walk at some point during the day.  Turnout was great as countless county employees to the streets for a brief walk.  The hope is that all of those that participated will not only recognize the need for their own daily exercise routine, but share that message with their family and friends as we aim for a healthier state and community.

Whether it is the choice to go to the gym instead of watching a show, or picking the healthier snack instead of the late afternoon donut, all of us have the opportunity to take little steps towards living a healthier life. I hope this Walking Day has sparked your interest to develop a daily workout routine that works for you.  If you are bored of doing the same workout, please click here to see new walking paths in your area.

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A Heartfelt Thanks

Each year, we like to pause and give thanks during National Volunteer Week (April 6th-12th) for the amazing contributions of volunteers like you.  We know you have a choice when deciding which organization to dedicate your time and talents to and we’re honored you’ve chosen to contribute to the American Heart Association’s mission.  Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of getting to meet many You’re the Cure advocates in person to say ‘thanks’, but since getting together isn’t always possible, I wanted to share this special video highlighting the progress you’ve made possible.

(Please visit the site to view this video) 

You’ll see we are making strides to create smoke-free communities across the country, develop the next generation of life-savers trained in CPR, and ensure all students have healthy meal choices in schools.  The effort you’ve made to contact your lawmakers, share your story, and spread the word through your social networks have led to those successes and more. In fact, in just the last eight months, You’re the Cure advocates have helped contacted local, state, and federal lawmakers more than 140,000 times and it’s these messages that can lead to policy wins.

So take a moment to pat yourself on the back and enjoy a job well done!  I look forward to continuing our efforts to pursue policy changes that will help build healthier communities and healthier lives for all Americans. We couldn’t do it without you – thanks!

- Clarissa

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My Heart Month Highlight

Guest Blogger: Marc Watterson, Government Relations Director, Utah

This past month we had the privilege of celebrating many wonderful holidays. From Groundhogs Day to Valentines, from President’s Day to Random Acts of Kindness Day (February 17th). But most importantly, let’s not forget that February was also American Heart Month! The American Heart Association|American Stroke Association chose February to raise the awareness about the importance of heart and stroke issues – the #1 and #4 killers in America today.

On the first Friday of each February, we host our annual Heart on the Hill Lobby Da. It also happens to be National Wear Red Day. On this day we spread awareness about heart disease and stroke and also lobby for heart-healthy legislation. The turnout for this year’s event was absolutely wonderful and drew substantial media coverage

First, Representative Paul Ray kicked off the event by sharing his story about his lifelong battle with cardiovascular issues. He was born with a congenital heart defect and has survived multiple heart surgeries.  His connection with cardiovascular issues has led him to be an AHA champion for many years!

Next, Scott Hunt, an employee at VLCM, was honored for his life-saving efforts in which he and fellow employee Gavin Fenton saved the life of Kent Carothers who suffered a heart attack while at work. Scott and Gavin rushed to Kent’s side to perform CPR and because of their heroic efforts Kent is alive and well today! Please read his story here.

Subsequently, Dr. Lillian Khor – a cardiovascular surgeon at the University of Utah and current President of the Utah Board of Directors – trained our volunteers on the techniques of Hands-Only CPR. She also spoke in depth about the importance of restoring funding for CPR Training in High Schools across the state.

Lastly, Speaker of the House Rebecca Lockhart taught our volunteers about the legislative process and provided effective tips to communicating with our local elected officials. The Speaker is a Registered Nurse and a longtime proponent of heart-healthy legislation.  This will be her last session in the legislature and we express our gratitude to her for her many years of service!

To round out our activities on the Hill, there was special presentation on the House and Senate Floor lead by Representative Carol Spackman-Moss (a heart survivor herself) and Senator Brian Shiozawa (an Emergency Room Physician), respectively.  These legislators honored a number of “Heart Savers” from across the state – including Scott, a few college students who saved the life of their professor, and two High School football coaches who saved the life of one of their athletes – for being lifesavers. There were few dry eyes amongst the crowd, including our elected officials.

I would like to pay special thanks to the many staff, volunteers, and attendees who made this year’s Heart on the Hill an absolute success! Your response to our call for action and the restoration of CPR training funds have resonated with legislators from across the political spectrum. While there are just a few days left in the legislative session, we have high hopes that these funds will be restored and our children and grandchildren will once again receive CPR training in their classrooms!

Thanks for all of your help!

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Heart on the Hill 2014 in Review

Friday, February 7th was a big day for the American Heart Association!  As it was the 11th annual Go Red for Women Day, we thought it would be a perfect day for our annual event, Heart on the Hill Day.  On this day, AHA volunteers stormed the Capitol in RED to raise awareness about heart disease as well as advocate for life saving policies designed to make Utah a healthier place to live. Specifically, we urged lawmakers to restore funding for CPR training in high schools as funding was originally cut when the Recession hit. 

Thanks to our volunteers, Heart on the Hill Day was a successful event.  As a quick review of the day, we started with a heart healthy breakfast and quickly followed with a wonderful program consisting of a group of passionate speakers including: Rep. Paul Ray, Dr. Lillian Khor who gave us a physician’s perspective on the importance of knowing CPR; “Heart Saver” Award recipient Scott Hunt who spoke on his experience saving the life of his co-worker; and House Speaker Rebecca Lockhart.  Following the program, we had a special CPR presentation on the House and Senate floors where individuals who saved lives using CPR were recognized.  After the CPR presentations, community members were encouraged to individually meet with their legislators as well as participate in the complementary health screenings in the Capitol Rotunda. 

Thank you for being a You’re the Cure Advocate and supporting policies that will make Utah a healthier place to live.  Please visit the action center to stay up-to-date on legislative updates as well as stay in touch with your legislators.

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