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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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Help Us Graduate a New Generation of Lifesavers in WV!

Sudden cardiac arrest is a leading cause of death in the United States and 88% of sudden cardiac arrests occur at home. For every minute that passes without CPR and defibrillation, chances of survival decrease by 7-10 percent. That's why it's important that we all learn how easy---and critical---it is to take action. In less than the time it takes to watch a 30 minute TV sitcom, students can learn the skills they need to help save someone's life with CPR. You can help ensure that this generation of students becomes the next generation of life savers. Click now to send a message to your legislators in support of CPR training for WV's students!

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Will Freeman, Kentucky

Will Freeman Kentucky

When his younger brother's friend nearly died at a birthday party, Will Freeman decided to take action--by teaching hands-only CPR to his peers at Henry Clay High School. In addition to recently training his entire class of over 500 students, the Lexington, Kentucky, senior has been working closely with the American Heart Association throughout the 2014 Legislative Session to gain support for a bill that would ensure all high school students in the state learn CPR before they graduate.

Read more about Will's efforts and how you can help create a new generation of lifesavers in your state by supporting CPR training for all high school students!

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2014 WV Legislative Session Comes to a Close

The 81st Session of the West Virginia Legislature concluded Saturday evening, March 8th, at the stroke of midnight. In addition to the many winter storms and weather mishaps that were ever-present this year, an unprecedented water crisis that affected 300,000 residents in and around the area of the state capitol the day after session began on January 9th, provided added pressure to the focus of this body of legislators. Many good bills and proposed legislation simply got bogged down, running out of time and getting lost in the shuffle of priorities.

For the American Heart Association, our main policy priority this session was our push for CPR instruction as a Graduation Requirement. As outlined in Senate Bill 381, simply 30-minutes of Hands-Only CPR, to include psycho-motor compressions, for grades 9-12 as a curriculum enhancement would ensure that this next generation of lifesavers are prepared to intervene and react in a cardiac emergency. The bill sailed through the Senate, quickly passing unanimously through both the Senate Health Committee and the Senate Education Committee, as well as through the full Senate. It reported out to the House chamber by February 3rd, only 25 days after the beginning of the session.

Bi-partisan support for the bill in the House was strong and spanned both the Health and the Education Committees. However, the bill was not taken up by the House Health Committee until later in the session than anticipated, February 27th. It passed out of that committee, but with amendments requiring the instruction time to be 45 minutes instead of 30 and for the instruction to be conducted annually. This added a layer of complication to our bill, but we had champions in House Education that were willing to work to revise these amendments so that it would more closely match the version that passed the Senate. Despite valiant efforts of our advocates and advocacy team, unfortunately, the House Education Chairwoman decided early last week not to run the bill through her committee for a vote. Instead she offered us a Study Resolution of the issue, which we agreed to work on with legislative members. This resolution will allow AHA and opportunity to further address concerns of the members and more fully investigate opposition as well as garner more support for the issue in the coming months preceding the 2015 session. It is not uncommon for Study Resolutions to become active, successful legislation once they are concluded. We are hopeful and your support in the coming months will continue to be invaluable.

The other policy priority pushed by the AHA this session was again the issue of increasing the tobacco tax by at least $1.00 per pack of cigarettes. Although early discussions with Senate leadership indicated a strong interest in this option, we fell short on our efforts to get this legislation to be carefully considered. Support in the Senate was more plentiful, but after hours of caucusing in the House, the votes for passage simply were not to be had. Talk of re-election woes and another big push from tobacco lobbyists and the convenience store groups, likely impeded our progress on this issue.

On a positive note, many new relationships and alliances were formed, lessons were learned and great in-roads and big strides were made by our advocates and supporters. We plan to move forward and accomplish solid policy changes in 2015!

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Advocate Spotlight: Kathy Minx and Al Lessie

Kathy Minx and Al Lessie

My husband, Al, has very high cholesterol - around 450! It is from his mother's side of the family and no one on that side of the family lived past age 50. He had already had a major heart attack at age 31 and had open heart surgery at that time. He was actually one of the first to receive that surgery and the doctors told him he only had three years to live - they had never seen someone that young needing open heart surgery.

I knew he could have another heart attack but how do you prepare for that? He was in shape, had regular treadmill tests at his doctor's office and was receiving a clean bill of health. We decided to train for a 26-mile half marathon and we both ran the course in under two hours.

About one month after the race, we played 18 holes of golf and we walked the course (about 7 miles) as usual. We had a great evening, came home to fix dinner and relax. All of a sudden, my husband hit the floor and turned blue in the face. I was panicking but knew enough to call 911 first. I had been a lifeguard 25 years earlier and remembered my CPR training. I rolled him over and started breathing into his mouth and providing chest compressions. The ambulance arrived and gave him electric shock 5 times - the EMT told me he was so sorry for my loss. On the 6th time, he came back to life but had been unconscious for 9 minutes.

We rushed to the hospital and he was in a coma for four days. When he woke up, the doctor told me that the only reason he was alive was because I started CPR. Another man was brought in the same evening and was out for 9 minutes but did not have CPR. His outcome wasn't so good.

I am so thankful I had that training and have kept up my certification every two years.

By the way, my husband just turned 65 and has not had another incident. We showed that doctor who told him he only had 3 years!

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March is National Nutrition Month--What Steps Will You Take to Eat Healthier?

March is National Nutrition Month and what better time to make these simple steps to eating healthier part of your daily routine? It's easier than you think!

Want to learn more? Visit our Nutrition Center for even more ways to incorporate healthy eating into your life!

 

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Big Changes in Store for Food Labels

After more than two decades, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is proposing sweeping changes to the nutrition labels on packaged foods.

The proposals would require food manufacturers to list added sugars, nutrition counts for more-realistic portion sizes and total nutrition information for multiple servings of food within a single package.  The government also wants to require potassium and vitamin D to be listed.

The changes are being released on Thursday during a critical time in the U.S. A third of all adults in the nation are obese, increasing the risk for high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Another third of Americans are overweight.

“Eating healthy is a habit all Americans need to have and the FDA’s new nutrition labels will help put that goal within reach,” American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown said. “By arming consumers with more knowledge about nutritional content, calories and serving sizes, the new labeling information proposed by the FDA takes an important step toward improving the health of all Americans.”

Despite the recent news from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that obesity has declined by 43 percent for children ages 2 to 5, it has not changed significantly for adults or the larger pool of kids ages 2 to 19.

Children who are overweight or obese are more likely to be overweight or obese as adults. And obesity in children is causing a health problems that used to be seen only in adults, like high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol.

Changes to nutrition labels will take time. The FDA will collect comments for 90 days on its proposed new rules from food manufacturers, the general public and nutrition and health advocates. It will consider clarifications or changes based on the comments, then give food manufacturers time to reprint their labels and replace existing inventory.

“These new labels will empower consumers with a valuable source of nutrition information, and the American Heart Association commends the FDA for proposing these changes,” Brown said.

Proposed changes include:

Added sugars: for the first time, added sugars will be on the nutrition facts panel. Previously, naturally-occurring and added sugars were combined into a single listing of “total sugars.” This will allow consumers to know how much sugar has been added by the manufacturer. The AHA recommends that women consume a maximum of 100 calories a day from added sugars, or 25 grams, and men consume 150 calories a day, or 37.5 grams.

“The addition of added sugars to the Nutrition Facts Panel is a giant step forward,” said Rachel K. Johnson, Ph.D., R.D., chair of the AHA’s nutrition committee and professor of nutrition and medicine at the University of Vermont in Burlington. “High intakes of added sugars are associated with many risk factors for heart disease including obesity, high blood pressure, inflammation and elevated triglyceride levels. A recent study demonstrated an association between high intakes of added sugars and death from cardiovascular disease. Consumers want to know how much sugar has been added during the processing or preparation of foods so they can make wise decisions about the foods they eat.”

Serving sizes: Adjusted for 17 categories of foods to better reflect what people are actually consuming. For example, ice cream will go from ½ cup to 1 cup; muffins and bagels will go from ½ to 1; and beverages will go from 8 ounces to 12 oz. This gives people a more realistic idea of what they’re actually consuming in a single sitting, so they can better monitor what they’re eating and make healthier choices.

Sodium: This will be adjusted slightly to reflect a 2,300 milligram daily value, which is the maximum amount per day recommended in the dietary guidelines for someone consuming a 2,000 calorie-a-day diet. The American Heart Association recommends that the ideal sodium consumption, especially for people trying to lower their blood pressure, is 1,500 mg. per day.  “There is strong scientific evidence that indicates lowering sodium reduction can result in significant reductions in blood pressure,” Brown said. ”Therefore, the association will continue to recommend sodium intake to be limited to 1,500 milligrams a day. We intend to work with the FDA, during this 90-day comment period and beyond if need be, to highlight the increased benefits from further sodium reductions and to advocate for stronger action.”

Package size: Like serving sizes, package sizes will be labeled more accurately. So a large muffin or bottle of soda will have nutrition information for the entire package.

Per serving and per package: If a package has 2-4 servings in it, the label will be required to show nutrition information per serving and per package. This helps make it clear when the package has multiple servings inside.

Calories bigger and bolder: Although the format of the label won’t change dramatically, calories and serving sizes will be emphasized with a bigger and bolder font. This may help people make healthier choices by knowing what they’re consuming.

Nutrient listings: The amount of potassium and vitamin D will now be required, calcium and iron will remain and vitamins A and C will be optional. When the nutrition label was last updated 20 years ago, health officials were more concerned about people getting enough of vitamins A and C, but attention now is on potassium and D.

Want to help inform friends & family about these changes?  Share this graphic on Facebook.





















For more information:

FDA announcement

AHA CEO Nancy Brown's Statement

Understanding food nutrition labels

American Heart Association Nutrition Center 

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Feb 4th WV Kids and Families Day a Huge Success--But We Still Need Your Voice!

On February 4th, American Heart Association advocates gathered alongside hundreds of others for WV Kids and Families Day. The annual event brings people of all ages from across the state to the Capitol to voice their support for issues that will improve the health and lives of West Virginians. Among these important issues was Senate Bill 381, a bill that would ensure all WV high school students learn lifesaving CPR before graduation. SB 381 recently passed the Senate unanimously and now moves to the House. Even if you couldn't join us, you can still voice your support. Just click to send your message now!

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Advocate Spotlight: Mark Shacklette

Mark Shacklette

In February of 1967, my father, Dr. Charles L. Shacklette, died of a heart attack.  He was only 45 years old and I was only 14 months old.  In November of 2007, I also had a heart attack: a "widow-maker." And this still happened despite all the precautions I had taken.  I was very much aware of my family’s history of heart disease and wanted to ensure I didn’t suffer the same fate as my dad.  I ate right and I exercised regularly.  I maintained a very healthy weight.  I NEVER smoked.  I was, and still am, a fitness instructor at the YMCA.  And despite all of this I also suffered a heart attack, but a stent and a great cardiologist made all the difference.  Because of stents and the research dollars that helped developed them, I survived.  And 6 years later, I am doing very well. 

After my heart attack, I began to ask my mom more about what happened to my dad in February of 1967.  How did he describe the pain?  What were his symptoms?  My mom’s description of his symptoms matched mine – the feeling that someone had hit you in the chest with a sledge-hammer – so I’m convinced my dad also had a widow-maker heart attack.  Unfortunately for mom, it did make her a widow who had to raise five children on her own. 

My dad survived for two days after his initial heart attack.  If only he would have had access to stents like I did.  I’m sure it would have saved him, too, and it would have saved my mom from being a widow. It would have been nice to know my dad.

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Heart Month this February!!

February is American Heart Month and February 7th is National Wear Red Day and, although it’s wonderful to see so many people supporting heart-health awareness this month, it’s important to remember that the battle against heart disease is fought year-round.

How can you help make February a great Heart Month? Macy's encourages everyone to Color Your World Red in support of Go Red For Women! To learn more about other ways to show your support, please visit the Go Red For Women website.

Thank you for helping advance heart-health in our communities!

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