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Giving Thanks for a Great Year!

As fall draws to a close, we are taking the time to thank all of our volunteers and celebrating a great year. Together, You’re the Cure advocates, like you, successfully advocated for heart healthy and stroke smart policies in their communities and states. We could not achieve the positive change in our communities without each and everyone of you. We are truly thankful for all that you do!

Below are just a few of the accomplishments we are thankful for this year: 

 

  1. Six new states require CPR as a graduation requirement. That means over 1.1 million students will be trained in life-saving CPR every year! With your help, we can add even more states to this list!
  2. Twelve new states require newborn screening for congenital heart defects before they leave the hospital. The earlier we can detect an issue with these little hearts, the better chances at a healthy life. Thirty-two states now require this screening.
  3. A half-a-dozen states increased funding for heart disease and stroke related programs.
  4. Advocates from all over the country made their voice heard in Washington D.C. on issues from more physical education in school to increasing funding for more heart and stroke research.

Once again, thank you for all the work you have done this year and for years to come! We cannot wait to see what the next 12 months brings us, but with your help, we know we will improve the lives of heart and stroke patients across the country.

Want to learn more about what we do? Check out the video below and share it with others!

(Please visit the site to view this video)

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November is National Family Caregivers Month.

Each November, the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association recognizes National Family Caregivers Month (NFCM) to acknowledge the millions of family caregivers who are caring for their loved ones with a chronic disease. With 2.2 million stroke family caregivers in the U.S., the AHA/ASA strives to provide the post-stroke resources, information, and recognition family caregivers need to not only help their loved one, but to find the time for self-care they often lose. Join us in recognizing these amazing caregivers this November and beyond.

Click here to visit our website to get more information about National Family Caregivers Month and check out our five easy ways to help support the campaign:

  • Download and share Caregiver Resources to help you and/or your loved ones through the caregiving journey.
     
  • Join the new Support Network to connect with other stroke survivors and caregivers, share your story and more. 
     
  • Recognize your family caregiver by nominating him/her as a Stroke Hero on ASA's Facebook page.
     
  • Take the Spot A Stroke F.A.S.T. Quiz so you can be prepared in a stroke emergency.
     
  • If you're a healthcare professional or provider, you can also use our resources available on the Stroke Resource Center to help educate your staff, patients and community about stroke.  

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Share Your Story: Thomas Armstrong

Thomas Armstrong West Lafayette, IN

Thomas Armstrong's Journey

In February of 2014 my father, siblings and I were faced with a horrible decision, a life changing decision.  He was admitted to the hospital on an emergency basis. We were told my father was suffering from a condition called Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD).  What was that?  None of us have ever heard of this condition or even knew what it was.  PAD is a condition where the arteries began to harden, resulting in a limited amount of blood flow to his lower extremities. His feet and legs were what was described as Blood Pooling.  The surgeon's hope was to restore the blood flow back to his legs/feet, but after further investigation they had told us there was no hope to save them, that his condition had worsened.  What's our options? Amputation of both limbs.  One just below the knee and the other just above.

So his journey began. My dad was always a walker. Every morning, day and night he walked. So when the doctors told him/us that he may never get to walk again. It was NOT an option. He would walk again.  He told his home physical therapist he would walk again, not only would he walk again, but he would walk by his Birthday.  My dad's birthday is on July 29th and I am happy to say that my dad took his very first step on July 26th with the inspiration of his grandson Dakota, who was his walking buddy.

He has a lot of work still ahead of him and yes there are day where he just wants to give up, but as amazing as my dad is he wakes up every day and puts his prosthesis on and walks. Of course it's hard and yes it frustrating, but my dad's faith and inner strength helps him succeed every time he gets up on his feet.  His team of care takers are an amazing team. The encouragement they give him is unbelievable. He was given the nickname Amazing Tom, because no matter the challenge put in front of him, he conquers it.

My dad's life changed that day, our lives changed that day. There are days I get upset, because had we known that there was a disease called Peripheral Arterial Disease, then just maybe things could have been different. Heart disease is one of the leading causes of deaths today, but sadly one of the least funded. There are many forms of heart disease and one of those forms my father suffers from. Not only does this disease affect the heart and lower limbs, but also every organ within the body. Without blood flow our bodies cannot survive. I have become involved in the American Heart Association because of my father and many others like him and my family. Everyone needs to be aware of this disease.
 
My dad is an amazing person who has just started his new journey. Some people think it is a horrible thing, but I have to say... change this to be positive. After all... doctors, nurses and Physical Therapist didn't believe my dad would walk again, but look at him today. He is a survivor. He would like to send a message to all who will listen. If you are a smoker, STOP. Smoking is one of the major contributors to Peripheral Arterial Disease. You can follow my dad's story and any updates on Facebook,  just look for Amazing Tom.

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Trick or Treat?

Candy Corn, Gummy Bears, Peanut Butter Cups, Swedish Fish, Candy Bar, Bubblegum and Cotton Candy… These may sound like treats the neighborhood kids are hoping to pick up when they go trick-or-treating later this month, but they’re actually the tricks used by companies to hook our kids on nicotine. These are flavors of e-cigarette liquid available for purchase today.

With alluring flavors like those and a dramatic increase in youth exposure to e-cigarette advertising, the rising popularity of e-cigarettes among youth shouldn’t come as a surprise. Still, it raises concerns. Strong regulations are needed to keep these tobacco products out of the hands of children. We’ve asked the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to prohibit the marketing and sale of e-cigarettes to minors, and we’re still waiting for them to act.

Meanwhile, CDC launched this week their #20Million Memorial. 20 million people have died from smoking-related illnesses since the 1964 Surgeon General’s report on smoking and health. Has smoking affected you and your family? Check out this moving online memorial, then share your story or honor loved ones lost too soon with the hashtag #20Million.  

AHA staff and volunteers across the country are preparing to fight the tobacco epidemic in upcoming state legislative sessions. They’ll ask for state funding for tobacco prevention programs and for increased tobacco taxes, a proven deterrent for youth smoking.

This Halloween, don’t let our kids continue to get tricked by the tobacco companies. Help end the tobacco epidemic for good. To amplify our message with lawmakers, ask friends and family members to join us, then watch your inbox for opportunities to act!  

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October is Sudden Cardiac Awareness Month

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.  Click here to learn more about the differences!

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The State of Obesity: Wisconsin's Report

In recognition of Childhood Obesity Awareness month, we are pleased to be able to provide our advocates with the most recent statistics on childhood 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 childhood obesity, and the work that lies ahead of us to ensure our kids are growing up healthy and strong.  You can read the full report by clicking here to visit www.stateofobesity.org

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 state and federal level.

Wisconsin is ranked 22nd among all states and the District of Columbia.  Click here to see our state report.

The report also highlights the various policy objectives that are important in our fight to reduce obesity:  physical activity before, during and after school, school nutrition, access to healthy and affordable food, food and beverage marketing, etc.  Reducing obesity in our communities will take dedication, focus, innovation and cooperation.  Please join us in this fight!  See how you can take action at www.yourethecure.org

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What is Pediatric Cardiomyopathy?

Did you know that one in every 100,000 children in the U.S. under the age of 18 is diagnosed with a diseased state of the heart known as cardiomyopathy?  While it is a relatively rare condition in kids, it poses serious health risks, making early diagnosis important.  As the heart weakens due to abnormities of the muscle fibers, it loses the ability to pump blood effectively and heart failure or irregular heartbeats (arrhythmias or dysrhythmia) may occur.

That’s why we’re proud to team up with the Children’s Cardiomyopathy Foundation this month- Pediatric Cardiomyopathy Awareness Month- to make more parents aware of this condition (signs and symptoms) and to spread the word about the policy changes we can all support to protect our youngest hearts.
 
As a You’re the Cure advocate, you know how important medical research is to improving the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of heart disease.  And pediatric cardiomyopathy is no exception.  However, a serious lack of research on this condition leaves many unanswered questions about its causes.  On behalf of all young pediatric cardiomyopathy patients, join us in calling on Congress to prioritize our nation’s investment in medical research.
  
Additionally, we must speak-up to better equip schools to respond quickly to medical emergencies, such as cardiac arrest caused by pediatric cardiomyopathy.  State laws, like the one passed in Massachusetts, require schools to develop emergency medical response plans that can include:

  • A method to establish a rapid communication system linking all parts of the school campus with Emergency Medical Services
  • Protocols for activating EMS and additional emergency personnel in the event of a medical emergency
  • A determination of EMS response time to any location on campus
  • A method for providing training in CPR and First Aid to teachers, athletic coaches, trainers and others – which may include High School students
  • A listing of the location of AEDs and the school personnel trained to use the AED

CPR high school graduation requirements are another important measure to ensure bystanders, particularly in the school setting, are prepared to respond to a cardiac emergency.  19 states have already passed these life-saving laws and we’re on a mission to ensure every student in every state graduates ‘CPR Smart’.
   
With increased awareness and research of pediatric cardiomyopathy and policy changes to ensure communities and schools are able to respond to cardiac emergencies, we can protect more young hearts.

Have you or a loved one been diagnosed with cardiomyopathy?  Join our new Support Network today to connect with others who share the heart condition.   

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Let us feature you and your "why"

The American Heart Association recently launched its new brand “Life is Why.”  We want people to experience more of life's precious moments.  It's why we've made better heart and brain health our mission.

What is your “why?”  Tell us why you advocate for heart health and stroke care and your story could become our “Advocate Spotlight” in our next newsletter.  Email Jason Harder at Jason.harder@heart.org if you're interested in sharing.  All we need is your photograph and a couple paragraphs about you and your "why".

Need inspiration?  Check out www.lifeiswhy.org.

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Mark Your Calendar for the EmpowerMEnt Challenge!

We’re gearing up for National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month and we want you to be in on all of the action!  Throughout September, we’re encouraging families across the country to take control of their healthy by participating in the EmpowerMEnt Challenge.  Each week, families and kids will pursue a different goal, including eating more fruits and veggies, limiting sugary drinks, reducing sodium intake, and increasing physical activity.  Each goal is fun, simple, won’t break the bank and can be done as a family.  And by the end of the month, families will be a step ahead on the road to a heart-healthy life. 

So mark your calendar for the challenge kick-off on September 1st!  Complimentary templates and activities, broken down into the themed weeks, are now available on www.heart.org/healthierkids.  In addition, you're invited to join our EmpowerMEnt Challenge Facebook group, where you can make the commitment to take the challenge and share your progress with others.  

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Pulse Oximetry - it's official!

The big news from last week was all about Pulse Oximetry!  As of Thursday, July 3, all babies born in Wisconsin will be screened for CCHD prior to hospital discharge.  There has been a lot of great media coverage about this - click the link below to read a great article from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Wisconsin has joined at least 31 other states that require testing of all newborns for critical congenital heart disease, one of the most common inherited birth defects.

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