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Heart-Healthy Thanksgiving Tips

Thanksgiving is about enjoying time with our family and celebrating with traditional foods we know and love. However, the holiday can impact the time we usually reserve for our healthy routines and involve meals that are not exactly made to be heart-healthy!

To keep your diet and health in check over the Thanksgiving holiday, try these ideas below, including ways to minimize stress and smart substitutions for your holiday meals.

Try healthy substitutes

We love family recipes, and these simple tricks make them better for you and your family’s heart health (without totally changing the taste).

Baking

  • Instead of butter, substitute equal parts cinnamon-flavored, no-sugar-added applesauce.
  • Instead of sugar, use a lower-calorie sugar substitute.
  • Instead of whole or heavy cream, substitute low-fat or skim milk.
  • Instead of using only white flour, use half white and half whole-wheat flour.
  • Instead of adding chocolate chips or candies, use dried fruit, like cranberries or cherries.
  • Use extracts like vanilla, almond and peppermint to add flavor, instead of sugar or butter.

Cooking

  • Use vegetable oils such as olive oil instead of butter (even in your mashed potatoes).
  • Use herbs and spices, like rosemary and cloves, to flavor dishes instead of butter and salt.
  • Use whole-grain breads and pastas instead of white.
  • Bake, grill or steam vegetables instead of frying.
  • Instead of whole milk or heavy cream, substitute low-fat or fat-free/skim milk.

Prepare vegetables, eat a balanced meal

Now that you’ve prepared some of your Thanksgiving meal with healthy substitutes, prepare yourself a balanced plate of all your favorite holiday foods, starting with a salad and vegetables. Eating your veggies will ensure you get the nutrients you need and will help fill you up so you don’t overload on the foods your body needs less of, such as rolls, stuffing and pie.

Increase physical activity

Increase your physical activity over Thanksgiving and throughout the holiday season to combat the extra calories and additional stress. Go for a family walk after each meal or gathering. Play catch with your kids. Take just 40 minutes for yourself and go to the gym to release endorphins your body needs to stay healthy.

Keep stress to a minimum

Taking care of family, cooking, cleaning—Thanksgiving can involve a lot of activities that not only keep you busy, but can also increase your level of stress. Keep stress to a minimum with stress management techniques. These can include:

  • Planning ahead to help you with time management
  • Focusing on one thing at a time
  • Taking time to relax

Get enough sleep

Part of living a heart-healthy lifestyle means getting enough sleep. Why? Because your quality of sleep can impact your heart health. The American Heart Association recommends adults get six to eight hours of sleep per night. Over the holiday, get into bed early to give yourself enough time to wind down after your day and to fall asleep faster and more soundly. Or try these tips to improve your sleep.

**This article was featured on www.GoRedForWomen.org. Learn more ways to live healthy on Go Red For Women.

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Michelle Whaley Advocates for Heart

On October 29, You're the Cure volunteer and acute neurovascular clinical nurse specialist Michelle Whaley, spoke to a group of volunteers and Colorado legislators to raise awareness of World Stroke Day. As a person on the front line practicing at Swedish Medical Center in Englewood, Michelle has firsthand experience in working with patients when they get to the hospital after suffering a stroke. Michelle shared her experience as she eloquently spoke to the group, ensuring that they knew the signs and symptoms of stroke. She also described the variety of patients she sees, from infants and children, to working parents and the elderly. The case studies she provided were a powerful example of how stroke can impact any one at any time.

Please click here to learn more about stroke. 

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Advocating for Heart in Casper

Last month You’re the Cure advocates gathered for our first ever Meet and Greet breakfast in Casper, Wyoming.  Advocates enjoyed the opportunity to have more in depth conversations with fellow advocates from across the city and learn about the mission work of the American Heart Association in the community.  

For more than 30 years, You’re the Cure – the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association's volunteer advocacy network – has been working toward building healthier lives and healthier communities. We’re a community of fathers and mothers, neighbors and friends, researchers and caregivers, passionate about an America that’s free of heart disease and stroke.  Each day, we work together to advocate for heart-healthy and stroke-smart communities through legislative policies in our cities, states and across the country, and we hope you’ll join us

Want to know more about what we do and the impact we’ve had? Take a look at the below video which highlights our 30 years of advocacy!  Get involved today by contacting Vanessa Fuentes at Vanessa.Fuentes@heart.org.

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Artificial Sweeteners May Increase Blood Sugar

The below article was featured on Heart.org on October 7th.

A recent scientific study says people should reconsider their heavy use of artificial sweeteners, which may actually increase blood sugar by altering natural gut bacteria.

The study, published in the science journal Nature, was conducted largely on mice and included an experiment on seven people who did not normally consume artificial sweeteners. The researchers primarily used saccharin in the experiments, however some of the experiments also included aspartame and sucralose. They found that some mice and people had a two-to four-times increase in blood sugars and changes in the types of microbes in their intestines. The findings counter the perception that artificial sweeteners, which are not meant to be absorbed by the digestive tract, don’t affect blood sugar or glucose tolerance – which can be a harbinger of diabetes.

The American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association reviewed the safety of artificial sweeteners in a 2012 statement and concluded they should be used “judiciously” as a way to reduce sugar intake.

The new study, said Dr. Rachel Johnson, an American Heart Association volunteer and one of the AHA statement’s authors, is intriguing because it went beyond animal studies to humans. But she points to its small sample size. About half of the people in the study did not have a blood sugar response. In addition to the seven-person experiment it included an analysis of an ongoing nutritional study on 381 people.

“As with all science, we need to validate this with other samples and larger samples,” said Johnson, who is a professor of nutrition and medicine at the University of Vermont. “It’s something we have to pay attention to, but I don’t think at this point it contradicts our current statement. … We had caveats and our conclusion was fairly guarded. They [non-nutritive sweeteners] were certainly not a magic bullet.”

The study’s authors, Eran Elinav and Eran Segal of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, said more information and confirmation of their results are needed.

As a result of these new findings, though, Johnson said she might reconsider her use of artificial sweeteners beyond her usual morning latte. But she says no one should use this one study to switch back to drinking fully sweetened beverages.

“Be moderate,” she said. “This is not an excuse to say that non-nutritive sweeteners are not good for you, so go back to more sugar. That’s not a good decision. We have a compelling body of evidence on what sugar-sweetened beverages do.”

The AHA recommends that added processed sugars should be limited to about 6 teaspoons a day for women and 9 teaspoons a day for men. Today, the average daily American intake of processed sugar is 22 teaspoons and about 45 gallons of sugary drinks a year. For adults, the AHA recommends no more than 36 ounces, or 450 calories, a week in sugar-added beverages.

Consumers are faced with balancing all of this in light of another recent announcement. The leading producers of sugar-added beverages pledged recently to reduce the number of calories by 20 percent in the next 20 years. Under the agreement with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, which was founded by the AHA and the Clinton Foundation, the beverage companies said they would market and distribute drinks in a way to help guide consumers to smaller portions and low- or zero-calorie drinks.

The companies also committed to providing calorie counts on vending machines, self-serve dispensers and retail coolers in stores and restaurants. The companies’ progress will be monitored by an independent, third-party evaluator at multiple intervals until the conclusion of the agreement in 2025.

“I think the most compelling thing about it is they are admitting there is a problem with the number of calories in the American diet that is coming from sugary beverages,” Johnson said. “This is the first time they’ve come out and said there’s a problem. I was taken by that.”

For more information:

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Knowledge is Power

After working as a registered nurse for the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center for 25 years, and 17 years on the Cardiac Care Intensive Care Unit, Mella Dee Warren was no stranger to cardiovascular diseases and stroke. In addition to her professional acumen, atherosclerosis, hypertension, heart disease and stroke all ran in her family, making Mella Dee highly aware of her own risk for the diseases.

She walked regularly, ate a healthy diet and never smoked, all contributing factors for how well she bounced back from the diagnosis of atrial fibrillation, requiring a pacemaker at the age of 65. It wasn’t until 15 years later, on Dec. 30, 2013 - her 58th wedding anniversary - that she experienced her stroke. She was attempting to put a coffee cup on a kitchen cabinet hanger when she felt numbness in her hand and the entire right side of her body. She sunk to the floor and called for her nephew, whom she instructed to call 9-1-1 to notify them that his auntie was having a stroke.

Emergency first responders rushed the 79-year-old retired nurse to a Get With The Guidelines® Certified Comprehensive Stroke Center where a CT scan determined she indeed was having a stroke. Experts treated her with advanced interventional surgical techniques to remove the clot. Mella Dee received extensive physical therapy and made a full recovery, allowing her to do what she does best, care for others. As a devoted volunteer of the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association, among other health organizations, Mella Dee is now 80 and thriving as she continues to spread awareness and arm her community with lifesaving health and wellness information.”

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Study: Most Wikipedia articles about medical conditions contain errors

Doctors say relaying on medical information from Wikipedia is a mistake.  A research article in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association compared Wikipedia to medical journals and found major flaws in articles regarding diabetes, high blood pressure, lung cancer and more.

The American Heart Association recommends dialing 9-1-1 if you believe there is a medical emergency.  If there is not an emergency and you want to learn more about health and disease prevention we recommend using trusted sources such as: The American Heart Association (www.heart.org) or the U.S. Center for Disease Control (http://www.cdc.gov/ )

For the full news article on this story you can visit: 

http://www.kait8.com/story/26694176/study-most-wikipedia-articles-about-medical-conditions-contain-errors

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Get Moving, Wyoming!

Hey YTC Networkers,

The below article was recently featured on Heart.org. Check it out and tell me what you think in the comments below.

Being physically active is important to prevent heart disease and stroke, the nation’s No. 1 and No. 4 killers. To improve overall cardiovascular health, we suggest at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise (or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity). Thirty minutes a day, five times a week is an easy goal to remember. You will also experience benefits even if you divide your time into two or three segments of 10 to 15 minutes per day.

For people who would benefit from lowering their blood pressure or cholesterol, we recommend 40 minutes of aerobic exercise of moderate to vigorous intensity three to four times a week to lower the risk for heart attack and stroke.

Physical activity is anything that makes you move your body and burn calories.

This includes things like climbing stairs or playing sports. Aerobic exercises benefit your heart, and include walking, jogging, swimming or biking. Strength and stretching exercises are best for overall stamina and flexibility.

The simplest, positive change you can make to effectively improve your heart health is to start walking. It's enjoyable, free, easy, social and great exercise. A walking program is flexible and boasts high success rates because people can stick with it. It's easy for walking to become a regular and satisfying part of life.

 

AHA Recommendation

For Overall Cardiovascular Health:

  • At least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity at least 5 days per week for a total of 150

    OR
  • At least 25 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity at least 3 days per week for a total of 75 minutes; or a combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity

    AND
  • Moderate- to high-intensity muscle-strengthening activity at least 2 days per week for additional health benefits.

For Lowering Blood Pressure and Cholesterol
  • An average 40 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity aerobic activity 3 or 4 times per week
 

What if I can’t make it to the time goal?

Something is always better than nothing!

And everyone has to start somewhere. Even if you've been sedentary for years, today is the day you can begin to make healthy changes in your life. If you don't think you'll make it for 30 or 40 minutes, set a reachable goal for today. You can work up toward your overall goal by increasing your time as you get stronger. Don't let all-or-nothing thinking rob you of doing what you can every day.

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Volunteer Spotlight: Thurman Paul

Thurman Paul of Tulsa, Oklahoma is like many You’re the Cure Advocates; he is connected to stroke. His father’s uncle suffered a stroke two years ago.  His interest in the Advocacy work of the American Heart Association began with a simple call to action to sign a petition in support of obesity prevention on the community level.

Thurman promptly signed the petition and answered a follow-up email to supporters of the petition asking for those interested in learning more about the American Heart Association’s advocacy work to reply to the email. He did so because he believes finding a cure for heart disease and stroke should be a priority.  Thurman’s first activity as a You’re the Cure Advocate involved a visit to U.S. Senator James Inhofe’s office to advocate for the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act.

The concept of volunteerism and activism is not a new one for Thurman. He recently returned from a service trip to Nicaragua where he taught classes and distributed food and supplies to youth groups.

Thurman has also worked with his mother to visit juvenile centers and visit with youth.   Travel and new experiences are a driving factor in his commitment to service. “Volunteerism is a way for me to give back while being around people,” he said. 

Interested in becoming more involved with the American Heart Association’s fight to build healthier lives, free of cardiovascular disease and stroke? Email Brian Bowser at brian.bowser@heart.org to learn more about how you can take action!

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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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Mission Lifeline: Improving Cardiac Care in Wyoming

Mission: Lifeline volunteers from across the state met the first week in August to discuss improving care for heart attack and stroke patients in Wyoming. The meeting was held in Casper and included representatives from Hospitals and EMS systems across the state.

The volunteers enthusiastically embraced the idea of creating a funding source to continue the great work that was being done through the Helmsley Grant which helped provide over $5 million for improving cardiac care in Wyoming.

After these discussions took place volunteers gathered with Advocacy staff, and expressed interest in getting involved in legislative activities. Advocacy will be planning a Mission Lifeline event at the Capitol early in the Session.

For details or to get involved with stroke and STEMI care, contact: Erin Hackett at erin.hackett@heart.org.

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