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Our new anthem: life is why

School behavioral specialist Carla Leonard had her hand on her heart during the Pledge of Allegiance when a heart attack nearly killed her. Her doctor didn’t mince words with her family afterward: “If I didn’t have surgery, they should pick out a dress for my funeral,” she said. “Plain and simple.”

But Leonard wanted to live — to see her daughter graduate from high school — so after surgery she started on a new path that continues today. She kicked her soda habit, started visiting her doctor regularly and got healthy enough to experience many important milestones in her life.

Leonard exemplifies the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s new brand tagline, “Life Is Why.” The phrase, which began appearing with the logo on Heart.org on Aug. 1, is much more than a slogan. It’s the singular idea that stands behind all the lifesaving work the AHA has carried out for 90  years – and it’s the very basic idea that people should be healthier so they can enjoy their lives more.

“The work we do matters,” American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown said. “It has mattered to my family and I’m sure it has mattered to your family. Life is why.”

(Please visit the site to view this video)

Brown’s grandfather had a blockage of his carotid artery in the early 1970s. During surgery, he suffered a stroke, and his life was never the same — nor was his family’s. He died a few years later after another stroke. “I missed my grandfather then and I continue to miss him today,” Brown said.

But she pointed out that scientific research and treatment guidelines have led to much better outcomes for many others in the decades that followed. One of those survivors is Brown’s sister, who is thriving despite two recent strokes. She received treatment at one of the AHA’s primary stroke centers, helping her working through rehabilitation and regain her life.

“My sister is why, my grandfather is why — and all of you are why,” Brown told the organization’s volunteers and staff when announcing the adaptation of “Life Is Why” as a focal point of the AHA’s brand.

The American Heart Association is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary health organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke — the two leading causes of death in the world. The AHA fights these diseases through a wide variety of tactics, yet “Life Is Why” can be attached to every facet of the organization’s work.

Life is why the AHA helps people eat healthier foods and get more active — among the many activities the organization has to help people live healthier lives.

Life is why Roni Noone decided to lose weight so she could enjoy her life with her family.

Noone, a 38-year-old Baltimore mom who struggled with her weight in her teens and 20s, has lost a total of 70 pounds because she wants to be there for those special moments with her family. She has joined a gym and even run a marathon – saying she didn’t want to set a poor health example for her sons Ryan, 9, and Evan, 3.

Roni Noone is motivated by the special moments with her family.

“Last year I took Ryan whitewater rafting, and it was really emotional for me. Now I’m doing all the things I got healthy for,” said Noone, a fitness blogger who’s also writing a book. “I want to run a half-marathon with him when he’s 18. And I want to be able to do all these things that I’m doing in my 30s when I’m in my 50s.”

Life is why the American Heart Association has funded more than $3.6 billion in heart disease and stroke research, more than any other organization outside the federal government. Life is why the association works to develop treatment guidelines that help healthcare providers follow scientifically proven treatment standards.

Life is why the AHA is the nation’s leader in CPR training and science, and why the AHA has helped pass many laws and policies that have improved the public health. In fact, now that 17 states have passed laws requiring CPR as a high school graduation requirement, more than 1 million seniors will leave school every year with this lifesaving skill.

Leonard, 52, has gone on to be an AHA advocate for CPR in schools and screenings to detect heart defects in newborns. And she did get to see her daughter Yasmine finish high school, just one of many milestones she has experienced since her surgery eight years ago.

“The highlight of them all was when I heard that my child had used my life-and-death experience to write her entrance essay for college,” she said. “I want to be able to look back on my life and say that I did not waste the second chance I was given.”

And as 13-year-old Natalia Bascunan of Nutley, New Jersey, will attest, loved ones and special moments are the most important illustration of Life Is Why. Natalia made the Little League all-star team years after facing two open-heart surgeries for a heart defect.

“They loved it because she was the only girl in the state on an all-boys team,” said Natalia’s mom, Roe Corsi. “When they found out she had a heart condition, they loved her even more.”

Another person who has embraced life’s special moments thanks to better health is Bernie Dennis, a longtime volunteer with the AHA who is now the chairman of the board.

Dennis said he didn’t appreciate the risks he was taking with his health until he had three heart attacks in one month, followed by a quadruple bypass. While he recovered, he started realizing some of the things he’d taken for granted.

“I can remember the fact that I was sitting on my porch saying to myself, ‘this is the first time in my life I’ve appreciated the warmth of the sun in May,’” he said.

Getting healthier has meant Dennis has gone on to experience precious family time that he would’ve missed. A high school graduation. A wedding. Playing with his “two beautiful granddaughters.” And dressing up as Santa Claus at Christmas.

“There’s a choice you get to make about living or not living,” he said. “My wife’s hand gave me reason to live. My wonderful family gave me reason to live.”

Learn more at www.lifeiswhy.org 

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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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Help increase the representation of women and minorities in clinical trials today!

As a patient, you want to know that the prescription drugs and medical devices being recommended for your treatment are safe and effective. However, current gaps in clinical trial participation by women and minorities limit the data available to you and your doctor to make the most informed decisions. 

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been tasked with creating an action plan to address this health disparity and we need your help to ensure it gets done! 

Will you take a minute to ask your Senators to push the FDA to move forward with its plan to increase the representation of women and minorities in clinical trials?      

The statics tell the story: Only one-third of participants in cardiovascular clinical trials are women, and fewer than 31 percent of trials that do include women report outcomes by gender. For minorities, the numbers are even more concerning – a recent study found that minorities account for less than 5 percent of research study participants. That’s why we need a strong, urgent action plan from the FDA that puts an end to the “one-size-fits-all” approach to medicine that we’ve had due to a lack of data. 

Clinical trials have led to advances in treating hypertension, heart failure, diabetes and more- and they will continue to be critical to the fight against heart disease and stroke. But in order to effectively address these diseases in different populations, we must ensure different genders, races, and ethnicities are included in the research process from the start.

20 years from now, we hope we can look back and say that the FDA’s plan was a significant milestone in achieving health equity. Take action today to help make it happen!

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Spring Has Sprung and So Has Budget Season!

It’s that time of year again.  While we wait for the cherry blossoms to bloom in Washington, D.C., budget discussions are heating up between the White House and Capitol Hill. 

On March 4th, the President released his budget proposal for 2015 and now Members of Congress are working to establish their funding priorities to begin the appropriations process and eventually pass a budget.  And that’s where you come in! 

With tight economic times, we need to continue to make the case for heart disease and stroke research and prevention funding that helps drive innovation, cuts health care costs, improves the health of our workforce, protects the health of our youngest generations, and saves lives.  Basically, your lawmakers need to hear from you that the fight against our nation’s No. 1 and No. 4 killers, heart disease and stroke, must be prioritized. 

In addition to funding that would help communities support walking, biking, and recreation, and funding for nutrition programs that would improve access to healthy food and nutrition education, the President’s budget included two key issues that deserve a special note:

  • On the positive side, the budget included a public health ‘win-win’ by proposing an increase to the federal tobacco tax, which would help curb youth smoking rates, to pay for efforts to improve early childhood education, which includes nutrition and physical education for our youngest Americans. 
  • On the negative side, the budget proposed near level funding for the National Institutes of Health, which is disappointing for research-advocates who are continuing to push our nation’s lawmakers to restore significant cuts to the NIH that took place last spring.  As our AHA President Dr. Mariell Jessup said in a statement, “With a meager 1 percent increase over last year, President Obama’s proposed budget for the National Institutes of Health is utterly inadequate.”

But the President’s budget proposal isn’t the end of these decisions.  The work now shifts to Members of Congress to consider these proposals, set their priorities, and negotiate to pass a final budget.  In fact, right now, our legislators are submitting their funding priorities to leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate and we need your help to speak-up for heart disease and stroke research!  Will you take two minutes to send a quick message to Congress?  

Without us speaking up- loud and clear- for important funding increases to the NIH, we will see progress and innovation in the way we prevent, diagnose, and treat heart disease and stroke slip backward.  From the jobs it creates to the lives it saves, medical research must be made a priority in the U.S..  Speak-up today! 

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You're Invited!

Throughout American Heart Month, you've helped raise awareness about heart disease in women by wearing red and speaking up about the risk factors we face.  But just how much progress is being made in the fight against our nation's No. 1 killer of women?  To answer that question and more, join us for the 4th Annual State of Women's Heart Health webinar on Wednesday, February 19th at 5:00 pm EST (4:00 pm CST)! 

This LIVE, virtual discussion will feature some of our nation's leading health experts, including Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius and National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Director Dr. Gary Gibbons, so come with your questions ready.

To participate, RSVP today!

Do you have friends who may be interested in joining too?  Share this invitation and the registration link (http://bit.ly/1igJnZp) on Facebook! 

 

 

 

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The 2013 State Legislative Wrap-Up is Here!

Today’s blog post is by Mark Schoeberl, the American Heart Association’s Executive Vice President of Advocacy and Health Quality

I am pleased to again this year present you with our annual report of state and local public policy progress. We take pride in the diligent efforts of our advocates, volunteers and staff who ensure that we remain focused on helping improve the cardiovascular health of all Americans.  As you read this report you will quickly realize that we saw unprecedented public policy success across the country during this last fiscal year.  The victories you will read about in the following pages have a direct and profound impact on our 2020 national goal: To improve the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20 percent while reducing deaths from cardiovascular diseases and stroke by 20 percent.

As we review our 2012–2013 state and local public policy, we should be proud of our active advocacy presence in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.  We helped support the passage of state laws and local ordinances that impact heart disease and stroke risk factors as well as policies that further protect survivors of heart disease or stroke.  Our significant public policy achievements, which you can read about below, include public policies enacted in fifteen states that will assure all newborns are screened for critical congenital heart disease before going home for the first time. Seven states enacted new laws that will assure all students have been CPR trained before they graduate from high school. In the area of encouraging physical activity, two states passed shared use laws that will expand opportunities for physical activity in communities across those states. Six states enacted policy that will strengthen their stroke systems of care and six states moved to strengthen their STEMI systems of care.  Four states were successful in increasing their public funding for heart disease and stroke at the state level. Tobacco tax increases occurred in three states and two states moved to strengthen their smokefree air laws.

On behalf of the thousands of You’re the Cure advocates, association volunteers, donors, and staff who have made these successes possible, it is my pleasure to present to you this annual report of state and local advocacy accomplishments.  Together, we are the architects of a healthier future.

 

 Click on the image to view the 2013 State Legislative Wrap-Up!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PS- Stay tuned next month for a video highlighting these successes!  We’ll need your help to share it with friends, family, colleagues, and neighbors to demonstrate the progress we’re making toward healthier communities and healthier lives through public policy changes… and to encourage others to join the You’re the Cure movement too!

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Healthy Habits: One of the Most Precious Gifts We Can Give Our Children

The following excerpt is from a blog post by American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown published on The Huffington Post's The Blog on August 27th.  It is first in a series produced by The Huffington Post and the American Heart Association addressing important, timely topics in heart health and wellness.  In the coming weeks, Nancy and featured experts will examine the issues related to heart disease and provide information, ideas and insight on the Huffington Post's The Blog.

Every parent wants the very best for their children. With back-to-school season underway, there's no better time to put the spotlight on one of the most important ways we can help them: by encouraging them to develop healthy lifestyles at the youngest possible age. In addition to the ABCs and arithmetic, our earliest years are when we learn and build daily habits that can last a lifetime. Many of these habits, like the foods and beverages we consume and the amount of physical activity we get, can have a profound effect on the quality of our lives and our likelihood of developing major illnesses later in life. As Dr. Patricia Fitzgerald wrote, healthy lifestyles, along with risk factor awareness and regular screenings, are essential to maintaining optimum health.

It's important to get kids off to the healthiest possible start, and that message has never been more urgent than it is today. In recent years, we've seen the very troubling emergence of obesity as a national health crisis, impacting not only adults but also children. Today, about one of three American kids and teens are overweight or obese, nearly triple the rate in 1963. This is a trend that has to be halted, and it's a challenge that has major implications for our nation's future.

Among children today, obesity is causing a broad range of physical health problems -- such as high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes and elevated blood cholesterol levels -- that previously weren't seen until adulthood. Excess weight at a young age has been linked to higher and earlier death rates in adulthood. In fact, obese children as young as age 3 show indicators for developing heart disease later in life. And overweight adolescents have a 70 percent chance of becoming overweight adults.

Read Nancy's complete Huffington Post blog post- Healthy Habits: One of the Most Precious Gifts We Can Give Our Children.

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Pants Too Tight? Cut the Salt!

Nine out of ten Americans consume too much salt- and more and more we are hearing about the serious health consequences it leads to.  Excess sodium in your diet can cause high blood pressure and lead to heart failure, stroke, kidney disease, headaches, and more.  But did you know that extra sodium may also be affecting your appearance? 

Surprising, right? Excess sodium leads to increased water retention, which can cause puffiness, bloating, and weight gain.  You can learn more from our new inforgraphic- Effects of Excess Sodium on Health and Appearance.

 With the average American consuming more than twice the daily recommended limit of sodium, this is important information we all need to be aware of.  Share the new infographic with your friends and family on Facebook and Twitter today.

The sooner you can start to reduce your salt intake, the better off your heart will be.  And maybe it will make fitting into those pants a little easier too!

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VT Advocate Makes the Case for Taxing Unhealthy Products

Dr. Mary Cushman (right), President of the American Heart Association's Vermont board, recently had an opinion piece published in the Burlington Free Press regarding prevention, health care costs, and taxing unhealthy products.  Check out what she had to say... 

"If we want to get serious about reducing health care costs we need to focus on prevention. Sometimes that’s not the easiest choice. No one likes raising taxes. But taxing unhealthy products like cigarettes and sugar sweetened beverages can deter people from buying these products.

In the end, that’s a bonus for the people who consume less of these and a bonus for Vermonters who are already paying health care expenses and taxes to address the harms caused by these products.

Yes, it would have cost 80 cents extra for a pack of cigarettes (just 4 cents more for a cigarette) in Vermont if we had implemented the tobacco tax increase that was proposed this past session. But this small price to pay by smokers would have prevented 1,900 kids from smoking and saved over $70 million in long-term health costs for Vermont." 

Read Dr. Cushman's full opinion piece here.

Share your thoughts!  What do you think about tobacco tax increases and efforts to establish a sugar-sweetened beverage tax in some states and cities, as a way to help prevent diseases and cut health care spending?  Tell us in the comments below. 

 

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How Much Salt is Too Much?

The statistics are eye-opening!  Nine out of ten Americans consume too much sodium, increasing their risk for high blood pressure, which can lead to heart disease or stroke.  But how much salt is too much and what can you do to avoid it?

Tip #1- Be aware!  Do you know what the American Heart Association’s recommended daily sodium limit is?  It’s 1500mg.  Yet, the average American adult is consuming more than 3,400mg.  By knowing the recommended limit, you can make more informed decisions about your diet.  

Tip #2- Control your intake! 90% of the sodium we consume comes from processed foods purchased in grocery store and the food served at restaurants, making it very important to:

  • Read Nutrition Facts labels and choose lower sodium options or brands when available.  Also be aware of serving sizes!
  • Look for the Heart-Check mark when you shop to find products that meet the American Heart Association’s criteria for heart-healthy food.
  • Cook at home more often to help control the sodium that goes into your food.  Here are some flavorful recipes to get you started!

Tip #3- Help inform others!  High blood pressure is not something we want our family and friends to face, so help share these important facts about sodium.  We’ve posted this helpful infographic to Facebook, so you can easily SHARE it with your network. 

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Many Hearts, One Voice on Capitol Hill

Against the backdrop of Washington, DC’s famous cherry blossoms, 300 You’re the Cure advocates joined together in our nation’s capital in April to deliver a strong message to Congress: Invest in our health!  Here are just a few of the highlights of You’re the Cure on the Hill 2013 activities…

 We rallied for medical research!  Thousands of advocates from the medical research community came together on April 8th to make some noise about the need for Congress to prioritize our nation’s investment in research.  And You’re the Cure advocates were in on all of the action! 

Juddson Rupp from North Carolina and Amy Edmunds from South Carolina were two of the featured survivor-speakers that joined journalist Cokie Roberts, Representative Chris Van Hollen (MD-8), Representative Rosa DeLauro (CT-3), and others on stage to deliver the message and inspire the crowd. 

And what an active crowd it was!  You’re the Cure advocates joined in the cheers of “More Progress! More Hope!  More Life!”, as they held-up big red hearts with the names of over 6,000 of their fellow advocates from across the country who pledged their support for medical research funding. 

Check out some more great pictures from the Rally for Medical Research!

We turned Capitol Hill Red!  The enthusiasm from the rally spilled over into our day on Capitol Hill on April 9th.  As heart disease and stroke survivors, caregivers, researchers, and medical professionals, each advocate had an important story and perspective to share with their Members of Congress, as we asked lawmakers to restore funding for the National Institutes of Health and support the Million Hearts initiative.   

Dressed in red, advocates met with 252 congressional offices in the course of one day!  And their visits came at a critical time, with legislators determining their funding priorities for the coming year. 

See your fellow advocates in action with our nation’s decision-makers on Capitol Hill!

 

 

We honored our 2013 Advocates of the Year!  At the local, state, and federal level, You’re the Cure advocates across the country work year after year to advance public policies that help build healthier communities and healthier lives free of heart disease and stroke.  So, we were proud to recognize four of these outstanding individuals as our 2013 Advocates of the Year!  Join us in congratulating:

Dr. William Weintraub (PA): Science-Advocate of the Year

Lee Storrow (NC): Volunteer-Advocate of the Year

Yolanda Dickerson (NC): Survivor-Advocate of the Year

Tommy Watson (VT): Youth-Advocate of the Year

Watch this great video to learn about their amazing work!

(Please visit the site to view this video)

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Mixed News in President's Budget Proposal

American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown issued the following comment today on President Obama’s proposed fiscal year 2014 federal budget:

“While President Obama’s budget moves in the right direction by restoring the National Institutes of Health funding cut by the sequester, the administration’s proposal fails to fully account for medical research inflation and puts promising new research opportunities at risk. Over the past decade, the NIH has lost 20 percent of its purchasing power.

NIH-funded research is the best chance to find a cure for heart disease, stroke and other forms of cardiovascular disease that kill more than 800,000 Americans each year. Yet, stagnant federal support is holding back hope for the millions of Americans who suffer from these diseases.

The budget also includes an increase of $5 million for Million Hearts™, a national public-private initiative developed to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes by 2017. Although we are pleased that these investments to support heart disease and stroke prevention activities were proposed for 2014, we are disappointed that the administration failed to commit additional resources from the prevention trust fund specifically targeting the 37 million adult Americans with uncontrolled high blood pressure. These people are four times more likely to die of a stroke and three times more likely to die of heart disease.  

Historically, nonprofits try to step in when government funding slows down. But the administration’s proposal to cut the charitable tax deduction could threaten the ability of these organizations to fill gaps left by cuts in prevention, research and social services programs. We urge the administration to increase, rather than reduce, incentives in the tax code that promote charitable giving – particularly when federal budgets are constrained.

The American Heart Association appreciates that this proposed budget does not undermine Medicare’s fundamental guarantee of health and financial security to millions of elderly and disabled Americans. Yet we believe more can be done to improve the health care Medicare beneficiaries receive and to further extend the program’s financial health. Moving forward, we will evaluate the savings recommended by the administration to see how they measure up to these goals, and continue to oppose any effort to shift costs to our most vulnerable beneficiaries suffering from heart disease and stroke. In the meantime, we are pleased that the budget protects Medicaid and recognizes that it is a lean and efficient program that serves as a needed safety net for millions of the most vulnerable patients.

Finally, we commend the president for recommending a tobacco tax increase. Study after study has shown that the fastest way to encourage people to quit smoking is to raise the cost of tobacco products. A federal increase will be a strong incentive for current smokers to have their last cigarette and prevent other people from ever taking up this deadly habit.”

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You're the Cure Heads to Capitol Hill

More than 300 American Heart Association volunteers came to Washington, D.C. today to urge Congress to restore federal funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and to support a Million Hearts campaign to attack the growing problem of high blood pressure – public health enemy No. 2 behind tobacco.  

Heart disease and stroke survivors, researchers, and healthcare professionals from around the country are meeting with their congressional representatives to ask them to allocate $32 billion for the NIH for 2014, to restore funding cut by the sequester and get NIH back on track.

The March 1 sequester slashed nearly $1.5 billion, or 5 percent, of the NIH budget. A cut of this magnitude will reduce the number of planned research grants by about 2,300, cost more than 20,000 jobs nationwide and shrink new economic activity by nearly $3 billion. A typical NIH grant supports about seven full-time or part-time jobs, most of them high-tech.  Every dollar that the NIH distributes through grants returns more than $2 in goods and services annually to a local community. 

“If the NIH cuts remain in place, they will damage our fragile economy and threaten our nation’s position as the global leader in medical research,” said American Heart Association President Donna Arnett, Ph.D., MSPH. “More importantly, medical research is vital to discovering new treatments and even cures for generations to come. We must not give up the fight to increase federal support for the NIH.” 

Advocates also asked Congress to fund a $35 million Million Hearts Initiative to tackle one of the nation’s most significant public health problems, high blood pressure. More than one in three adults in the United States have high blood pressure, but less than half have their condition under control. High blood pressure is one of the leading risk factors for heart attack or stroke.

Visit the You're the Cure Facebook page for some great photos and stay tuned for further updates about the amazing advocates who made their voices heard on Capitol Hill. 

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Call your Senators TODAY!

 As Congress considers funding proposals for federal programs, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) has offered an amendment on the Senate floor that would provide very modest increases for medical research, prevention and treatment programs of interest to us, including National Institutes of Health and the Rural and Community Access to a AEDs program, which increases survival rates for people who suffer sudden cardiac arrest. Senator Harkin’s amendment will help advance the mission of the American Heart Association.

ACTION NEEDED

The U.S. Senate is scheduled to vote soon, likely this evening- March 13th, on the amendment. Please take just 5 minutes to call your two United States Senators and ask them to vote in favor of Senator Harkin’s amendment. Simply dial the Capitol Hill switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask to be connected to your U.S. Senator.  After being connected, ask for the health legislative assistant.  If you reach his/her voicemail, leave a short message. After hanging up from that office, please call the Capitol Hill switchboard again to be connected to your second U.S. Senator. 

Talking Points for your calls

  • Hello.  May I please speak with the Health Legislative Assistant.
  • (please leave a message if you reach voice mail)
  • Hi, this is (name) from (city and state).  I am a volunteer for the American Heart Association.
  • Please ask Senator (name) to vote in favor of Senator Harkin’s amendment to the Continuing Resolution.
  • Passage of this amendment will help advance the fight against heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases, the No. 1 killer in our State and the most costly illness in the U.S.
  • Specifically, this amendment will help the National Institutes of Health make continued progress against heart disease and stroke.  Also, it will help save lives of people who suffer from sudden cardiac arrest, a particularly deadly form of heart disease.  Thank you.

 Please be sure to report your call in the action center.  

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Congressional Women ‘Go Red’ For American Heart Month

A bipartisan group of women from the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate joined the American Heart Association on Valentine’s Day to ‘Go Red’ in support of the 43 million women who are currently living with heart disease.

Women members from the House and Senate gathered for a photo at the U.S. Capitol dressed in red to remind people across the country that heart disease is not just a “man’s disease.”  It is the number one killer of women in the United States and accounts for one out of three female deaths annually. Every minute one woman dies because of heart disease.

“The American Heart Association would like to thank the women in Congress who went red today because building awareness is the first step in overcoming heart disease in women,” said Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association.  “By uniting in this effort, they serve as an inspiration to women across the country and help remind all of us that by taking action together we can fight back against our number one health threat.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi also made a point of highlighting the reason for the red at a press conference.  Check out what she had to say:

(Please visit the site to view this video)

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Senator Elizabeth Warren: Why I 'Go Red'

The following message was written by Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts to her constituents about why she is wearing red this Valentine's Day:

I'm going to have to put off baking my Valentine's Day cake until I can get back home on Friday. I have my heart-shaped pans, but the oven is broken in my new Washington apartment. Even so, I'm not letting the day pass without asking everyone for a favor.

My mother was born on Valentine's Day. From the time she turned fifteen, my father gave her a heart-shaped box of chocolates, and from the time I was nine and bought some heart-shaped pans at the dime store, I baked her a cake. Mother loved the heart connection to her birthday.

Several years ago, the heart connection took on a new meaning. My mother was in good health. She went to the doctor regularly, and, except for some concern about high cholesterol and a few complaints about gas pains and arthritis, she always got a good report. When she had some minor surgery, all the kids and grandkids came to visit. She was doing great, ready to check out of the hospital the next morning. So after a few more turns racing her up and down the hallway in wheelchairs, we all headed home.

In the middle of the night, one of my brothers called. He said Mama was dead. I couldn't believe it. I thought he had made some kind of terrible mistake. He said Daddy had been sitting with her when she leaned forward and said, "Don, there's that gas pain again." Then she died.

The autopsy showed that she had advanced heart disease. No one had any inkling.

This year more women than men will die from heart disease. In fact, every minute, a woman dies from heart disease. And the symptoms for women aren't always the same as for men. As I learned when the doctor called to explain how she died, heart disease can easily be overlooked for women.

So enjoy Valentine's Day and all the hearts, but here's my ask: Today please ask a woman you love to learn more about heart disease. Learn the symptoms. Learn the risks. Learn prevention. Please don't wait.

Tomorrow I'll bake a cake. I'll open up the box that has some of the old valentines my daddy gave to my mother. And I'll ask the women I love to take better care of themselves.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Elizabeth

P.S. I'm wearing red for heart awareness to my first Senate Banking Committee hearing this morning. I'm excited to get to work leveling the playing field for working families. Thank you for being a part of this.

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Recording Now Available: Women's Heart Health Webinar

We were so thrilled to have hundreds of advocates join us tonight for the 3rd annual State of Women's Heart Health webinar.  Thank you to Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, and Million Hearts initiative Director Dr. Janet Wright for participating in this important discussion about our nation's No. 1 killer of women and the actions we can all take to reduce risk factors and raise awareness. 

If you weren't able to join us for the live chat, or would like to watch it again, you can view the webinar recording here

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You're Invited! State of Women's Heart Health Webinar

Are you ready to kick-off American Heart Month in a big way?  Join us for the 3rd Annual State of Women's Heart Health webinar!  This informative discussion with some of our nation's health leaders- including Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, and Million Hearts initiative Director Dr. Janet Wright- will highlight advances in women's heart health, actions you can take to reduce your risk factors, and ways you can help raise awareness about the No. 1 killer of women. 

Who: YOU

What: A national webinar with the American Heart Association, WomenHeart, and representatives from the Department of Health and Human Services and the Food and Drug Administration.  There will be a Q & A, so come ready with your questions! 

When: Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 4:00 EST (3:00 CST)

Where: Your computer. 

How: Register today!  You will receive a confirmation email with details to join the webinar. 

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“Hello! My name is ____”

It’s time to welcome the 113th Congress!  We all know the best welcomes are personal, so we’re asking You’re the Cure advocates to introduce themselves to their members of Congress by recording a video and uploading it to Facebook.

We’re calling it the “Hello, my name is ____” campaign.  We want your elected officials to know you and your heart or stroke story- and to remember it when they vote this year.  When you record your video, consider using this script (and try to keep your video to about 60 seconds!):

 “Hi my name is [your name] from [City, State].”

 “I am passionate about policy changes that can help improve cardiovascular health in this country because [tell your story].”

 “Now that I’ve shared my story with you, I have one question for you: Will you remember me when you vote this year?”

Watch an example from our National Grassroots Director, Clarissa Garcia:

(Please visit the site to view this video)

Once you’ve recorded your video on your phone, tablet, or camera, save it and upload it to Facebook. To upload your video to Facebook:

  1. Scroll to the top of your Facebook homepage where your status box is.
  2. Click Add Photos/Video.
  3. Click Upload Photos/Video.
  4. Select your video from the location you saved it to on your computer or mobile device.
  5. Write a post for your video.  Make sure to ‘tag’ your Representative and Senators and our American Heart Association: You’re the Cure page!  We recommend using this caption:

Hello, @[Enter your lawmakers names starting with an “@” symbol to tag their accounts], my name is [your name], and I’m an @[American Heart Association: You’re the Cure] advocate. Here’s why I support heart-healthy and stroke-smart public policies. Will you remember me when you vote this year?

(Note: Use our Legislator Search tool to identify your Representative and Senators.  You’ll need to “Like” their Facebook pages in order to ‘tag’ them with your video.)

If you’re unable to upload a video, there’s another easy way to introduce yourself to your legislators. Simply share your story by sending a personalized email today!

As always, if you have any questions, feel free to let us know at advocacydc@heart.org

We can’t wait to see your videos. Thanks for being the cure!

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2012 You're the Cure Federal Recap

As we get ready to welcome the 113th Congress to Capitol Hill in January, we wanted to take a moment to reflect on all of the activity that took place on key heart and stroke issues this year.  In a tough economic environment, You’re the Cure advocates, like you, helped play critical defense to protect funding and programs that support our shared mission of building healthier lives.

We’re also proud to report that over 34,000 new grassroots advocates joined You’re the Cure this year, making our unified voice that much stronger in our communities, our states, and in the nation’s capital.  And what a noise we made!  Advocates took over 350,000 actions this year, from sending emails and making phone calls, to attending events and meeting with lawmakers, and more.   

Thank you for your hard work to influence Congress in 2012.  We’re excited to make even more progress in 2013!

2012 Action

What’s next?

Congress has yet to extend the Medicare Therapy Caps exceptions process, which is critical to ensuring stroke patients on Medicare are able to access and afford the physical, speech and occupational therapies they need. 

The coverage caps on rehabilitation services will kick in on January 1st, unless Congress passes an extension of the exceptions process by the end of the year.  Tell your legislators immediate action is needed for Medicare stroke patients now!

A key provision of the HEART for Women Act was signed into law earlier this year as part of a larger bill extending funding for the Food and Drug Administration! 

The new law requires the FDA to report on how new prescription drugs and medical devices work for women and minorities and to develop an action plan for improving participation in research.  Watch for the FDA’s report and action plan in the next 18 months.

The Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act and key patient-protections continued to take effect.       

As implementation continues toward 2014, when several  key provisions will take effect, the AHA will continue to work to ensure the needs of heart & stroke patients are being met.  Learn more about what the law means for you. 

The fate of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) remains undecided, with the House and Senate yet to reach an agreement  on the reauthorization of the Farm Bill.

As Congress’ work to pass a Farm Bill continues in the 113th Congress, so does our work to protect the FFVP and other nutrition programs from being cut or altered.  Take action in support of fruits and veggies in schools.  

As the Federal government works to negotiate a deal to address the current fiscal situation, funding for National Institutes of Health (NIH) research, Centers for Disease Control (CDC) prevention programs, and the Rural and Community AED program remains in jeopardy. 

If Congress and the President fail to stop automatic across-the-board funding cuts (aka: the ‘sequester’) by the end of the year, research and prevention programs will be cut by 8.2%.  Speak-up today to help prevent cuts!  The President will submit his 2014 budget to Congress in February, from which Congress will negotiate an appropriations bill.  Stay tuned for opportunities to act.

Programs that support walking amd biking in communities, like Safe Routes to School, took a big hit in the Transportation Bill passed and signed into law.  Loopholes now exist that allow states to use previously dedicated walking and biking funding for other transportation projects.   

Communities around the country are now hard at work to ensure that funding is provided for walking and biking projects as the law is implemented.  The Transportation Bill will need to be renewed in two years, presenting an opportunity to regain dedicated funding for bike and pedestrian initiatives.   

Big Tobacco’s efforts to get cigars exempted from the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) authority to regulate tobacco products bill did not succeed this year.

The bill could come up again in the 113th Congress.  We’ll need your help to continue to keep the pressure on Congress to reject efforts to exempt any tobacco products from the FDA’s regulation authority. 

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Life's Simple 7 Facebook Chat with AHA President

Do you know what PAD stands for? How about AFib? Did you know there are seven simple steps that can help you live a heart-healthy life?

Learn more about these conditions and other cardiovascular topics during a Facebook chat on tomorrow at 1:00 EST/12:00 CST with AHA President Dr. Donna Arnett, Ph.D., M.S.P.H. RSVP and submit a question today- http://on.fb.me/VQSUgM

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World Heart Day!

Saturday, September 29, is “World Heart Day,” created by the World Heart Federation to remind everyone around the globe about heart disease and stroke, the No. 1 and No. 2 leading killers worldwide.  American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown issued the following comments in support of this special day:

“On this year’s World Heart Day, the American Heart Association hopes everyone will take a moment to reflect on what each of us can do to fight back against heart disease and stroke – two killers that know no international boundaries.

As a founding member of the World Heart Federation and a proud supporter of this special day, the association welcomes this opportunity to turn the spotlight on efforts to stop cardiovascular disease in its tracks. This year’s focus is on the prevention of cardiovascular disease among women and children.  It is especially timely, as our Go Red For Women campaign is about to celebrate a decade of empowering women to wipe out heart disease. Each year, cardiovascular disease claims the lives of approximately 8.6 million women worldwide. Every 60 seconds, one woman somewhere in the world dies from heart disease or stroke. 

That’s why the American Heart Association has joined forces with the World Heart Federation to build awareness and promote action globally. Today more than 40 countries are engaged in this effort.
World Heart Day is also a time to remember that cardiovascular disease can be conquered by making simple, healthy lifestyle choices. Prevention must be an international priority. To help attain that goal, the association has created a list of seven health factors and health behaviors that are the key to preventing cardiovascular disease. We call them “Life’s Simple 7.”  They are: regular physical activity, healthy diet, avoiding cigarettes and other tobacco products, maintaining a healthy body weight, and controlling blood pressure, blood cholesterol and blood sugar.

A healthy life free of heart disease and stroke is a goal within your reach, no matter where you live. On this World Heart Day, the American Heart Association hopes people everywhere will keep this message in mind throughout the year.”

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Too Much Salt is Putting Our Children’s Health at Risk

Dallas, Texas, Sept. 17, 2012- American Heart Association says New CDC Study Illustrates Need to Limit Sodium in Foods

The American Heart Association says a new study examining the connection between sodium intake and the blood pressure in U.S. children and teens points to the urgent need to limit salt in foods consumed by young people.

The study, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and published in the journal Pediatrics, found that kids between the ages of 8 and 18 were eating an average of 3,387 milligrams a day of sodium. That’s nearly the same amount consumed by adults and more than double the 1,500 daily milligrams recommended by the American Heart Association.

“It’s very disturbing that this nation’s children and teens consume too much salt in their diets at school and home. High blood pressure, once viewed as an adult illness is now affecting more young people because of high sodium diets and increasing obesity,” said Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association. “While new nutrition standards for school meals are helping, progress is slow.  This study strongly underscores the need to move faster because our kids are on an early path to heart attacks and strokes.”

Too much sodium is linked to high blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart disease, stroke and several other serious health problems.  High blood pressure is one of several diseases that once appeared mainly in adults but has become much more common in youths during our childhood obesity epidemic.

The CDC study found that the risk for high blood pressure among overweight and obese youths rose 74 percent for every 1,000 milligrams of increased sodium intake per day. That compared to only a 6 percent increase among normal-weight young people. 

More than 75 percent of sodium in the diets of Americans comes from processed and restaurant foods, as well as beverages. So much sodium in the food supply leaves many youths with little control over how much they consume.

“The salt we all eat daily is becoming a major public health issue and current approaches to sodium reduction in the U.S. have not been effective,” Brown said. “We must make the reduction of sodium a national priority.”

The American Heart Association recommends that the U.S. Department of Agriculture institute strong sodium targets in schools and apply new sodium limits sooner than what is currently required.  The association also has also called on the Food and Drug Administration to decrease the Daily Value for sodium to 1,500 milligrams a day and to set mandatory limits on the sodium content of foods.

 

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Advocate Spotlight! AHA President Donna Arnett

Donna Arnett, Ph.D., MSPH, has worn many hats- nurse, researcher, epidemiologist, volunteer, public health advocate- and now, President of the American Heart Association.  Having dedicated her career to understanding how diseases affect various populations, her leadership, expertise, and passion will be a valuable asset as the AHA continues to work toward its goal of improving the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20 percent while reducing deaths from cardiovascular diseases and stroke by 20 percent, by the year 2020.

In her role as President, Dr. Arnett has made it her mission to encourage every person and group she meets with to take small steps toward a healthier life.  “We know so much about how to protect cardiovascular health and that by following a healthy lifestyle and preventing risk factors from developing, much of cardiovascular disease and stroke can be prevented,” she shared. 

And as a researcher and a concern citizen, Dr. Arnett knows the impact she can have as a You’re the Cure advocate too.  She has been an active advocate for years, helping to educate her lawmakers about the importance of funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which has made much of her research possible, and pushing for policy changes that promote prevention.

“Advocacy is critical for us to reach our 2020 goal.  To make large population changes, we need to have policies that address whole populations, including making healthy foods more available and affordable, creating infrastructure to support physical activity in schools, and making cities more ‘walkable’,” she said.  “And we need NIH research to find the best and most cost-effective treatments for those who already have heart disease or stroke.”

That’s why Dr. Arnett is calling on all AHA volunteers to join the organization’s advocacy efforts.  “It’s fast, easy, and effective.  Combining your voice with the thousands of other AHA voices is a powerful tool, and highlights the foundational principles of our democracy.”

In addition to serving her two-year term as President of the AHA, Dr. Arnett is the Chairperson of the Department of Epidemiology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health.

 

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Updated! 57 Co-sponsors for the HEART for Women Act. Can we get to 100?

Check out the list of current co-sponsors of the Heart disease Education, Awareness, Research, and Treatment (HEART) for Women Act.  These Members of Congress have taken an important step in demonstrating their support for improving the prevention, diagonsis, and treatment of heart disease and stroke in women.

Have your legislators joined the fight against our nation’s No. 1 killer of women yet?

Help us reach 100 Congressional supporters of the HEART for Women Act by asking your elected officials to co-sponsor the bill today!

Current Co-sponsors:

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)

Rep. Mike Ross (D-AR-04)

Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA-23)

Rep. Joe Baca (D-CA-43)

Rep. Janice Hahn (D-CA-36)

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA-09)

Rep. Laura Richardson (D-CA-37)

Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA-39)

Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA-12)

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA-35)

Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA-06)

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT)

Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT-04)

Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC-AL)

Rep. Corrine Brown (D-FL-03)

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL-20)

Rep. Leonard Boswell (D-IA-03)

Rep. Judy Biggert (R-IL-13)

Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL-02)

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL-09)

Rep. Robert Dold (R-IL-10)

Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN-06)

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME)

Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME)

Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD)

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD-07)

Sen. John Kerry (D-MA)

Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA-07)

Rep. James McGovern (D-MA-03)

Rep. John Olver (D-MA-01)

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)

Rep. Hansen Clarke (D-MI-13)

Rep. John Conyers (D-MI-14)

Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN-04)

Rep. William Clay (R-MO-01)

Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-MO-03)

Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ)

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ)

Rep. Albio Sires (D-NJ-13)

Rep. Gary L. Ackerman (D-NY-05)

Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY-18)

Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY-17)

Rep. Brian Higgins (D-NY-27)

Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY-02)

Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY-14)

Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY-28)

Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC)

Rep. David Price (D-NC-04)

Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH-09)

Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-PA-06)

Rep. Todd Platts (R-PA-19)

Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD)

Rep. Charlie Gonzalez (D-TX-20)

Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-TX-16)

Rep. James Moran (D-VA-08)

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA-05)

Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI-04)

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Senator Patty Murray Recognizes the AHA

Washington Senator Patty Murray took time out of her busy schedule to formally recognize the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women campaign! Go Red had worked with the Defense Department to raise awareness about heart disease with female members of the Armed Forces. You can see her full statement below.

June 19, 2012

Mrs. MURRAY. M. President, as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, I would like to take a moment to recognize the Department of Veterans Affairs and the American Heart Association for their work to raise awareness about the dangers of cardiovascular disease amongst our nation’s women veterans and servicemembers.

VA’s dedicated work on cardiovascular disease has successfully decreased the gaps between men and women veterans in heart disease prevention outcomes. However, as cardiovascular disease remains the number one killer of women, I applaud VA and the American Heart Association’s “Go Red for Women” campaign for partnering under the First Lady’s “Joining Forces” initiative to raise awareness and promote prevention amongst our nation’s female veterans. I am pleased to see VA focus its efforts on educating women veterans through an online fitness and nutrition program and an online support network to connect women with other women who share similar experiences.

Today, women serve in every branch of the military. Women represent fifteen percent of our nation’s active duty military and they are the fastest growing population within the veteran community. The number of women veterans is expected to increase to 2 million in 2020 and with this projected increase it is critical that VA remain responsive to the unique needs of women.

Nearly one in two women, 44.4 percent, will die of heart disease and stroke. We must ensure that women receive equal access to VA health care benefits and services. This partnership between VA and the American Heart Association is a great step toward ensuring that women are educated on the dangers of cardiovascular disease and provided with the resources necessary to prevent it.

Mr. President, I applaud the collaboration between VA and the American Heart Association to raise awareness and increase prevention efforts on an issue that affects so many of our nation’s women veterans and civilian women throughout our country.

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Statement from HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on National High Blood Pressure Education Month

May is National High Blood Pressure Education Month and Stroke Awareness Month. It makes sense to observe both in the same month because when you control your blood pressure, you reduce your risk of stroke —the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. Unfortunately, 1 in 3 U.S. adults—an estimated 68 million of us—have high blood pressure, also called hypertension. This “silent killer” can damage the heart, brain, and kidneys without a single symptom.

Right now, half of those Americans with high blood pressure still don’t have it adequately controlled. African Americans are at particular risk—often having more severe hypertension, and developing it at younger ages.

Each year, more than 795,000 Americans have a stroke and more than 130,000 people in the United States die every year after a stroke—an average of one stroke-related death every 4 minutes.

Together, the financial costs of high blood pressure and stroke are staggering: annual costs of hypertension are $156 billion, with medical costs accounting for nearly $131 billion and lost productivity from illness and premature death of about $25 billion a year. Annual stroke costs to the nation are more than a billion dollars a week.

Fortunately, there are some things in life you can control—and blood pressure is one.

Helping Americans with high blood pressure get it under control to reduce strokes and other forms of cardiovascular disease is a high priority for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and through our national Million Hearts initiative, we are making a difference. Co-led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services—and in collaboration with many other government and private partners—we aim to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes by 2017.

Million Hearts is working to reduce high blood pressure with a one-two punch; the first, focusing health care professionals, health systems, insurers, employers, and individuals on the link between good blood pressure control and good health and, the second, encouraging all Americans to know their blood pressure, monitor it regularly, and talk with their doctor, nurse, pharmacist, or community health worker about how to keep it in the normal range. From diet and physical activity to medications, there are easy, effective and economical ways to measure, routinely monitor, and control blood pressure.

Million Hearts is supported by the many improvements to health care provided by the health care law, the Affordable Care Act, which now strengthens the prevention of stroke by ensuring that many adult patients receive preventive services, including blood pressure screenings, at no cost.

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Advocate Spotlight! Missouri Doctor Speaks-Up for Safe Routes to School on Capitol Hill

Dr. Jim Blaine of Springfield, MO, knows the importance of prevention. As the Medical Director of the Ozark Technical Community College Health & Wellness Clinic, he has seen cardiovascular events decrease over the last four years by helping patients focus on diet, exercise, and taking the proper medication to manage heart disease and stroke risk factors. And it is the theme of prevention that helped him make a strong case for the Safe Route to School program when he came to Washington, DC on March 7th.

With funding threats to the Safe Routes to School program looming, Dr. Blaine and 16 fellow advocates brought their message about the need for safe, walk-able and bike-able communities from their hometowns to the halls of Congress. Armed with letters of support from local business, education, and government leaders, Dr. Blaine met with Senator Roy Blunt and Representative Billy Long, as well as staff from Senator Claire McCaskill’s office.

“This is a very worthwhile project and, thanks to the AHA, we had an enjoyable and, hopefully, effective DC experience,” said Dr. Blaine.

On March 29th, both the House and the Senate passed a 90 extension of the current transportation bill, giving Members until June 30th to reach an agreement. The American Heart Association will continue to advocate for Safe Routes to School funding to be included in the final package.

Read Dr. Blaine’s interview with his local paper about advocating for Safe Route to School.

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New Ads are a Compelling Weapon in the Fight Against Smoking

Washington, D.C., Mar. 15, 2012 — American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown issued the following comments on the new National Tobacco Education Campaign, unveiled today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

“The CDC’s new tobacco education campaign could not come at a better time. The painfully real accounts of former smokers featured in these ads will focus public attention on the devastating health effects of tobacco use, encourage current smokers to quit and help strongly combat the tobacco industry’s efforts to foster a new generation of addicts.

About one-third of smoking-related deaths in the United States are linked to cardiovascular disease. The stories of two Americans included in this campaign, who suffered from a heart attack and a stroke as a result of smoking, are harrowing examples of how tobacco can ruin an individual’s health. The ads highlight a shocking but very realistic fate that could await some current smokers if they continue their tobacco addiction. As the ads emphasize, smoking contributes to 1 in 5 strokes, and your chances of having a heart attack increase every time you light up.

The Surgeon General’s report released last week points to strong evidence that tobacco-education media campaigns can help reduce the number of smokers in this country. The American Heart Association believes these graphic ads, coupled with vigorous tobacco control at the state level, will reach not only the adults who smoke, but also will break through to teens and discourage them from ever taking up this deadly habit.”

Visit the CDC website or click the video below to see these compelling ads for yourself!

 

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White House Leaders Briefing Wrap-Up Video

On February 24th, 70 American Heart Association volunteers descended into Washington, D.C. to meet with top Obama Administration officials to discuss cardiovascular health in their communities. This Community Leaders Briefing on Cardiovascular Health was an once-in-a-lifetime event for many advocates from across this country to share their views and personal stories with the President’s staff.

Want to see how the event went and what our volunteers thought about their time at the White House? Click here to see a wrap-up video.

 

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13 Year-Old Advocate Talks about his White House Experience

13 year old You’re the Cure advocate Emery Miller talked to his local news station about his experience at the White House Community Leaders Briefing on Cardiovascular Health on February 24th. Emery was born with a congenital heart defect and has had four open heart surgeries since birth. He is scheduled to have his fifth surgery later this spring and told his story to top Obama officials.

Click to watch his video!

 

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White House Community Leaders Briefing Recap!

The American Heart Association’s advocacy volunteers are called You’re the Cure advocates for a reason. On February 24th, 70 outstanding volunteers brought their passion, stories, and expertise to the White House for the Community Leaders Briefing on Cardiovascular Health. This special event was an important opportunity for high level administration officials to hear from heart disease and stroke patients, caregivers, medical professionals, and community health leaders and discuss the role of public policy in building healthier lives free of cardiovascular disease and stroke.

The most powerful part of the day was the town hall meeting with Jon Carson, White House Director of Public Engagement, as advocates spoke-up to share their stories, such as:

  • Dr. Willie Lawrence, a cardiologist from Kansas, who described saving a woman’s life using hands-only CPR while dining out the night before the event. He stressed the need for a public trained in CPR and improved access to AEDs.
  • Emery Miller, a teenage congenital heart defect survivor from Arizona, who talked about his upcoming fifth heart surgery and his efforts to inspire other youth in his community to not let challenges hold them back.
  • Ruth Caruthers, a caregiver from West Virginia, who expressed the pain of losing her infant son, Corbin, to heart defects last year. In his honor, she is now leading an advocacy effort to get her state legislature to pass a bill that would require every newborn to be tested for heart defects.

Other event highlights included:

  •  An East Wing tour of the White House.
  • Listening sessions on the Million Hearts Initiative, the Affordable Care Act, National Institutes of Health research, and efforts to reduce health disparities.
  • A “tweet-up” with advocates and Jon Carson.
  • Roundtable discussions on clean air policy, childhood obesity and nutrition policy, and tobacco control policy.

The commitment of our volunteers shined throughout the event as they asked the tough questions and spoke about their local advocacy work. The American Heart Association looks forward to a continued dialogue with the administration as we work to advance heart-healthy and stroke-smart legislation and regulations.

Follow all of the action as it happened on Storify!

For more event pictures, visit www.flickr.com/amheartadvocacy.

 

 

 

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Highlights from White House Town Hall

You’re the Cure advocates and AHA volunteers have had an exciting day participating in the White House Community Leaders Briefing on Cardiovascular Health on February 24, 2012. During the town hall session led by Director of Public Engagement, Jon Carson, some very powerful stories were shared. Here are some highlights.

• Lisa Deck, a three-time stroke survivor in her 30s, shared her story and asked how survivors like her can help the administration spread the word about the Affordable Care Act.

• Dr. Willie Lawrence, a cardiologist practicing in Kansas City, KS shared his incredible experience of saving a woman while dining out in D.C. the night before the event. CPR saved the life of an otherwise healthy woman who collapsed in the restaurant.

• Emery Miller, 13 year old youth advocate from Phoenix, AZ, shared his story of being born with a congenital heart defect. Throughout his young life, Emery has had four open heart surgeries, and his fifth is scheduled not long after returning home from Washington, D.C.

• Ruth Caruthers shared her heart-breaking story having lost her son Corbin just four-months after birth due to multiple heart defects. Ruth has worked tirelessly as an advocate to support legislation in West Virginia that would require pulse oximetry screening for all newborns. This inexpensive test can detect heart defects and save lives. The legislation has already passed the House and now moves on to the Senate for consideration.

These are just a few of the stories shared at the town hall. Jon Carson closed the event by sharing that although several other similar briefings have been held the Cardiovascular Health session was the most impactful. Great work You’re the Cure advocates and AHA volunteers!

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You’re Invited to the White House- Virtually!

Friday, February 24th is the big day for the White House Community Leaders Briefing on Cardiovascular Health and we want you to be in on all of the action! The White House will be live streaming the event from 9:00am to 12:00pm EST and you can tune in to hear from top Administration officials about the legislation, regulations, and initiatives being pursued to help fight our nation’s No. 1 and No. 4 killers, heart disease and stroke. To watch this event live, visit www.whitehouse.gov/live.

“The American Heart Association and WomenHeart are key partners in our efforts to win the fight against heart disease and educate people about this critical public health challenge,” said Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement Jon Carson. “We’re looking forward to having them here at the White House to discuss ways to take action against a disease that takes the lives of over half a million Americans every year.” Read the White House’s full press release about the event.

You can also follow updates and join in day’s discussion through Twitter and Facebook:

1) Follow the @AmHeartAdvocacy Twitter feed and share your own thoughts and comments using the #HeartAtTheWH hashtag. From 3:30-4:15, Jon Carson (@JonCarson44), Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, will host a Tweet-Up with AHA volunteer-advocates to answer questions, so be sure to join us!

2) Follow event highlights through posts, pictures, and videos on the You’re the Cure Facebook page. Comment, share, and post your own thoughts about this special event.

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Minnesota Volunteer Briefs Local Media before White House Visit

Minnesota You’re the Cure advocate Stevie Nelson stopped by a local news station and told his story about surving a stroke and his upcoming trip to Washington, D.C. for the White House Community Leaders Briefing on Cardiovascular Health.

After surviving a stroke, Nelson found a new life mission by volunteering with the American Heart Association and will sharing his story with top Obama Administration Officials tomorrow in D.C.

Watch his appearance now!

 

 

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Three You’re the Cure Advocates Go to the Media to Talk about Heart Attacks in Women

Three You’re the Cure advocates were recently highlighted in two ABC News spots talking about a recent study that showed younger women who have heart attacks do not always experience chest pain during the event and the attack can be more deadly as a result.

Gail Harris-Berry was profiled on a story that aired on ABC News with Diane Sawyer, where she was turned down by multiple hospitals because she didn’t show the “classic” heart attack symptons.

Tami Kimet told her story to ABCNEWS.com, where she went to the hospital to get relief from what she thought was the flu but instead received life-saving surgery due to a heart attack. In the same article, Dr. Malissa Wood explains how younger women tend not to recognize the signs of a heart attack, but the effects of one can be devastating.

Both Gail and Dr. Wood will be attending the White House Community Leaders Briefing on Cardiovascular Health this Friday, where they will share their stories and experiences with top Obama Administration officials.

Check out Gail Harris-Berry’s story and click here to see Tami’s story and Dr. Wood’s advice on how to recognize the signs of a heart attack in younger women.

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American Heart Association Volunteers Head to the White House

On February 24th, 70 American Heart Association volunteers will be coming to Washington, DC to attend the White House Community Leaders Briefing on Cardiovascular Health. This special event brings Administration officials together with heart disease and stroke survivors and caregivers, medical professionals, researchers, and community health advocates.

In addition to sharing their own personal stories and professional expertise, attendees will have the opportunity to hear about legislation, regulations, and initiatives the Administration has supported and is implementing to help improve cardiovascular health. The range of topics includes:

You can be in the loop during this important event too! Check out the ways to engage with the American Heart Association, your fellow advocates, and the White House:

  1. Watch the event LIVE! From 9:00 am-12:00 pm EST, the White House will be live streaming the event at www.whitehouse.gov/live. Tune in to hear from top administration officials about the legislation, regulations, and initiatives being pursued to help fight heart disease and stroke. White House Director of Public Engagement Jon Carson will take live questions during a Tweet-Up from 3:30-4:15 pm EST. Follow him at @JonCarson44 and use the hashtag #HeartAtTheWH to join the discussion!
  2. Follow live event highlights on Twitter and Facebook! We’ll be posting updates, pictures, and videos throughout the day. Join us by sharing, re-tweeting, commenting, and posting. Don’t forget to use the event’s official hashtag- #HeartAtTheWH- to join in the conversation.
  3. Help us deliver our message to the White House! You can ask questions about the heart disease and stroke issues above and share your story with the White House through social media. Post to the White House Facebook page or direct your tweets to @WhiteHouse.
  4. Get the scoop from those who were there! Visit the You’re the Cure blog and the White House blog in the days following the event for event recaps and observations from your fellow advocates who attended.

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All Americans Will Bear the Pain of Prevention Fund Cut, Says AHA CEO

American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown issued the following comments on the payroll tax extension legislation, approved today by Congress, which includes a 30 percent cut to the Prevention and Public Health Fund:

“By diverting crucial dollars away from the Prevention and Public Health Fund to support the payroll tax extension, Congress has taken an action that could adversely affect the health of all Americans.

In the next 20 years, 40 percent of the U.S. population will have some form of cardiovascular disease. By 2030, the combined medical costs and lost productivity due to these diseases is projected to triple to $1 trillion, resulting in a devastating impact on the health of Americans and the U.S. economy.

One of the best ways to avert this crisis is to invest money now in programs that propel the use of widely recognized prevention measures, such as not smoking, maintaining a healthy body weight and exercising. This fund provides support for programs that can help Americans adopt these healthy habits, and ultimately drive down our nation’s rising healthcare costs.

Investing in prevention will help keep our economy strong and help Americans get healthy. The American Heart Association remains a strong supporter of the Prevention and Public Health Fund, and we urge Congress and the administration to protect it from future cuts.”

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Postal Service Unveils Heart Health Stamp

History was made today. Right in the midst of American Heart Month, the United States Postal Service unveiled a new Heart Health Forever® stamp during a commemorative ceremony in Washington, DC. The stamp was designed to help raise awareness of the nation’s No. 1 killer, heart disease. Since 2001, the American Heart Association has been advocating for this stamp and today the USPS delivered.

“We want to thank the United States Postal Service for creating this exciting new stamp that will help us advance our mission to build healthier lives free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke,” said Barry Franklin, Ph.D., Chairman of the American Heart Association National Advocacy Coordinating Committee. “This stamp is a reminder to all Americans that embracing healthier lifestyle changes today can improve all your tomorrows.”

U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe and Dr. Stuart Seides, Executive Director of MedStar each spoke about the importance of the new stamp and how the image communicates the feelings of wellness and vitality that comes from physical activity and a well-balanced diet.

You can pick up your Heart Health Forever® stamp at the post office today and begin spreading heart health awareness whenever you mail a letter, a birthday card or even your electric bill!

Also, click here to watch a short clip from the ceremony!

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Pulse Oximetry Screening: Simple Heart Test that Could Save Newborns’ Lives

Today marks the beginning of Congenital Heart Defects Awareness Week—a great time to draw attention to a non-invasive screening test that helps identify newborns at risk for heart defects and potentially saves their lives. The test, pulse oximetry, or pulse ox, consists of sensors placed on a baby’s hand and foot to check blood oxygen levels. If their levels are too low, additional tests are conducted to detect critical or possibly life-threatening heart defects that might otherwise be missed. With congenital heart defects considered to be the leading cause of birth-defect related deaths in the U.S., new research suggests wider use of pulse ox screening could help identify more than 90 percent of heart defects.

U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius has suggested that critical congenital heart defects screening be added to the “Recommended Uniform Screening Panel” for newborns before they are released from a hospital or birthing facility. To achieve this goal, association staff and volunteers are working in states across the country to enact pulse ox screening policies that will allow babies with heart defects to live longer and fuller lives. Thanks to the work of association advocates and key stakeholders, New Jersey, Maryland and Indiana have all recently passed laws requiring newborns to have pulse ox screenings prior to being discharged from the hospital. In New Jersey, just hours after their law took effect, a newborn’s life was saved.

The American Heart Association will continue its efforts to educate key decision makers and the public about the critical role pulse ox screening plays in improving early diagnosis for newborns. We will also work to increase funding for support and educational services, enhance scientific research in this area, and expand access to quality care for the nation’s children

To learn more about congenital heart defects and pulse ox screening policies in your state, visit You’re the Cure today!

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A Heart Month Push for Prevention

Heart disease, stroke and other forms of cardiovascular disease are leading killers in every state, but proven prevention programs can save countless lives. Sadly, many states don’t have the money they need to help people prevent these diseases. An increase in funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Program could help states put proven prevention strategies to work.

Members of Congress are outlining their 2013 funding priorities right now, and they need to hear from you. We’re asking for support of a $20 million increase for the program. Nine states currently receive no funding at all for this life-saving program, and many of the states that do receive money still don’t have the funds needed to effectively implement prevention techniques. The additional dollars would allow all states to receive support for prevention programs and would allow some states to increase their efforts to combat two of our nation’s leading causes of death.

The Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Program focuses on the ABC’S of prevention, appropriate aspirin therapy, controlling blood pressure and cholesterol, and stopping or avoiding smoking. Prevention works- a recent study found that people who avoid high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol and diabetes, do not smoke, and maintain a healthy weight my add 10 years to their lives.

We can prevent heart disease and stroke. But we need Congress to increase the funding for the proven CDC Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Program.

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State Spotlight! NC Youth Advocates Discuss Prevention with Surgeon General

When U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin visited North Carolina on January 27th, our You’re the Cure youth advocates were ready to talk prevention with “America’s Doctor”. The Surgeon General, who was in the state to promote the National Prevention Strategy, participated in a town hall meeting with local health directors and teen tobacco use prevention advocates to discuss “What Will It Take to Keep Our Kids Tobacco Free.”

After the town hall, our youth advocates joined Dr. Benjamin and other health advocates for a statewide teleconference about the importance of continuing tobacco control programs and enhancing obesity prevention programs. The call was hosted by the NC Alliance for Health, a statewide coalition the AHA is proud to be a part of.

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Now Available: State of Women’s Heart Health Webinar Recording

The archive of the 2nd annual State of Women’s Heart Health webinar, held on February 1st, is now available. Click here to access the call recording and slides. The American Heart Association and WomenHeart were thrilled to be joined by some of our nation’s leading health experts and inspirational survivor-advocates to discuss the latest in cardiovascular research and prevention. Webinar presenters included:

  • Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius
  • U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin
  • Environmetal Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson
  • Dr. Nanette Kass Wenger, Chief of Cardiology, Grady Memorial Hospital
  • Dr. Janet Wright, Million Hearts Executive Director
  • Rolanda Perkins, survivor-advocate, Go Red spokeswoman
  • Gail Mates, survivor-advocate, Go Red spokeswoman

Answers to some of the questions posed by participants during the webinar will be posted soon.

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Secretary Sebelius Recognizes American Heart Month

To mark the start of American Heart Month, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius released a statement today. “The Department of Health and Human Services is working with both public and private partners to raise awareness of heart disease through vital research investments and public health programs,” she said, noting the launch of the Million Hearts initiative, The Heart Truth campaign, the First Lady’s Let’s Move initiative, and the ongoing implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Read the Secretary’s full statement here.

Don’t forget to tune into the State of Women’s Heart Health national webinar tonight to hear from Secretary Sebelius, Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, EPA Adminstrator Lisa Jackson and more about the latest in cardiovascular research and prevention!

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Heart Month Presidential Proclamation

On January 31st, President Obama signed a promclamation declaring Febrauary 2012 as American Heart Month. In addition to urging all Americans to take the steps nessary to reduce their risk of cardiovacular disease, the President encouraged men and women across the country to observe National Wear Red Day on Friday, February 3. Read the full proclamation here.

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14 Year-Old Advocates of CPR Graduation Requirement

It doesn’t matter how old you are, you can make a difference. Ask 14 year old Tommy Watson. He recently traveled to the Vermont state capital to advocate for a law to require CPR as a graduation requirement.

This bill has the support of the American Heart Association and would require all students to know how to administer CPR and use defibrillators. Only Iowa has a similar law already on the books.

“You can give someone a chance for survival, which is very important,” Watson said in a NECN news story.

Click the here to see Tommy Watson advocating for this important cause!

Is your state CPR Smart? Find out and take the pledge today!

 

 

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Health and Human Services Year in Review

Check out this video below from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that recaps 2011. In this video, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius speaks about the Million Hearts Campaign, which the American Heart Association is a proud member. The Campaign aims to prevent one million heart attacks and strokes over the next five years.

Click to see the video!

 

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Prevention Fund Remains Intact But Could Continue to Face Threats

The Affordable Care Act created the Prevention and Public Health Fund (Fund), which represents an unprecedented investment in programs that help keep Americans healthy. If left untouched, the Fund will provide $15 billion over 10 years to state and community efforts to prevent illness and promote healthy living. The programs supported by the Fund focus on issues that are important to the American Heart Association (AHA), such as increasing physical activity, improving nutrition, preventing and reversing childhood obesity, and preventing tobacco use.

Since the Fund has been enacted, some Members of Congress have disagreed about the value of investing in Prevention. To counter this argument, the AHA participated in “An Ounce of Prevention” Advocacy Day in December, aimed at educating lawmakers on the importance of prevention funding and asking for their support to protect and preserve the Fund. Thirty-eight groups participated in the event and met with staff of 72 members of Congress.

The good news is that the Fund survived 2011 and remains intact– for the moment. The bad news is that it will continue to be a target for cuts. In addition, the Fund will be subject to automatic funding cuts in 2013 that were negotiated last year

AHA will continue to work with our partners to preserve this important source of funding that can help move this nation from a focus on sickness and disease to one based on wellness and prevention.

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CDC Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Programs

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Program and its WISEWOMAN will each receive the same amount of funding in FY 2012 as they did in FY 2011. In this fiscal environment, this so called “level funding,” is considered a victory. In addition, Congress rejected the President’s proposal to consolidate chronic disease programs on: heart disease and stroke, WISEWOMAN, diabetes prevention, arthritis, school health, and physical, nutrition and obesity. So, for now, the Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Program and WISEWOMAN will remain stand-alone programs. But, the CDC can pursue consolidation on its own and we expect the President’s 2013 budget to include a similar consolidation plan, as in his FY 2012 proposal. And, these programs would each be subject to a 9% cut in 2013 as a result of the failure of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction and the budget caps required under 2011 Budget Control Act for FY 2013.

The Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Program is a state-based competitive initiative that helps Americans, particularly underserved populations, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, learn heart disease and stroke signs and symptoms, improve emergency response and quality of care, and end treatment disparities. WISEWOMAN, a state-based competitive initiative, helps uninsured and under-insured low-income women avoid heart disease and stroke by providing preventive health services, referrals to local health care providers, as needs, and lifestyle counseling and interventions tailored to their identified risk factors. Please watch the Advocacy Pulse for action alerts on these initiatives to help in expanding these programs to additional states.

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The fight against our nation’s number one killer – cardiovascular disease – can’t be limited to treatment, it must include prevention.  Strategies that detect risk factors for disease and encourage healthier lifestyles are not luxuries – they’re lifesavers. That’s why we’re advocating for:

                Sufficient Funding for CDC Programs

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), our nation’s prevention agency, created the Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention to establish programs that would reduce deaths and disability related to heart disease and stroke. Due to underfunding only 14 states receive funding from the CDC for prevention programs – funding that amounts to a mere 16 cents per person per year.  That’s why we’re advocating for a comprehensive funding solution that extends across the entire country. 

WISEWOMAN

WISEWOMAN (Well-Integrated Screening and Evaluation of Women Across the Nation), screens low-income, uninsured women ages 40-64 for heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular disease risk and provides them with disease counseling, education, referral and follow-up. Today it’s only offered to women in 21 states, but additional funding could ensure it reaches more.

By getting involved you can help us support vital CDC prevention programs across the United States so that no one misses out on resources that can help keep their lives free of cardiovascular disease and stroke.

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Facts and Figures

  • pdf icon
    Facts: January 2013 AHA Policy Report

    Find all of AHA's Policy Position statements on various issues with this "at-a-glance" report entitled the Policy Report.

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    Facts: Preventative Services in the Medicaid Program

    Get the facts about preventative services in the Medicaid Program.

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  • pdf icon
    Facts: Women & CVD

    Get the facts about the leading cause of death of American women & policies to improve prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.

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  • pdf icon
    Figures: CDC Per Capita Investment in CVD Prevention

    Learn how much CDC funding is spent per person in your state to prevent our nation's No. 1 killer.

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  • pdf icon
    Facts: CDC Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Program

    Get the facts about the Centers for Disease Control's Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Program.

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  • pdf icon
    Facts: The Value of Prevention

    Get the facts about the importance of investing in and protecting funding for CVD prevention.

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    Facts: Coverage of Tobacco Cessation Services

    Get the facts about public and private insurance coverage for services that help smokers quit. 

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Campaign Resources

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    Presentation: Communicating with Congress

    View the slides from the recent presentation entitled Communicating with Congress: How to turn a 10-Minute Meeting with a Legislator into a Life-Long Relationship

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Grassroots Toolkit

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    You're the Cure Sign-Up Form - Prevention

    Recruit others to join you as a You’re the Cure advocate using this printable sign-up form.

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    You're the Cure Advocate Guide

    Use this guide to learn about more ways you can get involved as a You’re the Cure advocate.

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