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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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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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“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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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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State Spotlight! PA Makes Strides in Improving Stroke Care

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett helped cap off a successful Stroke Month by signing critical legislation that will help improve stroke care across his state. This exciting win would not have been possible without the dedication of You’re the Cure advocates, who have been working to pass stroke legislation in the state for more than six years.

The new law, which directs the Department of Health to recognize hospitals which have achieved national certification for stroke care and requires the Department’s Bureau of EMS to adopt specific measures to promote better response rates and quality of care for stroke patients, takes effect on July 28th.

It was the drum beat of grassroots advocates that kept the bill alive in the state legislature. Since May 2011, they sent over 3,600 emails to their legislators and attended nearly 100 face-to-face meetings. Advocates even gathered at the state capital in February to make sure the issue was front and center in lawmakers minds.

Cindy Flynn, a four-time stroke survivor and the 2011 National Survivor-Advocate of the Year– was instrumental in convincing the Senate Majority Leader to be a champion for legislation. His support was critical to getting the bill across the finish line.

The AHA/ASA is also proud of the partnerships formed throughout the campaign, including the Hospital and Healthsystem Association and the Penn State Hershey Medical Center.

Congratulations to the entire Pennsylvania You’re the Cure team who demonstrated to all of us that persistence pays off!

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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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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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[+] Blogs[-] Collapse

Did you know that in the United States someone dies from cardiovascular disease every 39 seconds? Or that every 40 seconds someone suffers a stroke? Time is of the essence in treating cardiovascular and stroke conditions. Yet, in far too many cases a fragmented care system prevents patients from receiving the treatments that can save their lives. American Heart Association and American Stroke Association advocates are working to reverse this trend by supporting:

Systems of Care for Acute Cardiovascular Conditions

This is especially important with acute cardiovascular conditions like ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) heart attacks, sudden cardiac arrest and stroke. However, time and again many patients do not receive adequate care because ambulances and hospitals are not properly equipped.

We advocate that 911 systems will be prepared to provide appropriate medical guidance over the phone and quickly dispatch emergency personnel; EMS will be adequately equipped and trained on how to effectively triage and treat heart attack, sudden cardiac arrest and stroke patients; and hospitals will be able to quickly and effectively treat the patient utilizing guidelines based therapies and technologies. 

Stroke

If treatment is sought within the first 3 to 4.5 hours, of possible stroke symptoms the clot-dissolving drug tPA is can significantly reducing disability. Unfortunately, only 3 – 8.5% of eligible stroke patients receive this therapy.

We support subacute stroke care that can help reduce the risk of death by 40%.

We advocate for systems of stroke care like patient rehabilitation that support victims from symptom onset, all the way through recovery.  

Join us in supporting better systems of care in our communities by taking action today!

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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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  • pdf icon
    Facts: Congenital Heart Defects

    Get the facts about congenital heart defects and the need to establish mandatory screening processes.   

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  • pdf icon
    Facts: Sudden Cardiac Arrest

    Get the facts about sudden cardiac arrest and policies to ensure victims are able to receive immediate CPR and defibrillation.

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  • pdf icon
    Facts: Primary Stroke Centers

    Get the facts about improving stroke systems of care through the establishment of primary stroke centers. 

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  • pdf icon
    Facts: Systems of Care for Cardiovascular Conditions

    Get the facts about coordinated health care delivery systems that can improve outcomes for patients.

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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 - Systems of Care

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

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  • pdf icon
    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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