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On Friday, September 9th, several New York advocates participated in an event sponsored by the White House, titled "Making Health Care Better Series: Cardiovascular Health."  The day-long forum offered an opportunity for volunteers to directly witness the impact of the American Heart Association's mission. 

The group was invited on a special tour of the White House prior to the briefing which provided an exciting glimpse into the history of the Presidency.  You can see many highlights from the tour on the American Heart Association's social media feed by searching with the tag #HeartAtTheWH.

In addition to the tour, the group joined advocates from across the country for a robust overview from our nation's leaders in heart disease and stroke prevention, care and treatment.  Presenters included Dr. Tom Frieden, Director of the CDC, Dr. Gary Gibbons, Director of NHLBI, Dr. Nancy Lee, Assistant Secretary of Health, Dr. Shari Ling, Deputy Chief Medical Officer for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and Debra Eschmeyer, the Executive Director of the First Lady's "Let's Move" initiative. 

The New York delegation was also briefed by national leadership from several organizations who have a vested interest in our mission against heart disease and stroke.  The American Heart Association's own CEO, Nancy Brown, presented on the progress made so far in the effort to promote health across the country.  She was joined by executives from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, YMCA USA, WomenHeart, the Horizon Foundation and Emory University.

With all of these impressive leaders in one room, perhaps the most impactful presentation was from a panel of heart disease and stroke survivors.  These personal stories of survival were at once inspiring and motivating.  While we have come a long way in our mission, there is still a lot of work to be done.

We are grateful for the many volunteers that attended from across the country. New York was well represented by:

* Annette Adamczak - Volunteer Advocate and one of New York's Premier Voices in Support of CPR & AED Training

* Dr. Mitchell Elkind - Professor of Neurology and Epidemiology, Fellowships Director, Department of Neurology, Columbia University

* Liz Elting - CEO, TransPerfect and New York City Go Red For Women Leader

* Janice Hall - Senior Vice President, Global Sales Capability at The Estée Lauder Companies Inc. and NYC Go Red For Women Corporate Chair

* William LaForte - Real Estate Attorney, Trevett Cristo Salzer & Andolina P.C. and Chair-Elect of the Founders Affiliate Board of Directors

* Wendy Mono - Volunteer Advocate and Chair Emeritus of the New York City Advocacy Committee

* Dr. Cheryl Pegus - Clinical Professor of Medicine and Population Health, Director, Division of General Internal Medicine and Clinical Innovation, Associate Chair for Clinical Innovation, NYU School of Medicine                    

* Dr. Stacey Rosen - Vice President, Women's Health, Katz Institute for Women's Health at Northwell Health and NYC Go Red for Women Medical Chair

The American Heart Association is grateful for the support of these wonderful advocates.  We look forward to putting the lessons learned at the White House to good use for all New Yorkers!

Photo Credit: Stu Mono

Nearly 3.4 million people across Texas have little or no access to healthy food like fruits and vegetables. These same neighborhoods often struggle with high rates of unemployment and diet-related chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease.

Even in cities like Austin, Texas – ranked #2 Among Best Places to Live in the US, according to U.S. News & World Report, March 2016. Without access to healthy food, a nutritious diet and good health is out of reach.

Healthy food financing programs can help. These programs can help local grocers to open, expand, and improve grocery stores and corner stores in neighborhoods that need food and jobs the most. 

Healthy food financing programs are also good for the economy. They create jobs for people living in the neighborhood, create markets for farmers, and have the potential to lower health care costs.

Watch our new video for real food access stories from Austin residents.

Is healthy food access a challenge for you or your loved ones? Would you like to improve healthy food access for individuals across the state? Sign up at Yourethecure.org to get involved!

- Christina Holch, Campaign Director

Contact Christina Holch at christina.holch@heart.org

The reasons I volunteer are quite varied, but long before I knew what the American Heart Association was, I knew that I supported their mission to end heart disease. 

Heart disease has been part of life since elementary school when my father had his first heart attack, while driving with my younger brother. Fortunately he was able to get the care he needed at the time, but it was the beginning of his lifetime battle with heart disease and my commitment to the cure.  Watching the impact heart disease has had on my father’s quality of life motivates me to do everything I can to prevent heart disease in myself and others.

Since becoming a father, my commitment to the prevention and cure of heart disease has only grown stronger, so that my son will not have to spend his childhood worrying about the health of his father. I have used the resources of AHA to improve my own health, and I know that their advocacy for healthier school meals and quality physical education will improve the lives of my son and his friends.

While a longstanding personal connection to heart disease was the first thing that motivated me to support AHA, it isn’t the only thing. AHA’s promotion of CPR instruction for all has been important to me for a number of years.

It has been more than 20 years, but I will never forget witnessing a man collapse -and later die- in a large crowd of people. Although many people saw the man’s collapse, and 911 was called immediately, no one in the crowd began CPR. The feelings of helplessness -and the man’s inconsolable son- as we waited for EMS to arrive are still vivid in my mind today. While I do not know how long it was before help arrived, I still wonder if he would have survived if someone in the crowd was able to perform CPR while we waited.

Prevention of heart disease, emergency response and access to care for managing heart disease are all incredibly important to me, and AHA is leading the fight in all of those areas. For those reasons and many more I’m always happy to be a You’re the Cure advocate.

No one in Prince George’s County is more passionate about heart health than Gail Harris-Berry. Since becoming a You’re the Cure advocate in 2012, Gail has worked hard to keep her friends, family, and community informed on how to live a heart healthy life.

Gail has been an active Prince George’s County resident since 1969. She spends her time assisting senior citizens, as well as serving as an ordained minister. Her role as a minister gives her the opportunity to speak with community members and share her amazing story, which you can learn about HERE. As an American Heart Association ambassador, she frequently speaks to local government leaders, and advocates for CPR in Schools and the need for more comprehensive studies of heart disease among women.

Gail believes in being proactive about her heart health. To her, an ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure.

“Because we live so long, it is important to be as healthy as possible, to truly enjoy that time and enjoy the highest quality of life possible. Be proactive in preventing disease; not reactive. The benefits will come.” 

As someone who has experienced heart episodes in the past, she understands better than most how much prevention, such as improved nutrition, can make a difference in improving quality of life and reducing the risk of heart disease. Improving nutrition in Prince George’s County Maryland is particularly important to her because she has so many friends and family, including grandchildren, who live there. As a You’re the Cure advocate, Gail educates her community that better nutrition can reduce obesity, diabetes, and improve heart health.

Gail believes that healthy food options should be available for everyone, including in vending machines.

“Adding nutritious foods to vending machines would give everyone the chance to eat a little better. So many people live with heart disease and obesity, especially in Prince George’s County.  Having better food options would help to prevent diseases down the road and save people from expensive medical bills.”

Gail is an active You’re the Cure advocate in Prince George’s County and the Greater Washington Region and invites anyone who wants to make a difference in reducing heart disease and stroke to join the network at www.yourethecure.org.

 

 

 

<Special thanks to You’re the Cure intern Spencer Davis for development of this blog post>

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