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Alabama's #IAmMedicaid Campaign

The American Heart Association has joined forces with Children’s First and Alabama Arise to kick off a campaign known as #IamMedicaid. The campaign seeks to put a human face to the issue of Medicaid. For years, Medicaid has been the biggest line item in the general fund budget. But who exactly does it serve?

The #IamMedicaid campaign seeks to let legislators as well as Alabamians know what and who is served by Medicaid. Advocates from around the state gathered in Montgomery to share their concerns over the Medicaid issue. You can learn more at DothanFirst.com.

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West Jasper Elementary Health Day

The American Heart Association along with Samford University dietician students helped educated students at a mock Farmer’s Market at West Jasper Elementary. Children were asked to go through stations where they learned which fruits and veggies were currently in season, about sugary sweet beverages, enjoying tasting fruit and veggie smoothies, and also participated in physical activities.

Read more about West Jasper Elementary Health Day from Daily Mountain Eagle.

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Jessica James, Mobile

Our 2015-16 Alabama Advocacy Committee is composed of 10 individuals from across the state with different occupations, who have a great interest in advocating for policy change for heart-health issues. Throughout the year, we will introduce some of our members. Today, we'd like you to meet Jessica James of Mobile.

Occupation: Executive Director of the McKemie Place, a homeless shelter for women

How long have you been a volunteer with the American Heart Association and in what capacity? State Advocacy Committee since June 2015; serving as vice-chairman this year.

Who or what inspires you to help and volunteer your time to the work of the American Heart Association? Heart disease, much like strokes, are silent killers. Many people aren’t heart healthy until they’re forced to be. And for some, it’s too late before they’re aware.

What heart-healthy issue is most important to you and why? Cholesterol checks and heart attacks in women. My father and two of his three sisters all had heart attacks and open heart surgeries. Many heart attacks are silent killers, and signs and symptoms are harder to recognize in women. As a woman, this is a deep concern for me with my family’s history of heart disease.

What are two ways you keep yourself healthy? Running and eating healthy

How is your community healthy? Mobile has a new outlook on exercise that is being carried throughout the city: ONEFit Mobile.

How do you stay updated on current public policies in your state? I work in, and I am active in politics in our state. I receive emails, phone calls and texts on a daily basis that keep me up-to-date.

If you could help advocate for one change in your state, what would it be and why? Awareness of the needs of others. Social media increasingly has made us more narcissistic as a whole. We need to turn our focus on helping others, which in turn helps all of us. “The tide rises all ships.” Also, more specifically, access to healthier food choices, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, for all especially for those dependent on food stamps and other government assistance programs.

Do you have a favorite American Heart Association/ American Stroke Association event you attend annually? What is your motivation to participate? Mobile has an annual Heart Ball, that I love! My motivation to participate is watching the children who are the focus of the ball, knowing that heart conditions aren’t just found in adults.

Have you attended a state or federal lobby day on behalf of the American Heart Association? If so, please briefly explain your experience. I have lobbied on behalf of the AHA at our State Capitol. Knowing legislators helps, but everyone is interested in what we were advocating for on behalf of the organization. 

What have you learned in your time being a You’re the Cure advocate? I’ve learned that the American Heart Association has been involved in crafting wonderful and important legislation it’s not the AHA I thought it was. I’ve learned the many facets of the organization. More things are connected to the AHA than one would think!

Why would you tell a friend or family member to join You’re the Cure? For our health because our lives depend on it. The AHA does a terrific job of educating us on alternatives for a healthier lifestyle.

Tell us one unique thing about yourself. My co-workers tell me I am unique because I know how to find and make a bargain!

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Funding Medicaid in Alabama

Recently, Alabama legislators passed a budget that does not fully fund the state's Medicaid program. In fact, it's $85 million less than the amount recommended by the commissioner!

The lack of proper funding would lead to hospitals closing and physicians leaving the state. This would restrict access to care for everyone, not just those enrolled in Medicaid.

Help us remind legislators about the importance of Medicaid to our state's health care delivery system and the overall economy. Let them know the impact Medicaid cuts will have on all residents across the state.

Take action here by clicking the link, and sending your voice of support to fully fund Medicaid to your Representative and Senator today!

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AHA President Says: The Science is Clear on Sodium Reduction

Check this out! In a new video, the President of the AHA, Dr. Mark Creager, explains that the science behind sodium reduction is clear. He says that robust evidence has linked excess sodium intake with high blood pressure, which increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, and heart failure. And, he points out that you can do something about it: join AHA’s efforts to demand change in the amounts of sodium in our food supply.

“Nearly 80 percent of the sodium we eat comes from processed, prepackaged, and restaurant foods” says AHA president Dr. Mark Creager. The video shows the 6 foods that contribute the most salt to the American diet: breads & rolls, cold cuts and cured meats, pizza, poultry, soup, and sandwiches."

To see the video, head over to our Sodium Breakup blog!

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The healthy difference a month can make

March is Nutrition Month, and a perfect time to get more involved with the AHA’s ongoing efforts to promote science-based food and nutrition programs that help reduce cardiovascular disease and stroke.

Every day, we’re seeing new initiatives: to make fruits and vegetables more affordable; to reduce the number of sugar-sweetened beverages that our kids are drinking; and of course, to ensure students are getting the healthiest school meals possible, all with the same goal: to help families across the country lead the healthiest lives they possibly can.

It’s also a great opportunity to lower your sodium intake. The average American consumes more than 3,400 milligrams of sodium per day – more than twice the AHA-recommended amount. Excessive sodium consumption has been shown to lead to elevated blood pressure, which increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. Visit www.heart.org/sodium for tips on to lower your intake and to get heart-healthy recipes.

However you choose to celebrate, Nutrition Month gives us all the chance to take control of our diets; to recommit to eating fresh, healthy foods; and to remember all month long that you’re the cure.

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Jacob Fannin, Troy

Guest Blogger: Jacob Fannin

I have been a diabetic for almost my entire life, but didn't know it. I was one of the "fortunate ones" who never showed any signs or symptoms other than the obvious weight problem that was staring me in the face. I conveniently ignored the weight problem and continued to mistreat my body for years and years, packing my blood stream daily with sugar and carbohydrates. After getting married in 2010, I was the heaviest I have ever been, weighing in at more than 300 pounds.

While in the process of getting life insurance on myself, I naturally had to adhere to the testing procedures. The results were a denial of coverage! I was shocked and confused. After further review of the paperwork, I realized the reason; type 2 diabetes and hypertension. My life forever changed in a good way. I started to learn what health mistakes I had been making over the years and what caused my condition. Since then, I have lost about 111 pounds, dropping from a 46 waist to a 36 waist. Living for my two-year-old daughter and wife are my reasons.

Regardless of your reasons, I can attest to the fact that you must take the opportunity you have now to change your life. Do the research, decrease your sugar intake, stop drinking soft drinks, get off the couch, be active, and make a positive life change now.

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Rethink Your Drink, Alabama

Sugars in your diet can occur naturally like in fruit or milk. But sugars also can be added in foods during preparation or processing and even at the table. The truth is, added sugar isn’t so sweet. In fact, it is linked to heart disease, tooth decay and other chronic conditions.

So...what can you do to reduce your intake of added sugars? One simple step is to rethink your drink. Sugary drinks such as regular soft drinks, sweet tea and sports drinks are the biggest source of added sugars in our diet. If you replace those beverages with water, 100% fruit juice or low-fat milk, you’ll be a little sweeter to your heart. For additional tips, visit heart.org.

With March being National Nutrition Month, it’s a great time to rethink your drink.

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Take the You're the Cure Advocate Survey

2015 was a great year for You're the Cure advocates and the many policy efforts that you work on. We have big plans for 2016, and we want to hear from you and what you want to see in the future for You're the Cure.

So take the survey now and let your voice be heard.

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Beverly Moore-Harton, Jasper

Guest Blogger: Beverly Moore-Harton

I’ve advocated and coordinated events and galas for eight years. Excited about promoting heart health for women can’t begin to express my feelings. Hard work, yes, but it generates such joy and compassion for educating women of this dreadful disease. God placed this endeavor on my mind, and impressed it in my heart to do. I accepted it, and He’s blessed my works! With each event that I do, medical professionals are on hand to screen guests' blood pressure and record their heart rates. With these preventative screenings, we have discovered women who didn’t know they had hypertension and were sent to ER immediately with their blood pressure at stroke level!

This work has had a great impact on my life, as well as, my family's lives. I’m so concerned about my diet and exercise that it is very passionate to me. I had a liver transplant in 2011. Afterwards, I gained more weight than ever before. Due to this major life change, I work very hard to combat weight gain due to medications that I will take for life.

My family and church family are very supportive. They follow me when I have speaking engagements and wear red proudly! Several years ago, my father had a massive heart attack and thankfully survived. A couple years ago, my brother had a massive heart attack and unfortunately died. When I “Go Red”, people rally behind me with great enthusiasm. Now what really excites me is that the Mayor and the City of Jasper and surrounding area of Walker County are participating in this worthy cause! 

I, along with Jasper and surrounding areas of Walker County are hosting a “Go Red” Gala Friday, Feb.12, 2016. There is a great buzz around town for this worthy cause. We are “going red” and loving it! When I speak about heart disease to coworkers, some are very interested, but others take it lightly. This is a serious matter - one of life or death, I tell them. Therefore, I give them the statistics and invite them to make a change for the better. “Life is Why!" After my plan of retirement, beginning in three years, I'd like to incorporate a chapter/foundation in Walker County and religiously work at raising awareness for women and all residents in Walker County, while raising funds to benefit all residents who needs the assistance financially. I’ve never been diagnosed with hypertension, and for that I’m thankful to God each day! However, I have several siblings who are managing their hypertension with medication, diet and exercise. It gives me great joy in educating, empowering and promoting this great cause, the 'Go Red For Women' campaign. 

Furthermore, my husband, daughters, and entire family are the 'wind beneath my wings!'

 

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