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Friendly Reminder: Arizona’s Heart at the Capitol Day is January 26th

Please don’t forget that Arizona’s Heart at the Capitol is January 26th.  If you are available to attend, sign up today!  We need you to register early so we can tell your legislators that you are coming to meet them.

As you likely remember, we plan to advocate for CPR in Schools and other heart healthy policies.

To date, a total of 27 states have passed CPR in Schools policies covering over 50% of American public schools and will train over 1.5 million students the life-saving skill of Hands-On CPR every year.  While this is wonderful news, unfortunately Arizona is not one of the 27 states. Living in communities filled with lifesavers should not depend on what state you live in, and at Heart at the Capitol Day we will urge key legislators to take action to train ALL Arizonan students CPR in the school setting.

I hope to see you January 26th! It’s still not too late to register. If you’re having troubles registering online, please email Josh Brown or Nicole Olmstead directly.

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Advocate Highlight - Sara Hoffman

Hi my name is Sara and I am 37 years old. This year should have been one of the happiest times of my life. On April 18, 2015, I was married on a beach in Mexico. Like any bride, I spent months planning the wedding and could not wait to celebrate with our friends and family. The shocking part of this story is that I suffered a major heart attack during the flight on my way to Mexico.

I felt fine in the morning and for the first four hours of the flight. All of the sudden I started experiencing burning in my chest, jaw and arm pain. I instantly knew something was wrong. After about 20 minutes of experiencing symptoms, I asked the flight crew to land the plane. I knew that my age and the fact that we were on the way to our wedding could make people think I was just having a panic attack so speaking up for myself felt more important than ever.  I was later told by my cardiologist that I would have died on the plane that day if we had not landed the plane.

We did an emergency landing in Louisiana where I was wheeled into the ER with my wedding dress in tow. I had an Angioplasty and a stent placed in my left anterior descending artery. My heart stopped twice during my procedure and I had to be defibrillated both times. My poor husband thought he was going to be a widower and we weren’t even married yet.  Amazingly, I was cleared to fly to Mexico just two days after my procedure. The day of our wedding was amazing but and I felt so lucky just to be alive and standing there.

We cancelled our honeymoon so I could come home and recover. I had not felt well while in Mexico and ended up getting re-hospitalized the day after we came home. I was in congestive heart failure and was experiencing terrible side effects from my medication.

My recovery has been hard but I am learning so much about heart disease along the way. I knew my father had a heart attack at age of 36, but I can honestly say I never considered myself to be at risk. I was healthy, I used to run full and half marathons, I don’t smoke, and I am a vegetarian. I thought everything I was doing would counteract my family history.  I didn’t understand the power of genetics.

I hope my story can encourage other women to schedule a Well-Woman Visit and talk to their doctor about their family history and personal risk.

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Youth and e-cigarette exposure

About 18 million U.S. middle and high school students – 70 percent – are exposed to e-cigarette (also known as e-cigs) advertising online, in stores, newspapers, magazines and movies, and on television, according to a report released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

E-cigarettes deliver a nicotine-containing aerosol popularly called vapor by heating a solution usually made of glycerin, nicotine and flavoring agents. An American Heart Association policy statement said that e-cigarettes target young people and can hook people on nicotine and threaten to “re-normalize” tobacco use.

In a recent statement, AHA CEO Nancy Brown said:  “The tried-and-true methods to attract a new generation to tobacco must be reined in,” “Otherwise, more and more young Americans will put themselves at risk for heart disease, stroke or even an early death as a result of taking up tobacco in any form.”

The e-cig ads are following a familiar tobacco marketing playbook of old with themes of independence and rebellion that are aimed specifically to addict the next generation.  E-cig advertising to young people “is like the old time Wild West,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden in a media briefing. With no regulations and growing ad budgets, spending nearly tripled in one year from $6.4 million in 2011 to $18.3 million in 2012, according to a study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

The CDC said that manufacturers of e-cigarettes also target youth through advertising on social networks. Online ordering makes it easier for kids to purchase e-cigs and related products.

In 2014, e-cigs became the most common tobacco product used by middle and high school students. The most recent CDC data shows that from 2011-2014 e-cig use by high school students increased from 1.5 percent to 13.4 percent. Among middle school students it rose from 0.6 percent to 3.9 percent. This sudden and dramatic rise in youth use sadly illustrates the effectiveness of unregulated advertising for these products. 

For the full story, please visit here.

We are working to raise awareness on the issue at the local, state and federal levels on this growing public health issue.  If you want to get involved locally, please contact Josh Brown for more information.

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Join us for Heart at the Capitol Day

On Tuesday, January 26th, advocates from across the state will gather at the Capitol in Phoenix to lobby for heart healthy legislation! Can we count you in? RSVP today!

 

Dozens of dedicated advocates from across the state will meet with state legislators to encourage them to adopt policies that make Arizona a healthier place to live.

 

How often do you have the opportunity to meet with state legislators face to face to discuss policies that will help make Arizona a healthier state?  At Heart at the Capitol you will do just that! 

 

We plan to advocate for CPR in Schools to improve emergency care, improving early childhood education, and other heart healthy policies.

 

Hope you can join us for an important day at the Capitol! Register here so we can schedule meetings with your elected officials!

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Why I Intern for the American Heart Association

Guest Blogger: Lyudmila Chernenko- Intern, AHA Sacramento California Office 

 

My Family & a Career Improving the Health of Others Are Why

 

I am a current intern at the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association and I chose to intern here because of the mission. The mission to build lives free of cardiovascular disease and stroke resonates closely with me. I am proud to be from a big, but very close, family of 17. Recently, my dad had a stroke and my family and I felt so hopeless and scared because we thought he might not survive. It was unexpected as I am sure most strokes are and overall we thought my father was healthy. When my father had a stroke we immediately called 9-1-1 and he was rushed to the hospital. At the hospital there were lots of tests and medication given which allowed my father to recover and come back to our big family.

 

Stroke kills nearly 129,000 people a year. In fact, it is the number 5 killer in US. The AHA/ASA is doing everything possible to minimize the risk of having strokes and to improve the health of those who have been affected by stroke. I love the clever acronym and supporting campaign created by the organization to recognize the warning signs and symptoms of stroke: F.A.S.T. (Face drooping, Arm weakness, Speech Difficulty, and Time to call 911). These warning signs helped my family recognize that my dad was having a stroke. We saw him having trouble speaking and he also had weakness in his arm so we called 911.

 

My internship here has also helped to add real world experience to what I am studying in school as a Health Science Administration major. I have been helping on our campaign to teach students CPR, learning about our campaign to limit the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, and connecting the dots about how the policy aspects of health relate to the administrative side of things my professors discuss. For example eating healthy and exercising can lower costs on the administrative end. 

 

Ultimately helping improve people’s health makes me happy and motivates me to do even more. I support the AHA/ASA’s work so we can all lead healthier lives and others can make sure their loved ones do not have a stroke like my dad did, and if that loved one were to suffer a stroke, they would be in a position to survive.

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Advocate Highlight- Heidi Stewart

Hi my name is Heidi. I might look like your average college student but what you can’t tell just from looking at me is that I am a survivor.

Growing up I was very active. I began competitive swimming at 8 years old. Everything seemed fine until my junior year of high school. The first sign that something was wrong was when I passed out after a swim meet. My parents took me to the doctor to see what could have caused me to pass out and after seeing a specialist and undergoing many tests I was diagnosed with anxiety.

My dad suffers from anxiety as well so he taught me how to deal with it and how to control the attacks. But on February 12, 2013 my life changed forever. I woke up tired but headed to school anyways. I began feeling weak and thought an anxiety attack might be starting so I spoke with my first period teacher who knew about my attacks and he gave me a pass to go to the library to study. I don’t remember what happened in my second period class. Third period was my leadership class and I really did not feel well at this point. I remember feeling worse and worse as the day went on. Knowing I needed help I headed to the school office. I barely made it before collapsing just inside the door.

Thankfully my school had an AED and within moments CPR was being administered and the AED was being used. The administration, security guard, and school nurse performed CPR for 10 minutes, and shocked me 3 times with the AED.

After I arrived at the hospital and they stabilized me, the emergency room staff proceeded to perform an ECG but found nothing wrong. They sent me to have an MRI to see if there was any brain damage; during the full body MRI is where they found the problem.

They had found a large sum of scar tissue on the bottom right ventricle of my heart which is a sure sign of Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Dysplasia/ Cardiomyopathy (ARVD/C for short).  ARVD is a form of cardiomyopathy in which the heart muscle of the right ventricle (RV) is replaced by fat and/or fibrous tissue. The right ventricle is dilated and contracts poorly. As a result, the ability of the heart to pump blood is weakened.

On February 14th, 2013 they placed an Internal Cardiac Defibrillator (ICD) into my chest. It works as a pacemaker and a defibrillator in the case of emergency. I am also on two heart medications: a beta blocker and an antiarrhythmic/ beta blocker.

Since that day I have made many adjustments. At one of my first follow-up appointments I was handed a list of physical activities that I could no longer do. I love to be active and thankfully have found new ways to remain active without putting my life at risk.

The American Heart Association funds life-saving research; research that saved my life and the lives of so many others.

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Thank You for All You Do

Guest Blogger: Nicole Olmstead, Government Relations Director, Arizona

Each November, I think about the things that I am thankful for, both at work and at home.  At home, I am thankful for my husband and children.  I am thankful that my son, a child living with congenital heart disease, is healthy and active and happy.  At work, I am thankful for the volunteers and staff that I get to work with.  It starts with giving thanks to the veterans that have fought, and sometimes died, for this country and continues through Thanksgiving.  Every day, I am reminded that I have many reasons to be thankful, especially, the dedication to the mission by our amazing volunteers.

There are so many examples of the amazing work that our volunteers do.  From assisting organization and planning our annual events like the Tucson and Phoenix Heart Walks and the Heart Ball, to tirelessly working supporting our CPR in Schools initiative, to joining us at the Capitol to support our advocacy efforts.

I would like to thank each and every one of you for your support.  Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.  We owe a great deal of our success to you.  When things get difficult and it feels like the glass is empty, all I have to do is think about how dedicated our volunteers are to our mission and I am immediately energized to keep up the fight. 

Heart Disease and stroke have impacted our lives in very serious ways, and we need to continue this fight together! So, for me…Volunteers are Why.

One last time, thank you for all you do!

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American Heart Association Celebrates National Eating Healthy Day

The American Heart Association celebrated National Eating Healthy Day on Wednesday, November 4, 2015. Each year, organizations, families, schools and communities throughout the United States make a pledge and come together to take steps toward living a healthier life.

More than two-thirds of American adults and one in three children and teens are overweight or obese, putting them at increased risk for heart disease and stroke as many other chronic illnesses and conditions. The AHA is promoting healthier eating habits as one way to help people live healthier lives.

Americans typically consume about half their recommended daily servings of fruits and vegetables. We recommend eating eight or more fruit and vegetable servings every day. Fruits and vegetables are high in vitamins, minerals and fiber, and low in saturated fat and calories. Most fruits and vegetables also have no or little sodium, and eating a variety of fruits and vegetables can help you control your weight and your blood pressure.

Help your family eat a good variety of fruits and veggies every day by adding color to your plate.  Make a goal this holiday season to add variety to every plate! See some examples of colorful choices below:

RED/PINK:

  • Apples
  • Cherries
  • Cranberries
  • Grapefruit
  • Tomatoes

ORANGE/YELLOW:

  • Carrots
  • Lemons
  • Mangoes
  • Oranges
  • Bananas 
  • Pineapples

GREENS:

  • Artichokes
  • Broccoli
  • Cucumbers
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Peas

BLUE/PURPLE:

  • Blueberries
  • Figs
  • Plums
  • Raisins
  • Blackberries

WHITE:

  • Cauliflower
  • Jicama
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Parsnips

While heart disease and stroke are leading causes of death and disability for all Americans, more than 80% of risk factors for heart disease and stroke are preventable through behaviors like making better food choices, getting regular exercise, keeping a healthy weight and not smoking.

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Sudden Cardiac Arrest Awareness Month

Written by Nicole Olmstead, Government Relations Director, Arizona

Did you know, October is Sudden Cardiac Arrest Awareness Month? Do you know what sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is?  Can you recognize the symptoms?  What do you do if you see someone have an SCA? 

Just in case you didn’t know, Sudden Cardiac Arrest is a condition in which the heart suddenly and unexpectedly stops beating for various reasons.  SCA’s claim one life every two minutes, taking more lives than *** cancer, lung cancer or AIDS.  SCA’s are so fatal because blood immediately stops flowing to the organs and more importantly, to the brain.  If not treated within minutes, a SCA causes death. 

The symptoms of SCA are sudden and drastic and include: sudden collapse, no pulse, gasping or no breathing, and loss of consciousness.  Unfortunately, typically SCA’s happens without any of the warning signs that you typically see with a traditional cardiac emergency. 

If you come upon someone and suspect SCA or you see someone have an SCA the most important things to do are 1) Call 9-1-1 and 2) start Hands-On CPR by pushing hard and fast in the center of the chest to the beat of the Bee Gee’s Song “Stayin’ Alive.” 

Don’t know CPR yourself? Click here to learn Hands-Only CPR and you could save a life.  It may be the life of someone you love. 

The AHA is working to pass Hands Only CPR training in schools to improve survival rates in our communities.  If you’re interested in getting involved, please contact Nicole Olmstead or Josh Brown for more information. 

Hands-Only CPR is Why.

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Jacob's Heart

Nicole is the mother of twins—Julianna and Jacob—who were born five weeks early on June 3, 2004. Jacob Ryan Wells was born with a critical congenital heart defect (CCHD) called Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. With this CCHD, the left side of Jake’s heart–including the aorta, aortic valve, left ventricle and mitral valve—was underdeveloped.

Since birth, Jake went through six open-heart surgeries, a few medi-flight helicopter rides to Stanford, a few gastrointestinal surgeries, as well as surgeries that were experimental and hadn’t quite been FDA approved.

His little, brave life endured much triumph, pain, trials and struggles. Through it all, and during the long hospital stays, he had such a strong spirit, always having a smile on his face. He was the happiest little boy you could ever know, with only half a heart, his mom says.

Sadly, Jacob lost his battle to his heart disease on April 26, 2011, at the young age of six years old after having complications from another corrective heart surgery.

Since Jacob’s passing, Nicole has been an active supporter of the American Heart Association, raising funds for Heart Walk and sharing her son’s story to help pass newborn heart screening (pulse oximetry) legislation in California. She and Jacob’s father, Bryan, have been involved with the San Joaquin Heart Walk since 2011 and formed the team “Jacob’s Heart” in his memory.

Jacob was such a true inspiration to so many people and touched so many hearts during his short little life,” said Nicole. “My intent is to keep Jacob’s memory alive and make ‘Jacob’s Heart’ a recognizable icon in our community. My hope is that being involved in raising funds for the American Heart Association will help make a difference.”

Nicole and her family host an annual shrimp and pasta feed and the Jacob’s Heart Memorial Golf Tournament to raise money for the Heart Walk. In total, the team has raised more than $52,000 since its inception.

My son, Jacob, had such a huge spirit which has impacted me and so many others,” said Bryan. “I know he is looking down on us and smiling.”

Julianna, now 11, helps with the fundraising. She got her elementary school to take part in Jump Rope For Heart using the slogan “Jump For Jacob.”

“She [Julianna] had shirts made for all the kids. It was really heartwarming” Nicole said. “Jacob was our hero on earth, and he is now our angel in heaven.”

For the full story, please visit here.

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