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American Heart Association Celebrates National Walking Day

By Violet Ruiz, Government Relations Director

The American Heart Association celebrated National Walking Day on Wednesday, April 1st! National Walking Day is celebrated on the first Wednesday in April and is meant to help Americans actualize ideal cardiovascular health. Even though National Walking Day is over – take time to tie up your sneakers, take a walk and celebrate your health every day!

On National Walking Day, Americans are encouraged to lace up their sneakers and take at least 30 minutes out of their day to get up and walk. Statistics show people stick to walking plans more than any other form of physical activity and walking is one of the easiest and cheapest things you can do to reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke – the nation’s No. 1 and No. 5 killers.

The other amazing thing about walking is that you don't have to wait until next year to get moving again. National Walking Day celebrations will come and go, but walking should be part of your daily exercise routine. Regular physical, such as walking, gardening, cycling, and climbing stairs can help you:

  • Lower your risk of heart disease and stroke.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Reduce or control blood pressure.
  • Raise HDL ("good") cholesterol.
  • Reduce your risk of diabetes and some kinds of cancer.
  • Sleep better.
  • Have more energy to do the things you love.

The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes (2.5 hours) a week of moderate intensity aerobic physical activity. Walking has the lowest dropout rate of any other physical activity. If you can't carve 30 minutes out of your day to walk, just taking a few more steps in your day is a simple and effective place to start. It's really that easy. Or be creative and break up your activity into 10- or 15-minute increments. For example:

  • In the morning, park or get off the bus/train 10 minutes away from your job and walk briskly to work.
  • At lunch, walk for 10 minutes around where you work, indoors or outdoors.
  • At the end of the day, walk briskly for 10 minutes back to your car or station.

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Thank You for Supporting House Bill 2605 - Stroke Systems of Care Legislation

Thanks to your consistent and tremendous support over the last few weeks, House Bill 2605 was signed into law by Governor Ducey on March 31st!  You’re the Cure Advocates accounted for over 400 online actions and countless offline actions to persuade Arizona’s lawmakers to pass HB 2605 this session.  HB 2605 will protect all of Arizona’s citizens by establishing a statewide comprehensive, coordinated system of care that can save lives by providing seamless transitions from one stage of stroke care to the next. 

In Arizona, stroke is the 5th leading cause of death and accounts for over 45 hospitalizations a day. Many hospitals do not have the necessary personnel, equipment, and systems to effectively and rapidly treat stroke patients. HB 2605 will improve stroke care in numerous ways including: improved infrastructure, improved clinical tools and resources, improved patient education resources, increased access to the most up-to-date research, and require regular performance reporting for continuous quality improvement. 

Simply put, HB 2605 will encourage hospitals to adhere to the latest scientific treatment guidelines which will dramatically improve patient outcomes.

For more information on the details of comprehensive stroke systems of care, please visit here.

Thank you once again for your support. You are the cure!

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Advocate Spotlight: Kathy McCormick

When I woke up at 6:30 AM on October 22, 2013 I knew something was terribly wrong. I tried to get out of bed and found it difficult to walk. I called for my husband, who had just returned from the gym, he found me slumped on the bed and with the slurred voice I said, "I think I'm having a stroke."  I convinced him to not call for an ambulance,   - I didn't want the fanfare- instead, I asked him to drive me to the hospital. Not a smart move!

My ride to the hospital was very difficult because my equilibrium was off and with every turn and bump in the road I began to feel more nauseous and it also seemed to take forever to get to the hospital.  Once in the hospital I was told I had a mild stroke due to the long-term effects of hypertension.  I knew I had high blood pressure - and I was even on medication for it. My doctor had even increased my dosage a few months earlier, but a small vessel in the base of my brain, called the Pons area, ruptured and a piece of plaque was released.

After three days in the hospital I was sent home with strict instructions: change my diet, take a daily reading of my blood pressure, get plenty of sleep and begin physical therapy. Now the hard work would really begin.

For the next several months my life took on a new normal for me. Friends brought food, family members took turns coming to help care for me and strenuous physical therapy sessions helped to awaken my muscles. I had to learn to do many things all over again. I struggled with walking, speaking, reading, and even writing legibly.  I had to also re-learn how to swallow liquids and learn to drive a car again.

Once I was able to return to my gym I used a personal trainer to help me continue working on my strength, balance and coordination.  Today, I feel healthier than I did before my stroke.  I am working each day to continue my improvement both physically and mentally.

I used to think strokes happened only to older people; however, I now know that's not true. They can happen to anyone at any age. I have learned so much from the American Heart/Stroke Association and will continue to pledge my support for them and I am willing to lend support to fellow stroke survivors.

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Help secure funding for this life-saving AED program today!

This is a critical time in Congress. Lawmakers are deciding on their funding priorities and the next round of budget negotiations are beginning. Even in this difficult economy, there are several federally-funded programs that are vital to the heart community, and we need to let our lawmakers know they must be a priority.

One such program helps buy and place automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in rural communities. The program also trains first responders and others in the community to use and operate these devices. The Rural and Community Access to Emergency Devices Program ensures those who live in rural areas or small towns have access to the tools they need for the best chance of surviving a cardiac arrest. Unfortunately, the program currently only has the resources to operate in 12 states.

Please contact your lawmaker today and ask them to prioritize funding to save lives from cardiac arrest!

People in every state should be given the best shot at surviving a cardiac arrest. Communities with aggressive AED placements have increased survival rates from about 11% to nearly 40%, which is an incredible improvement. But 38 states are still waiting for funds for this life-saving program.

Deadlines in Congress are looming, so please contact your elected officials TODAY!

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Call to Action: Urge Representative Stevens to Prioritized CPR in Schools

Thanks to the actions of advocates like yourself, our CPR in schools bill, House Bill 2594, passed out of the House Education Committee with flying colors!  The next step in the legislative process is for HB 2594 to be heard in the House Rules Committee. 

Unfortunately, the House Rules Committee Chari, Representative Stevens, has not made CPR in Schools a priority yet and has not put HB 2594 on the agenda.

Please take a moment to call Representative Stevens and urge him to hear HB 2594 in committee without delay!  Representative Stevens can be reached at 602-926-4321 and you will likely reach his wonderful staff or a voicemail so the call will only take a moment!

Key talking points are as follows:

  • Sudden cardiac arrest is a leading cause of death, with over 5,000 incidents per year in Arizona. 
  • 4 out of 5 Sudden Cardiac Arrests happen in the home and the life that is saved with CPR is most likely to be a loved one.
  • Hands-Only CPR takes 2 steps: 1) Call 9-1-1 and 2) Push hard and fast in the center of the chest to the beat of ”Stayin’ Alive”
  • Hands-Only CPR is equally as effective as conventional CPR in treating sudden cardiac arrest victims.
  • I respectfully urge Representative Stevens to hear HB 2594 and place it on the Rules Committee agenda without delay!

Your support truly will go a long way towards making Arizona a safer state.  If you have questions, or would like help customizing your testimony, please email Nicole Olmstead at Nicole.Olmstead@heart.org

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Go Red For Women this Heart Month

Go Red For Women is about much more than wearing red on National Wear Red Day. It’s about making a change. Here are a few ways you can make a change today: Go to GoRedForWomen.org to learn what you can do to reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. Encourage your family and friends to take small steps toward healthy lifestyle choices to reduce their risk for heart disease and stroke, too.

Explain “What it means to Go Red” by sharing the following acronym:

  • Get Your Numbers: Ask your doctor to check your blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose.
  • Own Your Lifestyle: Stop smoking, lose weight, be physically active and eat healthy.
  • Raise Your Voice: Advocate for more women-related research and education.
  • Educate Your Family: Make healthy food choices for you and your family. Teach your kids the importance of staying active.
  • Donate: Show your support with a donation of time or money.

Cardiovascular diseases cause one in three women’s deaths each year, killing approximately one woman every minute. An estimated 43 million women in the U.S. are affected by cardiovascular diseases. 90% of women have one or more risk factors for heart disease or stroke. 80% of heart disease and stroke events could be prevented. Cardiovascular diseases kill more women than men. Unfortunately, fewer women than men survive their first heart attack and women have a higher lifetime risk of stroke than men. Each year, about 55,000 more women than men have a stroke.

For more information, please visit GoRedForWomen.org.

The facts show that women who are involved with the Go Red movement live healthier lives.

  • Nearly 90% have made at least one healthy behavior change.
  • More than one-third has lost weight.
  • More than 50% have increased their exercise.
  • 6 out of 10 have changed their diets.
  • More than 40% have checked their cholesterol levels. One third has talked with their doctors about developing heart health plans.
  • More than 620,000 women have been saved from heart disease and stroke over the past 10 years.

About 300 fewer women are dying per day

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Thank You: Your Voice Made a Difference

On February 5th, over 50 attendees including students, business leaders, doctors, survivors, and You’re the Cure advocates, joined together on the Senate Lawn at Arizona’s State Capitol to advocate in support of heart-healthy policies. In addition, dozens of advocates supported their efforts by taking action online.

To those of you who joined us in Phoenix or took online action, the Arizona Advocacy Team wants to say THANK YOU!  

In case you didn’t attend Lobby Day, here’s how we did it:  

  • We connected with every state legislator’s office in-person or via email
  • We met face-to-face with legislators in the House and Senate Education Committees
  • We dropped off informational packets to legislators who were unavailable to meet due to previous engagements

News Update!  On February 5th, the two CPR in Schools bills (SB 1411/HB 2594) had their first readings and both were assigned to their respective Education Committees which puts us in a great situation since we were able to confirm support with legislators in both House and Senate committees at Lobby Day as well as start the conversation on the importance of CPR training in schools with legislators outside of the Education Committees during the luncheon.  HB 2594 was also heard in Committee on Wednesday, February 11th.

Please visit here to stay up-to-date on all of our legislative priorities!

And if you missed this year’s Lobby Day, don’t worry! There will be a lot of opportunities to take action in the coming months, and we’ll need every single one of you along the way.  Please email Nicole Olmstead at Nicole.Olmstead@heart.org or Josh Brown at Josh.Brown@heart.org if you are interested in future volunteer opportunities, or if you have any additional questions. 

Thank you again for being a part of the You’re the Cure team!

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Advocate Spotlight: Ron Drouin

STROKE – some things you may not know and were afraid to ask!

My name is Ron Drouin and I am a stroke survivor. There are two types of strokes, namely: Ischemic (which account for 87% of all strokes) and Hemorrhagic. There are many contributing factors: genetics, STRESS and Health habits. My factors were 40-plus years of smoking two packs of cigarettes a day, along with lots of job-related STRESS.  

My stroke was Ischemic and it occurred during the night of my 62nd birthday in 2002. “Happy Birthday Ron”. After an unknown time at home, I spent another 4 to 6 hours in the ER before undergoing an MRI that determined I did in fact have a serious stroke.

After two weeks in intensive care, working with my bedside therapist, I was able to move two fingers in my left hand. I cried a good deal with that experience. I have always been a typical ―”macho man” and you are not supposed to do that, (cry that is), but since the stroke, I now find myself crying at sad parts of movies and sad stories, etc. My experience is that there are many stroke-related side effects.

I spent three months in a rehab hospital and one of the therapists jokingly said: “You won’t be able to go home until you can tie your shoelaces. I said: “You’ve got to be kidding, here let me show you.” Guess what! I couldn’t tie my shoelaces and had to learn how to do that as well.

I spent about a year in a wheel chair and many sessions working with physical therapists.  There is kind of a rule of thumb that therapy can help you recover some of your abilities for the first six months after the stroke.

There is another stroke- related category called TIA’s (Transient Ischemic Attack). These should be taken seriously as well. I experienced one of these recently and it was discovered that my heart would actually stop beating for 3, 4 or even 5 seconds on occasion. A neurologist at the hospital told me that the heart pauses would cause the blood to thicken for a short period and produce stroke symptoms. So doctors installed a pacemaker and my heart is beating fine now.

I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge someone who has been “my rock” and demonstrated the quintessence of “in sickness and in health”; it is namely my wife Sharon. We just celebrated our Golden Wedding Anniversary - 50 years - this past July. We are looking forward to better times and “happily ever after” In 2015 and the years to come.  

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Meet the New Surgeon General

Dr. Vivek Murthy was confirmed by the U.S. Senate in December to serve as the next surgeon general of the United States. The surgeon general is America’s top public health official, and his responsibilities range from managing disease to promoting prevention and a healthy start for our kids.

At 37, Vivek Murthy is the youngest person and the first Indian-American to hold the post of Surgeon General.

Since this position was created in 1871, just 18 people have held the job. Dr. Murthy, the 19th, replaces an Acting Surgeon General who has filled the role since 2013. Dr. Murthy’s confirmation was delayed for nearly a year due to political issues, but in that time he received the endorsement of more than 100 public health groups, including the American Heart Association.

Dr. Murthy has both business and medical degrees from his studies at Harvard and Yale. He completed his residency at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, where he most recently served as an attending physician. He has created and led organizations to support comprehensive healthcare reform, to improve clinical trials so new drugs can be made available more quickly and safely, and to combat HIV/AIDS.

His resume is remarkable, and we look forward to working closely with Dr. Murthy to improve the health of all Americans.

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Save the Date: Arizona Lobby Day is February 5, 2015

On Thursday, February 5th at 10 am, advocates from across the state will gather at the Capitol in Phoenix to lobby for heart healthy legislation! Can we count you in?

Registration is free, but space is limited, so register 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, including CPR training in schools, stroke systems of care legislation, and other priorities. Please save the date in your calendars and keep an eye out for more details to come!  No advocacy experience is necessary; training will be provided.

It promises to be an exciting day of advocacy. We hope you’ll join us. Register today!

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