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Join us on National Wear Red Day, Friday, February 5

The American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women are asking for your support by participating in National Wear Red Day® on Friday, February 5, 2016 and donating to help fund research during American Health Month.

Why Go Red? Heart disease and stroke cause 1 in 3 deaths among women each year, killing approximately one woman every 80 seconds.  Fortunately, we can change that because 80 percent of cardiac and stroke events may be prevented with education and action. That’s why this year we are asking that you wear red on National Wear Red Day® and donate to Go Red For Woman. By doing so you help support educational programs to increase women’s awareness and critical research to discover scientific knowledge about cardiovascular health. 

And don’t forget to make your heart health a priority. Schedule your Well-Woman Visit, a prevention check-up to review a woman’s overall health so her doctor can measure blood pressure, check cholesterol and look for signs of heart disease, stroke and other illnesses. Then encourage others through your social channels to do the same.

We couldn’t make positive changes without the support and donations by individuals like you.

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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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Get Social With Your Members of Congress

Will you be on Facebook or Twitter today? Your Members of Congress and their staff will be, and it's a good place to reach them according to a report released in October by the Congressional Management Foundation (CMF).

The CMF report, #SocialCongress, says Congressional offices are listening to social media chatter and it takes relatively few posts or comments to get their attention. That's good news for us!

So, how can you use the Facebook newsfeed or Twitter timeline to get the attention of lawmakers and help pass heart healthy policies?

  • Follow your members of Congress, as well as state and local elected officials on Twitter. ‘Like’ and ‘Follow’ their pages on Facebook.
  • Tweet about our health policy issues, tagging the appropriate legislators by using the @ sign and their Twitter handle. For example: I’m from Pennsylvania, so I’d tag my U.S. Senators by including @SenBobCasey & @SenToomey in my tweet.
  • If they allow it, you can post about our issues directly on the Facebook pages of elected officials. Frequently, that feature is disabled but you are able to comment on their posts. According to #SocialCongress, Congressional offices typically monitor those comments for a limited period of time. Your best bet is to comment within the first 24 hours after a post.
  • Rally your friends and family members to tweet, post or comment about an issue on a single ‘day of action’. CMF’s survey data shows just 30 or fewer comments can be enough to make a legislative office pay attention.
  • Be sure to use the campaign hashtag if one has been created by your advocacy staff partners. The #hashtag allows all the relevant posts to be woven together to tell our story, and makes your post searchable by others interested in the issue.    

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High School Students Should Learn CPR in School

Guest Blogger: Yara Altaher. Yara is a student at the University of California, Irvine and will receive her Bachelors of Science degree in Public Health Sciences. Yara is also an intern for the American Heart Association.

 

Picture yourself coming home one afternoon only to find a loved one on the floor in a state of cardiac arrest. You are afraid and nervous; however, you calm yourself down because you remember you took cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training back in high school a few years ago and you end up saving your loved one’s life. Now, picture yourself in that exact situation but you lack the CPR skills necessary to help your loved one. The latter scenario emphasizes the important effect CPR can have on saving a life.

 

California is not among the 27 states that by law make CPR training mandatory in high schools. CPR training will increase the survival rates of out of hospital cardiac arrests (OHCA), will increase the number of bystanders equipped with necessary CPR skills, and teach an important life skill to high school students.

 

The AHA states that cardiac arrest, a sudden loss of heart function, is a leading cause of death in the United States. Cardiac arrest can affect those who may or may not have diagnosed heart disease. The AHA reports that almost 326,000 OHCA occur every year and sadly most don’t survive. Increasing public health knowledge of CPR can help reduce the large number of deaths due to OHCA. An AHA Science Advisory states that bystanders who are equipped with the skills necessary for CPR are important in determining the survival rates of OHCA. In fact, survival rates can double or even triple if individuals other than health care professionals utilize CPR until advanced medical treatment arrives at the scene.

 

Targeting high school students is important because they represent a large percentage of the community. Students who are trained in CPR will increase both the number of CPR bystanders and the community response to OHCA. The AHA reports that four out of five OHCA occur at home. Thus, students trained in CPR will be able to utilize these skills to possibly saving a loved one’s life at home. High school students could also potentially be present during a medical emergency that requires immediate attention outside of school.

 

During my years of education, I was taught to excel and learn in subjects such as mathematics, science, history and writing. I still have conversations with my peers to this day discussing how the education system lacks in teaching important life skills that students will remember and incorporate into their lives. Being CPR certified is one of those fundamental life skills that could potentially help save a life.

 

To date more than one million students across the United States will be CPR certified prior to high school graduation. It makes me wonder why California has not taken initiative into making CPR certification a requirement for graduation. Learning mathematics, science, history and writing are very important subjects to learn; however, being able to potentially save a life is just as important.

 

For the full story, please visit here.

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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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ICYMI: Field Poll Finds Large Majority of Californians Favor Taxing and Regulating E-Cigarettes

Field Poll results released on October 26th show overwhelming support for taxing and regulating electronic cigarettes, a key component of the 2016 initiative submitted by the Save Lives California coalition that will prevent smoking – the number one cause of preventable death in California. Almost three in four California voters (74%) favor taxing e-cigarettes and vaping products to fund public education, research and law enforcement around tobacco products.

The Field Poll also found that significant majorities of Californians are in favor of regulating “vape shops” like other tobacco retailers and prohibiting e-cigarette usage in places where smoking is not allowed. Nearly three in five voters (57%) want to ban flavored e-cigarettes to reduce their appeal to teens.  We know between 2011 and 2013, e-cig use in youth tripled equating to a quarter million youth using these devices, largely because of a lack of regulation on these products.

“Teen vaping is growing to epidemic proportions and this study shows Californians want to prevent the public health threat of these tobacco products,” said Kula Koenig, California Government Relations Director for the American Heart Association. “It’s up to all of us to keep these dangerous tobacco products – that contain addictive nicotine and cancer-causing particles – away from kids. The Save Lives initiative prevents underage smokers from becoming addicted to unsafe products, while ensuring if you don’t smoke, you don’t pay.” 

For the full press release, visit here.

As you know, the Save Lives California has submitted the California Healthcare, Research and Prevention Tobacco Tax Act of 2016. This voter initiative will increase the state’s cigarette tax by $2 per pack, and place equivalent taxes on other tobacco products, including e-cigarettes. The money will be used to fund healthcare, research into cures for smoking related disease, and tobacco prevention efforts aimed at teens and others.

Increasing the price of tobacco products is a proven strategy to decrease use, especially among use. Every 10% increase in the price of cigarettes reduces overall consumption decreases by 3-5%, reduces the number of young-adult smokers by 3.5%, and reduces the number of kids who smoke by 6-7%.  Similar trends are seen for price increases of all tobacco products.

To get involved, please contact Kula Koenig or Josh Brown.

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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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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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World Stroke Day is October 29th

October 29th is World Stroke Day, a day to raise awareness about stroke, America’s fifth leading cause of death.  World Stroke Day is a global campaign aimed at reducing the incidence of stroke around the world by educating communities on the facts and myths about stroke.  In the United States, stroke affects nearly 800,000 people each year and is the leading cause of long-term disability.

A stroke occurs when blood supply to the brain is disrupted causing brain cells to die.  Stroke can happen at any time and to anyone at any age. Timothy Gamble is a prime example of this as he was only 25 when he had a stroke over Easter weekend.

The American Heart & Stroke Association recommends that you think F.A.S.T. to spot the signs of stroke. Knowing the noticeable symptoms of stroke is important because the sooner a stroke victim gets to the hospital, the higher the chance of survival and decreases the likelihood of long-term damage. 

F.A.S.T. stands for:

Face Drooping Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile.

Arm Weakness Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

Speech Difficulty Is speech slurred, are they unable to speak, or are they hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence, like "the sky is blue." Is the sentence repeated correctly?

Time to call 911 If the person shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and get them to the hospital immediately.

To learn more about the F.A.S.T. stroke warning signs and other sudden symptoms of a stroke, visit www.strokeassociation.org

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