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Advocate Spotlight - TJ Haynes

For TJ Haynes it was a matter of time. TJ recently threw out the first pitch at a Mustangs game in Dehler Park to promote the AHA’s Raise the Roof in Red campaign after suffering a heart attack just a few months before.

On May 25, 2015 TJ had gone to the local shooting range in preparation for the annual Quigley Buffalo Match. The days leading up to the 25th he had experienced heartburn and back pain but didn’t think much of it. But after a short period of time at the range he found himself short of breath and in pain.

He called his wife to tell her he wasn’t feeling well and asked her to come pick him up. While he waited another shooter at the range noticed his condition and quickly dialed 911 when he told them he was short of breath and experiencing chest pain.

Thanks to the quick actions of those around him TJ was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance containing a 12 lead EKG machine that sent a snapshot of his heart ahead to the Billings clinic. By sending this snapshot ahead the hospital was able to know what they were dealing with and how to treat it as soon as he arrived. This allowed his clogged artery to be opened just 46 minutes from the onset of the attack.

This amazing equipment had been installed just one day earlier as part of the Mission Lifeline initiative that is largely funded by a grant from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust.

Today TJ is doing much better. He is in cardiac rehab, is working on his diet and is overall doing well.

TJ is thankful for the actions of those around him and the technology that was available to help him when he needed it most.

 

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Jocelyn Gomez

August 7th, 2015 was the start of the most life-changing event of our lives. My father, mother, and I were sitting in the emergency room that night waiting to be called on. As the minutes went by a tragedy was about to occur without even knowing. My father was at the emergency room for the pain he had on his left foot. His pinky was swelled up, bruised, and a very bright red mark was on the top part of his foot. 

That night my father found out he was diabetic when his blood sugar level was at 750. My father was already a survivor of three heart attacks and the news of him being diabetic was just another thing to add to the plate. Unfortunately, my father has a rare condition where he creates blood clots very easily. This became a massive problem to his foot. The pain was due to the lack of blood circulation and the different techniques that the doctor’s applied were just not enough. After the unsuccessful peripheral bypass surgery, there was no other option than to have an amputation below the knee.

Recovery is and will always be difficult because it is not only a physical recovery, but a mental recovery as well. His loving family and friends always surround him, which is a huge support. Today, my father is slowly adapting to his new lifestyle with a very optimistic attitude. Being diabetic has given him a different view to life and is thankful that he is still alive to tell his story.

My experience at the American Heart Association as an advocacy volunteer has been one of a kind. I’ve learned remarkable things and became part of a community that works very hard to prevent serious health conditions such as diabetes. Working on the SSB campaign has helped me gain more understanding on how much sugar we are consuming without even knowing. Avoiding sugar sweetened beverages and learning how to prevent health conditions such as heart disease and diabetes is extremely important. My father did not care much about his health until his unfortunate amputation. After this life experience, my interest in working in the public health arena has skyrocketed. Educating my own family on healthier choices to prevent any further health conditions is just the beginning. It is never too late to live a healthy lifestyle!

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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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You are not alone. Join the online support network

After a heart attack or stroke, following your doctor’s orders is important to your physical recovery. But it’s natural for you to feel depressed and overwhelmed, so taking care of your emotional recovery is also necessary. The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association offers a Support Network to help both survivors and caregivers. The goal of the network is to connect people living with heart disease and stroke with others who are going through similar journeys.

And it’s not just the person who had the heart attack or stroke who is impacted by this life-changing event. Family members and other caregivers also need to have strong support systems and take care of themselves to better care for their loved one.

The Support Network is a place to ask questions, find helpful information and tips and share concerns or fears. You can also find encouragement and inspiration or offer your own words of wisdom and reassurance to others. If you or someone you care for have experienced a stroke, heart attack or are living with a heart condition, expand your Support Network today.

Visit our online Support Network and meet others like you, share your experiences and find and give support. Our digital community is free and safe.

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Do You Know How Much Sugar You're Eating or Drinking?

Guest Blogger: Claudia Goytia, Government Relations Director, Greater Los Angeles

Late in 2015, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued dietary guidelines on added sugar intake.  These new dietary guidelines did not come about without a fight. Health advocates and the food and beverage industry played a significant role in shaping these dietary guidelines. 

 

We, the AHA and our partners, are doing our part to urge all Americans to have a greater understanding of added sugar in our diets and the impact on our health.  The USDA guidelines are a great start but based on AHA research the standards should be a little stronger, especially in regards to sugar.  Based off the scientific statement in Circulation, Journal of the American Heart Association, we recommend limiting the amount of added sugars you consume to no more than 100 calories per day for women and no more than 150 calories per day for men. That is 6 teaspoons a day for women and 9 teaspoons a day for men.

 

For more information about sugar and its impact on your health, please visit here.

 

Here are some tips for taking control of your sugar intake are: 

  • Understand where sugar is hiding in the food you eat.  Many items like bread, pasta and yogurt may have some kind of added sugar.
  • Know the different types of names sugar can be labeled as, including high corn fructose syrup, agave, sucrose, and others.  Please visit the link below for the complete list.  
  • Drink water and unsweetened beverages so that you are not adding extra calories to your meals.
  • Avoid sugary beverages (sodas, energy drinks and similar products) because they are the number one source of added sugar in our diet. The average American drinks nearly 50 gallons of sugary beverages a year, equaling nearly 39 pounds of liquid sugar.
  • If you crave sweets, have some fruit as a way to curb the desire for processed and added sugar. Fruits also provide fiber and other nutrients in addition to satisfying your sweet tooth.
  • For more tips on how to reduce you sugar intake, visit here.

 

As a local advocate working with community members, health coalitions, educators and policy makers to reduce the consumption of sugar sweetened beverages, I have found that education on the topic of sugar intake is necessary in order to improve health in our community.  Change in behavior, policy and attitudes begins with a simple conversation on sugar and how it impacts our diets. 

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Join Us April 14th for Heart at the Capitol

I hope you’re as excited as I am that Heart at the Capitol in Sacramento is just around the corner on April 14th!  If you haven’t registered yet, sign up today!

 

We will be advocating for the following pieces of legislation:

  • Assembly Bill 1719 will ensure high school students will learn Hands-On CPR skills prior to high school graduation.
  • Assembly Bill 2782, known as the Health Impact Fee, will impose a 2 cent per fluid ounce fee on distributors of sugary beverages to fund programs focused on prevention of childhood obesity and diabetes.

 

Please register here for more details regarding the event and our legislation!

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ICYMI: CPR in Schools Introduced

In case you missed it, Assemblymember Freddie Rodriguez introduced Assembly Bill (AB) 1719 which will ensure high school students learn CPR before they graduate high school. AB 1719 holds the power to create a generation of lifesavers.

 

Sudden cardiac arrest is one of the most lethal public health threats in the United States. Nearly 326,000 people experience cardiac arrest outside the hospital each year, and sadly, only 10 percent survive. Effective bystander CPR provided immediately after sudden cardiac arrest can double or triple a victim’s chance of survival, but only 32 percent of cardiac arrest victims get CPR from a bystander.

 

“CPR is one of the most important life skills a person can have. I have been an Emergency Medical Technician for over 30 years and I have seen too many cases that could have turned out differently if a bystander had known how to administer CPR,” said Rodriguez. “By teaching CPR in high school, we are sending students into the world with an essential, life-saving skill. We have the ability to dramatically impact the rates of survival for sudden cardiac arrest and save countless lives.”

 

Under AB 1719, school districts would have the flexibility to teach Hands-Only CPR in any required class, such as P.E. or Health.

 

27 states and over 50% of public schools nationwide currently train over 1.5 million Students in Hands-on CPR skills during high school, but California is not one of them.  Knowing the skills needed to save a life should not depend on what state you live in or what school district you attend. 

If you’re interested in getting involved to support AB 1719, please contact Kula Koenig for more details. For more information on AB 1719, please visit here.

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Time to Go Red!

Going Red is about much more than wearing red on National Wear Red Day. It’s about making a change. Encourage your family and friends to take small steps toward healthy lifestyle choices to reduce their risk for heart disease and stroke.

 

Start by explaining “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.

 

Heart disease and stroke cause one in three women’s deaths each year, killing approximately one woman every 80 seconds. An estimated 44 million women in the U.S. are affected by cardiovascular diseases, yet 80% of heart disease and stroke events could be prevented. Early screening, early detection and early treatment are key to lowering risk for cardiovascular disease. 

 

Testing should occur as follows:

  • Blood pressure – every regular health care visit starting at age 20
  • Cholesterol – every five years starting at age 20. More often if: total cholesterol is above 200; if you are a man older than 45 or a woman older than 50; if you’re a woman whose HDL is less than 50 or a man whose HDL is less than 40; if you have other cardiovascular risk factors
  • Weight/body mass index – every health care visit starting at age 20
  • Waist circumference – as needed starting at age 20
  • Blood glucose – every three years starting at age 45

 

You can learn more about your numbers and key health indicators with the Go Red Heart CheckUp.

 

For more information about Go Red for Women visit here.

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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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