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New Stroke Guidelines Will Change Stroke Treatment in the U.S

Each year, more than 690,000 Americans have strokes caused by blood clots blocking vessels in the brain, called ischemic strokes. Some of the clots can grow large and may require intense therapy to treat.

However, widely celebrated new research reaffirms that large blood clots in the brain are less likely to result in disability or death, if the blockage is removed in the crucial early hours of having a stroke.

Right now the standard treatment is a clot-dissolving drug called tPA. But it must be given intravenously within 4.5 hours to be effective. For people with larger brain clots, tPA only works about a third of the time.

New studies recommend doctors to use modernized -retrievable stents, to open and trap the clot, allowing doctors to extract the clot and reopen the artery nearly every time when used with tPA.

To learn more read “Clot Removing Devices Provide Better Outcomes for Stroke Patients” and visit StrokeAssociation.org to learn the warning signs of stroke.

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Making Success of Recess

Who’s on recess this summer?  Our legislators are, that’s who.  Every year they get a recess in August from their usual duties at the state capital to attend to business at home in the districts they serve.  That spells ‘golden opportunity’ for us to reach them at a new level. YOU can come play recess with us!  

August Recess, as it’s fondly called, is when we take our top federal policy issues right to the legislator’s home court.  You’re the Cure advocates do ‘drop-offs’ at the district offices nearest them, leaving materials to drive our message. 

We also look for opportunities to catch our representatives in the community to deliver these messages, at town halls or other public appearances where there may be a chance to ask questions or meet-and-greet. 

The message we must carry is year is all about kids, and making sure the schools are providing them nutritious wholesome lunches.  We need advocates help to tell lawmakers to protect strong school nutrition standards established by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act.

The bill is up for re-authorization this year, and with funding set to expire at the end of September, now is the time to reinforce our message and emphasize the importance of healthy school meals. You can see details at: www.heart.org/SchoolMeals.

 Activities advocates can do to participate:

  • Drop materials off at the District office(s) for your legislators
  • Call your legislator’s offices and make an appointment for a quick sit-down to share information about the issue
  • Check your legislator’s web pages to see where they may be making public appearances and join them to look for an opportunity to ask an issue-relevant question or share information.

Wanta help?  We’ll make it easy for you!  Just email or call 804-965-6554 to let us know how you’d like to help, and we’ll get you hooked up with materials and information. 

This year the congressional recess officially ends Sept 7, 2015.  Come play recess with us and help kids get healthier meals in school!

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Dana Powell

Dana Powell, Mid-Atlantic Affiliate

On January 1, 2012, our family began the year with the birth of our second son, Asa Heard Karchmer. Like all babies, Asa delivered love and wonder into our lives. But those dreams were abruptly shattered on day two of Asa’s life. We came home from Watauga Medical Center in Boone, North Carolina and very soon realized Asa was struggling to breathe. We rushed back to the ER, then a few hours later, my husband and I followed the NeoNatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) transport team as it rushed Asa to Brenner Children’s Hospital in Wake Forest, NC. In the ambulance, Asa received oxygen, IV infusions of antibiotics and antivirals for a possible infections, and prostaglandins to treat a possible cardiac condition. No one was sure what was causing our baby’s medical emergency. Asa was in a state of shock when he arrived at the NICU at 2:00am on January 3 and we were uncertain whether or not he would survive the rest of the night.

By late morning, Asa’s clinical picture started to become clearer. A pediatric cardiologist confirmed that Asa was born with a very special heart – one which, anatomically speaking, worked just fine in utero but couldn’t make the transition to this world without serious medical intervention. His diagnosis was a congenital heart defect known generally as coarctation of the aortic arch (or more specifically as an interrupted aortic arch): a severe constriction of the main artery leading from the left ventricle of the heart and delivering blood to the entire body. It is among the more common types of cardiac defects among newborns and is often accompanied by other cardiac defects (in Asa’s case, a ventricular septal defect, or VSD, and a bicuspid valve). The cardiologist explained that this particular defect was not a problem in utero where there is a bypass shunt (called the PDA) between the pulmonary artery and the aorta, connecting below the arch and the coarctation. This duct began to close a day or two after birth, as it does in all babies. Yet in Asa’s heart, as the PDA closed, the coarctation prevented blood flow to most of his body, putting him into severe crisis.

We sat anxiously for a week with Asa in the NICU, enduring what seemed like an endless battery of tests on his fragile body (spinal tap, EEG, extensive blood work, MRI, etc.) until he was stable enough for heart surgery. So when he was just one week old, Asa underwent open heart surgery to repair the coarctation and VSD. His chest was left open for four more days to accommodate internal swelling but otherwise, Asa pulled through like a superstar. A miracle. In another three weeks, he was nursing well and we finally took him home to his older brother, and friends, in the mountains where we live.

Our experience with Asa’s newborn cardiac crisis gave us emotional and spiritual resources that we would draw upon again, six months later, when he developed Infantile Spasms, a fairly rare and frequently devastating form of childhood epilepsy. Although Asa’s epilepsy remains a daily battle, he is now a lively 3 ½ year old, with a strong and caring heart. He is now the middle of three brothers, each unique, yet Asa’s more difficult journey has deepened and strengthened our own hearts, along with the hearts of everyone who knows him.

Blog content provided by Dana Powell, mother of Asa, and You’re the Cure Advocate

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Have you checked out the AHA store lately?

T-shirts, measuring bowls, jewelry and everything in between. This summer you can “Shop Heart” choose the best of AHA swag like cookbooks, apparel, and accessories.

You can help spread our message of heart health when you wear an American Heart Association t-shirt, jacket, lapel pin, or tie. In addition to great gear we also stock educational materials so you can share important heart and stroke prevention advice with family and friends. Best of all when you "Shop Heart" money spent supports the mission of the American Heart Association.

Check out the latest merchandise in the store and show your support for the AHA today. 

P.S.  – There is a limited edition You’re the Cure T-shirt in the store. But hurry, only a couple dozen remain!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Supreme Court Rules For the Affordable Care Act

We live in exciting times. While most of the time, the American Heart Association works with our You’re the Cure advocates on legislative issues, recently the AHA (with several other non-profit health organizations) was able to inform Americans across the country that their access to health care had been upheld by the Supreme Court through a ruling on the Affordable Care Act, directly through the court case King v Burwell.

In January, the AHA and other organizations (including the American Cancer Society & ACS Cancer Action Network, the American Diabetes Association, and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society) submitted a brief that urged the Supreme Court to rule the original intention of Congress had been to make tax credits for health insurance available to all, not just residents of states that decided to participate in a state health insurance exchange.

The King v Burwell ruling means that residents of states which had previously opted to participate in a federal health insurance exchange will be able to continue to benefit from tax credits for the health insurance they have chosen. Consequently, Americans who participate in the insurance exchange and are eligible will be able to expect tax credits for their policies [this does not affect those who currently receive insurance through their employers].

What does this mean for cardiovascular and stroke? Two facts worth noting for those who are uninsured:

  • Uninsured patients with cardiovascular disease experience higher mortality rates and poorer blood pressure control than the insured.
  • Uninsured people who suffer the most common type of stroke have greater neurological impairments, longer hospital stays and up to a 56 percent higher risk of death than the insured.

American Heart Association President Nancy Brown had this to say in her statement reflecting on the court’s ruling: "We commend the Court for not halting premium tax credits in the federal marketplaces, enabling an estimated 6.4 million people in 34 states to keep the assistance that makes their health insurance affordable. As a result, these patients can continue to focus on their healing and recovery, instead of worrying about losing their coverage and care. Now that the Affordable Care Act has survived two major Supreme Court challenges, it’s time for our nation to concentrate on improving the law and enrolling as many uninsured Americans as possible so everyone can receive the quality health and preventive care they need."

History is made every day, and we are thankful for our advocates who help us change our communities for the better.

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Lori Valencia Greene

Lori Valencia Greene, Maryland

Lori Valencia Greene is a woman of many hats: mother, daughter, friend, student, and an advocate for change in her community. She was surprised at the young age of 47 to also find herself a stroke survivor!

Lori has always had a desire to make a difference. Because of this she volunteered in her native District of Columbia since she was a teenager.

Lori first became involved with advocacy work in 1985 when she took a job as a legislative assistant on the Hill where she worked for 10 years, including two stints as Legislative Director. She fell in love with the work and eventually took jobs lobbying for Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the National Black Women's Health Project, and the American Psychological Society (APA). While working for the APA, Lori was an advocate for a bill that would eliminate race and ethnic health disparities. One of her proudest moments was seeing this bill turned into law. She says, “I like advocacy work because I feel like I am making a difference, particularly when I am advocate for people who can't advocate for themselves.”

Lori’s stroke experience brought her many challenges, but it also gave her a new drive for advocacy work. “After going through the whole process I realized that there is still a lot of work to be done. I had great care, but there were things that could have been improved and there is still a lot that isn't known about why people have strokes.” After her stroke, Lori stumbled on the American Heart Association web page where she happily signed up for advocacy volunteer work, and has been an active advocate for You're the Cure ever since. She is currently serving on an advisory committee for You’re the Cure.

Of all of the experiences that Lori has had, she says she is most gratified by her advocacy work. Lori’s advice to advocates is to have passion and patience. “Don't give up. Just don't give up. Its' easy to give up, but don't do it. The people you are advocating for need you.”

Are you passionate about advocacy? Tell us your story HERE.

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Celebrating AHA Rockstars

 

On June 16th, the American Heart Association’s (AHA) Greater Washington Region (GWR) hosted its 4th annual ambassador recognition reception at the Bank of America building in Washington, DC. The event highlighted and recognized AHA’s most active and effective volunteers and advocates in the DC area during the past fiscal year. Over 50 ambassadors and advocates were honored for their outstanding contributions throughout the course of the fiscal year.

Troy Johnson, a reporter for NBC4 Washington and other DC media outlets emceed the ceremony along with GWR Executive Director Soula Antoniou.

The awardees were recognized for their devotion to AHA, for giving their time and energy to the mission, championing policy priorities to governments in DC, MD, and VA, and for helping to pass life-saving legislation by testifying at hearings and communicating with lawmakers. Awardees were also honored for sharing their stories at AHA events including Heart Walk, Stroke Awareness Day, and Lawyers Have Heart.

Special honors were given to the GWR’s “Mission Pioneers” - individuals who are not only top level ambassadors, but who have served on Mission and Advocacy committees and the DC Stroke Collaborative. These volunteers have given their time and extraordinary energy at countless events, fundraising and serving as media spokespeople.

Several You’re the Cure advocates were honored for their contributions to AHA’s policy campaigns in Washington, DC during the fiscal year, including: Neha Aggarwal, Dr. Richard Benson, Nancy Chapman, Michele Coleman, and Franciel Dawes.

Outgoing GWR board president Dr. Todd Villines was given special recognition for his exceptional leadership during this fiscal year. While leading the board, Dr. Villines has worked diligently to raise awareness of CPR training in schools in DC, VA, and MD. He is leading GWR’s Community Plan project and passionately advocates for AHA’s priorities in the DC Council. .

The American Heart Association’s Greater Washington Region could not achieve its impact goals without these incredible volunteers. AHA is incredibly grateful for all of the hard work and energy by our GWR ambassadors and advocates and their contributions to our mission.

 

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Michele Coleman

Michele Coleman, District of Columbia

“This is not supposed to happen,” uttered Michele Coleman, remembering vividly the moment that cardiologists told her that her newborn baby was being rushed into open-heart surgery at seven days old. Little Dylan is Michele’s youngest of two sons, and quite the trooper. A resident of Washington, DC and planning to deliver Dylan there, Michele thought she had everything all mapped out. However, her OBGYN had different plans. Michele’s first son was delivered at a hospital in nearby Silver Spring, MD, and that is where her doctor wanted to deliver Dylan. So when the time came, Michele and her husband packed up their things, and off to MD they went - only a few miles away.

Delivery went smoothly, and doctors scurried off to take Dylan for his routine newborn screenings. All of the screening results came back normal, except for the pulse oximetry test. While waiting for doctors to explain what that meant, Michele had no reason to be overwhelmingly worried. Seven hours passed as they waited for a cardiologist to commute from Fairfax VA, to Silver Spring MD. Dylan was then taken for an echocardiogram, which revealed he was suffering from multiple critical congenital heart defects. Michele and her husband were dismayed to learn Dylan needed to be prepped for open-heart surgery.

“Plumbing issues, that’s how I like to describe Dylan’s heart,” simplified Michele. Dylan was born with an Interrupted Aortic Arch, Aortopulmonary Window, and a Patent Ductus Arteriosus. If not caught by the pulse ox test, Dylan would have passed away within 48 hours of discharge.

“In some ways, it's fate,” says Michele, thinking about how fortunate it was she gave birth in MD. At the time of Dylan’s birth in December of 2012, the state of MD had just passed a law requiring pulse ox testing for all newborns. Dylan was the first baby in MD since the law had passed to have had an abnormal pulse ox test reveal critical congenital heart defects requiring immediate treatment. Washington DC, where the Colemans live, had no such requirement.

Since then, it’s been Michele’s dream to not let another newborn leave the hospital without receiving this crucial lifesaving screening. She became a passionate You’re the Cure advocate with the American Heart Association, helping to gather and prepare other families to support the pulse ox issue as it came before the DC Council, and testifying before the committee hearing. She also works with the Pediatric Congenital Heart Association and leads the DC Chapter of Mended Little Hearts, a support group that provides encouragement and education to children and parents suffering from congenital heart defects.

Through the extraordinary advocacy of Michele and other parents like her, the Healthy Hearts of Babies Act was unanimously passed by the DC Council in June of 2015, and will become an enacted law in the fall. As a result, every newborn in the nation’s capital will be assured to receive heart defect screening with pulse oximetry prior to leaving the hospital.

Having lived through this experience, Michele has made it her life’s mission to educate parents, teach them what resources are available, and to decrease preventable deaths from critical congenital heart defects.

Michele brought Dylan with her to testify for the bill.  She says, “Having the pulse ox bill pass in DC is quite a victory. It made me proud to be able to stand up and say, this is my story.”



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 



<Many thanks to AHA You're the Cure intern Lauren Spencer for her help in developing this Advocate Story.>

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Summer Health Tips

The arrival of summer means days at the pool, family barbeques, picnics, sports and other outdoor activities. Below are a few tips that you can use this summer to keep your whole family happy and healthy.

 

 

Staying active in the summer months

  • Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate! Drink plenty of water before, during and even after physical activity.
  • Protect your family from the sun.
  • Try to avoid intense physical activity during the hottest parts of the day (between noon to 3pm).
  • Dress for the heat.
  • Head indoors when the heat becomes unbearable. There are plenty of indoor activities that can keep you active on the hottest days.

Heart-Healthy Cookout Ideas

  • Go fish!
  • Make a better burger by purchasing leaner meat and adding delicious veggies.
  • Replace your traditional greasy fries with some heart healthy baked fries.
  • Veggie kabobs are a fun and healthy addition to your family barbeque.
  • Try grilled corn on the cob.

Healthy Road Trip

  • Make “rest breaks” active.
  • Pack healthy snacks to avoid the unhealthy foods at rest stops along your way.
  • Pack to play to continue your regular physical activity.
  • Reach for water instead of being tempted by sugary drinks.

Summer Snack Ideas

  • Homemade freezer fruit pops are an easy and fun treat for the whole family.
  • Keep your veggies cool and crisp during the summer months and they becoming a refreshing treat.
  • Fruit smoothies area a healthy way to cool yourself down on a hot summer day.
  • Mix up your own trail mix to take on all of your summer adventures.
  • Just slice and serve all the delicious fruits that are in season during the summer months.

 

Read more about these tips and other getting healthy tips over at www.heart.org/GettingHealthy 

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Yolanda Dickerson

Yolanda Dickerson, Mid-Atlantic Affiliate

I am the product of my village.  When I received the AHA Survivor Advocate of the Year award in DC two years ago, I knew it was really not about me. The award is a culmination of those who invested in me and what I’ve learned up to this point. For more than 11 years now I have raised money for heart walks, volunteered for American Heart Association (AHA) in booths at various events, and been a guest speaker to parents, survivors and even AHA staff.  I have helped train other advocates, spoken to countless legislators, and been featured in Public Service Announcements, but these things didn’t start with me.

My advocacy story started with my mother who encouraged all four of her children to not let adversity stop their dreams and to help others along the way.  I learned the power of resolve in the face of limitations from my brother Darrell; of working smart (not hard) from my brother Rodney; and to stay focused on family from both my younger brother Willie and Cousin Charles. My daughter, Ilana, has taught me the benefits of (sometimes) being silly and enjoying the moment.

These lessons have been honed and sharpened by AHA/YTC staff and volunteers through trainings and practice sessions. How could I begin to thank Sloan Garner, Betsy Vetter, Kacie Kennedy all the other AHA/YTC folks who have put time, trust, and support in my success as an advocate and as a person. Every survivor, caretaker, and medical provider I meet leaves their mark and positive influence on my resolve to continue volunteering. I can’t run cross country, but I can effect change that reaches beyond my community one volunteer effort at a time.

 To all those named and unnamed members of my ‘village’ I say thank you and I will continue to honor you by using my abilities to help others.

 Yolanda Dickerson, You’re the Cure Survivor-Volunteer-Advocate

 

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