American Heart Association - You’re the Cure

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Meet Mark, Our Senior Government Relations Director

You're the Cure alerts for Florida will soon come from Mark Landreth, our Senior Government Relations Director in the state. If you haven't met Mark yet, we'd like to introduce you.

Before joining our team six months ago, Mark served as the Executive Director for the Florida Association of Professional Lobbyists for five years, where he increased membership by 20 percent and generated a 15 percent growth in conference sponsorships. Prior to his work with FAPL, he was the Director of Legislative Development for eight years and Vice President of Legislative Affairs for two years at the League of Southeastern Credit Unions, where he managed contract lobbyists, grassroots and support staff. He was also the Executive Director for the Florida Optometric Association for twelve years, where among multiple accomplishments he created and implemented a nationwide effort for disaster relief assistance for members devastated by Hurricane Andrew (Project FLOAT). This program later served as a national model for efforts in disaster relief across the country.

Mark has two Bachelor’s Degrees; one in Journalism from UF and another in Political Science from UCF. He is a Certified Association Executive, Graduate, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institutes for Organization Management and a graduate of Leadership Tallahassee. In addition to his long list of professional accomplishments, he has also numerous civic, charitable and professional organizations.

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Slow Cooker Thai Chicken Soup

If, like most people, you have a hectic schedule and can’t spend a lot of time in the kitchen, but you want to feed your family a nutritious meal at dinner, then this recipe is for you.

The American Heart Association’s website,, publishes many tasty recipes that don’t take much time, and can be expanded to fit your family no matter the size. This recipe, for slow-cooker Thai Chicken Soup, serves six and is reasonably priced at $1.14 per serving.  The list of ingredients is not very long and using pre-cut ingredients like sliced white mushrooms and a bag of frozen stir-fry mix makes this “Simple Cooking with Heart” recipe a cinch to put together in the morning before work.



2 lb. boneless large chicken breasts (aim for 2 breasts, 1 pound each)

14.4 oz. packaged onion and pepper stir-fry mix

16 oz. packaged white mushrooms

1/2 (13.5-ounce) can lite coconut milk

4 cups low-sodium chicken stock

2 Tbsp. lime juice

1/4 tsp. red hot chile flakes

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. ground black pepper

10 oz. packaged frozen peas

1/2 cups fresh basil or cilantro leaves

4 oz. raw rice vermicelli noodles, roughly chopped or broken

Asian hot sauce like Sriracha, to serve (optional)


Place chicken into the bottom of a large slow cooker. Add stir-fry mix and mushrooms on top of the chicken; pour coconut milk and chicken stock over the entire mixture. Cover with lid and let mixture cook on high heat for 4 hours or on low heat for 8 hours until chicken is tender.

When about to serve, if your heat is on low, turn it to high. Use tongs to transfer chicken to a bowl. Into the slow cooker, stir in lime juice, chile flakes, salt, pepper, peas, basil, and vermicelli noodles, making sure the noodles are mostly submerged in the liquid. Cover slow cooker with lid and cook until noodles have softened, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, carefully transfer hot chicken to a cutting board and cut into bite-sized pieces. Stir back into the soup. Ladle soup into bowls and serve with hot sauce, if desired.

Additional Tips:

Serving size: 2 cups

Cooking Tip: When using a slow cooker, make sure the ingredient that needs to be cooked the most (like meat) is placed on the bottom, closest to the heat source.

Keep it Healthy: While a little harder to find, substitute brown rice vermicelli for the rice vermicelli noodles if you can find them.

Tip: Buying a container of already-squeezed lemon or lime juice is a more cost-effective way of using citrus juice in recipes versus freshly-squeezed juice.


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Kimby Jagnandan, Florida

Guest Blogger: Kimby Jagnandan

On June 17, 2014, while recovering from emergency gall bladder surgery in the hospital, I awoke from the anesthesia to the most excruciating pain that I had ever felt in both of my upper arms.  They felt like they were encircled in fire.  I immediately began yelling for help.  I was so scared.  I knew something was dreadfully wrong.

The nurse immediately came over,  looked at my EKG and called a cardiologist.  Then the left side of my neck and jaw started hurting, and I told the nurse I might throw up.  Everyone started asking me questions about my heart.  I had no idea what was happening but I knew it was serious.  I saw a priest at the foot of my bed.  Was he there for me?  Was it that serious? 

Someone started doing an echocardiogram of my heart and asked me more questions.  Then I heard what the doctors were saying as they began to wheel me into the cath lab.  They said I would need another surgery.  I asked how many, and the doctor said hopefully just one.  I asked if I would need anesthesia to which the doctor replied I would be given a local anesthesia. 

When we got to the cath lab, I was transferred to a cold, hard table and I could barely see the x-ray monitor to my left.  The next thing I remember was the nurse at the head of my bed telling me I had a blockage.  I asked him what percentage.  He said about 80 percent and that’s when I knew that something was wrong with my heart.  Soon after, I began to violently cough up fluid on this operating table.  Later, I learned  that I was coughing because my heart ejection fraction had dropped to about 15 percent and my heart was barely pumping, so my lungs were filling with fluid.  They inserted a stent and a temporary balloon pump into my heart to help it pump better and then I was taken to ICU and put on a CPAP machine to help saturate my lungs with oxygen.  I wasn’t told until the next morning that I had suffered a massive heart attack and had not been expected to survive the night.  And that is the moment when my life changed.

I did not cry.  I did not get depressed.  I did not react negatively.  From that moment on, all I could do was think positively.  I had been given a second chance at life.  Things could only get better.  I was here for a reason, and I had to make it count.  Two days later, my heart ejection fraction was up to about 45 percent, and my doctors were calling it nothing short of a miracle.  I was 38 years old. 

My heart attack was completely unexpected, but it does run in my dad’s family.  I just never thought it could happen to someone my age.  I am now learning that heart attacks do not discriminate towards age, race, or gender, but they are the leading cause of death among women, which is something I did not know at the time.  Since then, many of my friends have shared their family history or their symptoms with me, and although I’m not a medical professional, I think it helps them to be able to relate to someone else who has gone through this.

After my heart attack, my heart health has become my #1 priority.  I completed three months of cardiac rehab, made a complete lifestyle change, changed jobs, cut out almost all dairy from my diet, stopped eating fried foods, limited my daily sodium and fluid intake, eliminated stress, and regularly monitor my weight and blood pressure.  As part of my healing and recovery, I have started blogging about my experience as a heart attack survivor and have met other survivors by networking through my blog.  I also enjoy sharing my story to help spread the message about women and heart disease as well as volunteering with the American Heart Association.  Keeping myself busy and remaining positive about life is what has helped me the most in the healing process.  My doctors think that my recovery has been fantastic, and they are pleased with my progress thus far.  I hope my progress continues for many years to come!

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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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Predist "Ron" Walker, Florida

Guest Blogger: Predist "Ron" Walker

I finished my running career, went into the Army for two years, and then joined my local Police Department in Newport News, Virginia where I became a member of the SWAT Team and a Field Training Officer.  One morning as I was running, I began coughing non-stop and ended up in the hospital with the diagnosis of an enlarged heart (dilated cardio myopathy).  The doctors informed me that I was in need of a heart transplant.  Despite my uncertain future, I stayed optimistic as I awaited a transplant.

On October 1, 1988 I received my new heart at the Medical College of Virginia with a promise to my family and doctors that I would keep this heart healthy which I did for 20 years.

In 1997 my family and I moved to Florida, and I jumped back into law enforcement, as a Criminal Investigator for the Public Defender's Office.  I still wanted to give back after such life changing circumstances, so I did my first Heart Walk in 1999 in West Palm Beach.  Seeing the wealth of information and other survivors of heart disease  made such an impact on me that I became a spokesperson for five of the 15 years I  participated in the walks, talking to the public about heart disease and stroke.  

Once again I became stricken with heart disease.  Fortunately, on Easter Sunday - 2008,  I received my second heart transplant and another chance at life.   I live smarter and a little wiser with the understanding that life is short, live it to the fullest.

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2016 Legislative Session Wrap Up

The 2016 Legislative Session has ended and we are happy to report that we finished strong!  We were able to pass a Healthy Food Financing bill, protect mandatory PE in schools, and ensure biomedical research and tobacco prevention and education were fully funded.

The voices of You're the Cure advocates were heard loud and clear in Tallahassee this year! 
Thank you for all the emails, letters and calls.  We could not have done our job without the efforts of all our volunteers. You truly are the cure.  Please click here to see a full session wrap up report.

Thank you again, for your time and support.  We hope you’ll continue to join us as we advocate for policies that build healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke.

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The healthy difference a month can make

March is Nutrition Month, and a perfect time to get more involved with the AHA’s ongoing efforts to promote science-based food and nutrition programs that help reduce cardiovascular disease and stroke.

Every day, we’re seeing new initiatives: to make fruits and vegetables more affordable; to reduce the number of sugar-sweetened beverages that our kids are drinking; and of course, to ensure students are getting the healthiest school meals possible, all with the same goal: to help families across the country lead the healthiest lives they possibly can.

It’s also a great opportunity to lower your sodium intake. The average American consumes more than 3,400 milligrams of sodium per day – more than twice the AHA-recommended amount. Excessive sodium consumption has been shown to lead to elevated blood pressure, which increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. Visit for tips on to lower your intake and to get heart-healthy recipes.

However you choose to celebrate, Nutrition Month gives us all the chance to take control of our diets; to recommit to eating fresh, healthy foods; and to remember all month long that you’re the cure.

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Florida's Healthy Food Financing Initiative Program Bill Passes in the House

Florida’s Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI) program bill is on its way to a floor vote in the Senate after passing the House of Representatives with a 118-0 unanimous vote. The bill has moved through the committee process on both sides of the legislature unanimously and we expect the Senate to pass the bill as well. There will be one more hurdle to overcome before the legislative session ends and that is to convince both the House and the Senate to fund the program at $5 million.

The HFFI bill could create hundreds of jobs, increase economic development and be a staple for revitalizing communities across the state. In order to accomplish these goals, the state will need to invest in the program. The money the state invests will be used to leverage private and federal funds to expand the pool of funding for projects that would increase access to healthy foods in food deserts. The more “seed” money the state provides, the more palatable it becomes for other investors to pool their funds so the program can finance more projects.

As we come to the end of session, we will be working through the process to get our state funding and to work with our volunteers and coalition partners to educate them on the opportunities the program could provide to their memberships and businesses. If you would like more information, contact David Francis at or Mark Landreth at

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Joslin Bellamy, Tallahassee

Joslin Bellamy is a longtime Tallahassee community advocate and volunteer. She has been on the forefront on many health and social equality issues, volunteering for such organizations as the: Orange Avenue United Tenants Association (Active Board Member and Vice President), Grace Mission Outreach Ministry (Community Mentor), Lawerence Gregory Community Center, Capital Area Community Action Agency (Head Start Program), Second Harvest (Resident Garden Advocate), and the FAMU Institute of Public Health.

Joslin has volunteered with the Florida Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI) since 2015, whereas she and her children contributed in an earned media American Heart Association produced video.  Further, she organized several neighborhood walks and has represented the HFFI at several public meetings and forums.  In September of 2015, she was featured on the front page of the Tallahassee Democrat, an article entitled “Sharing My Story of Survival in a Food Desert." She is a single mother of four (Janiyah-18, Jamaal-15, Jamari-10, and Jakaris-8), and a graduate of Florida State University High.

Click here to watch the American Heart Association's video featuring Joslin and her children, showing the importance of HFFI in Florida.

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Take the You're the Cure Advocate Survey

2015 was a great year for You're the Cure advocates and the many policy efforts that you work on. We have big plans for 2016, and we want to hear from you and what you want to see in the future for You're the Cure.

So take the survey now and let your voice be heard.

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