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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 www.heart.org/sodium 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 david.francis@heart.org or Mark Landreth at mark.landreth@heart.org.

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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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LaTonya Richardson, Florida

Guest Blogger: LaTonya "Toni" Richardson

In 2010, two weeks after attending a Go Red For Women event and learning about F.A.S.T., I experienced  a transient ischemic attack (TIA).  As I recovered,  I decided that I wanted, and needed, to do something in regards to educating my people, community and all women about heart disease, the #1 killer of all women, and stroke, the #1 killer of  African-American women. 

Since then I have been volunteering at my local AFHA speaking at churches telling my WHY, speaking at various Heart Month events, and participating every year since my TIA with the local Heart Walk, Heart Ball and Go Red For Women events. 

I still feel that I can always do more and I try with each opportunity I get.  I also felt that I did not see enough people who looked like me advocating for people of color.  Again, strokes are what’s killing my people and I wanted to let my people know of the ways that we as a society could break that cycle.  Of course, we could not change that we are black and women, but, we could pass along key information that could possibly save a life. 

In a nutshell I do it for me, my daughter and all the women - especially women of color - to know that we have a voice.  If my story or advocacy can help someone then my job as an advocate is done.   I feel that I am already advocating on a small level and would love the opportunity to impact on a larger scale to potentially reach a larger range of people in my state.

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Florida Advocates Urge Legislators to Pass the Buck

On Thursday, Jan. 21, volunteers and staff from the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, Campaign for Tobacco Free Florida and the American Lung Association came to Tallahassee to ask Florida’s legislative leaders to make the fight against tobacco a priority. The group met on the steps of Florida’s Historic Capitol, asking the legislature to “Pass the Buck” and support an increase in the cigarette surcharge.

The bill to increase Florida’s cigarette surcharge by $1 (Senate Bill 758 by Senators Clemens and House Bill 335 by Representative Stark) has not been heard yet in committee, but that didn’t stop our volunteers from braving the weather and showing up to support the efforts for our coalition. Increasing the price of cigarettes will reduce tobacco consumption, decrease the state’s health care costs from tobacco-related disease and generate additional funding to invest in our health care system.

The bill has a number of cosponsors, Representatives Hazel Rogers (D – Lauderhill), Daphne Campbell (D – Miami Shores), Reggie Fullwood (D- Jacksonville), Lori Berman (D - Boynton Beach), Jared Moskowitz (D – Coral Springs), José Javier Rodríguez (D – Miami) and Senators Dwight Bullard (D – Cutler Bay), Jeremy Ring (D – Margate) and Chris Smith (D – Fort Lauderdale), so thank you very much for supporting our lifesaving tax initiative.

Thank you to those volunteers and staff who were able to join us! Never doubt that your efforts make a difference. To see more pictures from the day, search #PasstheBuckFL on your favorite social media outlet.

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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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