American Heart Association - You’re the Cure

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We're Feeling Grateful

As AHA Advocacy staff, we get to work alongside the most remarkable volunteers- like YOU! We get to see lives improved and lives saved as a result of the work we’ve done together, and for that, we're grateful.

As You’re the Cure volunteers, you share personal stories of loved ones lost too soon, of survival, or of triumph over heart disease or stroke- all because you know your stories will make a difference in someone else’s life. It is often those stories that convince lawmakers to pass the policies making our communities healthier.

Because of you, more babies are being screened with Pulse Ox and having their heart defects corrected before it’s too late. Because of you, people in communities around the country have been saved by students who learned CPR in school. Because of you, people are getting better stroke care, families have safe places for active play, fewer people are smoking, and kids are eating healthier food at school.  The impact you’re making is incredible, and our communities are better places- because of you.

You make us cry. You share your joy. You inspire us. You amaze us. And we’re just so grateful for all you do.

We’re including YOU as we count our blessings this month, and we wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends!   

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Chris McLachlin - Hawaii advocate helps to organize golf event for stroke survivors

Over a dozen Oahu stroke survivors and their caregivers participated in the inaugural American Heart Association Saving Strokes event held at the Ko Olina Golf Club on Oct. 21. The event was funded through a generous grant from the H.T. Hayashi Foundation.

AHA You’re The Cure advocate Chris McLachlin, himself a stroke survivor, worked with the AHA’s staff to help organize the event. Below are a few words from him on the event:

The AHA staff approached me about helping to organize the event because of my background as both a stroke survivor, and my connections to golf since my son Parker plays on the professional tour. Parker’s first coach is Greg Nichols, the general manager and director of golf at Ko Olina Golf Club. I know that Greg is service- and community-minded, so it was easy for me to call him and ask his club to host the event.
Greg’s staff was tremendous in accommodating both survivors with limited disability, as well as those with more severe disability. They were great at teaching basic skills in putting, chipping and driving the ball. The stroke survivors who I spoke with after the event expressed great satisfaction and a feeling of accomplishment in doing something that they didn’t before think that they could do. You could see their self-confidence grow, as well as the collegiality formed between them, the pros, and their caregivers. It was an exciting event and I’m looking forward to helping organize another one here in Hawaii.

Thank you Chris for everything you do for the AHA. Without volunteers like you we couldn't do what we do.

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The 2016 Legislative session is just around the corner

2015 was a very successful legislative session in Hawaii. With your help we passed 3 lifesaving pieces of legislation:

Screening Newborns for Heart Defects - The Hawaii State Legislature passed legislation requiring that all babies born in birthing centers are screened for critical congenital heart defects using pulse oximetry to provide them a better chance of survival and improve their long-term health.

Stroke Systems of Care - The Hawaii State Legislature passed legislation requiring all Hawaii acute stroke hospitals to collect and submit patient stroke data to the State Department of Health to be used to optimize the quality and timeliness of Hawaii’s stroke system of care and improve patients’ outcomes.

Tobacco to 21 - The Hawaii State Legislature became the first in the country to pass legislation raising the age of purchase and possession of tobacco products to 21. Research shows that if young people avoid smoking before that age, they are very unlikely to ever pick up the deadly and expensive addiction.

With help from advocates like you we hope to make the next year just as successful as we work to build a healthier Hawaii.

Our 2016 priorities are:

CPR in Schools - We will continue to pursue policy to train public high school students in CPR before graduation, preparing the majority of Hawaii's 53,000 annual high school students to administer CPR in an emergency. Receiving early CPR, one of the keys in the “chain of survival” can triple a victim’s chance of surviving a sudden cardiac event.

Obesity Prevention - Frequent consumption of sugary beverages like soda, sports drinks and energy drinks is a leading risk factor for chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes, and contributes to overweight and obesity. We will pursue legislation to remove sugary beverages as the default selection in restaurant children’s meals.

Tobacco Tax - Increase cigarette tax by a minimum $0.50 with revenue earmarked to address chronic disease prevention, and tobacco education, prevention and cessation, especially in those disparately-affected, and of lower-socioeconomic status.

Stroke Facility Designation - Enact statewide policy for the formal recognition of stroke facility designations and the development and implementation of EMS transport protocol plans for acute stroke patients in accordance with AHA criteria. This will ensure that stroke victims in Hawaii are taken to the hospital best equipped to help them and that they will receive the best care possible as quickly as possible.

We could not achieve success without you, our dedicated advocates. Thank you for your support and remember to keep an eye out for our emails in the upcoming months so that you can influence your policymakers on these important issues.

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October 29th is World Stroke Day

October 29th is World Stroke Day, a day to raise awareness about stroke, Hawaii’s third 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 he was only 25 when he had a stroke over Easter weekend. Timothy is one example of the thousands of individuals affected by stroke each year.

The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association is working with its community partners in Hawaii to improve the professional systems of care for stroke patients, but much of that work is dependent on the public quickly recognizing stroke warning signs and immediately calling 9-1-1 to insure the stroke patient receives the most timely, appropriate care at the nearest medical center equipped to provide advanced stroke treatment. The AHA/ASA 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

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Heart Healthy Trick-or-Treating

Written by Violet Ruiz, Government Relations Director

It’s finally October and during this time of the year, there are many opportunities to gather with friends and family.  Maybe you’re having a party with the neighborhood, a small gathering of school friends, or plan to just walk the neighborhood and enjoy wonderful costumes that your kids (and maybe yourself) may be counting down to show it to the world! Whatever your plans, remember to take the time to prioritize your heart health.

Try my favorite tips to make your fall festivities fun, safe, and healthy for you, your family, all those trick-or-treaters and party guests.

For the Trick-or-Treaters:

  • Remember to have a healthy meal BEFORE you go trick-or-treating. This reduces the temptation to “snack” while walking.
  • Make this a fun family physical activity event. Set a goal of how many houses you will walk to and then stick to it!
  • Find the right sized collection bag for your child. Steer clear of the pillow case method.

Safety tips to keep in mind:

  • Bring a flash light while walking.
  • Only go to houses with the porch light on.
  • Always inspect candy before allowing children to eat it.
  • Stay in groups when trick-or-treating.
  • Use sidewalks when available, and use crosswalks when crossing busier streets. If your community doesn’t have walkable areas, tell us on social media!  We are actively working to improve our communities to foster heart-healthy activities.  Use #WeAreHeart and visit your local Facebook page and tell us where we should start!

For the Stay-At-Home Host:

  • Be “That House” that sets the standard for healthy living within your community or social group that offers heart-healthy treats to offer at gatherings or give out to trick-or-treaters.
  • For example, mini boxes of raisins, 100% juice juice-boxes, low-sodium snack sized pretzels, water bottles, pre-packaged dried fruits, bubbles, or your favorite heart-healthy treat.
  • Avoid gifting small toys that could be a choking hazard to little ones.

Post Festivities Tips on Staying Heart Healthy:

  • Avoid the urge to buy on-sale candy in the grocery stores after Halloween.
  • For the excess candy after festivities, allocate one treat a day and make sure to pair it with a healthy snack: an apple, a banana, some healthy nuts, or celery.
  • “Buy back” the candy from your child with money or tokens they can trade in for a fun activity: a day at the zoo, an afternoon playing at a local park, going ice skating, or a day at the pool.
  • Some dentist offices have been known to “buy-back” the candy from their patients so ask your dentist if they have a “buy-back” option!

For more tips, visit here.

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Share Your Story: Chris McLachlin

Chris McLachlin, Hawaii

I was a healthy 62 year old retired school teacher/coach when I experienced a severe stroke, paralyzing my entire right side and losing my speech. I was fortunate to be discovered quickly and got to a nearby hospital. Then I was fortunate that my clot was a non-bleeder and I was eligible for tPA. I was given tPA and have recovered almost 100% with few residual effects. I am obviously eternally grateful for the NIH funds that were available for the research to be done to clone tPA, a miracle cloning that has saved hundreds of thousands of lives since 1982. I hope that NIH funding is NOT cut so that more scientific miracles can be made possible.

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September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month and to help raise awareness with families across the country, the American Heart Association has brought back a fun and easy way to help you with the No. 1 health concern among parents – childhood obesity. Through the Life is Why Family Health Challenge™  families and kids will learn to take control of their health in four weeks by pursuing a different goal each week with activities that are fun, simple, won’t break the bank and can be done as a family! By the end of the month, you might feel accomplished and be better equipped to live a heart-healthy life. There will also be four Life is Why Family Health Challenge™ Twitter Chats every Wednesday in September.

Mark your calendars and get ready to take the challenge in September by visiting - where you will have access to videos, complimentary challenge materials, and the Life is Why Family Health Challenge™ social media group that will help you, and your family, stay on track.  



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Advocate Spotlight - Oahu Division Board

The American Heart Association’s Hawaii Division Board of Directors set the standard for all state and community boards across the AHA’s 10-state Western States Affiliate in their engagement in the organization’s health advocacy issues. Their efforts helped the Hawaii Board to achieve Gold Standard, the highest level of achievement for AHA volunteer boards.

Hawaii Division Board members registered 233 advocacy actions versus their goal of 20 actions, smashing the goal by 1165 percent! Hawaii Board members also logged 49 priority actions (interactions with high level decision makers) versus their goal of 10 such actions (surpassing that goal by 490 percent).

Their commitment to the AHA’s mission helped it to score a variety of policy wins including requirements for birthing centers to screen newborns for critical congenital heart defects, establishment of a state stroke data registry, adding e-cigarettes to the state’s smoke-free air law, and increasing the age to purchase tobacco products to 21.

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Healthy lunch ideas for the back to school season

Guest Blogger - Kami Sutton Grassroots Coordinator

Now that the kiddos have picked out their first day of school outfits, packed those backpacks and started to settle in to class, it is important that you send them off each day with a heart healthy, nutrition packed lunch they will actually eat! 

Here are a few ideas to get started. When it comes to sandwiches, don’t be afraid to mix it up each time with a slight switch in sandwich styles. Use different breads including 100% whole wheat tortilla wraps or whole wheat pita pockets. To add some veggies to the mix, try shredded carrots or avocado slices. And for a fun twist, use cookie cutters to cut their sandwiches into their favorite shapes. Who wouldn’t love to bite into a dinosaur or teddy bear shaped sandwich?


One great option are PB & J spirals with healthy Whole Wheat Tortillas, reduced fat peanut butter or almond butter, and 100% all fruit spread. Follow these easy steps to a delicious lunch:


1. Set a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat for about 1 minute, or until hot. Place the tortilla in the skillet. Cook for 20 to 30 seconds per side, or until just warm.

2. Place the tortilla on a cutting board. Spread the surface evenly with the peanut butter followed by the fruit spread. Roll into a tube. Slice into 8 equal pieces. Also don’t forget a delicious and healthy snack to go with their sandwich! Try Carrot, Celery and sweet pepper strips to dip into hummus, fresh salsa or homemade bean dip.


Visit How to Pack a Healthy School Lunch for more nutrition packed ideas to get your kids fueled up for learning!

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There is a new way to keep up with the American Heart Association in Hawaii

We want to thank you for being amazing You’re the Cure advocates over the last year and we want to give you another way to keep up on what is going on at the American Heart Association in Hawaii. During the course of the year we do our best to update you on what is happening with our advocacy efforts but we want to invite you to follow us on Facebook as well.

On our Facebook page you will see even more about what the American Heart Association is doing in our community. We will post updates on our advocacy efforts but you can also find information on community events, healthy recipes, new scientific research on heart disease and stroke and so much more.

Just follow this link and click the “like” button us so that you see our updates on your Facebook feed.

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