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Every Idahoan Deserves Access to Affordable Healthcare

Right now in Idaho, approximately 78,000 individuals fall into what is known as the coverage gap. These are Idaho workers, veterans, and others who do not have access to affordable healthcare because they earn too much to qualify for Medicaid programs, but not enough to receive tax subsidies to purchase their own insurance. This coverage gap must be closed and that is what the Healthy Idaho Plan wants to do.

The Healthy Idaho Plan was created as a collaborative effort based on recommendations from the Governor’s Health Exchange Working Group. This consisted of a diverse array of individuals and organizations including physicians, legislators, business owners, and non-profit organizations to ensure hardworking Idahoans are able to seek care and receive the necessary services they need in order to stay healthy.

Currently, Idaho is failing to take advantage of federal dollars that could go towards covering healthcare costs, while at the same time continuing to spend millions of dollars in catastrophic and indigent care. In 2015, it is calculated that by not accepting federal dollars, Idaho forfeited $173 million in savings.  Just think of the investment we could make in Idaho’s future with that money.

Under the Healthy Idaho Plan, federal dollars would be used to help Idahoans purchase affordable health care coverage in the private insurance market, while others would gain coverage through a new Medicaid plan focused on personal responsibility and accountability. This plan saves taxpayer dollars, eliminates redundant government spending, maintains our autonomy to make healthcare decisions, and addresses our state’s needs.

The American Heart Association supports these efforts to ensure all Idahoans have access to affordable health care. If you are one of the 78,000 without access to affordable care, we want to hear from you.  If you are living in the coverage gap, we want you to share your story. You can call 1.844.HELP78K (1.877.435.7785) or visit www.closethegapidaho.org/stories. You can also join Close the Gap Idaho on Facebook, or follow on Twitter, @closethegapID, and help show your support with #78000cantwait and #healthyID.

To learn more, visit www.closethegapidaho.org. Your support of American Heart Association and our coalition partner’s efforts will help us secure affordable, accessible health care for all Idahoans.

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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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Advocate Spotlight - Tim Gable

Meet Tim Gable, a young survivor who had a stroke at age 25 and spent his 26th birthday in the hospital.  Tim’s a new AHA/ASA volunteer who has become a key advocate for our upcoming Saving Strokes Event in Provo. Here’s Tim’s story…

My friends and I had decided to go on a short vacation for Easter weekend. On March 31, 2013 during breakfast I began feeling very dizzy and nauseous.  I informed my friends I was going to go lay down until I felt better. I was walking back to my room when suddenly my left leg would not hold my weight and I fell in the lobby.  I managed to pick myself up thinking what did I trip on? But I saw nothing. I made it to my hotel room door where I once again fell to the floor.  This time however I was unable to get back up and this was the first time I started to feel scared about what was wrong with me.  I lay on the floor just out of reach of the door.  I was there for 20-30 minutes before one of my friends came looking for me. 

He found me on the floor unable to get up.  He dragged me into my room and tried sitting me up but my body wouldn’t hold.  I kept falling over so my friend ran for help realizing something was wrong. He had another friend come and help him pick me up they then ran me out the back door into another friend’s waiting car.  They drove as quickly as possible to the nearest hospital emergency room.  When we arrived the hospital quickly took me in and diagnosed me with having a stroke. I was given TPA then put on an ambulance and rushed to another hospital that was better equipped to handle stroke. 

As soon as I arrived at the other hospital I was taken into surgery where they located the blood clot in my carotid artery in the right frontal lobe of my brain.  There were multiple attempts to remove the clot but every time it was removed it reformed and re blocked the blood flow. The surgeon tried everything he knew but he could not stop the clot from reforming, eventually it had to be left or the surgery was going to kill me.  The clot is still lodged in my head but I’m told there is no risk of it moving. 

The next day I awoke in the neural critical care unit with the worst headache.  Nurses were called in to check on me.  I was rushed to an MRI and it was determined that my brain was now swelling due to the damage done from the stroke and was pressing on the inside of my skull threatening more damage.  The surgeon gave my parents two choices they could remove a portion of my skull in an attempt to relieve the pressure or allow nature to take its course and allow me to pass away. The decision was made to have the bone flap removal surgery.  Which luckily worked and ended up saving my life. 

I spent two weeks in the neural critical care unit and was then transferred to another hospital where I immediately began occupational, physical and speech therapy each day for the next month and a half. My doctors pushed me to do as much therapy as possible due to my young age the more I did early on the more I had the chance of getting back. By the time I was released to go home I was able to walk on my own with little to no assistance.  I immediately started outpatient occupational, physical and speech therapy each day. I continued this for the next year continually improving until I was finally able to pass the driving tests and get my license back!

I returned to school and finished my degree in business management. During this time I felt the need to do more for people like myself who have suffered a stroke and recently participated in an event called Saving Strokes.  As a result I have become a volunteer for American Stroke Association and hope to build a career where I might be able to use my experience and story to help others.

For more information about the Saving Strokes program click here.

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School is out for the summer, but the AHA is still looking out for students

Guest Blogger: Erin Bennett, Idaho Government Relations Director

The days keep getting hotter, and we are on fire, working hard to prepare for all the exciting things we will be doing this fall!

In 2014, we worked to pass CPR in Schools Legislation that will be implemented when school starts this fall. This means that every student starting as a freshman in Idaho schools will learn hands-only CPR before they graduate. That’s thousands of lifesavers being added to the Idaho population each year! We are now in the process of helping teachers and schools find easy ways to implement this new requirement and working with area first responders and others to make sure they are trained and ready.

In addition to our CPR in schools efforts, we’re also focusing on the importance of quality physical education (PE) classes and nutritious food options. We’ll be talking to advocates around the state to help support these efforts, with a focus on cultivating youth advocates. We want to hear from Idaho’s students!

Also, if there is a great PE program or school garden in your community or you walk or bike to school every day to stay active, we want you on our team!  We are in the process of identifying advocates across the state that are interested in talking to their Legislators and other community leaders about how we can be healthier throughout the school day. So if you know someone in school that wants to improve their PE and nutrition programs, we want to hear from you and potentially have you join us for our Youth Advocacy Day at the Capitol in January.  

We’ve got a lot more great things getting warmed up in advocacy, so stay tuned. But in the meantime, keep cool out there- I suggest taking a few laps in the pool to cool off, stay active, and have fun all at the same time!

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Test Your Knowledge of Sodium

Take our quiz to find out if you relationship with sodium and salt needs couples therapy!  Click here for the quiz.

You may be asking yourself: What’s the big deal about sodium? How does it affect my heart health?

Sodium is a mineral that’s essential for life. It’s regulated in the body by your kidneys, and it helps control your body’s fluid balance. It also helps send nerve impulses and affects muscle function.

When there’s extra sodium in your bloodstream, it pulls water into your blood vessels, increasing the total volume of blood inside. With more blood flowing through, blood pressure increases. It’s like turning up the water supply to a garden hose — the pressure in the hose increases as more water is blasted through it. Over time, high blood pressure may overstretch or injure the blood vessel walls and speed the build-up of gunky plaque that can block blood flow. The added pressure also tires out the heart by forcing it to work harder to pump blood through the body.

Here’s the scoop on high blood pressure, also known as the “silent killer” because its symptoms are not always obvious:

  • It’s one of the major risk factors for heart disease, the No. 1 killer worldwide.
  • It’s the leading risk factor of women’s deaths in the U.S., and the second leading risk factor for death for men.
  • One-third of American adults have high blood pressure. And 90 percent of American adults are expected to develop high blood pressure over their lifetimes.
  • More than 40 percent of non-Hispanic black adults have high blood pressure. Not only is high blood pressure more prevalent in blacks than whites, but it also develops earlier in life.

Even if you don’t have high blood pressure, eating less sodium can help blunt the rise in blood pressure that occurs with age, and reduce your risk of heart attack, heart failure, stroke, kidney disease, osteoporosis, stomach cancer and even headaches. The extra water in your body can also lead to bloating and weight gain. No wonder the American Heart Association wants you to change your relationship with salt!

Kids aren’t immune to the heartbreak of too much sodium either. Nearly 80 percent of 1-3 year olds and more than 90 percent of 4-18 year-olds in the U.S. get too much sodium, and this can start increasing their risk of high blood pressure when they are as young as 1 year old. Kids who have high-sodium diets are about 40 percent more likely to have elevated blood pressure than kids with lower-sodium diets. This puts them at higher risk for heart disease when they get older.

- See more at: http://sodiumbreakup.heart.org/sodium-411/sodium-and-your-health/

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Heart Saver Spotlight: Skylar Berry

Every year there are almost 424,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests in the United States, and of this figure an estimated 10,200 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests happen to children.  Sadly, only 10% of victims who suffer a cardiac arrest outside of a hospital setting survive, largely in part because many victims do not receive timely CPR or AED application. 

Do you know CPR? If not, please take two minutes to learn the basics of Hands-Only CPR.

Skylar Berry can attest to the importance of knowing CPR.  In the summer, Skylar and her friends were at a birthday party and one of the attendees was found floating at the bottom of the pool, seemingly lifeless.  Thankfully, Skylar recognized that her classmate was not joking and not breathing and helped pull him from the pool. She checked his pulse, and then realized CPR might be the last resort to reviving her classmate.  Because of her immediate actions, her classmate survived and was back to life as normal within a few days. 

Thankfully Skylar learned CPR techniques in Fire Camp hosted by the Sacramento Metro Fire Department a few weeks prior to the incident.  “I am so glad I learned CPR because it helped save my friend’s life,” said Berry. “It was scary but I was calm and remembered the training I received. I just shouted to the adults to Call 9-1-1 and immediately started doing CPR after we pulled him from the pool.”

Unfortunately, 70% of Americans feel helpless to act during an emergency cardiac situations and only 32% of cardiac arrest victims receive bystander CPR, which largely attributes to low survival rates.

To view the full story, please visit here.

Studies show that teaching students lifesaving skills of CPR techniques in school will empower our youth and put thousands of lifesavers in our community.  Keeping this in mind, Skylar now teaches groups of students at her elementary school Hands-only CPR because she knows that emergency situations can happen at any time and she wants to do her part to put more lifesavers on the streets of her community.

Thank you Skylar for being a Heart Saver and for going above the call of duty to empower your classmates to learn Hands-Only CPR!

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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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Shrimp Tacos - Delicious Decisions

Cooking at home more often is a great way to start changing your relationship with salt. Meals on the go can be hard on your heart, because many prepared foods and restaurant foods are loaded with sodium. And did you know that meals away from home account for nearly half the money Americans spend on food?

Eating healthier (and saving money as an added bonus) isn’t as hard as you might think. This summer, try our recipe for Heart Healthy Shrimp Tacos below. 

Serves 4, has roughly 206 calories and 308 mg of sodium per serving.

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup of fat-free sour cream
  • 2 tbsp. snipped, fresh cilantro
  • 1 tsp. canola or corn oil
  • 13-14 oz. peeled, raw shrimp, rinsed, patted dry
  • ½ tsp. chili powder
  • ½ tsp. ground cumin
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 6-inch corn tortillas
  • 2 cups shredded lettuce
  • 1 small tomato, diced
  • 2 tbsp. sliced black olives

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl, stir together the sour cream and cilantro. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
  2. In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat, swirling to coat the bottom. Add the shrimp to the pan.
  3. Sprinkle the chili powder and cumin on the shrimp. Sprinkle with the garlic. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes if using large shrimp, or 2 to 3 minutes if using small, or until the shrimp are pink on the outside, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat.
  4. Using the package directions, warm the tortillas.
  5. Put the tortillas on a flat surface. Sprinkle with the lettuce, tomato, and olives. Spoon the sour cream mixture on each. Top with the shrimp. Fold 2 opposite sides of the tortilla toward the center. If you prefer a dramatic presentation instead, place 2 unfolded tacos side by side on a dinner plate. Fold each in half. Push a 6-inch wooden skewer through both tacos near the tops to hold them together. Repeat with the remaining tacos. Your family will be able to remove the skewers easily before eating the tacos.

Nutrition Tip: Shrimp are relatively high in cholesterol, but they are also very low in harmful saturated fat. Even if you're watching your cholesterol, you can still occasionally enjoy shellfish, including shrimp, as part of a balanced diet.

Click here for more low-sodium recipes.

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The American Heart Association is excited for summer

Guest Blogger: Erin Bennett, Idaho Government Relations Director

Despite the sometimes stormy weather, we’re excited for summer and all the great things we’re working on in Idaho!

On May 11-12, survivor and advocate Pamela Dell and I traveled to Washington, DC for the AHA’s National You’re the Cure on the Hill Lobby Day to talk our Congressional Delegation about heart healthy nutrition in schools and funding for the National Institutes for Health. We had great conversations with our delegation and their staff, and also presented the AHA National Public Service Award to Senator Crapo for his years of work on heart health issues.

Having school nutrition as one of the topics of discussion was a bonus in our member meetings, because of all the work we’ve been doing on the state level to encourage improved nutrition and physical activity. It was great to be able to discuss steps the state has already taken, and how support at a national level can help reinforce the advances we’ve already made, and boost progress as we continue our work.

We have big plans for the summer including meeting with state Legislators, administrative agencies, and working with different outside groups to create momentum behind improving physical activity/nutrition standards in Idaho schools through creative and innovative programs. 

I encourage all our fantastic volunteers and advocates to get out there and be active, to pack your healthy snacks, and share all the fun, heart healthy things you’ll be doing this summer, so we can show policymakers just how easy it is to improve heart health!

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Lobby Day MVPs in the Spotlight

There were SO many amazing stories surrounding this year’s Hill Day that it was hard to narrow down our annual lobby day award winners. Not a bad problem to have! Please join us in congratulating these You’re the Cure MVPs, and then learn more about their stories in this video.

 

  • Science Advocate of the year – Dr. David Yu-Yiao Huang: Dr. Huang has been involved with AHA advocacy since 2003. From submitting expert written testimony and attending in-district meetings, to speaking before lawmakers, his passion for policy and his belief in the positive change policy can achieve has contributed significantly to big wins in North Carolina.
  • Volunteer Advocate of the Year – Theresa Conejo: Theresa has been one of the key proponents of Pennsylvania’s comprehensive smoke-free law. Last year, she signed a smoke-free op-ed which was picked up by major news outlets across the state. She also aggressively advocated for the proposed Clean Indoor Law. In addition, she recruits new You’re the Cure advocates at every opportunity. In fact, just recently, she signed up an additional 35 volunteers to join her in Pennsylvania’s smoke-free fight.
  • Survivor Advocate of the Year – Jim Bischoff: Jim’s own struggle with heart disease, as well as his experience with his son-in-law’s stroke, gives him a unique perspective to share during state and federal lobby days and meetings with lawmakers. His family history inspired him to provide leadership on stroke systems of care legislation. He also dedicates his time to tobacco issues, and attends in-district meetings with his lawmaker to discuss both of these important issues.
  • Youth Advocate of the Year – Cassidy Collins: Cassidy uses her story as a congenital heart survivor to illustrate the importance of AHA’s policy issues. At the age of 16, her resume is already quite impressive – she’s met with U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin to advocate for tobacco control funding; she has been a top fundraiser for the Roanoke Heart Walk for two years; and she has applied to work as a youth advocate for the Alliance for a Healthier Generation.

Check out a video highlighting our award winners below.

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