American Heart Association - You’re the Cure

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American Heart Association Praises Historic FDA Action to Remove Trans Fat from Foods

Washington, D.C., June 16, 2015 – American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown issued the following comments on the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) final determination that partially hydrogenated oils are no longer “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS), released today:

“The American Heart Association joins the public health community today in celebrating what is truly a historic victory for the nation’s health. After years of advocating for the removal of industrially produced trans fat from the country’s food supply, we couldn’t be more gratified that this day has finally come."

Click here to read more!

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Share your Story: Andrew Christensen

Andrew Christensen  Michigan

I was born on May 3,1990 with a rare heart condition called Truncus Arteriosus with ventricular bi septal defect, a condition that effects only 1% of children born with congenital heart conditions. It means that one large blood vessel leads out of my heart instead of two separate vessels coming out of the heart. Also, the two lower chambers of the heart are missing a portion of the wall that divides them. As a result of truncus arteriosus, oxygen poor blood that should go to the lungs and oxygen rich blood that should go to the rest of the body are mixed together. This was found minutes after my birth when I experienced what is called “blue baby syndrome” and was rushed into heart surgery at the University Of Michigan Mott Children’s Hospital.

The first surgery I had to repair the truncus was successful, but I did require two more open hearts within my first two weeks of life. This lead to me never living quite a normal life. Being fed through tubes as an infant, doctor appointments, medicine to take, and never being able to play sports like a normal child. I did have to have another open heart procedure at the age of 8, causing me to miss most of my second grade year at school. This was the first surgery I remember, but within days after returning home my mother caught me outside throwing a football and running around the yard. My childhood remained pretty normal with only a few minor bumps in the road with my condition: an Amplatzer placement when I was 11 years old to fix a leaking valve in my heart and a heart cath followed, and was told I was not going to have to experience another open heart procedure until my mid to late 20s.

I wish that was the case.  During baseball practice in junior high I suffered a major Tachycardia, a resting heart rate exceeding 100 bpm. Mine was 285 bpm when I arrived at the ER, but was much faster than that when it initially happened. I arrived at the Greenville emergency room nearly an hour after my tachycardia started and was rushed into a room where the medical staff franticly started an IV and hooked me up to a heart monitor; they were shocked to see that I was still alive and walking with such a fast heart rate. They administered a medicine that stopped my heart in order to restart it to a normal rhythm. I flat lined for about a minute and a half. I was clinically dead for that 90 or so seconds, experiencing an out-of-body experience in which I could not hear, feel, or see anything in the room that was in. The nursing staff could not start my heart back up right away due to the fact that it was simply too tired to work anymore. I eventually opened my eyes to see my mother five inches from me, tears running down her face and a blank expression for what she just saw happen to her son. When I awoke my heart rate was a calm 75 bpm and I felt tired, but normal.

After this event I was transported back to the University of Michigan for two more open heart surgeries, one ICD (implantable cardioverter defibrillator) placement, a collapsed lung, and 45 pound weight loss. After about two months I was able to return home with my family. However, I did not return as my old self. I brought home not only physical scars from my ordeal, but mental scars too. I have since been diagnosed with PTSD, major depression, and anxiety along with panic attacks and nightmares about having another heart attack. I am, however, getting better and working daily to regain control of my life.

That is why I want to be proactive in helping others with heart conditions, and those who have had similar experiences.  I have felt alone for a long time, but I know I am not, and this website is proof of that.  I am going to dedicate my life to helping others with congenital heart defects: children, adults, anyone who needs it.  I am very glad to be able to share my story with all of you and the American Heart Association and I hope to be more involved in the future.  I'm excited about where this journey of my life will take me and the people I will meet that will inspire me.

Thank you for reading my 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 

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Have you learned Hands-Only CPR?

Did you know that last week was CPR week?  If you missed it, don't worry - there is always time to learn!


Why Learn Hands-Only CPR?

Cardiac arrest – an electrical malfunction in the heart that causes an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) and disrupts the flow of blood to the brain, lungs and other organs – is a leading cause of death. Each year, over 326,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur in the United States. 

  • When a person has a cardiac arrest, survival depends on immediately getting CPR from someone nearby.
  • According to the American Heart Association, 90 percent of people who suffer out-of-hospital cardiac arrests die. CPR, especially if performed immediately, can double or triple a cardiac arrest victim’s chance of survival.
  • Most Americans (70 percent) feel helpless to act during a cardiac emergency because they don’t know how to administer CPR or they’re afraid of hurting the victim.

Be the Difference for Someone You Love

If you are called on to give CPR in an emergency, you will most likely be trying to save the life of someone you love: a child, a spouse, a parent or a friend.

  • 70 percent of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests happen in homes and residential settings.
  • Unfortunately, only about 39% of people who experience an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest get the immediate help that they need before professional help arrives.
  • Hands-Only CPR has been shown to be as effective as conventional CPR for cardiac arrest at home, at work or in public. It can double or even triple a victim’s chance of survival.

Music Can Save Lives

  • Hands-Only CPR has just two easy steps: If you see a teen or adult suddenly collapse, (1) Call 9-1-1; and (2) Push hard and fast in the center of the chest to the beat of the disco song “Stayin’ Alive.”
  • People feel more confident performing Hands-Only CPR and are more likely to remember the correct rate when trained to the beat of a familiar song.
  • During CPR, you should push on the chest at a rate of at least 100 compressions per minute. The beat of “Stayin’ Alive” is a perfect match for this.

Take 60 Seconds to Learn How to Save a Life

  • Watch the 60-second demo video. Visit to watch the Hands-Only CPR instructional video and share it with the important people in your life. You can also find a CPR class near you.

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Share Your Story: Becky Rinehart

Becky Rinehart Indiana

Becky Rinehart has been fighting for six years to return to a lifestyle she knew before she suffered a stroke. Prior to the stroke, she was a runner and played golf and softball. She is now an active walker and does other exercises.  The stroke also affected her ability to communicate, but she has been one of the hardest workers at rehabilitation sessions. She has also changed her diet to include more vegetables and fish. She is described as a “people magnet” who inspires students, clients and caregivers.

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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 below highlighting the award winners!

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How to Keep the Winning Game Going

You're the Cure on the Hill isn’t the only opportunity to connect with members of Congress! As their constituents, you have the power and the RIGHT to tell them at any time to step up to the plate on the heart and stroke issues you care about most.

Here are some tips for getting your lawmaker off the bench and into the game:


  • Follow them on social media and send them messages on issues you care about.
  • Sign up for their e-newsletters on their websites. This is a great way to learn about events where you can meet the lawmakers in person and stay informed.
  • Work with your local AHA advocacy staff to schedule an in-district meeting. Members of Congress come home throughout the year on recess breaks, so they use this time to meet with constituents back in the district. Take advantage of their time at home and schedule a meeting to discuss the heart and stroke issues that matter to you and your family.
  • Most importantly, take action year round. Watch your inbox for calls to action from You’re the Cure and continue engaging your lawmaker through emails, phone calls and tagging them in your social media posts.

We had a real impact this week, but we need to keep the momentum going. Let's keep reminding our members of Congress that they need to step up for heart health all year round!

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May is American Stroke Month

Anyone can have a stroke and everyone should be ready.

Every 40 seconds, someone in the U.S. suffers a stroke and every 4 minutes, someone dies from a stroke. That is why The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association is inviting all Americans to become Stroke Heroes by learning and sharing the warning signs of stroke, F.A.ST. (Face drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, Time to call 9-1-1).

Recognizing and responding to a stroke emergency immediately can lead to quick stroke treatment and may even save a life. Be ready!

Here is how you can participate in American Stroke Month

  • Share the F.A.S.T. acronym with your friends, family and loved ones throughout American Stroke Month.
  • Share our F.A.S.T. Quiz to test your stroke knowledge.
  • Download our free Spot a Stroke F.A.S.T. mobile app to prepare you in case of a stroke emergency and to have easy access.

Go to to learn more about how you can get involved.




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From the Bottom of our Hearts - Thank You!

National Volunteer Week (April 12-18) is right around the corner and we couldn’t let it pass without saying how much we appreciate all your contributions as a You’re the Cure advocate. It’s advocates like you who give their time, energy, and passion to help create healthier communities across the country.  We are deeply grateful for your commitment and talent as an advocate.

Since staff can’t always shake your hand and say thank you in person we’ve got a brief video to share. When you watch I am sure you too will be moved by all the great work happening in your states and communities and we look forward to more success in the future. Take a moment to check out the video and then encourage other to get involved and join in the fun.

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Event wrap-up: Hoosiers for a Healthier Indiana Advocacy Day at the Statehouse

We are glad to have so many wonderful advocates, volunteers, lawmakers able to join us for the Hoosiers for a Healthier Indiana Advocacy Day at the Statehouse last month!  With over 100 attendees, we know many conversations occurred with our lawmakers about the importance of increasing the price of tobacco products.  Check out these great pictures from the event!

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