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Share Your Story: Scott Davis

Scott Davis Iowa

Stroke forced Scott Davis into retirement but it is his perseverance that put him back on the force.  Scott Davis is in the top 1 percent of people who suffer his kind of stroke. His update is below. 

His original story.

On Sunday Jan 18th I was getting ready for my job when I started to see blind spots in my vision.  The next thing I remember is waking up in the ICU at Mercy Hospital. It was 9:00 am when my wife texted me to let me know that she was awake.  She heard my phone go off down the hall so she went to check it out.  She found me somewhat unresponsive and thought maybe I was having another stroke.  But thanks to her paramedic training, she was able to quickly realize that I was having a seizure.

She called 911 and I was taken to the hospital. While in the ambulance, I had another seizure.  Upon reaching the hospital, I then had a third seizure, which turned out to be a grand mal one.  They performed several tests including an MRI and CT scan. I woke up several hours later.  They kept me in the hospital for three days.  Upon my release, I was able to return to work on a limited basis. They gave me meds for the seizures which made me fill better almost immediately.  I was even able to start working out again.

My condition seemed to be under control until another unexpected episode occurred on Sunday March 22nd, when my wife and I were shopping at the mall.  I started feeling weird so my wife walked me outside to sit down and get some fresh air for a few minutes.  Next thing I remember is waking up at the hospital, several hours later.  They kept me in the hospital for five days this time again performing several exams including CT, MRI and EEG to name a few. They also adjusted my seizure meds in an effort to find the right balance to control my seizures. 

Today, I’m really tired from everything my body has gone through in addition to getting used to my new medications.  Not knowing the status of my job, due to my health condition, just adds additional stress to my current situation. 

I’m planning on training and participating in several ½ marathons and triathlons again this year. I won’t give up on being active and I won’t give up on living. I’m fortunate that my wife is and has been a huge supporter of mine.  It helps that she is a paramedic.

 

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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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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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Share Your Story: Sneaky Salt

Sneaky Salt

Become an advocate in our fight against sneaky Salt! Say NO to the higher risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and other health problems linked to too much sodium.

Did you know that most Americans eat more than twice the American Heart Association’s recommended amount of sodium? Chances are, that includes you—even if you rarely pick up the salt shaker. Salt is sneaking up on us—mostly when we go out to restaurants or eat packaged foods. Check out this fun new 1-minute video to see for yourself: http://bit.ly/1trMjLv

This excess salt puts us at risk for elevated blood pressure which means an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. Stand up for your health and pledge to reduce your sodium intake today! Take the pledge here: http://bit.ly/1zrYF6R. Don’t stop there…Encourage your family and friends to take the pledge, too.

Want more info? Check out our new website, heart.org/sodium, for a quiz, infographics, recipes and more. Thank you for standing strong against "sneaky Salt!"

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VOTE for ISU's Coach Hoiberg

Coach Fred Hoiberg Iowa

It’s March Madness and the American Heart Association has made it into the Final Four in the Infiniti Coaches Charity Challenge. You see, Iowa State University Head Men’s Basketball Coach Fred Hoiberg is competing to win $100,000 for the American Heart Association – and he needs our help to make it a slam dunk win!

Coach Hoiberg was the ONLY coach to select the AHA as his charity, so it is important that we all support his efforts, regardless of your favorite college team.  Coach Hoiberg is also a survivor of heart disease which ended his NBA career early.  He is definitely an advocate for the AHA and a strong volunteer and supporter.  We appreciate his commitment to us – now let’s show our appreciation for him!

Please exercise your right to vote here today, and EVERY DAY through March 15, to help bring $100,000 to the American Heart Association. 

The Infiniti Coaches Challenge By the Numbers. . .

10– seconds it takes to create an ESPN account (if you don’t have one already)

0number of emails/correspondence you’ll get for creating an account (seriously, not a single one)

5seconds it takes to login and cast your vote each day

12number of votes EACH OF YOU represent between now and March 15

4,560number of votes we could generate by MIDWEST AFFILIATE STAFF ALONE

100,000dollars that could go to the AHA’s lifesaving research & education

Let’s continue to rally around heart disease survivor, Coach Fred Hoiberg, to push him over the top! 

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Heart attack care initiative expands to Iowa with $4.6 million Helmsley grant

The American Heart Association announced that it has received a $4.6 million grant from The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust to support the AHA’s Mission: Lifeline initiative in Iowa.

"This is a great day for rural health in Iowa, and especially for heart patients and their loved ones," said Kevin Harker, executive vice president of the AHA’s Midwest Affiliate. "Thanks to the vision and generosity of the Helmsley Charitable Trust and our other contributors and collaborators, we will be able to better coordinate heart attack care across the entire state, which will mean better outcomes for patients and more lives saved."

Launched in 2007, Mission: Lifeline works to improve coordination between local hospitals and EMS providers to shorten the time to lifesaving treatment for patients who have a type of heart attack called ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI).

Hundreds of thousands of Americans each year experience STEMI, in which blood flow is completely cut off to a portion of the heart. The more time it takes to open the blocked artery, the more damage is done to the heart muscle.

In rural America, the vast landscape and sparse healthcare resources have made it difficult to deliver fast treatment to STEMI patients.

"Mission: Lifeline ensures that the community, EMS providers and the health system are integrated and work seamlessly," said AHA CEO Nancy Brown. "Through Mission: Lifeline, we’re working to change the fact that 30 percent of STEMI patients don’t receive treatment. Of those who receive [artery-opening treatment], less than half are treated within the recommended 90 minutes."

The Helmsley Charitable Trust has provided funding in recent years for other Mission: Lifeline initiatives in South Dakota, North Dakota, Wyoming, Minnesota, Nebraska and Montana. This latest contribution for Iowa brings the Trust’s total Mission: Lifeline commitment to $36.8 million.

Nationally, Mission: Lifeline includes 835 hospitals, clinics, EMS agencies and first responders that cover nearly 83 percent of the U.S. population. Recognized Mission: Lifeline systems of care can be found using a nationwide map.

"We are seeing improved patient outcomes from Mission: Lifeline implementation," said Brown. "When everyone involved works together to do what’s best for the patient, everyone wins, because lives are saved."

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Share Your Story: Ms. Jennifer Caribardi

Ms. Jennifer Caribardi

As a registered nurse, and the Director of Critical Care Services, Jennifer was highly skilled in treating stroke patients. Yet when she herself showed clear signs of a stroke, she refused to believe it.  “I am too busy for this to happen,” she thought as her symptoms mounted. “I have to work. This can’t be happening to me.”

Jennifer was 58 and led an active life. She fell into the trap of thinking stroke is something that happens to other people.  “We can all be fooled, go down the ‘river of denial,’ ” she said. “Strokes happen to everybody, from babies that are in utero all the way out. And I know that intellectually. But there’s a difference between intellectually knowing something and emotionally being able to apply that to yourself.”

Jennifer is a no-nonsense, wisecracking mother of six grown sons. She’s a widow who loved her demanding, high-stress job handling the most urgent cases.  In retrospect, there were signals that she was starting to run ragged.

On June 9, 2012, she danced with son No. 4, James, at his wedding. In photos, she looked happy but “pretty haggard.”  Six days later, she was at home, working on a quilt, when she noticed that the pattern — orange oak leaves — made her feel dizzy. It might have been a transient ischemic attack (TIA), a “warning stroke.” These can be a sign of an impending ischemic stroke, the most common kind of stroke, in which a blood clot obstructs a vessel leading to the brain.  Jennifer thought little of the episode. She went to bed, rose early the next morning and headed to work.

She was making her usual rounds when suddenly her vision went askew. The room seemed to be moving.  “I really wanted to kind of lean against the wall and just lie down to the floor,” she said.
Jennifer recently had switched blood-pressure medications, and she assumed that wooziness stemmed from her pressure being low. In fact, it was “sky high.”  When her staff asked if she was OK, Jennifer insisted she was. Luckily, they refused to believe her. Even more fortunate, she already was in the ICU of her hospital, which is designated a Primary Stroke Center by the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association.

“They didn’t take the fact that I was the boss who was telling them, ‘No, I just need to go to my office,’” she said. “They didn’t allow that to happen.”  As her team worked to bring down her blood pressure, Jennifer lost the feeling on her left side. She had the telltale sensation that her face was falling off. She realized she couldn’t speak.

But timing is essential in stroke care, and Jennifer’s symptoms were diagnosed soon enough for her to receive an IV treatment called tPA ,which helps dissolve the clot and restore blood flow to the brain, greatly enhancing the chances of a strong recovery.  “Getting my blood pressure down took a while, and I almost missed the window for tPA,” Jennifer said. “And I am so glad I didn’t, because what residual I have, nobody notices.”

Being the driven person she is, Jennifer went back to work only two weeks after her stroke.  “Way too early,” she said. 
A pivotal moment came about eight months later, when she was on the phone at 2 a.m. with a chief nursing officer from another hospital, helping troubleshooting a problem about organ donations. She realized she was exhausted.  “It wasn’t even my own hospital, and I’m losing sleep,” she said. “And I didn’t need that. That was kind of like that ‘a-ha’ moment.”

To preserve her health, she switched roles, becoming the Core Measures Specialist, making sure guidelines are followed and teaching other nurses what she knows.  More importantly, Jennifer – now 61 and 2 ½ years removed from her stroke – is free of serious long-term neurological damage. Since her stroke, she’s also had four stents placed in her heart; she began having chest pains after the event, although doctors are unsure whether the cardiac issues are related to the stroke.

“I’m one of the very lucky ones,” she said. “I’m a lot blessed, because I was at the right place at the right time, with the right protocols in place. But it could have been so much worse. If it hadn’t been for a very proactive staff … they saved me from having a lot of damage.”

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Share Your Story: Iowa Newborns

Iowa Newborns Iowa

Iowa joins a growing list of states that are requiring hospitals to screen newborns for congenital heart defects using pulse oximetry.


The state’s new regulation requires all Iowa hospitals to use the test, screening more than 27,000 babies each year.


Pulse oximetry is a low-cost, highly-effective and painless bedside test that looks for life-threatening heart defects that might otherwise go undetected. It can be completed in as little as 45 seconds at less than $4 per baby, according to the American Heart Association. It tests blood oxygen levels using sensors placed on a newborn’s hand and foot.  Read More.

 

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Meet Doug Chew!

My name is Doug Chew and I'm a survivor and an advocate for the American Heart Association's "You're the Cure" community. I'm writing a blog about myself and my work as an advocate with the hope that something I say or do will save a life. I'm also hoping that you'll reach out to me about how you can help further our mission to build healthier lives free of heart disease and stroke. There's no better feeling than working with others to make a difference in people's lives. I will share a story about a life that was saved through advocacy, but first let me tell you a little more about myself. 

On Christmas Day of 2007, I was walking around Gray's Lake in Des Moines, ignoring an odd ticking sensation I had felt, when suddenly I grabbed my chest, unable to breathe, and my body went into a fetal position. For the longest minute of my life, I thought this is what it feels like to die. No more hopes or dreams, just this vise-like pressure on my chest. Luckily, after that minute, shallow breaths returned and my hopes and dreams once again had substance. My road to recovery included open heart surgery, and cardiac rehabilitation. One of my nurses was named Ann: she is part of the story.

For the past two years, I have worked with others to pass legislation to require the testing of all newborns for critical congenital heart disease. I have heard mothers speak of heart wrenching battles to save their child's life. I heard pediatric cardiologists speak to the efficacy of a simple, inexpensive test with a pulse oximeter that could detect a defective heart in newborns and allow for immediate, life-saving treatment. I added my presence and my voice whenever asked to urge the quick passage and implementation of this life-saving legislation. We were successful. Lives will be saved. 

And now the rest of my story. A few weeks ago I was working out at my local YMCA which is affiliated with Mercy Health (where I had my open heart surgery and cardiac rehab). For the first time in almost 8 years I saw Ann, who was still working with heart patients, and reintroduced myself. I told her of my work with "You're the Cure" and our success with legislation to test for newborn heart defects. She then told me her niece had recently given birth and the newborn was given the pulse ox test. A heart defect was found and the child was able to receive immediate treatment. That is one life that now will have hopes and dreams. I know there will be others.

Well, that's my story! As the Advocacy Team Leader for congressional district 3, I want to know more about each of you. Do you have a personal story that you want to share? Do you want to get more involved with our efforts to create a more heart-healthy Iowa? We welcome people who share our passion to make a difference. Let me know. I'd love to chat with you about ways you can get involved. You can reach me at jdchew1@aol.com.

I look forward to working with you in the upcoming legislative session and beyond. Together we make a difference!

Thank you for your time,

Doug Chew

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NEHA AGGARWAL

Neha Aggarwal, You’re the Cure Advocate

One day while he was walking through the park, Neha Aggarwal’s maternal grandfather suddenly fell to the ground—he had unexpectedly suffered a stroke. Before the stroke, her grandfather had been very active mentally, physically, socially, and professionally. Although the stroke dramatically changed every aspect of his life, he continued to step up to the challenges of life and showed great strength and positivity.  He passed away 20 months later, and Neha feels she was blessed to have had the chance to know and love him.

But her family’s history of stroke and heart disease doesn’t end there.

  • Her paternal grandfather also passed away from a stroke, before she was even born.
  • Her father’s older brother passed away from a heart attack.
  • Her father, a cardiologist, has diabetes and takes medication to control high blood pressure and cholesterol, which are risk factors for heart attack and stroke.

Neha’s family history and life experiences have prompted her to aim for a heart healthy lifestyle.  She strives to make exercise and a heart healthy diet a part of her daily life.

Involvement in You’re the Cure:

Neha first became interested in volunteering with the American Heart Association’s (AHA) grassroots network, You’re the Cure, in 2012 when she heard about AHA’s Lawyers Have Heart run in Washington, DC. This event really called out to her, as she is not only a lawyer but one who specializes in health policy. Lawyers Have Heart seemed as if it were created for her, aligning with both her passion for law and for health. Volunteering at this event in 2012 kicked off her involvement with You’re the Cure and she has been an active advocate ever since.  

What She Does:

Since Neha became a You’re the Cure advocate in 2012, she has volunteered at a number of events in Washington, DC, including Heart Walk, Lawyers Have Heart, and Hearts Delight. She actively recruits others for You’re the Cure. Her passion for the mission of AHA is contagious and inspires others to join in this important work. As Neha became more deeply involved with AHA events, she wanted to do more.

She was energized when she discovered the opportunity to work more proactively with You’re the Cure, advocating directly to her lawmakers for policy change. This exciting world of policy change opened the door for her to more fully utilize her education, passion, and training in volunteer advocacy work.  Neha initiated regular communication with AHA staff to coordinate her efforts, and her work on You’re the Cure’s advocacy campaigns has been packed with meaningful action. She has had frequent contact with DC Councilmembers, via phone calls and emails, urging them to support important legislation. Recently, she also submitted a letter to the editor to encourage readers to follow her call to action and appeal to DC Council.

What she finds most satisfying about working with You’re the Cure is the strong impact that she can have at the macro level. “Getting legislation passed can have such far-reaching effects! It is exciting to do things that have a large-scale impact. I feel like I am making a difference.”

 Why does Neha do this?  She says, “Improving Lives is Why”

Have you volunteered for the AHA like Neha? Send us photos of yourself in action to advocacydc@heart.org. We will use as many as we can to create a new Facebook cover photo!

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