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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 StrokeAssociation.org/StrokeMonth 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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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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