American Heart Association - You’re the Cure

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  • Meet other likeminded advocates
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Share Your Story: Wichita Sweethearts

Wichita Sweethearts Kansas

The American Heart Association Sweethearts are high school sophomores who (from September through June) actively participate in a program designed to teach them about heart healthy lifestyles and about the prevention of heart disease through education and volunteerism.

Through this program, these young ladies learn that heart disease is the number one killer of Americans. During their tenure as Sweethearts, they learn the goals of the American Heart Association and how to implement those goals on a daily basis.  Click here to learn more.

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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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Step it Up! The Surgeon General Advocates the Benefits of Walkable Communities

We applaud the United States Surgeon General for recently issuing a call to action to address major public health challenges such as heart disease and diabetes. Step It Up! The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Promote Walking and Walkable Communities articulates the health benefits of walking while addressing the fact that many communities unacceptably lack safe and convenient places for individuals to walk or wheelchair roll.

Data consistently show there are safety and accessibility issues that make communities less walkable. A 2013 study by the U.S. Department of Transportation, for example, found that three out of every 10 Americans reported that no sidewalks existed along any streets in their neighborhood. In many communities violence – and the perception of violence – may prove a barrier to walking. 

“Everyone deserves to have a safe place to walk or wheelchair roll. But in too many of our communities, that is not the reality,” said Dr. Vivek H. Murthy, the 19th U.S. Surgeon General. “We know that an active lifestyle is critical to achieving good overall health. And walking is a simple, effective and affordable way to build physical activity into our lives. That is why we need to step it up as a country ensuring that everyone can choose to walk in their own communities.”

The Surgeon General calls on community planners and local leaders to create more areas for walking and wheelchair rolling and to prioritize the development of safe routes for children to get to and from schools. The call to action suggests that these designs should include sidewalks, curb cuts, crosswalks, safe crossings for the visually impaired and more green spaces. The Surgeon General further calls on city managers, law enforcement and community and public health leaders to address safety concerns by better maintaining public spaces, working with residents to promote a shared sense of community ownership, ensuring proper street lighting and fostering neighborhood watch programs.

The Surgeon General’s report discusses the health benefits of walking and calls on individuals to make walking a priority in their lives. Fewer than half of all U.S. adults get enough physical activity to reduce their risk of chronic disease, and only a quarter of high school students get the recommended amount. Physical inactivity contributes to heart and lung disease, diabetes and cancer, which account for 86% of our nation’s health care costs. Building walking into daily life can reduce disease and save money.

“We know that an average of 22 minutes a day of physical activity – such as brisk walking – can significantly reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes,” added Dr. Murthy. “The key is to get started because even a small first effort can make a big difference in improving the personal health of an individual and the public health of the nation.”

At the AHA, we applaud the efforts of communities across our state for their efforts to improve the walkability and rollability of their streets and sidewalks.  We stand ready to partner with other communities to improve opportunities to be active by walking, rolling, biking and other physical activities. 

To read the Surgeon General’s Call to Action and learn how to promote walking and walkable communities, please visit

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Share Your Story: Jenna Bell

Jenna Bell Kansas

I am a mom, Army Wife, daughter, and a survivor of heart disease. When I was 23 I was diagnosed with a cardiomyopathy and told I was at risk for sudden cardiac death. I wouldn’t have a heart attack. My heart would simply stop and I would die. I was told that I would never have children and I would be living with heart disease my whole life. They were wrong. I have two beautiful children Mary Ann and Will. I am on the heart transplant list and will be getting a new heart that will end the disease in mine. Even with my new heart I’ll be fighting for my heart and yours for many years to come.

When I was first diagnosed I thought it was stress.  The love of my life was 12 months into a 15 month deployment. I was a full time special education teacher, head of the special education department, a master’s degree student and working retail part time. I went to my doctor to appease my mother and expected for him to tell me it was stress and to go home. Instead he said, "You’re young, you’re healthy, you’re not overweight but go see the cardiologist just in case." I saw the cardiologist within a week and received my deadly diagnosis shortly thereafter. That doctor could have sent me home but instead he saved my life. 

Shortly after my diagnosis I heard about a casting call being done by the American Heart Association looking for "real women" to share their stories. I knew I had to share mine. I found out I was selected as a National Spokeswoman for AHA in 2009. It was a whirlwind of interviews and advocacy events and I loved every minute. I was able to share my story with women and show them, not tell them, that heart disease does not discriminate. All women are at risk. 

I am committed to educating others about heart disease for a number of reasons, the heart of which is my children. I want them to not only have access to great schools and great teachers but also to amazing healthy food while they are learning. What our children put in their bodies is equally as important as what we are putting in their minds. I also advocate for research. I want to ensure I am here for my kids as they grow up. Right now the average heart only lasts 12 years after transplantation. I want to live far longer and research is key. Heart disease is the #1 killer and we need top notch research to eradicate it from our lives and the lives of our children.

When I think of the future I think of my daughter’s wedding. I think of watching her Dad walk her down the aisle. Her little brother watching his sister commit to the person she loves. My parents being there to support her. I think of hugging her on her wedding day and telling her how beautiful she looks. I think of all those things every time I educate someone about my heart journey and living a heart healthy life. I choose to advocate, fundraise, and educate to ensure a heart healthy future for me, my family and my community.

Her Wedding is Why.


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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 to learn the warning signs of stroke.

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Share Your Story!

Share Your Story

Sharing your own personal story is the most effective way to advocate for healthier lives, free of cardiovascular disease and stroke!  As you have noticed, the You’re the Cure community site now features pictures and stories of real advocates – people like you whose lives have been impacted by cardiovascular disease.  Please take a moment to share your story with us and we will feature you on our site and in an upcoming newsletter.

We would love to feature your story on our website and in this monthly newsletter. It's easy to do! Here are the three steps to sharing your story:

1.  The story.  We will have room for a short paragraph (600 words).  There is no story too small and everyone is welcome to submit their experience.  We want you to make your story grabs the attention of people who come to the site.  Be passionate.  Explain how your experience has impacted your life and why you are committed to helping us advocate.  You also don’t need to be a heart or stroke disease survivor to share your story.  Tell us about what you are doing in your community to build healthier lives, free of cardiovascular disease and stroke.  Please share your story here on the website.  

2.  A picture.  Yes, we’ll need your best photo we can post so that everyone will see that there is a real person behind the story.  Electronic photos only please. Photos should be horizontal or landscape for the best fit.

3. Your permission.  This is the boring part.  If you’d like to be featured on the website, we’ll need you to fill-out and return the permission form.

Send your photo and permission form to:
    Amy Ochsner
    Advocacy Admin. Associate
    FAX: 913-648-0423

Questions?  Give me a call at 913-652-1907

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Kansas 2015 Legislative Wrap-Up

The 2015 Kansas legislative session recently came to an end after weeks of long and contentious debate. Thank you to our You’re the Cure advocates whose countless letters of support, e-mails, phone calls and visits with lawmakers were vital in helping us maintain heart healthy policies in Kansas! Below is a legislative wrap-up outlining all of the progress we made with your help.



Tobacco Tax

  • The Kansas Legislature approved a 50-cent increase to the state’s tobacco tax.
  • The new tax on a pack of cigarettes will be $1.29.
  • This is the 30th highest in the nation and roughly, 25¢ below the national average.
  • The tax will raise an estimated $40 million in additional revenue for Kansas while reducing smoking rates by nearly 7%.
  • 8,400 Kansans under the age of 18 will avoid becoming adult smokers.
  • 8,600 adult smokers would quit smoking with this increase.

Tobacco Prevention

  • American Heart Association advocated for additional prevention funding. We believe a stronger foundation was established and will continue to build on these efforts next session.
  • Less than $1 million is currently allocated for prevention from the state.
  • The CDC recommends Kansas spend $27.9 million on a program modeled after the best practices for prevention and cessation initiatives.
  • Adequately funding tobacco prevention programs in Kansas is critical to long-term, sustained reductions in tobaccos usage.


  • Lawmakers approved several new provisions regarding electronic cigarettes.
  • Approved language establishes a tax on the nicotine-based refills for e-cigarettes.
  • The AHA is cautious of the language that could reduce future FDA regulations of e-cigarettes that is being developed nationally.
  • There’s still a lot unknown about long-term health implications of e-cigarettes and their efficacy as a cessation tool.
  • With so much unknown about the product it is dangerous to pass legislation, as Kansas did, without formal discussions and hearings.

Critical Congenital Heart Disease Screening (Pulse Ox)

  • A bill establishing standards for CCHD screening using pulse oximetry did not receive a hearing in the committee this year.
  • The Kansas Health Department and Environment announced all Kansas newborns are being screened.
  • The AHA is pleased that all newborns are reportedly being screened but we are concerned that compliance is voluntary. We will continue to push for legislation or administrative rules to ensure newborns are screened using pulse oximetry testing with recommended standards.

Thank YOU! Please stay tuned to your e-mails on how you can help us with our life-saving mission. As always, thank you for everything you do. We appreciate your advocacy efforts and support of the American Heart Association!

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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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Share Your Story: Abby, Molly, Madeline and Blake

Abby, Molly, Madeline and Blake Kansas

For Abby Anderson, Molly Ogden, Madeline Mudd, and Blake Ephraim, high school hasn't been easy. Beyond the typical struggles of being a teenager, each of these girls are also stroke survivors. At times it has been a tough road filled with sadness and loneliness, as it can be very challenging going back to school and recovering from a stroke.

However, the four girls have built relationships with each other, overcome obstacles and have made it their mission to educate others and bring awareness to the signs and symptoms of stroke.

In May, the girls will be graduating from their respected high schools on time.

Read more about each of their stories

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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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