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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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Social factors could erase gains in heart disease, stroke

Although deaths from heart attacks and strokes have been declining thanks to advances in prevention and treatment, social factors such as race and income could reverse that trend, according to a first-of-its-kind statement from the American Heart Association.

The incidence of heart disease and stroke in the United States is expected to rise 10 percent by 2030, with the circumstances in which people are born, grow, live, work and age all partly to blame, the statement said.

Click here to read the rest of the article on our site!


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Nutritious School Lunch Leads to Better Academics

Check out this great opinion article that was published in the Lansing State Journal recently:

"A recent poll from the Kids' Safe and Healthful Foods Project found that 98% of Michigan public schools think serving nutritious foods in schools is important so that kids are ready to do their best in class.  At Atherton Elementary School in Burton, Michigan parents were asked to try what their children eat every day at school and were surprised at the number of schools that serve fresh fruit at lunch.  Not just apples and oranges, but also kiwi, strawberries, pineapple and melon."  Read more

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Have you checked out the AHA store lately?

T-shirts, measuring bowls, jewelry and everything in between. This summer you can “Shop Heart” choose the best of AHA swag like cookbooks, apparel, and accessories.

You can help spread our message of heart health when you wear an American Heart Association t-shirt, jacket, lapel pin, or tie. In addition to great gear we also stock educational materials so you can share important heart and stroke prevention advice with family and friends. Best of all when you "Shop Heart" money spent supports the mission of the American Heart Association.

Check out the latest merchandise in the store and show your support for the AHA today. 

P.S.  – There is a limited edition You’re the Cure T-shirt in the store. But hurry, only a couple dozen remain!







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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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Michigan State University Goes Tobacco-free

Beginning in August of 2016, Michigan State University will ban the use of all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, from it's main campus and all other university property. MSU trustees voted unanimously on the ban after more than 1,600 MSU students signed a petition last year to ban smoking on campus. Nationally, there are 1,543 campuses that have gone smoke-free.  In Michigan, the University of Michigan, Central Michigan University, Michigan Technological University, Hope College, Spring Arbor University, Western Michigan University and 15 community colleges all have smoke-free air rules.  Click here to read more!

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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: Scott & Danielle Hawkins

Scott & Danielle Hawkins Michigan

In April of 2014 my husband, Scott, had an Ateriovenous Malformation (AVM) rupture. Fortunately, Scott knew something was happening because he had an intense headache and slurred speech. After calling me, we both called 911.

That phone call saved Scott's life and was the only reason he made it to the hospital in time to have life saving procedures.

The  AVM aneurysm caused a hemorrhagic stoke and also a heart attack. 

After 3 weeks in ICU,  5 weeks in pulmonary rehab and 20 weeks of inpatient intense rehabilitation, Scott came home. Something I was told many times would never happen.

Before the AVM, we led a very busy life. I worked full-time, Scott was about to start Graduate School at Michigan State University (Go Green!). We traveled, spent a lot of time with our children, went to music festivals, road trips and spent so much time with all of our family and friends.

Now, a year into our new life, it is definitely slower. Therapy is going strong and it is so encouraging to see progress still EVERY SINGLE DAY. We love to spend time with the kids, going to the movies, out to dinner and watching them in their many activities. We are also so excited to make it to music festivals again this summer. Of course there are many new limitations and obstacles and it has been quite a learning experience. But we have found so many resources and met so many incredible people along this journey. Scott and I really are lucky to have the most amazing support system of friends and family that support us and are excited to join us in this next step of our life.

Now, even though there is still a long road of recovery for Scott, we feel drawn to start helping others. While in the hospital Scott and I were able to join stroke support groups and it helped,especially me, with staying strong and pushing forward. We hope to give that type of encouragement and hope to others.

There is always hope.

Scott & Danielle Hawkins

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