American Heart Association - You’re the Cure

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Local MN Foods Make Way to Cafeterias!

Check out this article! Many Minnesota kids returning to school in the upcoming weeks will find local produce and meats in their lunch line! 

ST. PAUL, Minn. - School children across Minnesota will be returning to class in just a few weeks, and once again this year they'll find more local foods when going through the lunch line. Erin McKee VanSlooten, a senior program associate with the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, says every year the institute has tracked the data for Farm to School, the number of districts taking part has gone up.

"The most recent information we have from the USDA show there are 208 districts in Minnesota participating," she says. "Which means there are 609,000 kids that are getting local food from different districts across the state."

VanSlooten says that has a significant impact on the local economy, with more than $12 million from school meal budgets now going to Minnesota farmers. Continue reading here

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Meet Minnesota Advocacy Staff: Rachel Callanan

What brought you to be an advocate for the American Heart Association?

I had been working in nonprofit advocacy for almost 10 years and I was looking for a new challenge. I took the job with AHA and 8 years later, it’s one of the best moves I’ve ever made.

What issues or policies are you most passionate about and why?

One of my primary focus areas is leading the Minnesotans for Healthy Kids Coalition to address childhood obesity and promote physical activity and healthy eating for our children. I am excited about the great coalition we’ve built and the amazing progress we’ve made. I hope to make Minnesota a healthier place to raise our children and support a set of policies that help reverse some of the negative health trends we are witnessing. I view our work as broadening our choices to make it easier to choose healthy—to walk or bike instead of drive, to eat fresh produce instead of junk food.

What is your favorite advocacy memory or experience so far and what made it great?

One of my favorite memories was working on our bill to pass statewide standards for physical education several years ago. We invited Minnesotan Greg LeMond, the first American to win the Tour de France (bicycle race), to testify in the House Education committee. I, and a lot legislators and staff, were star struck. But what made it memorable was his statement that if it wasn’t for the physical activity of bicycling, he would probably be in jail today. It was such a powerful statement linking the importance of physical activity as an outlet for the energy of young people.

What is your favorite way to be active?

Yoga and walking my two dogs, Bill and Bella.

What is your favorite fruit or vegetable?

My favorite meal is veggies and dip—seriously, it has been since I was a kid. So any fresh veggies with my homemade yogurt/balsamic dip.

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Keep Moving Toward Healthy School Meals!

Members of Mission Readiness, Brig. Gen. (Ret.) Seiben and Brig. Gen. (Ret.) Schulstad wrote an Op/Ed in MinnPost yesterday on making sure schools are serving healthy food, check it out!

Two retired Air Force generals and a school food-service director would appear, at first glance, to have little in common. But our experiences have led us to the same conclusion: America's childhood obesity epidemic must be reversed, and healthy school meals are critical to our success.

In Minnesota, more than 14 percent of children ages 10 to 17, and more than 25 percent of adults (including more than 1 in 5 adults here in Hennepin County), are obese. Obesity is also a leading reason why 69 percent of young Minnesotans are ineligible for military service.

What accounts for such alarming numbers? In short, too many children eat too much junk food and don't get enough exercise, trends that often continue into adulthood. In addition to the negative health effects, this problem threatens to diminish our military strength and our national security. Continue Reading Here

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Minnesota Finds "Grocery Gap" in Access to Healthy Food

An article posted today from Bring Me The News surveys Minnesotans on access to healthy foods! Check it out!

An increasing number of Minnesotans believe that not everyone has access to healthy food options, with the lack of grocery stores in greater Minnesota playing a factor in what people choose to eat, a survey released Monday shows.

The Center for Prevention at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota highlighted the "grocery gap" (also called food deserts) in Minnesota, noting more than one-third of those surveyed must travel at least 10 minutes to shop at a full-service grocery store – and that includes a proportionate number of senior citizens and lower-income families, who may also be struggling with reliable transportation to get to the grocery store.

For those who live outside the Twin Cities, the drive to the grocery store increases. In greater Minnesota, 40 percent of people reported traveling more than 10 minutes to shop at a full-service grocery store. Meanwhile, many in more rural areas say the trip to buy food is more than 30 minutes, the survey found. Continue reading here

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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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You're the Cure Hero: Representative Nick Zerwas

What brought you to be an advocate for the American Heart Association?

My involvement with the AHA goes all the way back to when I was first born. I was born with a heart defect, and my parents taught me at a young age how important it was to be a volunteer/advocate with the AHA. After surviving 10 open heart surgeries and two strokes, I am more committed than ever to the mission of the AHA!

What issues or policies are you most passionate about and why?

As a volunteer, I am dedicated to the AHA’s role in advancing and funding cardiac research at the Federal level.
As a policymaker I work with the AHA to advance health policies that will help save healthcare dollars by improving the health of Minnesotans. I have authored legislation to fund a statewide stroke system in MN, to help coordinate time sensitive stroke care throughout MN. I was also an advocate in requiring Critical Congenital Heart Defect newborn screening using pulse oximeters.
This year as a member of the Health and Human Services Conference Committee I advocated to retain full funding of Minnesota’s Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP) that provides community health grants throughout the state.

What is your favorite American Heart Association advocacy memory or experience so far and what made it great?

As a volunteer I had the opportunity to attend a Heart on the Hill advocacy day in Washington, D.C. I still remember how exciting it was to be advocating on behalf of the AHA in Congress!
Years later, as a policymaker, my favorite memory is meeting with AHA advocates during Minnesota’s Heart on the Hill day in Saint Paul, MN at our State Capitol.

What is your favorite way to be active?

In the Minnesota House as a State Representative I keep active by getting my steps in hoofing it all over the Capitol and State Office Building to various meetings.

What is your favorite fruit or vegetable?

I am a bad one for this question! I’m known around the Capitol as "The Candyman" due to my sweet tooth. I ALWAYS have candy in my desk and dispense it freely on the House Floor.

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MN Legislator and Advocate of Year Named at June Celebrations!

This month we awarded our top legislators and advocates who went above and beyond this past fiscal year, fighting to reduce heart disease and stroke!

Advocate of the Year: Dale Wakasugi
The advocate of the year award is given to the volunteer who has gone above and beyond during the legislative session and worked tirelessly! This volunteer has done just that this year.  He has sent many emails to his local, state and federal lawmakers, met with legislators on several occasions including our first ever legislative breakfast, recruited new advocates at the Twin Cities Heart Walk, made phone calls, traveled to Washington DC and has spread the word about our cause through social media. This year’s advocate of the year took more actions this year than any other advocate in Minnesota! He also took on the role of Chair for the Minnesota State Advocacy Committee and committed to being a leader by example to this group. He makes our jobs very easy.

Champion of the Year: Jack Olwell
Jack Olwell received our Champion of the Year Award for his continued leadership on physical education policy. As an elementary school physical education teacher in Farmington, Jack has made health and academic success of his students a priority by establishing a strong physical education program at his school. He has parlayed his decades of experience as a teacher and encyclopedic knowledge of the benefits of physical education into advocacy at the state Capitol. Jack went above and beyond this year at the Capitol by attending weekly strategy meetings on our legislative strategy. He was our go-to expert as we hashed out the language and strategy for our bill to make PE stronger in Minnesota.  He played a critical role by providing compelling testimony in the Senate and by persuading a fellow teacher at his school, his principal, and his superintendent to offer letters of support. While we came very close, we didn’t get the physical education bill across the finish line in 2015. We’ll be back in 2016 to make sure students across Minnesota get the quality physical education to learn the life-long skills for heart health!

Legislator of the Year: Representative Nick Zerwas
The American Heart Association in Minnesota presented Rep. Nick Zerwas (Elk River) with the 2015 Legislator of the Year Award. Rep. Zerwas took a leadership role in many of our policy priorities during the 2015 legislative session. He was the chief author of not one but TWO Stroke Systems bills that became state law! One required current EMS transport protocols for stroke patients and the other secured the first ever state funding for the MN Stroke System of Care at the Department of Health! In addition, Rep. Zerwas was also the chief sponsor of a bill to create better data reporting and risk adjustment around health equity and eliminating health disparities in MN. Rep. Zerwas’ leadership and support during the 2015 legislative session will result in better healthcare for all Minnesotans regardless of who they are or where they live in the state!

Active Transportation Champion: Senator Scott Dibble
Sen. Dibble received our 2015 Active Transportation Champion Award for his leadership as Senate Transportation Chair and his unwavering support for active transportation. Sen. Dibble has been a strong supporter of biking and walking over the years and made funding for active transportation an important component of his comprehensive, multi-modal transportation proposal in 2015. As the 2015 Legislative session unfolded, Sen. Dibble adopted our request for $50 million per year for active transportation in his omnibus transportation bill and when there was more funding available, he included another $6 million for Safe Routes to School and active transportation. This investment in active transportation is unprecedented in Minnesota and across the nation. Sen. Dibble played a critical role in securing funding for Safe Routes to School over the last two years. We look forward to working with him over the next year to continue to make the case for safe opportunities for walking and biking in our communities and the significant new resources from the state to achieve that important heart health goal!

 Dale Wakasugi and AmandaJean Beaulieu were also recognized for their hard work at the AHA Volunteer and Donor Celebration!

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Youth Nicotine Exposure Heath Advisory Released by MDH

The Minnesota Department of Health released a health advisory this week on the rise of nicotine poisoning in children, check it out below:

The Minnesota Poison Control System saw a 35 percent jump in e-cigarette and e-juice poisonings among children from birth to 5 years old between 2013 and 2014. This marks the second year of significant increases in nicotine poisonings related to e-cigarette products, which can contain fatal levels of nicotine for children.
Today, the Minnesota Department of Health issued a nicotine heath advisory to inform parents about the health dangers of accidental nicotine poisonings and the harms that can result from ongoing nicotine use among teens and among pregnant women. 
“Many people think nicotine is addictive but not necessarily harmful on its own for teens and young adults, and that is not the case,” said Minnesota Health Commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger. “We know there are clear health risks of nicotine exposure for youth.”
The nicotine health advisory is based on a summary of the latest research on the health risks of nicotine. The advisory reports that nicotine may harm brain development during adolescence. Pregnant women should also be concerned due to evidence that nicotine can harm fetal brain and lung development. 
The teen years are a critical time for brain growth and development. As a result, adolescents are especially at risk from the harms caused by nicotine exposure. Evidence suggests that exposure to nicotine during adolescence may have long-term effects on brain development. Animal research has found that nicotine exposure in adolescence causes long-lasting changes in brain development. This could have negative implications for human adolescent learning, memory, attention, behavioral problems and future addiction.
The MDH nicotine health advisory reports that symptoms of nicotine poisoning may include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures and/or difficulty breathing. A fatal dose of nicotine for an adult is between 50 to 60 milligrams, and a fatal dose for children is expected to be less. E-juice containers may have varying amounts of nicotine, from zero milligrams up to 34 milligrams or higher.
Until recently, people were exposed to nicotine primarily by smoking tobacco in cigarettes and cigars. However, new and flavored tobacco products, such as e-cigarettes, are becoming increasingly popular. In 2014 results from the Minnesota Youth Tobacco Survey showed many teens use e-cigarettes; nearly 13 percent of high school students have used or tried them in the past 30 days.
These products can contain fatal levels of nicotine for children, who may mistake the e-juice for candy or a drink. Poisonings have jumped from three in 2012 to 62 in 2014. About half of the 2014 cases were treated by health care professionals at emergency departments. Poisonings include calls where unattended e-cigarette liquids were swallowed, inhaled, absorbed through the skin or came in contact with the eyes.
Beginning January 2015, a new Minnesota law took effect that requires e-juice to be sold in child-resistant packaging.
“This past year Minnesota took a big step to keep kids from accidently ingesting these potentially fatal e-liquids,” said Commissioner Ehlinger. “But parents should still use caution and store the products out of the reach of children.”
The Minnesota Poison Control System provides emergency poison medical management and poison prevention information to Minnesotans. The poison center is located at the Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis and is nationally accredited by the American Association of Poison Control Centers. Anyone with a poison-related question should call 1-800-222-1222.
Service is available free of charge 24 hours a day, and is confidential.
For more information, visit Health Risks of Nicotine for Youth.

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You're the Cure Hero: Helen Bagshaw

Helen Bagshaw - Minnesota

My name is Helen Bagshaw and I am an RN CCRN and Registered American Heart CPR/ACLS Instructor at Winona Health.

My aim and passion is to teach, educate and provide information about ‘Hands-Only CPR’, AED Use and Choking Emergencies to every Citizen in Winona County. I provide this free training of ‘Hands-Only CPR’ skills, AED Use and what to do in a Choking Emergency. Since January 2013 I have provided this training to almost a thousand people in Winona County.

The American Heart has given me the confidence and trusted expert knowledge to share the importance of healthy heart and stroke prevention information to my colleagues, patients, local community groups and Minnesota legislators.

One of the best things about being an advocate is to meet people and share their stories and life experiences. It is amazing and humbling to be able to share with people information that can make a healthy change in their diet, importance of exercise, or to recognize symptoms of a heart attack or stroke. A fun and powerful advocacy tool for me has been learning how to tweet, though I still prefer either face-to-face meetings or talking on the telephone.

I am excited for 2015 and remain committed to advocating for a heart-healthy and stroke-free community for my family, town, state and country. I know education is not enough to prevent heart attacks and stroke and that influencing policy and legislation is vital work, I look forward to every January when the new legislative session begins and I will be coming up to St. Paul to join other advocates to speak with lawmakers.

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2015 Minnesota Legislative Session Wrap Up

The 2015 Legislative Session has come to an end and we’ve had another great year working hard to push for heart-health policies in Minnesota. We have many reasons to celebrate the work in fighting for a healthier Minnesota!

The Wins
As the dust settles, we are excited to share the big policy wins the state saw in heart-health this year. Thank you for your passion and work in making these happen:

   • Minnesota Stroke System: Minnesota is now home to one of the country’s most comprehensive stroke systems with the passage of the EMS Stroke Protocols bill. This bill makes it a requirement for all EMS systems in the state to have updated protocols to treat and transfer stroke victims so they receive the best possible care available in the fastest amount of time to reduce the chances of death or disability from stroke. The system also became stronger this year, when the legislature dedicated $350,000 in the budget of dedicated funding to run the stroke program. Previously, the system was funded by a federal grant from the CDC that the state had to continually re-apply for and that has always changing parameters. This new dedicated funding will allow the basics of the system to be run into the future and shows that the state is dedicated to ensuring Minnesota has a successful system to treat stroke ensuring the best possible outcome for its residents. 
   • Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP) Funding: We did it! Because of advocates like you, we were able to keep the $35 million/biennium in the base budget and keep SHIP fully funded this year. More importantly, we will be able to continue to see the great outcomes of the program as it works to combat obesity and reduce tobacco use in almost every corner of our state!
   • Health Equity Data Analysis: We were able to advocate for $250,000 per year to implement better data reporting on race, ethnicity and language in an effort to better identify responses to Health Disparities in Minnesota. With better data reporting focusing on disparities, more attention can be made to the population in the most need of intervention, programs and resources.
   • MNCare: Thousands of Minnesotans will be able to continue to benefit from MNCare thanks to your loud voices! After an earlier proposal to eliminate MNCare all together, the session ends with MNCare intact! While, portions of the bill changed in negotiations and some participants will see increases to their premiums and co-pays, the program will remain, which is much better than the elimination of these services.

Still Fighting
While it certainly wasn’t for lack of trying or involvement by advocates like you, we are still in the fight for a few of the policy areas we started at the beginning of session. Some of these could be revived during a special session, others we will attack again next year, as we know heart disease and stroke don’t stop, and so we can’t stop fighting against it!     

   • Active Transportation: After many emails, phone calls, meetings, rallies, postcards, petitions, etc., the legislature only passed a "lights-on" transportation bill which means there is no new funding for biking and walking programs or other transportation priorities this year. Even though we didn’t get a comprehensive multi-modal transportation bill this session, it is because of the hard work of many advocates like you that we have laid unprecedented groundwork and mobilization of bike/walk advocates from across the state. We will continue to build statewide momentum for active transportation for 2016-17.
   • Physical Education: Despite our best efforts and great hearings in the House and Senate, the PE bill, which would improve PE for all Minnesota students, did not make it into the final K-12 Education omnibus bill. However, Gov. Dayton has vetoed the K-12 Education bill for other reasons so the next step is a special session on education. During this special session, we will have an opportunity to urge that the PE bill be included in the revived K-12 bill. And if we aren’t heard during special session, we will certainly be back next session fighting for better PE in Minnesota!
   • EMS/Pre-hospital Data Collection and Reporting: This bill would have shifted pre-hospital data that is already being collected from the EMS Regulatory Board to the Department of Health’s Office of Rural Health to allow for the data to be better utilized and shared with partners form across the state looking to do quality and program improvement in pre-hospital aspects of acute care. This bill had a rough start this year and also a sizable fiscal note. We will continue to work with our EMS partners on this bill next session.

Thanks for another GREAT year! YOU ARE THE CURE!

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