American Heart Association - You’re the Cure

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  • Learn about heart-health issues
  • Meet other likeminded advocates
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The American Heart Association's Go Red For Women Red Dress Collection 2015 Livestream

Join us for this exclusive virtual event where top designers and celebrities demonstrate their support for women's heart health during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. Heart disease is not just a man's disease. Each year, 1 in 3 women die of heart disease and stroke. We can change that--80 percent of cardiac events can be prevented with education and lifestyle changes. Help break barriers against heart disease and stroke by joining us for the Go Red For Women Red Dress Collection 2015 live online at on Thursday, February 12 at 8 p.m. Eastern. See you there!

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Kerry Caldarelli, Mississippi

Kerry Caldarelli of Long Beach is Chair of our 2014-15 State Advocacy Committee. She has been a faithful volunteer and advocate with the American Heart Association for the last seven years due to her son, Garrett, who is her why. Garrett was born with multiple heart defects diagnosed as Shone's Complex, which resulted in two open heart surgeries. Today, he is pacemaker dependent, but healthy and well.

What is your occupation? Senior Accountant for Signing River Healthy Systems

How long and in what capacity have you been a volunteer? I've been a volunteer for seven years and have had the opportunity to speak at various events on behalf of You're the Cure. I currently chair the State Advocacy Committee and raise funds for the Gulf Cost Heart Walk. 

Which AHA advocacy campaign is most important to you and why? I can't choose just one! I am particularly invested in screening for heart defects in newborns, healthy food options for all Mississippians, and a Smokefree Mississippi.

What are two ways you keep yourself healthy?  Eat right and exercise regularly

Tell us one unique thing about yourself. I love to talk! Big surprise! I really love to talk about the American Heart Association. I recently went to the bank and struck up a conversation with the teller who was helping me. I started talking about my son, I turned around, and the lady next to me thanked me. She was grateful to know the help that I attributed to the American Heart Association for my son. She did not have a "why" when she walked into the bank but with my story that she learned of, it gave her a why! My why is pretty cute, and he tends to win hearts over even when he is not in the room. I'm thankful to have his inspiration by my side on a daily basis for me and for others. 

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Another Food Desert in Mississippi?

This year, access to healthy foods is a priority issue for Mississippi. Proximity to neighborhood supermarkets is associated with healthier living and lower body weight, as found in several large cross sectional studies. The Food Trust found that more than 800,000 Mississippi residents, including more than 200,000 children, live in urban and rural communities under served by grocery stores. Residents in these communities suffer from disproportionately high rates of obesity, diabetes, and other diet-related diseases. 

For south Jackson residents, this issue is hitting close to home as recently reported by the Jackson Free Press: 

Residents in south Jackson are working feverishly to make sure their neighborhood doesn't become a food desert when the Kroger on Terry Road closes later this month.

Last week, the Cincinnati-based supermarket chain announced that the store would close on Feb. 28 after 24 years in operation. In a statement to WJTV, a Kroger spokeswoman called shutting the store a "hard decision," but added that 109 employees would be offered positions with other Kroger stores in the area.

Jackson residents decried the move, calling the Kroger one of the only grocers in that area.  Food Depot, on the corner of Terry Road, also serves the area. Tyrone Hendrix, who represents south Jackson's Ward 6 on the city council, said shoppers are considering an online campaign to convince Kroger to reconsider.

Read more on 

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Meet the New Surgeon General

Dr. Vivek Murthy was confirmed by the U.S. Senate in December to serve as the next surgeon general of the United States. The surgeon general is America’s top public health official, and his responsibilities range from managing disease to promoting prevention and a healthy start for our kids.

At 37, Vivek Murthy is the youngest person and the first Indian-American to hold the post of Surgeon General.

Since this position was created in 1871, just 18 people have held the job. Dr. Murthy, the 19th, replaces an Acting Surgeon General who has filled the role since 2013. Dr. Murthy’s confirmation was delayed for nearly a year due to political issues, but in that time he received the endorsement of more than 100 public health groups, including the American Heart Association.

Dr. Murthy has both business and medical degrees from his studies at Harvard and Yale. He completed his residency at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, where he most recently served as an attending physician. He has created and led organizations to support comprehensive healthcare reform, to improve clinical trials so new drugs can be made available more quickly and safely, and to combat HIV/AIDS.

His resume is remarkable, and we look forward to working closely with Dr. Murthy to improve the health of all Americans.

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Dr. Rob Rockhold, Madison County

Our 2014-15 Mississippi Advocacy Committee is composed of 10 individuals from across the state with different occupations, who have a great interest in advocating for policy change for heart health issues. Throughout the year, we will introduce you to some of our members. 

Today, we'd like you to meet Dr. Rob Rockhold, a longtime volunteer and seasoned advocate.

What is your occupation? Deputy Chief Academic Officer, University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC). Job responsibilities include supervision of the UMMC Simulation Center, Interprofessional education efforts, faculty development, and outreach/health care professions pipeline programs. 

How long have you been a volunteer with the AHA and in what capacity? I am a research pharmacologist by training and received my first research grant from the Memphis Heart Association circa 1974. Prior to taking my current position in administration, I was involved as a researcher supported by AHA affiliates. I also served on various research committees as an affiliate officer, and was a member of the affiliate Board of Directors.  

What heart healthy topic/issue is most important to you and why? The impact of obesity/overweight on cardiovascular health has been a theme of my AHA-supported research.

What are two ways you keep yourself healthy? Moderation/selection of diet, particularly Mediterranean cuisine, and maintenance of a program of physical activity.

Tell us one unique thing about yourself. I regularly participate in the Mississippi alligator hunting program.

Who or what inspires you to help and volunteer your time to the work of the AHA? In my junior year of college, I was pulled out of review sessions preceding final examinations to learn that my father, who had been a life-long smoker and previously had suffered a myocardial infarction, had passed away from a massive acute myocardial infarction. That sparked my personal interest in the mission of the AHA.


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State Sen. Plans to Tackle Food Deserts This Session

"A food desert, or the lack of access to fresh foods and vegetables, is not just a problem in Utica[, MS], but a growing issue plaguing communities across our state.  Statewide, over 70 percent of food stamp eligible households travel more than 30 miles to reach a supermarket, and in certain cities and municipalities it's even worse.

But food deserts aren't just inconvenient.  They can be deadly.  A leading cause of obesity, especially in children, food deserts contribute to staggering rates of chronic conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and depression.

So, it's not surprising that Mississippi is home to the highest percentage of overweight or obese youth (ages 10 to 17) at 22 percent, and 15 percent of our high school students are obese.  These children rely on schools as a primary source of daily nutrition and overall health management. But these alarming statistics show that we failing our children." 

Click here to read the entire article from Sen. Frazier's guest column in The Clarion-Ledger.

State Sen. Hillman Frazier represents District 27 in Jackson. He can be reached at

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You're the Cure Year End Successes, Let's Celebrate!
It was another banner year for You’re the Cure advocates championing heart and stroke policy change across the country. Year end is a time to look back at what we achieved in states, think ahead to the work still to do, and celebrate the power of volunteers.
What did we accomplish last year?
Below are just three of many victories that made 2014 so successful.  


  • 35 states now have laws protecting our littlest hearts. Pulse oximetry, a simple detection screening for heart defects gives newborns a chance to survive thanks to early detection.
  • We reached a major milestone in ensuring all students learn CPR before graduating from high school. Now more than 1 million students, in 20 states, will graduate each year with this lifesaving skill.
  • 6 states increased funding for heart disease and stroke prevention programs.


Want to see more accomplishments? Check out the video below.

These are just a few highlights and for the full story be sure to check out the state by state wrap-up online. We couldn’t achieve these great accomplishments without the power of YOU our advocates. Your work to educate lawmakers, recruit family and friends, and share your story and expertise are what makes change happen. So from your AHA staff partners a big, Thank You!
P.S. – You can help inspire others to join the movement by sharing our accomplishments highlight video.

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Healthy Holidays Need Healthy Food Options

The holidays don’t have to be filled with unhealthy foods. You can create new  traditions that will improve your family's health for generations to come. But in order to provide nutritious meals, it's helpful t o have healthy choices nearby. Is this an option for you where you live?

Believe it or not, many people across the state don’t have access to healthy foods. This lack of access contributes to a poor diet and can lead to higher levels of obesity and other diet-related diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease. A recent report found that more than 800,000 Mississippi residents, including more than 200,000 children, live in urban and rural communities underserved by grocery stores. Residents in these communities suffer from disproportionately high rates of obesity, diabetes, and other diet-related diseases.

Follow efforts to fund Mississippi’s healthy food financing initiative by searching #healthyfoodMS on Facebook and Twitter. 

Click here to download our Holiday Healthy Eating Guide to get started THIS holiday season. You are worth it, and so is your family.

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Tyler Free, Mississippi

The story of Tyler Free begins when he was born June 15, 1998.  He was the healthiest, cutest little boy with the sweetest smile. Tyler grew up the youngest of four and has always been the breath of fresh air and laughter for each of his siblings. Tyler has a heart of compassion, forgiveness and thoughtfulness. He loves to smile and for many that are around him, his smile is contagious. Competition sports has been a part of our family for generations. Tyler loves sports and has participated in several different sporting leagues. He has always been a team player and dedicated to the sport of choice.

THE GAME:  It was football season again, and it was the anticipated Monday night 9th grade football game between the Ocean Springs Greyhounds and the D’Iberville Warriors. The stands were full with supporting community members and parents eager to watch the game. Our family was there to support Tyler, who was a wide receiver for the Greyhounds. During an offensive snap for the Greyhounds, a player fell to the ground.  Everyone grew silent and waited to see who the injured player was. People started running to the field.  Coaches were screaming for a doctor. Tyler’s brother, Kyle, runs to the field and screams that it was Tyler. 

For what seemed like an hour, I waited with the support of our Greyhound family for some kind of positive response from the field.  As I prayed with many, the positive response was his life.  On that Monday night, October 7, 2013, my son - a healthy, athletic, 15 year old athlete - died from sudden death cardiac arrest.  His life was saved by the trained, attentive individuals by means of CPR and by administering an AED device to shock his heart and revive him.

HOSPITALS:  The ambulance came to the field and brought Tyler to Ocean Springs Emergency Room.  Tests confirmed his critical state, and necessary arrangements were made to transport Tyler via ambulance to USA Women and Children’s PICU in Mobile, AL.  Tyler arrived at USA and immediate tests were ordered.  These tests confirmed that Tyler had suffered a heart attack resulting in death and permanent damage to his heart.  The cardiologist at USA recommended for Tyler to be air lifted to Batson’s Children’s Hospital in Jackson, MS due to his confirmed critical state and the advanced Pediatric Cardiology Team with resources necessary to help Tyler.

The flight to Batson’s was quick and exciting for Tyler.  Although fearful and uncertain if he will 'die again,' Tyler faced another obstacle of this journey without complaint.  He continued to smile.  Test results started coming back and many questions were answered and ruled out or confirmed. When certain things were ruled out, it required additional testing for answers. They prepared us with the knowledge that the tests would not stop until the answers were found.  We learned things that felt unbearable to accept and yet, we witnessed a strength within Tyler that would not allow anyone to have doubts.

THE HUNT FOR ANSWERS:  On October 10, 2013, during the first heart catheterization exploratory procedure, a blood clot was found in Tyler’s heart, as well as evidence of several other blood clots that had left their mark.  The team did an immediate angiogram and blasted the clot and Tyler’s blood flow resumed normally.  Tyler had suffered from “the silent killer” we have now learned about from education provided by the American Heart Association. Tyler felt no pain before he collapsed.  He had a small complaint of what he felt was a familiar “heart burn feeling” earlier in the day.  He said that he felt a little light headed and that was the last thing he remembered before he collapsed.  He also experienced no pain or disorientation after he was revived.  His dedication and adrenaline had him focused to try to jump up and continue playing in the game, as if nothing had happened.

“Why does a healthy, athletic, 15 year old boy have recurring blood clots in the heart resulting in cardiac arrest?” This was the new research question for Tyler’s physician team.  Tests were coming back with conflicting results. Tyler’s team felt that an Implanted Cardioverter Device (ICD) should be implanted in Tyler's body as a 'back-up plan' to shock his heart, should his heart ever stop again due to a clot or any other reason. 

Still without answers as to why this was happening, on October 18, 2013, Tyler had a second heart catheterization procedure and the device was implanted.  During this procedure, Tyler experienced hemorrhaging complications and was placed on a life supporting device.  After careful monitoring, his physicians felt like Tyler was recovering at a fast pace.  They began forcing Tyler to breathe on his own and maintain balanced vital signs.  Tyler overcame this obstacle with additional chest tubes, kidney failure, and an implant in his heart with strength and courage.  Tyler continued to fight and heal until we were released to come home four weeks from that dreadful night in October of 2013.  We were happy to come home, but still scared since there was still a, "Why?" or "Will this happen again?"

We made weekly visits to Jackson, Mississippi, for Tyler’s physicians to run more tests.  There were many up and down results.  Tyler struggled emotionally, as well as the obvious physical limitations.  He had tremendous support from his friends, teachers and community.  During these trying days, his challenges became the priorities of others.  It was so humbling to experience the goodness within people and how that goodness created strength for us all.

FINALLY:  After months of waiting and agonizing for an answer, the Mayo Clinic produced an answer... three and a half months later.  Tyler has a rare blood disorder that causes clots within his body, but mainly in the heart.  Heart medication, blood medication and heartburn medication were implemented into his daily routine from that point on and for the rest of his life.

CURRENTLY:  Tyler has been released to enjoy life as a healthy teenage kid.  He goes though testing with his blood and heart every three months.  His implanted device transmits all heart activity and images through a monitoring system from our home to his cardiology team at Batson’s Children’s Hospital daily.  His heart function has actually improved.  Although some personal sporting goals were not able to be reached by Tyler, his life has been challenged, changed and enhanced by this experience.  Tyler has learned, survived and wants to share his story to help others know the importance of medical research and CPR awareness. Tyler’s continued life is a product from the existence and dedication of The American Heart Association.  Without efforts to increase funding and education to the public and medical fields, Tyler Free’s story would not have included the incredible chapters yet to be written. 

- Written by Shannon Free, Tyler's Mom, pictured with him in the photo

Tyler and Shannon Free have been wonderful volunteer advocates this year, working closely with the Jackson County Heart Walk and Jackson County Art for Heart Gala.  Tyler's survivor video was recently shown at the Jackson County Art for Heart Gala, where Tyler was the featured survivor.  Click to watch Tyler's video.

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Fall Heart Healthy Recipe: Green Beans & Potatoes

Fall is in the air and in your kitchen! Try out this simple and quick "Green Beans & Red Potatoes" recipe from our Go Red For Women Heart Healthy Recipe Center. 





  • 8 ounces green beans, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 8 ounces red potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons light tub margarine
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper, or to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon paprika



  1. In a large saucepan, steam the green beans and potatoes for 8 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. Transfer to a medium serving bowl.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients, stirring until the paprika is well combined.

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