American Heart Association - You’re the Cure

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Be the Cure, Join Today!

  • Learn about heart-health issues
  • Meet other likeminded advocates
  • Take action and be heard
We're Feeling Grateful

As AHA Advocacy staff, we get to work alongside the most remarkable volunteers- like YOU! We get to see lives improved and lives saved as a result of the work we’ve done together, and for that, we're grateful.

As You’re the Cure volunteers, you share personal stories of loved ones lost too soon, of survival, or of triumph over heart disease or stroke- all because you know your stories will make a difference in someone else’s life. It is often those stories that convince lawmakers to pass the policies making our communities healthier.

Because of you, more babies are being screened with Pulse Ox and having their heart defects corrected before it’s too late. Because of you, people in communities around the country have been saved by students who learned CPR in school. Because of you, people are getting better stroke care, families have safe places for active play, fewer people are smoking, and kids are eating healthier food at school.  The impact you’re making is incredible, and our communities are better places- because of you.

You make us cry. You share your joy. You inspire us. You amaze us. And we’re just so grateful for all you do.

We’re including YOU as we count our blessings this month, and we wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends!   

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Share Your Story: Volunteer Advocacy Summit-MO

Advocacy Volunteer Summit Missouri

Meet our top active, committed and hero volunteers that recently attended our "Advocacy Volunteer Summit, 2015". It has always been important to us to recognize and show them how thankful we are for their help in the fight against heart disease and stroke, so we decided to implement a new advocate recognition program.

Our goal is to give our top advocates an opportunity to network with others from across their state, get the inside scoop on our local and federal legislative efforts, allow us to share our mission and goals with them, work with them to help tell their stories in a quick and impactful way and help them gain an understanding of their role in the legislative process.

Another benefit to being a top advocate is that they receive access to our insider perks! Some of these perks include insider calls where they will get the inside scoop on what’s happening under the dome, invites to special events and trainings held throughout the year like our advocacy summits and first consideration to attend national events like our National Lobby Day on the Hill in Washington DC.

We had a fun and informative day at this year’s Advocacy Volunteer Summit! Hope you will be able to join us next year by earning points to become a top advocate. Here’s how.


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Share Your Story - Angela Baird

Angela Baird Missouri

American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women announced this year’s "Real Women," national spokespeople for the cause, and one of the nine women selected is from Grandview, Missouri. Angela Baird will join group members from across the country and share their personal stories, encouraging women to take a proactive role in their health by knowing their family history and scheduling a well-woman visit

Angela Baird nearly died at age 24. A diabetic who kept her condition well managed, Angela’s blood sugar level spiked and she became dangerously dehydrated in 2007.  At the hospital, her condition worsened, and she was put on life support as she went into a coma. Within a week, her condition improved, and doctors performed an angiogram to determine what triggered the health crisis.  Testing revealed it was caused by complications from untreated Kawasaki disease, which Angela learned had occurred almost two decades earlier. Angela’s heart was only working at third of its normal rate. She had two blocked arteries that required emergency double bypass surgery, an aneurysm, and swollen blood vessels. There was also evidence that she’d had a previous heart attack.

At age five Angela had a swollen mouth and neck and painful joints. It was Kawasaki disease, an illness characterized by inflammation of the blood vessels and typically affects young children, although doctors said it was a virus at the time.  Throughout her teens, there were other signs that something was wrong. She had shortness of breath during exercise, which doctors diagnosed as asthma, and had several cases of heat stroke. 

The heart attack had happened two years earlier, while Angela, then 22, was volunteering in a remote village in Cameroon, without access to medical care.  When she finally got to a hospital a month later, Angela was relieved when doctors said her prolonged vomiting was probably a virus. She didn’t realize that heart attack symptoms can differ in women, and can sometimes mimic the flu.  "The experience was so scary, I didn’t want doctors to tell me anything was wrong and accepted it when they couldn’t find anything," she said. "But now I know what you don’t know [about your own diagnosis], can, in fact, hurt you."

Now a fitness instructor, Angela knows all too well that healthy eating and regular exercise are key to preventing heart disease.  She encourages women to know their medical history and manage their risk factors—from blood pressure to glucose—and protect their heart health, no matter what their age. Those factors are part of  Life’s Simple 7, a group of seven health and behavior factors that taken together can help protect heart health.

"Be proactive and know what is happening with your body," she said. "Get things checked out rather than just pushing through everything."

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Sing to End Stroke

One in three Americans can’t recall any stroke warning signs. What if singing a song could help people recognize a stroke and give someone the power to save a life?

On World Stroke Day, October 29th, the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association is using music to help people remember the common warning signs of stroke, F.A.S.T. (Face drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, Time to call 9-1-1).

Why learn the F.A.S.T song? The quicker you recognize the stroke warning signs and call 9-1-1 for stroke, the better the chances of recovery. 

Here is how you can participate:

So get your vocal cords ready and let's sing to end stroke!


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Share Your Story: Mary Smith

Mary Smith Missouri

In early September 2009, when I woke up from my 5 day coma, you can only image how shocked I was to learn that I had suffered a cardiac arrest. After all, I was a 32 year old vegetarian that worked out five days a week. After talking with doctors and other volunteers with the American Heart Association, I learned that heart disease does not discriminate. It can affect anyone at any time.

Since then, my family and I have made it our mission to help educate others by raising awareness of heart disease in America. We are determined to let EVERYONE know that it can happen to ANYONE no matter race, age, gender etc. We want people to understand that life goes on.

I have been blessed to enjoy a full recovery in addition to being protected by an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) against future incidents. I currently volunteer with the American Heart Association as the Vice Chair of the Go Red for Women Passion Committee in St. Louis. My nine year old daughter also participates in the Jump Rope for Heart Campaign and has been recognized as a heart ambassador by her school for her efforts. The fight against heart disease has become a passionate effort by my whole family.


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Kearney, MO Passes Smoke-free Law!

The American Heart Association applauds the city of Kearney, MO and its Board of Alderman for voting to approve a new comprehensive smoke-free law!

Kearney is located approximately 25 miles northeast of Kansas City.  Approximately 9,038 residents will be breathing clean indoor air now.  The new law should go into effect within 30 days.

An estimated 35,000 non-smokers die from coronary heart disease each year as a direct result of exposure to secondhand smoke. Numerous studies show that heart attack rates tend to decline after the implementation of strong smoke-free laws. 

Congratulations to everyone in Kearney who played a role in helping secure this victory!

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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: Debora Grandison

Debora Grandison Missouri

It was 26 years ago when I was placed on medication to stop pre-term labor. That medication not only jeopardized the life of my unborn child, but mine as well. After a stint in intensive care, I began a long journey of misdiagnoses, medications and medical testing, which all led to years of unanswered questions, feeling misunderstood and a great deal of anxiety and fear.

The key to getting me on track was finding a doctor who understood my symptoms, fears and concerns. This allowed me to create a positive plan of action that would put me on a life changing journey. This journey, is my journey, a journey with a purpose to make a difference through volunteering opportunities and sharing my story.

I began volunteering with the AHA's Go Red Passion Committee and also became an active member of The Midwest Affiliate Speaker's Bureau. This year I also had the pleasure of traveling to the Missouri State Capitol to lobby in support of House Bill #457 which would make CPR Training mandatory in our high schools. And now I’m sharing my story with my fellow Missourians to promote heart health awareness.

Over the years, I watched heart disease shorten the lives of 4 immediate family members including a younger sibling who passed away at the early age of 35 from a massive heart attack. This leaves me questioning what MY future holds.

Currently, I am living well; even with a pacemaker, Afib and diabetes. I have a strong desire to encourage, empower and support those who may walk a similar path as mine. I enjoy educating others through advocating awareness and prevention of Heart Disease and Stroke. I actively seek opportunities to "spread the word" throughout the community! Finding passion and purpose through my journey, is a true gift that brings me joy!

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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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