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Help secure funding for this life-saving AED program today!

This is a critical time in Congress. Lawmakers are deciding on their funding priorities and the next round of budget negotiations are beginning. Even in this difficult economy, there are several federally-funded programs that are vital to the heart community, and we need to let our lawmakers know they must be a priority.

One such program helps buy and place automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in rural communities. The program also trains first responders and others in the community to use and operate these devices. The Rural and Community Access to Emergency Devices Program ensures those who live in rural areas or small towns have access to the tools they need for the best chance of surviving a cardiac arrest. Unfortunately, the program currently only has the resources to operate in 12 states.

Please contact your lawmaker today and ask them to prioritize funding to save lives from cardiac arrest!

People in every state should be given the best shot at surviving a cardiac arrest. Communities with aggressive AED placements have increased survival rates from about 11% to nearly 40%, which is an incredible improvement. But 38 states are still waiting for funds for this life-saving program.

Deadlines in Congress are looming, so please contact your elected officials TODAY!

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Nutrition Across the Nation

With National Nutrition Month underway, we’re excited to launch a new website about an issue that’s close to every parent’s heart: Step Up to the Plate for School Meals. Since Congress passed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act in 2010, our kids are eating more whole grains, being served less salt, and getting the fruits and vegetables they need to excel in the classroom.

Step Up to the Plate features success stories from the more than 93 percent of schools already meeting the new standards, like Anne Frank Elementary in Philadelphia, where Principal Mickey Komins and his staff are committed to helping students make healthy eating a lifelong habit. Our Nutrition Across the Nation map helps you see how your state measures up in terms of the number of students participating in the national school lunch and breakfast programs, and what we can do to help schools serve the most nutritious, delicious meals possible.

Most important of all, Step Up to the Plate makes it easy to contact your lawmakers to tell them why it’s so important that they re-authorize the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. Studies have shown that students consume up to 50 percent of their daily caloric intake at school. Strong nutrition standards help provide a balanced diet that will let students grow and learn in the healthiest way possible. We know that for some kids, the breakfast and lunch they get at school is the only nutritious meal they receive.

At a time when 30 percent of children ages 2-19 years are considered overweight or obese, Congress needs to do whatever it can to ensure we’re fighting this national epidemic. Take action today, share with your friends on social media, and help us spread the word that on school meals, the time to step up is now!

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Tell your lawmaker: Heart and stroke research is a priority!

Imagine if we didn’t know that smoking led to heart disease or stroke. Think about all of the lives lost if we didn’t have AEDs. How many stroke and heart disease survivors would we have if it weren’t for clot-busting drugs?  It’s hard not to take these and other medical milestones for granted. But if it weren't for our investment in the National Institutes of Health (NIH), these breakthroughs might not be here today.

Unfortunately, future discoveries will be in jeopardy if our lawmakers continue to inadequately fund medical research.  Will you contact your lawmaker today and urge them to make NIH heart and stroke research a national priority?

Right now, members of both the U.S. House and Senate are determining their priorities for upcoming appropriation bills. It's crucial that as many lawmakers as possible request a funding increase for the NIH if we hope to discover more lifesaving heart and stroke treatments.

Over the past 10 years, the NIH budget has not kept pace with medical research inflation, resulting in more than a 20% loss in purchasing power. Moreover, NIH continues to invest only 4% of its budget on heart research and a mere 1% on stroke research. This means promising discoveries to save even more lives will be left in the lab room and not in the hands of doctors.

Like me, I am sure you find this unacceptable. But this trend will only change if we stand up and urge our legislators to make NIH a national priority.

Medical breakthroughs do not happen overnight. Each step takes countless hours of research and manpower, trial and error, hope and frustration. But each step is an opportunity to bring a new chance at life to countless Americans across the country. It’s why the work NIH does is so vital, and it’s why the work we do to increase NIH’s funding is so critical. Our nation’s future health depends on it.

Join me and speak up today!

 

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Share Your Story: Abby Snodgrass

Abby Snodgrass Missouri

Abby Snodgrass, a suburban St. Louis high school student, is being credited with saving a baby's life. 

Hillsboro High School student Abby Snodgrass knew what to do when an 11month old child stopped breathing at a Walmart store in High Ridge.

Snodgrass was in a dressing room when she heard an emergency call. She ran out to find a crowd surrounding the infant and panicked mother, but no one was doing anything to save the child. Snodgrass had learned CPR in school a couple of months earlier. She performed chest compressions and the child began breathing again.

High Ridge Fire District Chief Mike Arnhart says the child may not have survived if not for Snodgrass' quick actions.

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VOTE for ISU's Coach Hoiberg

Coach Fred Hoiberg Iowa

It’s March Madness and the American Heart Association has made it into the Final Four in the Infiniti Coaches Charity Challenge. You see, Iowa State University Head Men’s Basketball Coach Fred Hoiberg is competing to win $100,000 for the American Heart Association – and he needs our help to make it a slam dunk win!

Coach Hoiberg was the ONLY coach to select the AHA as his charity, so it is important that we all support his efforts, regardless of your favorite college team.  Coach Hoiberg is also a survivor of heart disease which ended his NBA career early.  He is definitely an advocate for the AHA and a strong volunteer and supporter.  We appreciate his commitment to us – now let’s show our appreciation for him!

Please exercise your right to vote here today, and EVERY DAY through March 15, to help bring $100,000 to the American Heart Association. 

The Infiniti Coaches Challenge By the Numbers. . .

10– seconds it takes to create an ESPN account (if you don’t have one already)

0number of emails/correspondence you’ll get for creating an account (seriously, not a single one)

5seconds it takes to login and cast your vote each day

12number of votes EACH OF YOU represent between now and March 15

4,560number of votes we could generate by MIDWEST AFFILIATE STAFF ALONE

100,000dollars that could go to the AHA’s lifesaving research & education

Let’s continue to rally around heart disease survivor, Coach Fred Hoiberg, to push him over the top! 

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Share Your Story: Jeannie Roberson

Jeannie Roberson Kansas

Sometimes Jeannie Roberson has to pinch herself to remember this is her new life. A healthy, happy, active, non-smoking life. It’s a complete turn-around from her lowest point six years ago struggling to breathe in the shower.

"That morning I didn’t know what was happening to me," Jeannie says. "My breathing went from bad to worse and my doctor sent me to the hospital right away. I had pneumonia and was showing signs of COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease). My doctor said if I didn’t stop smoking I would need oxygen for the rest of my life. I decided, right then and there, I was too cute and too young to haul around an oxygen tank. I quit cold turkey during my five days in the hospital."

Jeannie’s husband, Sean, was also a smoker. They decided to be successful long-term they both needed to quit. Learning the facts about tobacco withdrawal symptoms and reminding each other to think logically helped the process.

"It may sound funny, but we focused on the numbers," Jeannie says. "Sean knew he was going to have a cigarette craving about every three minutes. The goal was to get through those cravings for three days when our research showed the nicotine levels in his body would begin to decrease. We kept building on our goals. The next step was getting to three months without smoking. It wasn’t easy. But we kept plugging away together."

The couple felt great about their new smoke-free life. But Jeannie started to gain weight after she quit. She toyed with the idea of working out, but had never done it before. Her parents were both smokers and her dad died of lung cancer. Exercising was foreign to her.

Jeannie decided to start small by simply joining the YMCA in Wichita, Kan., and walking around the track. Eventually, she worked up to the elliptical machine. The more she worked out, the better she felt. Breathing became easier. In fact, Jeannie improved her lung function by 40 percent. Instead of displaying COPD symptoms, she now just has asthma – a palpable difference she feels with every breath.

"My resolve to quit smoking and the YMCA saved my life," Jeannie says. "The mind and body connection is powerful."

Jeannie now serves as the membership services coordinator at the same Wichita YMCA where she began exercising.

"When I quit smoking, it was like mourning the death of a friend," Jeannie says. "I had turned to cigarettes for 21 years when I was stressed, happy or sad. Thankfully I got over it and gave the ‘new me’ a chance. I’m never going back. I’m blessed to work at the ‘Y.’ Everything in my life has brought me to this point. I’m exactly where I need to be."

Every year in Kansas, 4,400 adults die because of their tobacco addiction and about 3,000 kids become smokers. Jeannie is currently working with the American Heart Association and Kansans for a Healthy Future to help in the fight to save lives in Kansas through tobacco prevention.

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What you need to know about the latest nutrition guidelines

We would like to introduce Suzie Sodium. She is a registered dietitian who is regularly posting content and updates over at www.sodiumbreakup.heart.org.

Take it away Suzie!

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In the American Heart Association’s quest to help Americans build healthier lives, promoting healthy eating habits is a key strategy. Because nutrition recommendations are based on the best evidence available, they shift over time. As we gather more evidence and use new research techniques, we get an increasingly clearer picture of what a healthy diet should look like.
 
One of the most important sources of nutrition guidance for our country is the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs). By law, this document is updated every 5 years. It is jointly published by the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Agriculture (USDA). The DGAs give us advice about what to eat for optimal health, according to the latest science.

The DGAs are used for much more than just educating the public about healthy eating. They help the federal government set nutrition standards for school meals, child care centers, and food assistance programs. Federal food and nutrition education programs are based on the DGAs. They also impact the information provided by nutrition facts panels and other nutrition labeling on food packages. Doctors, dietitians, and other healthcare providers use the guidelines as the basis for the nutrition guidance they provide to patients. As you can see, the guidelines have a broad impact.

So how do these guidelines come to be? In the first stage of the process, the government appoints a committee of the nation’s top experts in nutrition and chronic disease prevention. This group is called the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. The committee reviews the previous edition of the DGAs as well as any new evidence that’s been published in the meantime. They also hear from expert guest speakers and consider oral and written comments from the public. The committee then writes a scientific report with its recommendations and submits it to the federal government.

Today, the committee’s report to the federal government was released to the public. The report emphasized an overall healthy eating pattern with lower levels of salt, saturated fat, and added sugars than Americans’ current diets. It described a healthy eating pattern as rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish/seafood, legumes, and nuts; moderate in non- and low-fat dairy products and alcohol; lower in red and processed meats; and low in sugar-sweetened foods and beverages and refined grains (i.e., grains that are stripped of some of their nutrients and thus are not whole grains). Overall, the American Heart Association says that the report’s recommendations are a shift in the right direction, and if accepted by HHS and USDA, will help steer the public toward a more heart-healthy path in their daily diets.

Over the rest of this year, HHS and USDA will use the advisory committee’s science report to create the final 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. They will also consider comments from others in the government and from the public as they develop the final report. Stay tuned to learn more about what the final guidelines will say, and what they will mean for your food choices.

Do government nutrition guidelines influence the food choices you make for yourself or your family?

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National Congenital Heart Awareness Week is February 7 - 14

Has your life been touched by heart disease? Most of us can think of a family member or friend with heart disease but how heart breaking when the person impacted is a newborn. That’s right, congenital heart disease is the most common birth defect and the leading killer of babies with birth defects. The good news is there is hope thanks to a simple test called pulse oximetry which is done before a baby leaves the hospital and can lead to early detection.

The American Heart Association is proud to help raise awareness and has partnered with national patient groups, families, and community leaders to make sure heart defect screening using pulse ox is required in all states. Over 35 states have already passed laws, or are in the process, requiring newborns to have pulse ox screenings prior to being discharged from the hospital. But we won’t stop until all newborns have access to this lifesaving test!

Baby Jovie is proof that pulse ox can save lives. The Smith family was one of the first to benefit from the new law in North Carolina and baby Jovie's heart defect was found before she ever left the hospital. She had heart surgery and now at three months old is already off of medications and her doctors are very optimistic about her prognosis. To honor out littlest heart heroes help spread the word and tell your legislator to support pulse oximetry testing for all newborns.

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Does it make sense to penalize those who need therapy most?

My answer to this question is a loud “NO!” and I bet yours is, too. But that is just what Medicare’s current limits on outpatient therapy do. Unfortunately, if Congress does not act by March 31st, stroke survivors and others on Medicare with the most serious and debilitating conditions will face a cap on their outpatient therapy. But our lawmakers can prevent this from happening.  

Right now there is a bill in Congress to end these caps once-and-for all.

Will you ask your member to co-sponsor this commonsense legislation today?

After surviving a stroke, the last thing anyone needs to worry about is running out of therapy sessions. Stroke is our nation’s No. 5 cause of death and a leading cause of disability and dementia. Therapy services provide stroke survivors with the ability to regain vital skills like walking and talking, prevent falls, and live as independently as possible. Limiting access to such beneficial care does not make sense.

I know you believe our stroke survivors deserve better. Ask your legislator to end these harmful caps today!

 

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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 GoRedForWomen.org/RedDressCollection on Thursday, February 12 at 8 p.m. Eastern. See you there!

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