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Share Your Story: Julie Hederman

Julie Hederman Missouri

Meet our You’re the Cure HERO Advocate – Julie Hederman!  Julie has reached the HERO level in our You’re the Cure community.  We want to share her accomplishments and what inspires her to become a top level advocate.

What brought you to be an advocate for the American Heart Association?
I work with the St. Louis area schools and am motivated to push for healthier guidelines for students and staff to help combat the obesity issues.

What issues or policies are you most passionate about and why?
CPR in schools in Missouri.  Smoke-Free Missouri.  Better PE standards in schools.

What is your favorite advocacy memory or experience so far and what made it great?
Participated in Jefferson City MO-Lobby Day and was inspired to make my voice and my vote count.

What is your favorite way to be active?
Jazzercise 3 nights a week.  Walk the other days.

What is your favorite fruit or vegetable?
Love the tangerines/”cuties”!

Are you inspired?  Join the YTC community and become a HERO Advocate.

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Share Your Story: Scott Davis

Scott Davis Iowa

Stroke forced Scott Davis into retirement but it is his perseverance that put him back on the force.  Scott Davis is in the top 1 percent of people who suffer his kind of stroke. His update is below. 

His original story.

On Sunday Jan 18th I was getting ready for my job when I started to see blind spots in my vision.  The next thing I remember is waking up in the ICU at Mercy Hospital. It was 9:00 am when my wife texted me to let me know that she was awake.  She heard my phone go off down the hall so she went to check it out.  She found me somewhat unresponsive and thought maybe I was having another stroke.  But thanks to her paramedic training, she was able to quickly realize that I was having a seizure.

She called 911 and I was taken to the hospital. While in the ambulance, I had another seizure.  Upon reaching the hospital, I then had a third seizure, which turned out to be a grand mal one.  They performed several tests including an MRI and CT scan. I woke up several hours later.  They kept me in the hospital for three days.  Upon my release, I was able to return to work on a limited basis. They gave me meds for the seizures which made me fill better almost immediately.  I was even able to start working out again.

My condition seemed to be under control until another unexpected episode occurred on Sunday March 22nd, when my wife and I were shopping at the mall.  I started feeling weird so my wife walked me outside to sit down and get some fresh air for a few minutes.  Next thing I remember is waking up at the hospital, several hours later.  They kept me in the hospital for five days this time again performing several exams including CT, MRI and EEG to name a few. They also adjusted my seizure meds in an effort to find the right balance to control my seizures. 

Today, I’m really tired from everything my body has gone through in addition to getting used to my new medications.  Not knowing the status of my job, due to my health condition, just adds additional stress to my current situation. 

I’m planning on training and participating in several ½ marathons and triathlons again this year. I won’t give up on being active and I won’t give up on living. I’m fortunate that my wife is and has been a huge supporter of mine.  It helps that she is a paramedic.

 

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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 www.heart.org/GettingHealthy 

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Share Your Story: Abby, Molly, Madeline and Blake

Abby, Molly, Madeline and Blake Kansas

For Abby Anderson, Molly Ogden, Madeline Mudd, and Blake Ephraim, high school hasn't been easy. Beyond the typical struggles of being a teenager, each of these girls are also stroke survivors. At times it has been a tough road filled with sadness and loneliness, as it can be very challenging going back to school and recovering from a stroke.

However, the four girls have built relationships with each other, overcome obstacles and have made it their mission to educate others and bring awareness to the signs and symptoms of stroke.

In May, the girls will be graduating from their respected high schools on time.

Read more about each of their stories

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You're the Cure on the Hill 2015 update

Since You’re the Cure on the Hill, there have been several developments around our efforts to protect strong school nutrition standards and push for more funding for heart disease and stroke research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

In the next few months, Congress will be reviewing legislation on school meals, with the House and Senate expected to debate the issue later this month and in July, prior to August recess. We’ll be getting in touch with you then to let you know how to capitalize on in-person meetings with your representatives and Senators when they’re back home. If you haven’t told your lawmakers why healthy school meals are so important, click here to do so in less than 60 seconds.

You can also check out our videos featuring AHA CEO Nancy Brown’s visit to Charles Rice Elementary in the Dallas Independent School District, a national leader on successfully meeting the standards, as well as a video featuring our youth advocate all-star Genna Ringler. And please make sure your friends and family know that all their questions on the importance of this issue can be answered at www.heart.org/SchoolMeals!

For NIH funding, here’s the latest:

Congressional appropriations: In the next few weeks, both House and Senate appropriations committees will propose funding levels for NIH. We are hoping to see an increase, but won’t know until the proposals are made public. Stay tuned!

21st Century Cures Act and NIH Innovation Fund: The U.S. House of Representatives is working on bill called the 21st Century Cures Act. One part of the bill would provide a much needed boost of money for the National Institutes of Health by creating the “NIH Innovation Fund”.  Specifically, the Fund would allocate an additional $10 billion for new, innovative NIH research over a five year period or $2 billion a year. The House is expected to debate and vote on this legislation in the near future. Many aspects of the larger bill are still being worked out, but we are encouraged that it may provide more funding for medical research. Check back for more details.

NIH Senate Caucus:  In late May, Senators Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) formed the bipartisan NIH Senate Caucus.  The goal of the caucus is to boost NIH’s funding, which has seen a 20% decrease in purchasing power over the years. Currently, there are 16 Senators in the caucus.

  • Lindsay Graham (R-SC), Co-Chair
  • Richard Durbin (D-IL), Co-Chair
  • Jerry Moran (R-KS)
  • Roger Wicker (R-MS)
  • Bob Casey (D-PA)
  • Richard Blumenthal (D-CT)
  • Benjamin Cardin (D-MD)
  • Joe Donnelly (D-IN)
  • Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)
  • Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
  • Gary Peters (D-MI)
  • Angus King (I-ME)
  • Edward Markey (D-MA)
  • Al Franken (D-MN)
  • Brian Schatz (D-HI)
  • Thom  Tillis (R-NC)

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Let's Get FIT Kids Moving

Helping our children live active, healthy lifestyles is more important than ever. Since we first shared that the Fitness Integrated with Teaching (FIT) Kids Act had been re-introduced this Congress, thousands of you have urged your lawmakers to join as co-sponsors. Now we’re asking those of you who have yet to step up to take 60 seconds and ask your representatives to lead on this issue.  

Physical education programs have faced budget cut after budget cut. Less than four percent of elementary schools, less than eight percent of middle schools, and less than three percent of high schools are able to offer daily P.E. We can and we must do better, and the FIT Kids Act would go a long way toward closing this gap. It will strengthen grants to schools across the country that fund P.E. programs and require states that apply for these grants to adopt strong standards that are evidence-based. Please click here to tell your lawmakers why co-sponsoring FIT Kids is so important to you.

 

 

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Volunteers Urge Congress to Increase Access to Telestroke

In February of 2014 Nancy Lowman woke up with a sharp pain in her neck and distorted vision. After feeling nauseous and with symptoms continuing, Nancy decided to go to a nearby hospital in Hickory, NC. Staff there thought she was having a stroke, but without a neurologist on site, they weren’t sure how to proceed.

Luckily, the medical center was part of the North Carolina telestroke network. Staff were able to virtually connect, via a robot, with a neurologist 60 miles away at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC, who diagnosed Nancy with a stroke and prescribed a clot-busting drug. Nancy walked out of the hospital 48 hours later.

Last month Nancy and her nurse Danielle traveled to Washington, DC to tell their story and urge Congress to make telestroke care more accessible.

What is telestroke?

Stroke telemedicine, now commonly referred to as “telestroke,” is the use of videoconferencing to give urgent care to those having a stroke. Specialists are provided with timely data to assist clinicians at the bedside in stroke-related decision making for patients at hospitals that do not have a stroke neurologist available around the clock. 

Time is of the essence in treating stroke: For a typical stroke patient, 1.9 million brain cells die for each minute that a stroke goes untreated. Research shows that the quicker a patient receives treatment with the clot-busting drug, the better the odds of a full recovery.

In Nancy’s case, by using telestroke technology, a neurologist at another hospital was able to quickly diagnose her condition and guide Nancy’s doctors and nurses in administering the clot-busting medication. Nancy and her nurse are convinced that if her treatment had been delayed, she would not have walked out of the hospital just two days later without any lasting disability.

In simple terms, telestroke improves patient lives by preventing serious, long-term disability.

Why doesn’t every hospital utilize telestroke technology?

Current federal law states that Medicare will only reimburse hospitals who perform a telestroke consultation if the patient is located in a rural hospital. However, over 90% of strokes occur in suburban and urban areas. Nancy’s hospital in Hickory is not considered by Medicare to be rural so the stroke experts who diagnosed her from Winston-Salem are not paid for the care they provide to Medicare beneficiaries having a stroke. This lack of reimbursement is a barrier for the majority of Medicare patients needing timely telestroke care.

What can be done to increase access to telestroke care?

The easiest solution is to allow Medicare to reimburse the hospital for a telestroke consultation, regardless of where the patient lives. Not only would this increase access to telestroke and improve patient outcomes, but it would also save money by reducing the need for more costly inpatient rehabilitation or long-term care.

How can you help?

There is a bill in Congress call the FAST (Furthering Access to Stroke Telemedicine) Act. This bill would expand Medicare’s coverage of telestroke services. Right now we need as many lawmakers as possible to cosponsor this bill to show support for increasing telestroke access. Ask you members of Congress to cosponsor the FAST Act today!

 

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A Winning Game for School Lunches and Research Funding!

At You’re the Cure on the Hill 2015, more than 380 AHA advocates and staff from all 50 states, plus DC —and thousands more back home—stepped up to the plate for healthy school lunches and medical research funding. This year, our Hill day theme was built off the great American game of baseball, something that could resonate with advocates and lawmakers alike and give them a rallying cry for the event: Step Up to the Plate! It was an invitation from advocates to lawmakers, asking them to get off the bench and into the game. And they knocked it out of the park.

It was one of our most exciting days on the Hill with a combination of passionate advocates meeting face-to-face with their lawmakers and thousands of supportive voices from around the country who backed them up with phone calls, emails, tweets and Facebook posts. Together, our voices hit a home run for healthy school meals and heart and stroke research funding.

Advocates conducted 293 meetings with lawmakers, asking them to protect the progress made by the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act and support school nutrition standards. At the same time, advocates asked lawmakers to make heart disease and stroke research a national priority by increasing the budget of the National Institutes of Health.

Meanwhile, advocates back home around the country jumped in as pinch hitters to call and email their members of Congress and ask them to Step Up to the Plate. Capitol Hill received over 6,218 messages from constituents back home.

Throughout the day, we had so many all-star advocates who made the views, passions and needs of constituents known to their lawmakers in new and compelling ways. On top of that, we had two Congressional Award Winners who rounded out the team: Sen. Crapo (R-ID) and Sen. Mikulski (D-MD). They received the American Heart Association’s National Public Service Award, which has been granted biennially since 1982 to members of Congress who have actively promoted our mission. We are so thrilled to have their support!

Below is a snapshot of our day!

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You're the Cure on the Hill - A Youth's Perspective

Today we'd like to introduce one of our youth advocates, Michelle Ballasiotes. Michelle attended our You're the Cure on the Hill this week, and shared her story with Congress. Read on below and hear about her experience on Capitol Hill. Take it away Michelle!

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Hi, I am Michelle Ballasiotes and this week I joined over 380 AHA advocates and staff from across the country in Washington, DC for You’re the Cure on the Hill 2015. We were in D.C. to "Step Up to the Plate" for healthy school meals and medical research funding. It was two very exciting days where I met so many wonderful and passionate advocates who were ready to share our message with Congress.

Here are some highlights from my trip.

Monday - A Day to Learn about the Issues

On Monday while the adults attended their training sessions, I was able to participate in an engaging youth training led by Kim and Andrea from Youth Empowered Solutions. They first provided us with background information about the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act and NIH Medical Research Funding. One surprising thing that I learned was that the initial reason for healthier school meals was because kids were not receiving the proper nourishment they needed and were even too skinny to join the army! Since then, it has become even more important for kids to have healthy options at school.

It was important for us to learn about the history and important facts of each of our issues, because we wanted to be able to confidently share what we learned with our members of Congress. We also practiced how to incorporate our personal story into our asks of Congress. By personalizing the issues, we learned that our ask becomes much more powerful.

As a reward for a hard day's work, we learned how to make a quick and easy apple cobbler. Which taught us that it's okay to have healthy desserts in moderation. It was a delicious break during our training! 

Another important part of our training was learning about the important role that social media plays in emphasizing our message. Many of our Senators and Representatives are on social media, and they listen to the things we have to say. We were able to share the hashtag, #StepUp4HeartHealth, throughout the event and see it make a real impact. So remember, hashtags have power!

The next big event on Monday was the Heroes Luncheon, which featured an actual school meal served on fun, red lunch trays. The taco salad was delicious!

It was also so awesome to see two fellow North Carolinians receive national awards! My friend, Cassidy Collins, won the National Youth Advocate of the Year Award and Dr. David Huang received the National Science Advocate of the Year. It was great to see the passion that many North Carolina advocates share for the American Heart Association!

I learned so much on Monday and felt prepared to take what I learned and share it on Capitol Hill on Tuesday.

Tuesday - Time to turn Capitol Hill RED

To start off the morning, I led a few youth advocates onto the stage at the send-off breakfast. We were able to share some of what we learned during our previous day's training with everyone. It was great to provide a quick recap for the whole group before we made our way up to Capitol Hill to meet with our members of Congress.

My first meeting was with Senator Tillis and his staff. It went great! We were actually able grab a few minutes with the Senator himself. I found it very helpful to know some background on each member of Congress ahead of time. It let me know what points will persuade them the most.

During my day on Capitol Hill, I learned that every meeting on the Hill goes differently and you have to be prepared for anything. For example, during our meeting with Representative Hudson, his staff brought up some interesting points about medical research funding and how we measure results. I also learned that Hill staff members may be new and are just trying to absorb everything we told them. Which was okay, because we were prepared to answer all of their questions and were able to educate them on our issues.

The rest of our meetings went great and I am confident we hit a home run on Capitol Hill!

Why Did I Attend You're the Cure on the Hill 2015? - My story

I attended You're the Cure on the Hill because I suffered a stroke before I was even born. As a result of my stroke, I have been able to work with the American Heart Association. I want to be a strong advocate for more awareness of cardiovascular disease and the policies that influence positive change. This year, I was able to be a powerful voice in advocating for more NIH medical research funding, because the cause of my stroke is still unknown. If we don't know what causes strokes in kids, how can we prevent them?  Also, by being a youth myself, I was able to share my personal experience of why keeping healthy school meal standards strong is important to kids like me!

Being on Capitol Hill is always such a thrill for me. I love seeing people's faces when they see the sea of red and know it is the American Heart Association. It's also wonderful to show Congress that youth have a voice and we are not afraid to express our opinions.

Each year I attend Lobby Day is different, but it's always exciting. I've done National Lobby Day six times and I can't wait until the next event! I love reconnecting with old friends and meeting new people.

 

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Extra Innings! Are YOU Going to Step Up to the Plate?

If you thought the game was over, we’ve got news for you! We’re headed into extra innings, and we need ALL of our advocates to step up to the plate!

A few days ago, hundreds of You’re the Cure advocates from across the country flooded Capitol Hill urging their lawmakers to step up for heart health. We've made a huge impact this week, but we need to keep it up. Let your lawmakers know that if they step up for heart health then they have your support, and that we will hold them accountable if they don't. 

It’s not too late to take action to support healthy school meals and medical research funding. Tell your lawmakers to get off the bench and in the game. The health of their constituents depends on it.

Will you step up with me?

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