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Virtual stroke care from miles away

It might seem like something out of the future, but a neurologist miles away can now virtually diagnose and prescribe care for stroke patients via stroke telemedicine or telestroke. Telestroke can help ensure that more stroke patients receive clot-busting therapy and that they receive it more quickly, greatly improving the chances of a full recovery.

But this vital technology is not available to everyone.

Medicare only pays for the telestroke evaluation if the stroke patient is located in a rural area. With over 90% of strokes happening in urban or suburban areas, current law can restrict patient access to telestroke care.

However, there is a bill in Congress called the FAST (Furthering Access to Stroke Telemedicine) Act. This bill would expand Medicare’s coverage of telestroke services by reimbursing for a telestroke consultation, regardless of where the patient lives.

Please ask your members of Congress to co-sponsor the FAST Act today!

As the bill moves through Congress, we need to show as much support as possible for increasing access to telestroke. Please take a moment and urge your legislators to co-sponsor this important legislation today.

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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
    Amy.ochsner@heart.org
    FAX: 913-648-0423

Questions?  Give me a call at 913-652-1907

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Tobacco's Latest Threat: E-Cigarettes

Tobacco Companies are aggressively marketing e-cigarettes to our nation's youth, and it's working. With thousands of flavors like cotton candy, Swedish fish and gummi bears, it's no wonder e-cigarette use among young people has tripled. The American Heart Association and its partners are working hard to bring this problem under control.

Find citations here.

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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 $8.75 billion for new, innovative NIH research over a five year period or $1.75 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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