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Share Your Story - Iowa

Iowa

For most kids, August marks the end of summer and their return back to school. How do your kids get to and from school? Are they walkers, car riders or do they take the bus?

The American Heart Association is partnering with the Healthier Iowa Coalition to create safe and healthy communities for all families in Iowa. Through Safe Routes to Schools, we can make great strides in reducing local obesity rates and improving every citizen’s quality of life. We would love to hear about your child’s experiences, barriers and obstacles they encounter everyday getting to and from school. Please Share Your Story with us.

Currently, the Healthier Iowa Coalition is working on a Safe Routes to School initiative, which will provide needed funding for projects that will encourage our children to walk to school. The Healthier Iowa Coalition is dedicated to ensuring safe routes to school. As a federally-funded program, Safe Routes to Schools provides the financial resources to repair sidewalks, hire crossing guards, and remove the barriers that discourage parents from allowing their children to be active in the community. For more information, please visit The Healthier Iowa Coalition website.

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Share Your Story: Jenna Bell

Jenna Bell Kansas

I am a mom, Army Wife, daughter, and a survivor of heart disease. When I was 23 I was diagnosed with a cardiomyopathy and told I was at risk for sudden cardiac death. I wouldn’t have a heart attack. My heart would simply stop and I would die. I was told that I would never have children and I would be living with heart disease my whole life. They were wrong. I have two beautiful children Mary Ann and Will. I am on the heart transplant list and will be getting a new heart that will end the disease in mine. Even with my new heart I’ll be fighting for my heart and yours for many years to come.

When I was first diagnosed I thought it was stress.  The love of my life was 12 months into a 15 month deployment. I was a full time special education teacher, head of the special education department, a master’s degree student and working retail part time. I went to my doctor to appease my mother and expected for him to tell me it was stress and to go home. Instead he said, "You’re young, you’re healthy, you’re not overweight but go see the cardiologist just in case." I saw the cardiologist within a week and received my deadly diagnosis shortly thereafter. That doctor could have sent me home but instead he saved my life. 

Shortly after my diagnosis I heard about a casting call being done by the American Heart Association looking for "real women" to share their stories. I knew I had to share mine. I found out I was selected as a National Spokeswoman for AHA in 2009. It was a whirlwind of interviews and advocacy events and I loved every minute. I was able to share my story with women and show them, not tell them, that heart disease does not discriminate. All women are at risk. 

I am committed to educating others about heart disease for a number of reasons, the heart of which is my children. I want them to not only have access to great schools and great teachers but also to amazing healthy food while they are learning. What our children put in their bodies is equally as important as what we are putting in their minds. I also advocate for research. I want to ensure I am here for my kids as they grow up. Right now the average heart only lasts 12 years after transplantation. I want to live far longer and research is key. Heart disease is the #1 killer and we need top notch research to eradicate it from our lives and the lives of our children.

When I think of the future I think of my daughter’s wedding. I think of watching her Dad walk her down the aisle. Her little brother watching his sister commit to the person she loves. My parents being there to support her. I think of hugging her on her wedding day and telling her how beautiful she looks. I think of all those things every time I educate someone about my heart journey and living a heart healthy life. I choose to advocate, fundraise, and educate to ensure a heart healthy future for me, my family and my community.

Her Wedding is Why.

 

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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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Let's Celebrate the Last 12 Months!

The following blog post was written by the Executive Vice President of Advocacy and Health Quality, Mark Schoeberl. 

One important way the American Heart Association achieves its Mission is by advocating for laws that enable individuals to live healthier lives. It’s part of our commitment to build  a “culture of health,” which for our advocacy work translates into supporting common sense public policy that helps make the healthy choice an easy choice and where  all Americans benefit from having access to high-quality, affordable health care.

As part of this work, the American Heart Association has in the past twelve months successfully advocated for nearly 70 changes in public policy specifically designed to help Americans enjoy longer, healthier lives, free of heart disease and stroke. This work is never easy, and the tremendous success we have achieved this past year would simply have not been possible without the support of you, our You’re the Cure advocates.  On behalf of the entire AHA leadership and staff, I want to personally thank you for joining us as we work together to build a culture of health in your community and all communities across this great country. 

As advocates with a tendency to want to quickly move on to take on the next policy challenge and opportunity, we often fail to pause to reflect on the success we have achieved and the impact we have had through our advocacy efforts.  So with that in mind, I wanted to share some of our exciting victories:

  • More than 1 million people got health insurance coverage through expansion of the Medicaid program in, Indiana, New Hampshire, Montana and Pennsylvania.
  • Nine more states passed measures to screen infants for congenital heart defects, meaning nearly 900,000 more babies will be screened each year. The simple, inexpensive, lifesaving pulse oximetry test is now required in more than 40 states.
  • More than 16 million people have better access to safe places to exercise thanks to shared-use liability laws passing in Iowa, Ohio and West Virginia. These laws enable schools to open their facilities to people for physical activity after hours.
  • More than 4.7 million kids will get healthier foods at school, now that Florida, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon and Utah have aligned with federal standards requiring these foods be primarily whole grains, fruit, vegetable, dairy or protein.
  • Nearly 700,000 residents of the District of Columbia now have healthier food options. The district now requires foods and beverages sold through vending machines on government property meet healthy standards.
  • More than 1.3 million students will graduate from high school with CPR skills, thanks to new laws requiring this lifesaving skill in New Jersey, Delaware, West Virginia, Indiana, Oregon, Connecticut and San Francisco. 24 states now require CPR for high school graduation.
  • Illinois, North Carolina, the District of Columbia, North Dakota, Arizona, Kentucky, New Mexico, Minnesota, Oklahoma and, Rhode established the recognition of all three tiers of nationally certified stroke care facilities. In all of these states, EMS authorities are now required to develop and implement formal transport protocol plans for STEMI and stroke patients, respectively.
  • New Orleans banned smoking in most indoor public places, including bars, restaurants and casinos, protecting the city’s residents and millions of tourists from secondhand smoke.

We can all be extremely pleased and proud of the success we have accomplished over the last year and the lives we have impacted through our work.  Thank you again for all of your time, commitment and energy that has made this possible.

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We won't stop fighting for heart and stroke research!

This has been a great year for You’re the Cure volunteers advocating for more heart and stroke research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). So far, we’ve sent 23,000 messages to Capitol Hill, over 380 advocates met with lawmakers during You’re the Cure on the Hill, and countless numbers of passionate volunteers shared their stories on social media.

What did all of this hard work accomplish? The budget process is still not over, but here's the latest:

 

  1. A proposed budget bill in the U.S. House increases NIH's funding by $1.1 billion.
  2. A proposed budget bill in the U.S. Senate increases NIH's funding by $2 billion.
  3. Finally, the U.S. House passed a separate bill, the 21st Century Cures Act, which would give the NIH an extra $8.75 billion over the next 5 years. The bill is now in the Senate for consideration.

The House and Senate still need to work out its budget differences and nothing is final until the President signs a bill. However, this is the closest we've been in years to increased heart and stroke funding, so will you pledge not to give up the fight?

In September, another group of You’re the Cure advocates will join 300 other organizations in Washington DC. Not only will they urge Congress to increase heart and stroke research funding, but they will be delivering the names of everyone who has pledged to keep fighting for the NIH. 

It’s crucial that your name be on that petition we deliver to Capitol Hill. We've made great strides in the fight for more heart and stroke research funding this year, but we cannot give up now.

Your message to Congress is simple: "I won't stop fighting for the NIH." Tell them today!

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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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