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Local Column Outlines Status of Medicaid Expansion in State

The Nebraska legislature has twice considered expanding Medicaid in our state, and twice the proposal has been rejected.  The American Heart Association supports expansion of Medicaid because we believe it will become an important source of coverage for currently uninsured adults with or at-risk for cardiovascular disease. 

Recently, the Don Walton of the Lincoln Journal Start wrote a column that outlined the status of Medicaid Expansion in Nebraska and the outlook for this important program in the fight against cardiovascular disease. 

To read Don Walton’s column, CLICK HERE. 

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Advocate Spotlight: Jamie Schneider

Jamie Schneider Nebraska

Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women, taking the lives of one in three each year. Sometimes, that statistic does not seem alarming because it is easy to trick yourself into thinking that the one person will not be you. Heart disease is for other people. But as the youngest of three daughters, and the proud aunt to three nieces (the picture is me with my sisters, sister-in-law and two nieces at my wedding in November), the chances are that if it is not me, it will be someone I love. A family member. A friend. And it is scary to think of that.

The greatest opportunity I have had since joining the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association as the Nebraska communications director in January 2015 is the opportunity to share lifesaving information with the women (and men) I love – and so many people I will never meet. About 80-percent of deaths from cardiovascular disease are preventable. Life is why it is important to communicate about heart-health.

Every day when I come to work, I know I have the extraordinary opportunity to change someone’s life for the better. Whether it is connecting with a local journalist for a heart-healthy story on tonight’s broadcast or posting a stroke fact on our social media, I know there is a conversation happening in someone’s home, a conversation that helps save lives. I have never worked for an organization where people are so passionate and so empowered to make a difference. Life is why we have such a fire.

Being involved with the American Heart Association is truly a work of heart. With help from advocates like you, the moments that make life worth living are a reality for millions of people. People who are saved by heart research. People who are saved by F.A.S.T. People who are saved by CPR. People who are saved by Mission: Lifeline. People who are saved by Jump Rope for Heart. People are saved every day because of the American Heart Association. 

Numbers and statistics can be scary but silence is even scarier. Today, I encourage you to start a conversation about prevention of heart disease or stroke. I promise I will do the same. Together, we can further this life saving mission.

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Nebraska Legislative Session: Here's What Happened

The 2014-2015 fiscal year was a very successful year for accomplishing advocacy priorities.  In August, the regulation was finalized for critical congenital heart defect screening for newborns.  The regulation language includes pulse oximetry screening for all newborns.  More than 20,000 newborns are now screened in Nebraska with this life-saving procedure every year!

An additional $200,000 for tobacco prevention and cessation was appropriated and passed by the Governor and Legislature this year.  This is the first time since 2004 that there has been any increase in additional funding for tobacco prevention and cessation! 

Funding for cardiac monitors for our EMS services was also approved by the Governor and Legislature Cardiac monitors with 12-lead capability are critical in detecting the deadliest type of heart attack, known as a STEMI.  This appropriation will help to outfit more EMS rescue services with this life-saving equipment.

An interim stroke system of care study resolution was introduced by State Senator Kathy Campbell.  Despite significant advances in diagnosis, treatment and prevention, stroke is the fifth leading cause of death and the leading cause of disability; and with the aging of the population, the number of persons who have strokes is projected to increase.  Forecasting by the American Heart Association predicts stroke prevalence to increase by 24.9% between 2010 and 2030.

These are just a few of the many successes this past fiscal year.  In the upcoming year, we will continue to advocate for all our high school students receiving CPR training, heart and stroke systems of care, and other priorities that reduce the burden of cardiovascular disease.

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Advocate Spotlight: Corrie Kielty

Corrie Kielty Nebraska

Being a mom and now a grandmother, involves much more than day to day mom duties.  It means doing everything I can to make Nebraska, my lifelong home, a better place for children. Hopefully I’ve modeled Mahatma Gandhi’s profound advice to “be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Tobacco has gripped our family and broken our hearts in so many ways.  I began smoking at 11.  After several heart surgeries and too much pain, we watched my grandfather die a painful tobacco related death.

Fortunately, many in my family battled our addiction and won. I quit smoking at a young age using many of the resources now available to help break that addiction. Less people now use tobacco than ever before thanks to successful public health policies passed by American Heart Association.

But too many Nebraskans are still caught in the grips of tobacco addiction.  Today 20% of adults and 15% of youth smoke. It is essential that we continue to reduce these rates. There are 2300 people dying from smoking attributable deaths in Nebraska each year.

We know there are successful policies that have kept tobacco out of the hands of children.  Increasing the cost of tobacco, banning smoking in the workplace and other other successful policies have worked – but the work isn’t complete.

I will continue to participate in the American Heart Association’s Lobby Day, contact my elected officials about action alerts and talk with public officials about health policy. I do this because I know that nine of 10 people who smoke, started before the age of 18. If we can keep children from smoking, they won’t become an adult smoker. 

Working together we can keep children from smoking. We can keep children from exposure to second hand smoke. We can make those changes we wish to see in the world so that all of our children and grandchildren have a better place to live.

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Youth Get Involved in Tobacco Prevention

According to the CDC, Nebraska ranks 6th among 36 other states for youth who use tobacco (i.e., cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, and/or cigars).  The dangers of smoking are well-known.  Smoking harms nearly every organ of the body, causing many diseases and affecting the health of smokers in general. Quitting smoking has immediate as well as long-term benefits for you and your loved ones.

We were pleased recently to see youth in Columbus NE get involved with prevention strategies to ensure kids do not start smoking or using tobacco products.  No Limits is a youth-led tobacco prevention program that targets social change and was created through the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. We applaud their efforts and encourage other communities to engage their youth in prevention strategies to keep kids from ever starting to use tobacco products. 

For more on this article, CLICK HERE

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Advocate Spotlight: Be Wary of Sneaky Salt!

Sneaky Salt

Become an advocate in our fight against sneaky Salt! Say NO to the higher risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and other health problems linked to too much sodium.

Did you know that most Americans eat more than twice the American Heart Association’s recommended amount of sodium? Chances are, that includes you—even if you rarely pick up the salt shaker. Salt is sneaking up on us—mostly when we go out to restaurants or eat packaged foods. Check out this fun new 1-minute video to see for yourself:

This excess salt puts us at risk for elevated blood pressure which means an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. Stand up for your health and pledge to reduce your sodium intake today! Take the pledge here: Don’t stop there…Encourage your family and friends to take the pledge, too.

Want more info? Check out our new website,, for a quiz, infographics, recipes and more. Thank you for standing strong against "sneaky Salt!"

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How to Make Healthy Nutrition Changes in the Workplace

Making changes to your diet can be difficult, and it can be even more of a challenge to incorporate those changes into your workplace environment.  Someone is always bringing cakes, donuts, cookies and other temptations that can sabotage your daily healthy-eating plan.  It can be even more difficult if you are the only person wanting to make changes.  Creating a culture of health at your workplace may be something that others are interested in as well.  That's why the American Heart Association created the Healthy Workplace Food and Beverage Toolkit - to help organizations create a healthy eating culture in their workplaces.  

Recently, LiveWell Nebraska posted an article that provides some tips on how to avoid temptations at work and how to maintain a healthy diet outside the home.  For more on these tips, CLICK HERE.

The AHA has many resources available to individuals and employers who want to create a healthy eating culture in their workplaces.  The Healthy Workplace Food and Beverage Toolkit was created to help organizations improve their food environment and promote a culture of health. It provides practical action steps and suggestions that are easy to understand and apply.  Anyone involved with procuring, providing or planning food and beverages in an organization/workplace -- from vending machines to catered special events – can use this resource to learn how to make healthy changes. You can easily modify the guidance offered to fit the specific needs of your organization or office.

The toolkit provides guidance on how to incorporate wellness into your worksite and how to get employees moving.  It provides action plans that includes communications, suggestions for leadership and how to get employees on board with your wellness plan.  The toolkit also provides guidance on on-site and off-site meal planning, special events, working with caterers and snack and vending suggestions that are consistent with a healthy diet.  

To access all the resources within the toolkit, CLICK HERE.  The toolkit is free, but you will be asked to Register so we can track how many people are being reached through this resource, and so that you can be notified when the toolkit is updated and new information is made available.  

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Another Life Saved by CPR; During June, Learn Hands Only CPR

June is a great time to raise awareness for the importance of CPR training with National CPR Awareness week June 1-8. More than 300,000 out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrests occurring every year in the United States. Sadly, most people who suffer a sudden cardiac arrest do not receive life-saving CPR within the first 3-5 minutes of their attack.  Hands Only CPR - compressions, hard and fast in the center of the chest - keeps the blood and oxygen flowing to the brain and other vital organs until help arrives, either an AED or emergency medical professionals. The more people trained in Hands Only CPR, the more lives we can save. 

A Council Bluffs family knows how important it is to know CPR.  David Hyde, a captain and paramedic with the Council Bluffs Fire Department, knew what to do when his daughter suddenly collapsed and stopped breathing.  His wife Pam, a nurse, called 9-1-1 as David did chest compressions.  Jordyn started breathing again, after being out for more than a minute. For more on this story, CLICK HERE

Doctors told the Hydes that about one in every 100,000 young adults will have cardiac arrhythmia, regardless of their level of health. This family knew what to do to save a life. 

Hands Only CPR is easy to learn; anyone 12 years and older has the physical strength to perform Hands Only CPR. You don’t have to be a trained medical professional to do Hands Only CPR.   Watch this 90-second video to learn how to perform Hands Only CPR.  Remember that when someone collapses, your first response should be to call 9-1-1.  Then check for breathing and ask someone to go and get an AED.  Then, press hard and fast in the center of the chest to beat of the song "Stayin' Alive."  Keep doing compressions until help arrives. 

The chances of survival for victims of sudden cardiac arrest are greatly improved when Hands Only CPR is performed within the first three to five minutes.  If someone you loved suffered sudden cardiac arrest, would you know what to do?  Take a few minutes today to learn Hands Only CPR

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Lobby Day MVPs in the Spotlight

There were SO many amazing stories surrounding this year’s Hill Day that it was hard to narrow down our annual lobby day award winners. Not a bad problem to have! Please join us in congratulating these You’re the Cure MVPs, and then learn more about their stories in this video.


  • Science Advocate of the year – Dr. David Yu-Yiao Huang: Dr. Huang has been involved with AHA advocacy since 2003. From submitting expert written testimony and attending in-district meetings, to speaking before lawmakers, his passion for policy and his belief in the positive change policy can achieve has contributed significantly to big wins in North Carolina.
  • Volunteer Advocate of the Year – Theresa Conejo: Theresa has been one of the key proponents of Pennsylvania’s comprehensive smoke-free law. Last year, she signed a smoke-free op-ed which was picked up by major news outlets across the state. She also aggressively advocated for the proposed Clean Indoor Law. In addition, she recruits new You’re the Cure advocates at every opportunity. In fact, just recently, she signed up an additional 35 volunteers to join her in Pennsylvania’s smoke-free fight.
  • Survivor Advocate of the Year – Jim Bischoff: Jim’s own struggle with heart disease, as well as his experience with his son-in-law’s stroke, gives him a unique perspective to share during state and federal lobby days and meetings with lawmakers. His family history inspired him to provide leadership on stroke systems of care legislation. He also dedicates his time to tobacco issues, and attends in-district meetings with his lawmaker to discuss both of these important issues.
  • Youth Advocate of the Year – Cassidy Collins: Cassidy uses her story as a congenital heart survivor to illustrate the importance of AHA’s policy issues. At the age of 16, her resume is already quite impressive – she’s met with U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin to advocate for tobacco control funding; she has been a top fundraiser for the Roanoke Heart Walk for two years; and she has applied to work as a youth advocate for the Alliance for a Healthier Generation.

Check out a video below highlighting the award winners!

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How to Keep the Winning Game Going

You're the Cure on the Hill isn’t the only opportunity to connect with members of Congress! As their constituents, you have the power and the RIGHT to tell them at any time to step up to the plate on the heart and stroke issues you care about most.

Here are some tips for getting your lawmaker off the bench and into the game:


  • Follow them on social media and send them messages on issues you care about.
  • Sign up for their e-newsletters on their websites. This is a great way to learn about events where you can meet the lawmakers in person and stay informed.
  • Work with your local AHA advocacy staff to schedule an in-district meeting. Members of Congress come home throughout the year on recess breaks, so they use this time to meet with constituents back in the district. Take advantage of their time at home and schedule a meeting to discuss the heart and stroke issues that matter to you and your family.
  • Most importantly, take action year round. Watch your inbox for calls to action from You’re the Cure and continue engaging your lawmaker through emails, phone calls and tagging them in your social media posts.

We had a real impact this week, but we need to keep the momentum going. Let's keep reminding our members of Congress that they need to step up for heart health all year round!

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