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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: http://bit.ly/1trMjLv

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: http://bit.ly/1zrYF6R. Don’t stop there…Encourage your family and friends to take the pledge, too.

Want more info? Check out our new website, heart.org/sodium, 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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May is American Stroke Month

Anyone can have a stroke and everyone should be ready.

Every 40 seconds, someone in the U.S. suffers a stroke and every 4 minutes, someone dies from a stroke. That is why The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association is inviting all Americans to become Stroke Heroes by learning and sharing the warning signs of stroke, F.A.ST. (Face drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, Time to call 9-1-1).

Recognizing and responding to a stroke emergency immediately can lead to quick stroke treatment and may even save a life. Be ready!

Here is how you can participate in American Stroke Month

  • Share the F.A.S.T. acronym with your friends, family and loved ones throughout American Stroke Month.
  • Share our F.A.S.T. Quiz to test your stroke knowledge.
  • Download our free Spot a Stroke F.A.S.T. mobile app to prepare you in case of a stroke emergency and to have easy access.

Go to StrokeAssociation.org/StrokeMonth to learn more about how you can get involved.

 

 

 

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Take Action on Important Issue Alerts

We have reached the point in our legislative session when important decisions are being made regarding Appropriations.  Several issues that, if passed, can help to improve the cardiovascular health of Nebraskans are being discussed by the Appropriations Committee.  Take a couple of minutes today to message legislators on these important issues. 

Please contact state senators on the Appropriations Committee and ask them to support a $200,000 appropriation to be used for training Nebraska high school students in CPR.  Thousands of our students could be trained in this life-saving training with this appropriation. By training high school students in CPR, we have an opportunity to create a generation in which every brother, sister, son, daughter, friend and complete stranger is trained in CPR and is prepared to save lives.  Three to five minutes is a matter of life and death for sudden cardiac arrest victims.  Bystanders must act quickly to save a life.  CPR training can teach them what to do.

Second, please ask your state senator to support a one-time appropriation of $300,000 to Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services to be used for 12-Leads to help close the gap in pre-hospital treatment of STEMI. Our rescue services cannot diagnose a STEMI if they do not have the 12-Lead equipment.  In order to develop the best STEMI heart attack care system we can possibly have, it must include ambulances being equipped with 12-Lead ECGs.   

Finally, please take a moment to send a message to members of the Appropriations Committee and ask them to support Legislative Bill 98 which would fund tobacco prevention and cessation efforts.  Tobacco use takes a tremendous toll on our state and in the U.S.  Smoking kills more people than alcohol, AIDS, car crashes, illegal drugs, murders, and suicides combined — and thousands more die from other tobacco-related causes — such as fires caused by smoking (more than 1,000 deaths/year nationwide) and smokeless tobacco use.

Take action on these important Action Alerts today, and together we can help to improve the cardiovascular health of all Nebraskans!

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Advocates to Gather at Nation's Capitol

American Heart Association You're the Cure advocates will travel to Washington DC in May to attend 2 days of advocacy training, legislative briefings and then a walk to Capitol Hill to talk to our lawmakers about issues important for heart and stroke health.  As in the past, we have a strong delegation of advocates attending this biennial event. 

The two issues advocates will talk to lawmakers about include increased funding for NIH research, and the Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act.  Both issues can have a tremendous effect on our mission of building healthier lives, free of cardiovascular disease and stroke. 

Regarding the Child Nutrition Reauthorization, since 2010 when President Obama signed the Health and Hunger-Free Kids Act, the USDA has updated national nutrition standards for school meals and established nutrition standards for other foods sold in schools throughout the school day.  As a result, in school year 2013-2014, nearly 90% of schools in the National School Lunch Program met nutritional standards, up from 14% in 2009-2010.  That means an overwhelming majority of school-age children are receiving heart-healthy lunches while at school. 

We know that a healthy school environment helps improve children's physical well-being, enhances learning, minimizes behavior problems and increases attendance.  However, there have been challenges to implementation of the program and that's not unexpected.  Kids are adjusting to the new meals and appropriate portion sizes, and parents are happier that their children are not receiving junk food for a meal.  While there has been some criticism about participation declining, this downward trend started in 2007, well before the school meal standards went into effect in 2012.  We anticipate that participation will likely improve over time as students and school food service fully adapt to healthier meals. 

This is not the time to roll back the progress we've made toward healthier school lunches.  We hope lawmakers will work to continue the progress we've made and take the next step toward reducing the incidence of childhood obesity.

Regarding NIH funding, the American Heart Association joins with the medical research community in working to protect, preserve and restore funding for the NIH.  Moreover, we are working to support and promote funding for NIH heart and stroke research.  This will capitalize on the investment in NIH to improve Americans' health, spur economic growth and innovation, and preserve U.S. leadership in pharmaceuticals and biotechnology. 

We are excited to join with other advocates from across the nation to share our concerns and ideas with our federal lawmakers and to encourage them to consider cardiovascular health when making important legislative decisions. 

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