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Guest Blogger: Ben Schmauss, Government Relations Director, Nevada

In my college days, one of my professors read a poem that really touched me, known as “The Starfish Poem.” In summary, the poem describes a man walking down a sandy beach that had countless starfish stranded on it dying without the cover of water and baking in the sun.  A man was picking up starfish and throwing them back into the water when another man walked up to him and said “why are you doing that?”

He replied “they will die being out of the water.”

The other man said, “there is no way you can save them all - no matter how hard you work, it won’t matter.”

Holding a starfish, the first man looked down at his hand and said “it will matter to this one” and threw it back to the safety of water. 

This past year this poem has taken special meaning in my work as I have been humbled by the amazing sacrifice and service of the volunteers and staff members who look within themselves and give because “it matters to this one”. From responding to action alerts to sharing an interesting article on social media to meeting with legislators, each step laid the foundation to make tremendous impact.

With the lead of volunteers like yourself, we were able to pass the following heart healthy pieces of legislation:

  • Nevada became the first State in the Country to pass legislation addressing both a “Competitive Foods” and “Junk Food Marketing in Schools” through revisions to Nevada’s School Wellness Policy. Through this revision, Nevada’s School Wellness Policy now requires that all items sold Nevada school campuses must meet the Smart Snacks Nutrition Standards, and only marketing consistent with Smart Snacks Nutrition Standards is allowed on the school campus. This includes any advertising and other promotions on the school campus during the school day (oral, written, or visual). This policy will improve the school environment to teach and foster healthy lifestyles in our youth.
  • Senate Bill 196 requires the Division of Public and Behavioral Health of the Department of Health and Human Services to establish and maintain a Stroke Registry to compile information and statistics concerning the treatment of patients who have experienced a stroke. This bill will improve the quality of care provided to patients who suffer from strokes in Nevada, and creates an annual report which will also help analyze areas for improving stroke care. 
  • Senate Bill 483 will increase the state tax on cigarettes by $1.  SB 483 will prevent more than 10,000 Nevada youth from becoming smokers, encourage more than 15,000 adult smokers to quit, and save more than $474 million in future health costs associated with tobacco use.

Taken as a whole, these victories will impact and improve the health of thousands of Nevadans, thousands of tourists who visit the Silver State, and future generations of Nevadans.  I am so grateful to be part of movement that impacts so many “starfish”. As I raise a family, work and play in Nevada I am proud to be surrounded by so many wonderful people that are willing to join me in this walk down the beach and save lives. 

Pictured is a group of Volunteers and Staff that attended Nevada Lobby Day 2015 and helped lay the foundation for passing the Stroke Registry Bill and increasing the tobacco tax.

If you interested in getting involved and taking your advocacy to the next step, please contact Ben Schmauss or Josh Brown.

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Advocate Spotlight: Joshua Levy

Hey! My name is Joshua Levy and I am an advocacy intern for the American Heart Association--Greater Bay Area!

                Currently, I am a student attending the University of California, Berkeley pursuing a degree in Physics. But don’t let the degree fool you. Although I am interested in the sciences, my true passion lays in helping others and making sure that we all have the potential to live healthy, productive, and fulfilling lives.

                I chose to intern for the American Heart Association because of my background in sports, exercise, community outreach and my desire to work in the Public Health in the future. I have been a coach for the Special Olympics for five years and have been coaching youth basketball for one year. These programs, amongst a lot of self-education on these issues, helped me realize that many people did not have equal access to a healthy lifestyle. I witnessed first-hand that some of my players who came from lower socioeconomic backgrounds did not have as much access to physical activities as those who came from more affluent backgrounds. Although this concept was not new to me, it cemented my firm belief in the overarching value of public health and providing everyone with the opportunity to live a healthy lifestyle.

                Sedentary lifestyles and unhealthy diets, as well as neighborhood environmental factors are causing obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease to proliferate around the nation, especially in youth. As an athlete, this trend has greatly concerned me as my extensive experience in athletics has made me realize the benefits that one gets from staying active. Furthermore, I believe in the proverbial phrase: “better body, better mind”. Not only do I believe that physical activity results in a healthier body, my research at the AHA supports that there are many cognitive benefits that one can get from staying active.

                So that is exactly my aim this summer working for the American Heart Association: I want to help provide kids the opportunity for equal access to Physical Education. I am working on advocating to local school districts to provide regular and quality Physical Education for their elementary school students. I am digging into the heart of this issue to find out how we can work with school districts so that all kids have the opportunity to grow up learning healthy habits needed to sustain lifelong healthy lifestyles.

                Once again, I am very pleased to be working for the American Heart Association this summer. I hope that my time here will provide me with the opportunity to make a meaningful impact in the community and the tools with which to influence change later on in life.

                Together, we can make a difference in the community. All it takes is one heart at a time!
Cheers,

Joshua Levy

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Healthy lunch ideas for the back to school season

Guest Blogger - Kami Sutton Grassroots Coordinator

The kiddos are picking out their first day of school outfits, packing those backpacks and most importantly, you are trying to figure out how to pack them a heart healthy, nutrition packed lunch they will actually eat!

Here are a few ideas to get started. When it comes to sandwiches, don’t be afraid to mix it up each time with a slight switch in sandwich styles. Use different breads including 100% whole wheat tortilla wraps or whole wheat pita pockets. To add some veggies to the mix, try shredded carrots or avocado slices. And for a fun twist, use cookie cutters to cut their sandwiches into their favorite shapes. Who wouldn’t love to bite into a dinosaur or teddy bear shaped sandwich?

One great option are PB & J spirals with healthy Whole Wheat Tortillas, reduced fat peanut butter or almond butter, and 100% all fruit spread. Follow these easy steps to a delicious lunch:

1. Set a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat for about 1 minute, or until hot. Place the tortilla in the skillet. Cook for 20 to 30 seconds per side, or until just warm.

2. Place the tortilla on a cutting board. Spread the surface evenly with the peanut butter followed by the fruit spread. Roll into a tube. Slice into 8 equal pieces. Also don’t forget a delicious and healthy snack to go with their sandwich! Try Carrot, Celery and sweet pepper strips to dip into hummus, fresh salsa or homemade bean dip.

Visit How to Pack a Healthy School Lunch for more nutrition packed ideas to get your kids fueled up for learning!

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Protect Your Heart in the Heat

Summer is here and hopefully you are spending the long days outdoors with family and friends. This is the perfect time of the year to ride bikes or take walks in the park. Keep in mind It’s important to stay safe when the temperature rises. If you’re a heart patient, older than 50 or overweight, you might need to take special precautions in the heat, according to Gerald Fletcher, M.D., professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic, in Jacksonville, Fla.

Tips for everyone
Think you’re ready to brave the heat? Watch the clock and buddy up, Fletcher said. It’s best to avoid the outdoors in the early afternoon (about noon to 3 p.m.) because the sun is usually at its strongest, putting you at higher risk for heat-related illnesses. If you can, exercise with a friend, because it’s safer — and more fun — to have someone at your side. Here are some other tips:

  • Get off on the right foot. You probably sweat the most in your shoes, so choose well-ventilated shoes and look for socks that repel perspiration. Foot powders and antiperspirants can also help with sweat.
  • Dress for the heat. Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing in breathable fabrics such as cotton, or a newer fabric that repels sweat. Add a hat and/or sunglasses.
  • Drink up. Before you get started, apply a water-resistant sunscreen with at least SPF 15, and reapply it every two hours. Stay hydrated by drinking a few cups of water before, during and after your exercise. Avoid caffeinated or alcoholic beverages.
  • Take regular breaks. Find some shade or a cool place, stop for a few minutes, hydrate and start again.

Whatever you do, don’t throw in the towel, Fletcher said. “Don’t NOT exercise — adapt!”

For the full story visit here.

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Test Your Knowledge of Sodium

Take our quiz to find out if you relationship with sodium and salt needs couples therapy!  Click here for the quiz.

You may be asking yourself: What’s the big deal about sodium? How does it affect my heart health?

Sodium is a mineral that’s essential for life. It’s regulated in the body by your kidneys, and it helps control your body’s fluid balance. It also helps send nerve impulses and affects muscle function.

When there’s extra sodium in your bloodstream, it pulls water into your blood vessels, increasing the total volume of blood inside. With more blood flowing through, blood pressure increases. It’s like turning up the water supply to a garden hose — the pressure in the hose increases as more water is blasted through it. Over time, high blood pressure may overstretch or injure the blood vessel walls and speed the build-up of gunky plaque that can block blood flow. The added pressure also tires out the heart by forcing it to work harder to pump blood through the body.

Here’s the scoop on high blood pressure, also known as the “silent killer” because its symptoms are not always obvious:

  • It’s one of the major risk factors for heart disease, the No. 1 killer worldwide.
  • It’s the leading risk factor of women’s deaths in the U.S., and the second leading risk factor for death for men.
  • One-third of American adults have high blood pressure. And 90 percent of American adults are expected to develop high blood pressure over their lifetimes.
  • More than 40 percent of non-Hispanic black adults have high blood pressure. Not only is high blood pressure more prevalent in blacks than whites, but it also develops earlier in life.

Even if you don’t have high blood pressure, eating less sodium can help blunt the rise in blood pressure that occurs with age, and reduce your risk of heart attack, heart failure, stroke, kidney disease, osteoporosis, stomach cancer and even headaches. The extra water in your body can also lead to bloating and weight gain. No wonder the American Heart Association wants you to change your relationship with salt!

Kids aren’t immune to the heartbreak of too much sodium either. Nearly 80 percent of 1-3 year olds and more than 90 percent of 4-18 year-olds in the U.S. get too much sodium, and this can start increasing their risk of high blood pressure when they are as young as 1 year old. Kids who have high-sodium diets are about 40 percent more likely to have elevated blood pressure than kids with lower-sodium diets. This puts them at higher risk for heart disease when they get older.

- See more at: http://sodiumbreakup.heart.org/sodium-411/sodium-and-your-health/

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Heart Saver Spotlight: Skylar Berry

Every year there are almost 424,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests in the United States, and of this figure an estimated 10,200 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests happen to children.  Sadly, only 10% of victims who suffer a cardiac arrest outside of a hospital setting survive, largely in part because many victims do not receive timely CPR or AED application. 

Do you know CPR? If not, please take two minutes to learn the basics of Hands-Only CPR.

Skylar Berry can attest to the importance of knowing CPR.  In the summer, Skylar and her friends were at a birthday party and one of the attendees was found floating at the bottom of the pool, seemingly lifeless.  Thankfully, Skylar recognized that her classmate was not joking and not breathing and helped pull him from the pool. She checked his pulse, and then realized CPR might be the last resort to reviving her classmate.  Because of her immediate actions, her classmate survived and was back to life as normal within a few days. 

Thankfully Skylar learned CPR techniques in Fire Camp hosted by the Sacramento Metro Fire Department a few weeks prior to the incident.  “I am so glad I learned CPR because it helped save my friend’s life,” said Berry. “It was scary but I was calm and remembered the training I received. I just shouted to the adults to Call 9-1-1 and immediately started doing CPR after we pulled him from the pool.”

Unfortunately, 70% of Americans feel helpless to act during an emergency cardiac situations and only 32% of cardiac arrest victims receive bystander CPR, which largely attributes to low survival rates.

To view the full story, please visit here.

Studies show that teaching students lifesaving skills of CPR techniques in school will empower our youth and put thousands of lifesavers in our community.  Keeping this in mind, Skylar now teaches groups of students at her elementary school Hands-only CPR because she knows that emergency situations can happen at any time and she wants to do her part to put more lifesavers on the streets of her community.

Thank you Skylar for being a Heart Saver and for going above the call of duty to empower your classmates to learn Hands-Only CPR!

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In Case You Missed It: Tobacco Tax Passes NV Legislature

In case you missed it: Senate Bill 483 passed the Nevada Legislature on June 1st, which will raise the price of cigarettes to $1.80 per pack.  Thanks to the actions of advocates like yourself, SB 483 received overwhelming bi-partisan support, and passed out of the Nevada Legislature in record time! 

The passage of this bill is a truly historic achievement!

When enacted on July 1, 2015, SB 483 will have a significant impact on smoking rates especially among youth, including keeping an estimated 10,000 youth from becoming smokers and helping more than 15,000 current smokers quit.

The latest projections also show that SB 483 can generate approximately $96 million per year ($192 million over the next biennium) which is essential to fund budget priorities such as K-12 education and health care programs.  We simply cannot overstate the historical impact this bill will have on Nevada.

Thank you for your continued support. You are the Cure!

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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 highlighting our award winners below.

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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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