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AHA President Says: The Science is Clear on Sodium Reduction

Check this out! In a new video, the President of the AHA, Dr. Mark Creager, explains that the science behind sodium reduction is clear. He says that robust evidence has linked excess sodium intake with high blood pressure, which increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, and heart failure. And, he points out that you can do something about it: join AHA’s efforts to demand change in the amounts of sodium in our food supply.

“Nearly 80 percent of the sodium we eat comes from processed, prepackaged, and restaurant foods” says AHA president Dr. Mark Creager. The video shows the 6 foods that contribute the most salt to the American diet: breads & rolls, cold cuts and cured meats, pizza, poultry, soup, and sandwiches."

To see the video, head over to our Sodium Breakup blog!

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Turning the Corner on Healthy Food Access in NJ

Our efforts to promote healthy food access in all communities in NJ are really starting to take off! On Thursday, April 7, the Assembly approved a bill to create a fund to assist small food store owners who face barriers to offering healthy items in their store. This legislation will improve health and promote economic development in underserved communities.

We are grateful to all the members of the Assembly that voted in favor of the legislation. It is our hope that the NJ Senate will act quickly to keep the momentum going! Assisting small business owners with resources such as training, marketing materials, customer education and equipment is a smart investment. Store owners find that the changes they are able to implement as a result of this investment are sustainable and profitable.

Expanding access to healthy food at existing retailers is a cost-effective way to ensure that every community has access to healthy food. It also drives economic development by encouraging small businesses to grow.

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The healthy difference a month can make

March is Nutrition Month, and a perfect time to get more involved with the AHA’s ongoing efforts to promote science-based food and nutrition programs that help reduce cardiovascular disease and stroke.

Every day, we’re seeing new initiatives: to make fruits and vegetables more affordable; to reduce the number of sugar-sweetened beverages that our kids are drinking; and of course, to ensure students are getting the healthiest school meals possible, all with the same goal: to help families across the country lead the healthiest lives they possibly can.

It’s also a great opportunity to lower your sodium intake. The average American consumes more than 3,400 milligrams of sodium per day – more than twice the AHA-recommended amount. Excessive sodium consumption has been shown to lead to elevated blood pressure, which increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. Visit www.heart.org/sodium for tips on to lower your intake and to get heart-healthy recipes.

However you choose to celebrate, Nutrition Month gives us all the chance to take control of our diets; to recommit to eating fresh, healthy foods; and to remember all month long that you’re the cure.

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ReneMarie Testa Adams, New Jersey

RenéMarie suffered a major stroke on April 8, 1989 while coaching a softball game and is afflicted with aphasia as a result. However, RenéMarie does not let this slow her down. She views her stroke as a call to action and uses her experience to raise awareness and inspire others by sharing her story and bringing hope and love.

RenéMarie is an artist, published author, singer, motivational speaker and host of a bi-weekly television program called "Stroke of Luck,” which is broadcast live on Madhouse TV. She founded RenéMarie Language of Love Foundation, Inc., a non-profit foundation that raises awareness of Stroke and Aphasia.

Each year, she hosts a Telethon to support the American Stroke Association and other non-profits that fund research and support stroke and aphasia patients. The 2016 Telethon will benefit The American Stroke Association, The Head Injury Association, and ReneMarie Language of Love Foundation, Inc.

Above all, RenéMarie is dedicated "You're the Cure" advocate who is passionate about promoting stroke awareness.

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NJ Again Moves to Prevent Youth Smoking

The snow at the end of January delayed, but did not derail the first vote of the session to raise the age to purchase tobacco to 21. On February 4, the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee voted in favor of the bill. The Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee followed suit on February 22. The next step is for the budget committees in each house to review the proposed law and decide if the entire Senate and Assembly should vote on it.

In New Jersey, it is illegal to sell tobacco products to anyone under the age of 19. However, many municipalities throughout the state followed in the footsteps of New York City and Hawaii by raising the age to purchase tobacco products to 21, but others have cited the need for the law to be changed at the state level so it applies throughout New Jersey.

Approximately 95% of adult daily smokers pick up the habit before turning 21. The longer we can keep tobacco products out of the hands of young people, the less likely they will be to develop a potentially fatal addiction.

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Take the You're the Cure Advocate Survey

2015 was a great year for You're the Cure advocates and the many policy efforts that you work on. We have big plans for 2016, and we want to hear from you and what you want to see in the future for You're the Cure.

So take the survey now and let your voice be heard.

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A Glimmer of Hope

Those of you who are long-time You're the Cure advocates are very familiar with the American Heart Association's efforts over the years to advocate for funding the state budget to prevent smoking and tobacco use in our kids and to help smokers who wish to quit to kick the habit. New Jersey completely eliminated the funding from the state budget in 2010 and we have been advocating to get it reinstated since but have been unsuccessful so far. New Jersey is the only state in the country that dedicates no funding to fighting the #1 preventable cause of death and we have been at the bottom of the list for years.

However, there is a glimmer of hope this year! Legislators on both sides of the aisle are supporting legislation to address this lack of funding by dedicating a small portion of the tobacco tax to anti-tobacco programs and prevention. There was some movement at the end of last legislative session but time ran out. We are hopeful that our champions in the Legislature can get some momentum behind this and get it moving soon. We will be asking you, our dedicated  You're the Cure advocates to act in the coming weeks and months so that we might finally win this battle!

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Join us on National Wear Red Day, Friday, February 5

The American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women are asking for your support by participating in National Wear Red Day® on Friday, February 5, 2016 and donating to help fund research during American Health Month.

Why Go Red? Heart disease and stroke cause 1 in 3 deaths among women each year, killing approximately one woman every 80 seconds.  Fortunately, we can change that because 80 percent of cardiac and stroke events may be prevented with education and action. That’s why this year we are asking that you wear red on National Wear Red Day® and donate to Go Red For Woman. By doing so you help support educational programs to increase women’s awareness and critical research to discover scientific knowledge about cardiovascular health. 

And don’t forget to make your heart health a priority. Schedule your Well-Woman Visit, a prevention check-up to review a woman’s overall health so her doctor can measure blood pressure, check cholesterol and look for signs of heart disease, stroke and other illnesses. Then encourage others through your social channels to do the same.

We couldn’t make positive changes without the support and donations by individuals like you.

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Happy New Year New Jersey!

Its not only a New Year in the Garden State, but also the start of a new legislative session. Toward the end of last legislative session, we saw some movement on several long time priorities for the American Heart Association. Thanks to you and other "You're the Cure" advocates in New Jersey, there has been progress on legislation to help make corner stores in food deserts healthier and some encouraging signs that New Jersey may finally make funding for tobacco prevention and programs a priority. I am really looking forward to working with all of you to build on that in the coming months.

There are also some new priorities in 2016, for example, we will be looking for ways to improve stroke systems of care in New Jersey.

I am excited for the possibilities that lie ahead and continuing to work with you, our dedicated advocates! Wishing you all the best in 2016!

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Get Social With Your Members of Congress

Will you be on Facebook or Twitter today? Your Members of Congress and their staff will be, and it's a good place to reach them according to a report released in October by the Congressional Management Foundation (CMF).

The CMF report, #SocialCongress, says Congressional offices are listening to social media chatter and it takes relatively few posts or comments to get their attention. That's good news for us!

So, how can you use the Facebook newsfeed or Twitter timeline to get the attention of lawmakers and help pass heart healthy policies?

  • Follow your members of Congress, as well as state and local elected officials on Twitter. ‘Like’ and ‘Follow’ their pages on Facebook.
  • Tweet about our health policy issues, tagging the appropriate legislators by using the @ sign and their Twitter handle. For example: I’m from Pennsylvania, so I’d tag my U.S. Senators by including @SenBobCasey & @SenToomey in my tweet.
  • If they allow it, you can post about our issues directly on the Facebook pages of elected officials. Frequently, that feature is disabled but you are able to comment on their posts. According to #SocialCongress, Congressional offices typically monitor those comments for a limited period of time. Your best bet is to comment within the first 24 hours after a post.
  • Rally your friends and family members to tweet, post or comment about an issue on a single ‘day of action’. CMF’s survey data shows just 30 or fewer comments can be enough to make a legislative office pay attention.
  • Be sure to use the campaign hashtag if one has been created by your advocacy staff partners. The #hashtag allows all the relevant posts to be woven together to tell our story, and makes your post searchable by others interested in the issue.    

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