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Tell your lawmaker: Heart and stroke research is a priority!

Imagine if we didn’t know that smoking led to heart disease or stroke. Think about all of the lives lost if we didn’t have AEDs. How many stroke and heart disease survivors would we have if it weren’t for clot-busting drugs?  It’s hard not to take these and other medical milestones for granted. But if it weren't for our investment in the National Institutes of Health (NIH), these breakthroughs might not be here today.

Unfortunately, future discoveries will be in jeopardy if our lawmakers continue to inadequately fund medical research.  Will you contact your lawmaker today and urge them to make NIH heart and stroke research a national priority?

Right now, members of both the U.S. House and Senate are determining their priorities for upcoming appropriation bills. It's crucial that as many lawmakers as possible request a funding increase for the NIH if we hope to discover more lifesaving heart and stroke treatments.

Over the past 10 years, the NIH budget has not kept pace with medical research inflation, resulting in more than a 20% loss in purchasing power. Moreover, NIH continues to invest only 4% of its budget on heart research and a mere 1% on stroke research. This means promising discoveries to save even more lives will be left in the lab room and not in the hands of doctors.

Like me, I am sure you find this unacceptable. But this trend will only change if we stand up and urge our legislators to make NIH a national priority.

Medical breakthroughs do not happen overnight. Each step takes countless hours of research and manpower, trial and error, hope and frustration. But each step is an opportunity to bring a new chance at life to countless Americans across the country. It’s why the work NIH does is so vital, and it’s why the work we do to increase NIH’s funding is so critical. Our nation’s future health depends on it.

Join me and speak up today!

 

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Does it make sense to penalize those who need therapy most?

My answer to this question is a loud “NO!” and I bet yours is, too. But that is just what Medicare’s current limits on outpatient therapy do. Unfortunately, if Congress does not act by March 31st, stroke survivors and others on Medicare with the most serious and debilitating conditions will face a cap on their outpatient therapy. But our lawmakers can prevent this from happening.  

Right now there is a bill in Congress to end these caps once-and-for all.

Will you ask your member to co-sponsor this commonsense legislation today?

After surviving a stroke, the last thing anyone needs to worry about is running out of therapy sessions. Stroke is our nation’s No. 5 cause of death and a leading cause of disability and dementia. Therapy services provide stroke survivors with the ability to regain vital skills like walking and talking, prevent falls, and live as independently as possible. Limiting access to such beneficial care does not make sense.

I know you believe our stroke survivors deserve better. Ask your legislator to end these harmful caps today!

 

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New Year, New Goals - We Can Help!

It’s that time of year when we all make resolutions to get healthy, eat better, and exercise more. Well if eating better is on your list we’re here to help. Last summer we introduced you to our “I love you salt, but you’re breaking my heart” campaign and invited you to the pledge to end your love affair with salt. Now’s your chance to re-up your commitment or take the pledge if you haven’t already.


With most Americans eating more than twice as much sodium as the American Heart Association recommends for ideal heart health, it’s time to take steps to reduce the excess sodium in your diet. Most people think it’s easy, just take the salt shaker off the table – right? Actually it’s all the hidden salt in packaged foods and restaurant menus that get us in trouble.


What can you do? Get the facts and join our community. Our site has helpful tips, recipes, and blog articles to start you on the road to cutting the excess sodium. Once you have the facts you can make more informed decisions and you can help by spreading the word and inviting friends and family to break the love affair with salt. So take the pledge now, what are you waiting for?

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This holiday season, helping hearts everywhere

As the end of the year approaches, we know you’ve got lots of giving to do. Finding the right gifts for friends and family is inevitably a big part of all our Decembers. When you make a year-end contribution to the American Heart Association, you’re helping us fight against the first and fourth largest killers in the country – heart disease and stroke – and giving a gift that will help us touch millions of lives in the process. As you know, life is why we do the work we do, and why we hope you’ll contribute today and help us achieve our ambitions goals heading into 2015 and beyond.

Your contribution will help drive world-class research; local, state, and national education campaigns; advocacy efforts like You’re the Cure to push for the policies that lead to better public health; and improved patient care for all, particularly among populations who are at higher risk of heart disease and stroke. You can also customize your donation to give what works best for you: either a one-time or monthly gift, which you can give in honor or memoriam of someone close to you who opened your eyes to the importance of heart health.

Helping the American Heart Association to build healthier lives, free of cardiovascular disease and stroke, is no small task. That’s why we’re honored that you’d consider making a contribution and giving the gift of heart health to so many. And if you’re unable to donate now, please consider one of the many other ways you can give during this holiday season. Thank you.

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Get Covered, Stay Covered!

More than 10 million Americans gained affordable health insurance in 2014. Starting on November 15, individuals and their families can sign up or renew their coverage for 2015 using the Health Insurance Marketplace. The Marketplace offers quality health plans and financial assistance to help pay for the cost of your health insurance. If you are uninsured – or know someone who is -- or you need to renew your health insurance, here are some facts and resources to help you get started…

Reading up about health insurance can take a little time, but it will pay off — for your heart health and your wallet!

1)      Learn the facts -- The Marketplace is a new way for consumers to shop for and purchase health insurance that best meets their needs and budget. Having health insurance gives you peace of mind that you’ll be able to get the care you need if you get sick without having to worry about enormous medical bills.  You’ll be able to make side-by-side comparisons of the different health insurance plans before you enroll. And you can’t be turned down for coverage even if you have a pre-existing condition, such as heart disease and stroke. Visit our webpage to learn more.

2)      Find coverage you can afford -- Most Americans who gained coverage this year through the Marketplace are paying $100 or less for their plan each month. The majority of people signing up for coverage can get financial help. An individual making up to $47,000 or a family of four with income up to $95,000 a year could qualify for financial help. Use this calculator to see how much financial help you could receive in 2015. If you don’t get covered, you might have to pay a fine.

3)      Sign up – Open enrollment in the Health Insurance Marketplace starts November 15 and ends February 15, 2015. If you sign up for coverage by December 15, your coverage will begin January 1. You can visit the Marketplace online at www.healthcare.gov or call 1-800-318-2596 . You can also get help signing up online, in-person, or over the phone. To find local help, visit localhelp.healthcare.gov.

Health insurance coverage is critical to our shared mission to fight heart disease and stroke.  Research has shown that people with insurance not only have greater access to primary care and preventative services, but they are more likely to take their medications properly to control risk factors, call 9-1-1 if they are experiencing heart attack or stroke symptoms, and generally have better health outcomes.  And, the more uninsured Americans who get covered, the more affordable premiums will be for all of us.  So, learn about the new coverage options today and help us get the word out to friends, family, and neighbors who need this information, too!

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Stroke survivors need Congress to act now!

Stroke survivors on Medicare have been put through enough! Year after year, they are hit with the possibility of facing a punitive cap on their rehabilitative therapy. Thankfully Congress routinely allows for an exceptions process, but it must be renewed every year. That usually happens at the last minute, right before the old exceptions process expires, leaving survivors in limbo. Wouldn’t it make more sense to just remove these caps altogether?

Tell your member of Congress to remove these arbitrary caps once-and-for-all.

Right now, the current exceptions process expires in March of 2015. If Congress does not act before then, stroke survivors will face limits of $1,900 a year on outpatient therapy. On average, that amounts to a single evaluation and just 19 outpatient therapy sessions. However, stroke survivors often need 3-5 therapy sessions a week, which means they’d reach the caps in less than two months. Stroke survivors deserve better.

Even though the March deadline is many months away, the opportunity to permanently remove these caps is now. Currently, a bill that eliminates the therapy caps once-and-for all has 221 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives, a bipartisan majority, and 33 cosponsors in the Senate, one-third of the Senate. However, if this bill is not passed and sent to the President before the new Congress is sworn-in in January, we will have to start over next year.

We need your voice now! Tell your member of Congress that stroke survivors deserve better and to repeal the therapy caps!

For far too long, Congress has kicked the can down the road. But stroke survivors need to know that they will have the care they need in their recovery. The time to act is now, but time is running out. Contact your member of Congress today!

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The School Day Just Got Healthier

It’s that time of year again!  Kids across the country are heading back to the classroom and we want to help ensure their minds and bodies are fueled with nutritious foods to support a successful education.

Fortunately, the health of today’s school environment continues to improve.  Thanks to the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, cafeterias began offering school meals that meet updated nutrition standards last year.  School lunches and breakfasts now include more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains- and less sodium and unhealthy fats- and kids are adapting to the changes.  According to a recent study, 70 percent of schools reported that students seem to like their new lunches and 63 percent said students are no longer concerned about the new changes.

Now, it’s time for snacks sold in schools to get a healthy make-over too.  The ‘Smart Snacks in School’ standards took effect at the beginning of this school year, building on the progress made with school meals.  Foods and beverages sold in a la carte lines, snack bars, and vending machines, also known as ‘competitive foods’, must now meet strong nutrition standards as well.

For many schools, this is nothing new.  Thousands of schools had already found new ways of providing “smart snacks” for students – well in advance of updated federal lunch standards.  These schools serve as good examples that these changes can be made and embraced by students. 

So, how can you help make ‘Smart Snacks’ implementation successful for your child and your school district?  We know change is never easy.  Encouraging students to move away from sugary beverages and salty snacks will take some effort from schools and parents.  But it can be done and must be done for the health of today’s kids.  Join us!

1)      Do your homework- The United States Department of Agriculture has a host of resources to learn about the ‘Smart Snacks in School’ standards and the changes you can expect to see in your school district this year.  Take a look and help share them with fellow parents: 

2)      Get involved-

  • Ask your school administration about the changes that have been implemented in your district to improve nutrition.
  • Make time to join your child for lunch in the school cafeteria to see what is offered for meals and snacks.
  • When your child gets home from school, ask what was served and what (s)he ate for lunch.
  • Reinforce the healthier options your child has at school by serving healthier snacks and meals at home.
  • Be a role model. Let your child see you enjoying fruits, vegetables, and whole grains at meals and snacks.
  • Grocery shop together.  Talk about healthy choices and discuss where vegetables, fruits and grains, dairy and protein foods come from.

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Tell Congress WHY you support medical research

We don’t have to think twice about why we support more funding for organizations like the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to research cures for cardiovascular disease and stroke. But unfortunately the funding cuts continue.

We routinely tell Congress that NIH research leads to innovation, jobs, and life-saving medical breakthroughs. But right now they need to hear the personal reasons why research is important from advocates like you!

Tell us, WHY do you support medical research?

For me, I support the NIH because of advocates like Ryley. In 2013, Ryley, just a teenager, unexpectedly suffered from multiple strokes that affected five different areas of his brain. Since then, he has had to endure thousands of hours of physical therapy and testing to relearn to walk, talk, and function like his normal self. But despite the large obstacles he has faced, he has had the opportunity to share his story and help others like him.

Ryley has made tremendous progress in the face of such large obstacles, but doctors still have much to learn about his condition. With more available funding, NIH has the opportunity to find real cures for cardiovascular diseases, giving hope to families like Ryley’s who depend on research to provide clarity and answers.

For me, individuals like Ryley are why.

What about you? Tell Congress today why you support medical research!

Finding a cure doesn’t happen overnight; however, each step takes countless hours of research and manpower, trial and error, and hope and frustration. But each step is an opportunity to bring a new chance at life to families across the country. It’s why the work NIH does is so vital, and it’s why the work we do to protect NIH’s funding is so critical.

Ryley is why. A cure is why. Life is why. Show your support for NIH and tell us: what’s your why?

 

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Watch Out for Sneaky Salt!

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. The worst part is, most of us don’t even realize how much salt we’re taking in. But sure enough, Salt is sneaking up on us—mostly when we go out to restaurants or eat packaged foods.

Check out this new 1-minute video to see for yourself:

(Please visit the site to view this video)

It’s true; many of us love salt. In fact, sodium is an essential nutrient! But the excess amounts we’re eating put us at risk for elevated blood pressure which means an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. As much as we might have an affinity for salt, it’s just not worth the cost to our hearts. There are plenty of other ways to enjoy tasty food with less salt. Check out our new website to get the 411 on sodium, including our blog, quiz, infographics, links to lower-sodium recipes and more. 

That’s why the American Heart Association is kicking off a new campaign, “I love you salt, but you’re breaking my heart.”  Click the image below to pledge to reduce your sodium intake today!


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Speak Up for Tobacco Regulation

The Food and Drug Administration has proposed a new rule that would regulate all tobacco products, including cigars, electronic cigarettes, pipe tobacco, hookah tobacco, nicotine gels and dissolvables. This is a good step, as the FDA must have authority over these products to protect public health.

Among the new rule's requirements, manufacturers would have to disclose ingredient lists for their products and include warning labels on product packages and advertisements. It would ban the sale of these products to anyone under the age of 18, however, the rule does not go far enough to protect young people from the harms of tobacco.

As proposed, the rule does not prohibit the use of candy and fruit flavorings in these tobacco products. It also does not restrict marketing, despite a recent study showing a sharp increase in youth exposure to e-cigarette advertising in recent years. Candy and fruit flavorings and advertisements may account for the rapid rise in cigar and e-cigarette use by young people. These measures must be added.  

The public has until July 9th to submit comments on the proposed rule before it is finalized by the agency. You can tell FDA stronger standards are needed for all tobacco products. Add your voice today!

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