American Heart Association - You’re the Cure

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Take Action to Expand Access to Health Care

The legislative session is well underway, and access to care through Medicaid is one of the issues that is gaining momentum in the early weeks of the session.  Expanding access to care through Medicaid makes sense for South Dakota.  It’s a good deal that will benefit counties and their governments at no cost to the state general fund, and it will ensure cardiac and stroke patients receive the medical care and prevention services they need to live healthier lives.

Join Governor Daugaard in his support for expanding federal funding of Medicaid in South Dakota.  Take Action Now! 

Thousands of hardworking citizens of our state are falling through the cracks and are being denied access to affordable healthcare coverage. You have the opportunity to close the gap and keep our most vulnerable citizens from falling through the cracks. Governor Daugaard is seizing upon a unique opportunity to solve the long-standing reimbursement issue and expand Medicaid to cover an additional 50,000 South Dakotans at no additional cost to state taxpayers.

Expanding Medicaid makes sense for South Dakota – here’s why:

  • Thousands of hard-working South Dakotans need coverage to stay healthy and productive
  • Expanding Medicaid in SD will have zero impact on the state’s budget
  • Increasing Medicaid access helps 50,000 facing tough times who don’t qualify for Medicaid
  • S.D. counties would see savings through poor relief

Let's not let another legislative session end without expanding Medicaid to those who need it most. Take action now and encourage your legislators to support the governor's plan to expand federal funding of Medicaid in South Dakota. 

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Meet Our New Team Member

My name is Jim Williams, and I am your new CT Director of Government Relations. I’m very excited to hit the ground running during the legislative session, which began Wednesday. For the past 10 years I worked as the Government Relations Director for the CT State Dental Association. I have also worked for a Hartford lobbying firm and spent 8 years in the Marine Corps.

The 2016 legislative session is called a “short” session and ends on May 4th, which means things will happen very quickly. As you may have heard, we have three main legislative priorities this year.

·         Proposing a tax on sugary soft drinks

·         Expanding healthy food choices on state property

·         Reducing unhealthy food and beverage marketing in schools

As we progress through the session, I will keep you informed every step of the way. The biggest asset we have is you, our advocate. Your state representative and state senator sincerely like to hear from their constituents on issues that are important to them.

I look forward to working with you and want you to know that I am always available should you have any questions. Thank you in advance for your efforts on behalf of the American Heart Association and helping to advance our legislative priorities.

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E-cigs - Creating a Whole New Crop of Smokers

A whole new generation of smokers may be on the horizon thanks to e-cigarettes.

More and more youth are turning to e-cigarettes and studies show that when they do, they are also likely to turn to traditional cigarettes.

The use of e-cigarettes by kids tripled last year and new data from Vermont shows that more than 30% of high school students have tried e-cigs with 15% now using them regularly. In fact, more Vermont kids are now using e-cigarettes than are smoking. But the e-cigarette use could start to bump smoking levels back up.

Given new studies, including one from Dartmouth, showing kids who vape are also much more likely to smoke -- even kids who said they would never try it -- Vermont should act to prohibit vaping in the same places where smoking is prohibited. Protecting the social norms we’ve created about the dangers of tobacco is important if we want to protect our kids.

Take action today to urge lawmakers to support including e-cigarettes in Vermont’s clean indoor air laws.

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Act Now Before Vermonters Grow Any Bigger

When obesity is costing Vermont more than $290 million annually to treat the chronic diseases it causes, it should be a crisis deemed big enough for legislators to take action.

The Robert Wood Johnson Annual State of Obesity report shows Vermont’s 38,000 cases of heart disease will climb to 190,000 in the next 15 years if we don’t act now.  The 50,000 cases of diabetes will rise to 77,000 and obesity-related cancer cases will increase from 10,200 to 27,700 cases. These are sobering projections of a dramatic decline in the wellness of Vermonters, but we can reduce these numbers significantly if we act now.

We’re urging lawmakers to help make the healthy choice the easy choice by requiring nutrition standards both for restaurant kids’ meals and for food sold and served by state government.

You can help. Contact the members of the House Human Services Committee where these bills sit and tell them you want action today before obesity has a chance to grow any further in Vermont.

Here are the members. Just click on a name and tell them it’s important to act, and act now.

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Springfield to Train Students in Life Saving CPR

All sophomores in Springfield High Schools will be trained with the lifesaving skills of CPR after a policy was passed successfully by the School Committee on Thursday February 4, 2016.  More than 326,000 people experience cardiac arrest outside of a hospital each year, and about 90 percent of those victims die, often because bystanders don’t know how to start CPR or are afraid they’ll do something wrong. CPR, especially if performed immediately, can double or triple a cardiac arrest victim’s chance of survival.

Springfield Public Schools is the largest school district in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to be recognized as a CPR SMART School. CPR training will be provided as a part of the school’s Health Education curriculum, which all students take as part of their core graduation requirements. As the second largest school district in the Commonwealth, over 1900 students will receive hands-only CPR training, which conforms to the core teaching objectives for lay provider training as outlined in AHA Guidelines for CPR and will include:

  • Instruction and an opportunity to practice the psychomotor skills related to CPR (hands on compression practice)
  • Awareness of the purpose of an AED, its ease and safety of use, and location in the school.

The American Heart Association would like to recognize many key school officials, Michelle Heim, Director of Wellness and Development for the Springfield Public Schools and Dr. Kate Fenton, Curriculum Director for Springfield Public Schools. The American Heart Association would like to also recognize Susan Canning, advocate and founder of Kev’s Foundation and Rhonda Hall, a Springfield teacher and an American Heart Association advocate who were both was instrumental in bringing the concept of CPR training to the school leaders.

“Sudden cardiac arrest could happen at any time, anywhere and to anyone. It could happen in school,” remarked Rhonda. “We know that thanks to Springfield School’s commitment to teaching their students the lifesaving skill of CPR before they graduate, they will put thousands of qualified lifesavers in our community, year after year.”

Superintendent of Schools Daniel Warwick credited teacher Rhonda Hall, Chief Instructional Officer Dr. Kate Fenton, the School Committee and the American Heart Association for their work with this project. He said the initiative is one that holds positive implications for not only students but also the community.  “This is a wonderful opportunity and I am thrilled we are able to provide it to our students,” said Warwick. “You simply cannot put a price on the inherent value of arming students with potentially life-saving skills. It will enrich each one them and strengthen us as a community.”

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Maine Goes Red!

Friday, February 5th we celebrate national Go Red for Women day.  I love this day.  It is really great to go from one event to another and see everyone sporting their red.  I am looking forward to educating the people who I encounter about the risks of cardiovascular disease to the women they love.

I plan to start the day by providing my yoga class with some red dress pins.  Then it is off to Portland for a press conference with the new mayor.  My husband’s cousin, a Maine College of Art student, will be volunteering as Ticker at the event, so I will be sure to post pictures.

The legislature is not in session on Friday, but after the press conference, I will be headed to a meeting with a Senator and some American Heart Association volunteers to discuss ways to ensure Maine accepts the federal funds available to provide Maine women (and men) with access to affordable health care. 

We will be discussing the bad news, that heart disease is the number one killer of women—killing more women that all forms of cancer combined—approximately one woman every minute.  However, we will also be celebrating that over the past decade, cardiovascular disease in women has decrease by more than 30% with 285 fewer women dying per day.  Better access to health care will drop those numbers even further.

I hope you enjoy Go Red for Women day too.  I also hope you post pictures of yourself looking fabulous in red.  Remember to use the hashtag: #MaineGoesRed on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

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Bucket List

One of the great things about living in Maine is that you are never very far from some amazing nature.  This past weekend I was able to cross “stay at that amazing house on top of Morse Mountain” off my bucket list.  I have admired that house every time I have hiked the two miles up and down the other side of the mountain to Small Point Beach.  Luckily for me, my friend turned 40 and his wife bought him a weekend on the mountain to celebrate.  The weather was very un-Maine like, so we were able to enjoy hiking and playing on the beach without 10-below wind chill.  We were also able to enjoy watching all the hikers, from 8 months to 80 years old laughing, smiling and getting some good exercise.  Mainers know that, when the weather is nice, you have to head outside.  The nice weather could be fleeting.  I hope you all got outside for some fresh air and exercise last weekend and will do the same this weekend.

The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise, or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise each week.  People who need to lower their blood pressure or cholesterol are advised to get 40 minutes of moderate or vigorous activity 3 to 4 times a week to lower their risk for heart attack or stroke. 

You can accomplish this by hiking a beautiful mountain, or as I did today (it is pouring outside) by walking laps around your office building.  I hope that, in honor of American Heart month you commit to taking care of your heart by getting the recommended exercise.  Oh, and if this 40-50 degree weather continues, get outside!


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Governor Raimondo Releases FY 2017 Budget Proposal

On February 2, Governor Gina Raimondo presented her FY 2017 budget recommendations to the General Assembly.  We are still reviewing the details of the budget proposal, but wanted to draw your attention to two issues:

Healthy Communities Bond – the Governor has proposed issuing $35 million in bonds to extend bike paths and improve state parks.  Several environmental projects are also included.  The bond referendum would go before voters in the November general election.  The American Heart Association strongly supports increased funding for biking, walking and recreational opportunities.

Cigarette Tax Increase – The Governor also proposed increasing the state cigarette tax by 25-cents per pack.  While we appreciate the Governor looking at the cigarette tax, the American Heart Association is opposed to small tax increases that will yield no public health benefit.  In addition, we are concerned that none of the new revenue is being directed to prevention & cessation programs that are proven to help current smokers quit and prevent kids from ever starting this deadly habit. 


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New Policy Brief Calls for More Physical Education in Rhode Island Schools

Our partners at Rhode Island Kids Count recently released a new policy brief entitled, “Promoting Increased Physical Activity in Schools.”

Regular physical activity has been shown to improve strength and endurance, help control weight, and prevent chronic disease. It has also been shown to improve academic achievement, including grades and standardized test scores. Research also shows positive effects on the brain, including improved attention, processing, memory, and coping. “Promoting Increased Physical Activity in Schools” provides an overview of current practices and policies regarding physical activity in Rhode Island schools (including recess and physical education), and includes recommendations for promoting increased physical activity in schools. 

To view the policy brief click here:,%20Issues,%20Oral)/Physical%20Activity%20%20Rhode%20Island%20KIDS%20COUNT%20Policy%20Brief-Phys%20Activity%20in%20Schools-Jan%202016.pdf

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Make Plans Now to Attend the Sioux Falls Go Red for Women Events!

Heart disease is no match for the power of women's voices

Heart disease is no match for the power of women’s voices. Most women don’t notice the symptoms of heart disease until it’s too late. That’s why heart disease has been called the silent killer. But we won’t be silent. Yet, many of these deaths can be prevented.

The American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women is the world’s largest network of women standing together to save women’s lives from heart disease. Millions of women have united to raise their voices about their No. 1 killer. With your help, many more lives can be saved.

Find out how you can raise your voice to end the no. 1 killer of women at this year’s Go Red For Women events.

Red Dress Collection LIVESTREAM Fashion Show

Join us for New York Fashion Week’s Red Hottest Event as we LIVESTREAM the Red Dress Collection Fashion Show. 

Enjoy this all-ages women’s night out event, which will include complementary appetizers, a cash bar (cash & credit cards accepted), and a trunk show featuring fashions and accessories from the Sioux Empire’s hottest boutiques and benefitting the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women movement in Sioux Falls.  In addition, you’ll have a virtual front row seat at the real New York Fashion Week Fashion Show event.  Click here for more information. 

Go Red for Women Expo

Enjoy the “Purse-onalities” Silent Auction and Social Hour while enjoying a cocktail, and choose from gift packages developed and donated by leaders in our community.  All auction and beverage proceeds benefit the Go Red for Women movement.  Plus, grab your girlfriends for a photo at the Diva Wall!  You’ll also have the opportunity to learn from vendors about reducing your risk of heart disease. 

After a welcome from AHA – Midwest Affiliate Board Members Dr. Tom Stys of Sanford Health, guests can socialize with others who care about heart disease and stroke.  Attendees will be inspired by keynote speaker Dr. Annabell Volgman and local survivors.  For additional information, visit

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