American Heart Association - You’re the Cure

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  • Learn about heart-health issues
  • Meet other likeminded advocates
  • Take action and be heard
Critical Congenital Heart Disease Awareness Week is February 7-14

In the United States, about 40,000 children are born with a heart defect each year. Congenital heart disease consists of various heart defects that are present at birth. About 40,000 newborns are diagnosed with this disease in the U.S. annually, and 25 percent of those cases are critical, meaning they typically require surgery in the first year of life, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Congenital heart disease is also the leading cause of birth defect-related newborn illnesses and deaths in the U.S., according to the CDC.  During this Congenital Heart Defects Awareness Week, we appreciate the opportunity to share stories of those affected by CHD, and remember that everyone has a reason to live a healthier life. 

CLICK HERE for 'Born with Half a Heart' story. 

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Advocates Raise Awareness with Heart Month Proclamation

AHA Volunteer Advocates North Dakota

AHA volunteers, survivors, and partners joined for a Heart Month proclamation at the Capitol with Governor Dalrymple. Advocates thanked Governor Dalrymple, who is in his last year, for his support in developing a stronger cardiac and stroke system.  Because of strong support from the Governor, we are making an impact in North Dakota.  From 2011 to 2012, nationwide, age adjusted death rates decreased significantly for heart disease – 1.8% and 2.6% stroke nationwide.  During the same time period, in North Dakota, age adjusted death rates for heart disease decreased 22.3% and stroke declined 38%.  tPA use for stroke improved from 33% to over 80%. We continue to have much work to do to improve our cardiovascular health in North Dakota, but with strong support from our elected leaders, we know we can continue progress already made.  Many thanks to our Governor! 

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Join us for The Legislative Games: Bully Pulpit

In conjunction with the Hypertension Conference on Thursday afternoon, March 17th, and the Obesity Conference on March 18th, the American Heart Association invites You’re the Cure advocates to attend a special event on the evening of March 17th.  Rather than sitting in your hotel room, staying home watching TV or passing time at the bar, come and join us for a fun and interactive social activity … The Legislative Games:  Bully Pulpit.

Realizing the stakes are no longer just for survival, participants in the competition will work together and challenge other teams as they work to achieve our common goal.  Finding their allies and identifying their issue, they team up to determine the best course of action to achieve their goals.  What lies ahead are legislative obstacles, grassroots actions, social media posts, a media advocacy strategy and a passionate volunteer arsenal.  Their actions and will ultimately determine the future of North Dakota’s cardiovascular health! 

This event is FREE but limited to the first 35 candidates to step forward to meet the challenge.  All participants will enjoy refreshments and comradery with other advocates.  The games will change everyone, and the world will be watching.

Come join the fun!  Thursday, March 17th, 7:30 p.m. at the Holiday Inn (Royal Hall) in Fargo. 

To take your place among the 35 to compete, RSVP to  

May the odds be ever in your favor. 

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Giving Hearts Day is February 11th

For the past several years the American Heart Association has had the opportunity to participate in an annual event called Giving Hearts Day. Giving Hearts Day is hosted by Dakota Medical Foundation, Impact Foundation, and Alex Stern Family Foundation. Once again the American Heart Association is participating in Giving Hearts Day on February 11th, 2016. Through the contributions made by donors on Giving Hearts Day, the American Heart Association has been able to fund numerous advances in North Dakota including Go Red for Women education, support for Cardiac Ready Communities, and a blood pressure awareness initiative. In addition, thanks to the generosity of our donors, the American Heart Association was able to award a $4500 grant to the South East Education Cooperative for advanced training of the new Physical Education Standards in North Dakota.

Throughout the state you can see the impact this day of 24-hour online giving can make. Thanks to some great organizations, companies, and the Dakota Medical Foundation, donations made on February 11that of $10 or more are matched. It’s a great day for donors to multiply the results of their giving. So mark your calendars for February 11th, 2016, as Giving Hearts Day and together we can advance our mission, because everyone deserves to live a longer, healthier life free of heart disease and stroke.

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Hypertension Conference Being Planned for March

Make plans now to attend the Hypertension Summit in Fargo on March 17th.  The summit will provide an overview of hypertension in North Dakota and discuss the importance of prevention and control.  Presenters will educate attendees on various topics related to hypertension, including statistics, guidelines for managing hypertension, and education and team-based care, risk factors, and current prevention efforts occurring in North Dakota.  Attendees will gain team-building skills and have the opportunity to network.

The summit will be held at the Holiday Inn in Fargo on March 17th from 12:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.  For more information about the Summit, CLICK HERE. 

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Heart Ball Supports our Life-Saving Work

More than 400 heart and stroke survivors, physicians, and business and community leaders will gather to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Red River Valley Heart Ball on January 30th.

The annual Heart Ball marks the American Heart Association’s efforts throughout the year to raise awareness, fund research, and save lives. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the gala in Fargo and will celebrate “Life’s Precious Moments.”

“To experience more of life’s precious moments, we must be healthy in both heart and mind,” said Yassar Alamanaseer, M.D., a cardiologist with Essentia Health and a co-chair of the 2016 Heart Ball. “The funds raised at this important event will help support the lifesaving medical research, regional grants and educational programs of the American Heart Association right here in North Dakota.”

The Red River Valley Heart Ball will be held at the Holiday Inn in Fargo. The celebration begins at 5:00 p.m. with a cocktail reception and silent auction. The event program, which includes a heart healthy dinner, live auction, survivor stories and more will begin at 7:00 p.m., and the evening will continue with a “Pulse” after-party that includes live music by The Front Fenders and dancing at 8:45 p.m.

The Red River Valley Heart Ball is presented locally by Essentia Health. Other local sponsors include Brite-Way Window Cleaning, Inc., North Dakota Soybean Council, WDAY, and The Fargo Forum. Event co-chairs include Yassar Alamanaseer, M.D. and Teresa Bishop, along with Duane L. Keller and Cleone Leach.

Sponsorship for a table of eight tickets is $1,000 and available by calling Tom Jones at 605-787-8808 . Individual tickets and additional event information are available at

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Advocate Spotlight: Your New Year's Resolution

It's Monday, the dreaded first day back to work or school after the holiday break.  Your holidays were full of celebrations, family gatherings, watching sporting events, and lots and lots of food. You probably didn't exercise as much as you normally do, and you've gotten used to being not as active. The sweets are all gone and your refrigerator needs a break from all those left overs! Today is that day - the day you resolve to getting back to your routine and back to healthier living. 

Many of us have made those New Year's resolutions in the past, only to give up on them by the end of January. We can all use a little help when it comes to sticking with healthier diets, so here's a little change that can make a big difference in your overall health.  If you make one change this year when it comes to a healthy diet, reduce your sodium. Having a high sodium diet can lead to problems due to the fact that the kidney has a hard time disposing of it. As it builds up in our bloodstream it can cause our hearts to work harder and put more pressure on the blood vessels. Over time this can increase the risk of developing high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack and heart failure. In addition to avoiding processed foods and increasing intake of fruits and vegetables, potassium can blunt some of the effects salt. It can help the body flush out sodium and lower blood pressure.  For more on this article CLICK HERE. 


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New Initiative To Improve Community Health Launched in Fargo and West Fargo

The American Heart Association is one of three national organizations funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to build and strengthen health promotion efforts at the community level. This award is part of the second round of funding provided to the AHA and brings the number of AHA communities working to improve community health from 15 to 30. This work is part of CDC’s Partnerships to Improve Community Health (PICH) National Organization’s program through the Division of Community Health.

This funding will reach 15 new markets around the country, including Cass County.  The goal is to help reduce tobacco use and exposure, improve nutrition, and increase physical activity. These newly added markets join the 15 communities that have already been supported by the initiative since April 2015, allowing the AHA to continue promoting healthy lifestyles for all people.

“The American Heart Association looks forward to working closely with our partners from all 15 communities in the second cohort of the ANCHOR Initiative,” said Nancy Brown, the Association’s Chief Executive Officer. “Together, there are great opportunities ahead to positively impact cardiovascular health by promoting smoke-free environments, improving access to healthy foods and beverages, and encouraging increased physical activity. Also, we’d like to thank and congratulate our Cohort 1 partners, who have been making outstanding progress in their communities through their innovative strategies in these same three critical health areas.”  

As one of the new communities selected for funding, Fargo and West Fargo will focus specifically on increasing access to healthy food and beverages and increasing access to physical activity in workplaces and childcare settings. “These funds will go a long way to help improve the health of people across Cass County,” said Carrie McLeod from Sanford Community Health and an American Heart Association volunteer. “We are proud to be a part of this national initiative and look forward to helping the American Heart Association promote healthy lifestyles in our community.”

These efforts are part of the American Heart Association’s mission to transform the way Americans eat, live, and play and to curb the prevalence of disease. Cardiovascular disease is the leading global cause of death, accounting for 17.3 million deaths per year, claiming more lives than all forms of cancer combined and affecting families across the country every day. The factors leading to increased risk – tobacco use, physical inactivity and poor diet – must be addressed so more people can live longer, healthier, happier lives. By 2020, the American Heart Association wants to improve the overall cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20 percent while reducing deaths from cardiovascular diseases and stroke by 20 percent over the next decade.

For additional information on other markets also receiving funding, please visit

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Advocate Spotlight: Ann Malmberg

Ann Malmberg North Dakota

I recently joined  “You’re the Cure”,  the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s grassroots advocacy community. I am the Regional Director of Community Health for Essentia Health. My role at Essentia is totally in line with the role of this committee to drive healthier communities and healthier lives free of heart disease and stroke.

As with most of the population, I’ve been affected by heart disease.  Both my father and father-in-law died from complications after heart attacks. I’ve also had a heart attack at age 50 and benefited from the protocols driving rapid care including getting patients quickly to the the cath lab.

I have participated as part of a community initiative for Go Red in the past and our hospital is partnering with AHA on the new ANCHOR project to drive better food choices for patients/families and employees.

Together we are making a difference.

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Higher Cigarette Taxes Linked to Fewer Infant Deaths

A recent study by Vanderbilt University and University of Michigan suggests that higher taxes and prices for cigarettes not only provides health benefits to those who are currently smoking or considering smoking, but it is also strongly associated with lower infant mortality rates in the United States.  Researchers found that for every $1 tax increase per pack of cigarettes, about two infant deaths were averted each day.  According to the study, there was an estimated 3.2 percent decrease in annual infant mortality rates, or 750 fewer infant deaths per year associated with the tax increase. 

“Exposure to cigarettes during pregnancy is associated with numerous health problems for newborns, including preterm birth which is the leading cause of infant mortality in the United States.  Taxing cigarettes is known to help convince people to quit smoking, or not to start. This study helps physicians, public health officials, and policymakers understand just how much benefit cigarettes tax increases can have on infant health,” said lead author Stephen Patrick, MD, MPH, MS, assistant professor of Pediatrics and Health Policy in the Division of Neonatology at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. 

For more on this story, CLICK HERE

Cigarette smoking continues to be the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States claiming approximately 480,000 lives prematurely every year.  Smoking not only takes the lives of those who use tobacco, but, as the study suggests, also those who are exposed to secondhand smoke.  The bottom line is that no tobacco product is safe to use. 

The American Heart Association advocates for significant increases in tobacco excise taxes at the state, county or municipal levels that cover all tobacco products.  We also support allocation of at least some of these revenues generated toward tobacco control, prevention, and cessation programs, as well as other health-related initiatives such as improving access to health care. 

We believe that tobacco taxes are a heath win that reduces tobacco use, saves lives, raises revenue for cash-strapped states, and lowers health care costs.  These taxes are a political win because they are popular with voters. 

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