American Heart Association - You’re the Cure

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Be the Cure, Join Today!

  • Learn about heart-health issues
  • Meet other likeminded advocates
  • Take action and be heard
Will you help influence scientific research?

We need to hear from consumers like you as the American Heart Association (AHA) and the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) partner together on the future of research. Your experience could lead to the next research study to improve heart disease and stroke treatment.

As an advocate we’ve asked you to speak out for increased funding for medical research and you’ve answered by contacting lawmakers and sharing your personal stories as survivors, caregivers, and loved ones touched by heart and stroke disease. Now we invite you to share your experience, the decisions made in determining your or your loved one’s treatment plans and the factors that influenced those decisions. If we better understand your experience it can help guide the research that will lead to better care tailored to the specific needs of patients.

If you’ve had a heart attack, suffered a stroke, or you know a loved one who has, your unique understanding could help guide research to solve un-met care challenges faced by individuals like you and improve heart and stroke treatment.

Here are the details:

  • We are focused on un-met challenges faced by patients and caregivers like you. 
  • To join this challenge, you’ll be asked to provide a written submission of your first-hand experience after a heart disease or stroke event.
  • The story and description of the concerns you faced and the decisions you made should be personal and not a general case.
  • A team of scientific professionals and patient representatives with expertise in heart disease and stroke will review your story. Learning more about issues and concerns important to your decision-making can help them improve experiences and outcomes for patients in the future.
  • If your submission is chosen, you could win $1,000 and possibly help shape the future of cardiovascular research.
  • All submissions must be received by June 8, 2016.

Please take this important challenge and share your insights. Your story matters. Take the challenge today!

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Carmen Thompson, Kentucky

Carmen Thompson Kentucky

 Frankfort, Kentucky resident, Carmen Thompson, is 66 years young. So when she suffered a stroke December of last year, she didn’t believe it was happening to her. “I woke up and was numb on my left side,” Carmen, who teaches 6th grade at Franklin County Schools, said. “I didn’t think my face was drooping so I went to school like normal.” But Carmen’s students immediately noticed something was wrong. “The kids kept looking at me funny,” she said.

Carmen’s superintendent finally came into her room and sent her home, telling her she believed she was having a stroke. “I should have gone right to the hospital,” Carmen said.  But instead she went home and asked her husband drive her to the emergency room. Still in denial, though she admits she knew all the stroke symptoms and was having several, Carmen said she didn’t want to face the fact that she may be having a stroke.

With an extensive family history of stroke, Carmen also struggles with high blood pressure, high cholesterol and is a type 2 diabetic. After spending five days in the stroke unit at the hospital, Carmen knew her stroke had been major. “The nurses called me a medical train wreck,” Carmen said. “I was sent for rehab,” she said. “I initially thought I’d stay there for just a few days, but I ended up in rehab for a month.”

During her rehab, Carmen received both occupational and physical therapy, both of which she desperately needed, especially for her extremely weak left side. She worked hard during that first month, just to recover her ability to walk and move properly. “I still needed help getting around,” she said. “Anything that needed zipping or buttoning or getting out of the shower I struggled with.”

After her first two weeks were complete, Carmen set goals, one of the most important being that she wanted to be back in her classroom teaching by January of 2016. “They teach you to set goals but remind you to know that you may have to change them,” she said.

Indeed Carmen eventually admitted that she would not be able to return to teaching for the duration of the school year. “I hope to be back in time for school to begin again in August,” she said. “I had another minor stroke the end of February that set me back quite a bit,” Carmen said. “I’m still in a wheelchair but I’m doing a lot better with my memory and processing things.”

Her advice for those who think they may be suffering from a stroke? “If you have symptoms, don’t stay in denial,” Carmen said. “Go immediately and get checked out. If I had gone to the hospital a little bit quicker, I know I wouldn’t have such a long recovery period.”


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May is Stroke Month: Become a Stroke Hero!

In the U.S. someone has a stroke every 40 seconds. We won’t stand idly by as this menacing disease claims our loved ones and independence. We humbly request your support as we rally the nation to create Stroke Heroes by teaching: 80% of most strokes can be prevented and stroke is largely treatable. Studies prove the faster a stroke patient is treated, the more likely they are able to recover without permanent disability. 

You don’t need superpowers to be a Stroke Hero. Start by controlling high blood pressure, the leading-controllable risk factor for stroke and learning the 5 Things Every Stroke Hero Should Know in effort to reduce your risk of having a stroke. 

Now that you have commanded the power to prevent stroke, prove you are ready to put an end stroke. Learn and share  F.A.S.T., the simple acronym used to teach the warning signs of stroke and to save lives. 

Activate your superpowers by taking the Stroke Hero-Superpower Quiz and prove are ready to join our league of Stroke Heroes. 

To learn more ways you can be a Stroke Hero, visit

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Advocate Spotlight: Annette Santilli, West Virginia

Annette Santilli West Virginia

Annette Santilli is certainly a Hero in our eyes. In just two short years as a You’re the Cure advocate, she has taken more than one hundred online and offline actions to far surpass even the highest You’re the Cure rank of "Hero."  She is a passionate volunteer-advocate who can always be counted on to go above and beyond what is asked. Annette is a "regular" at the West Virginia Capitol, frequently making the 2 1/2 hour drive to speak out on issues she believes in. During the hectic West Virginia Legislative Session, you can usually find her making dozens of last-minute phone calls to lawmakers to help protect smoke-free air, testifying with her young daughter, Stephanie, before legislative committees, delivering petitions to lawmakers or speaking to other potential advocates.

Thank you, Annette, for being a You’re the Cure Hero and a champion for the health of West Virginians!

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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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Shannon and Tristan Rowley, Ohio

Shannon and Tristan Rowley

On February 25, 2015, I started out having what I thought would be a normal day at work. Instead I ended up at the Emergency Room to find that my son, Tristan, had suffered a sudden cardiac arrest. He had received CPR, a shock with a defibrillator, was intubated, and was unresponsive. I rode in a helicopter for the first time in my life as he was life-flighted to Children’s Hospital, where we spent the next week getting many tests and then a surgery to implant his cardioverter pacemaker/defibrillator.  

As he slowly regained consciousness we experienced, first-hand, the effects of a hypoxic brain injury as he was unable to recall even simple things for more that 1-2 minutes at a time, and he would need to be reminded of why he was in the hospital literally a hundred-plus times a day. We were told that there was a 20-50% chance that his neurologic deficits and memory issues would be permanent.  At first he needed help going to the bathroom, remembering what day it was and who had visited him less than an hour ago.

I wish someone could have told me then that a year later we would be taking him out to dinner, that we’d be discussing plans for his graduation party and that he’d be working on practice tests to help him prepare to take his computer networking certification exams.  February 25, 2015, was the worst and the best day of my life. Only  5-6% of people who suffer a cardiac arrest outside of a hospital survive. We are incredibly lucky and so, so happy that he survived.

The truth is that the ONLY reason Tristan is alive is because he was in the right place at the right time and with the right people. Those people knew CPR and how to use an AED. Those people were his teachers, as well as a fellow student, who had also learned CPR. The only reason he remains neurologically intact is because he received CPR and defibrillation quickly by trained individuals.

Tristan’s story is a perfect example of why we should be educating our young people on how to help save lives!

--Shannon Rowley 

P.S. Learn CPR!!



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Guest Blog: Danielle Wicklund on the Importance of CPR in Schools

CPR training in high schools is the best place to create a generation of lifesavers. Why? Because the majority of sudden cardiac arrests happen outside of the hospital and most of these people aren’t close to first responders. This means that they are surrounded by regular people, like you and me. It’s critical that we all know the one skill that could save a life so I want to urge our lawmakers to bring CPR training to Pennsylvania’s high schools by supporting SB 948 and HB 1464. It takes as 30 minutes to train students in this lifesaving skill. 

Did you know that many cardiac arrest victims appear healthy with no known heart disease or other risk factors? Sudden cardiac arrest occurs when electrical impulses in the heart become rapid or chaotic, which causes the heart to suddenly stop beating. And each year, more than 326,000 people suffer from cardiac arrest outside of the hospital, but only 10% actually survive. But CPR trained bystanders can double or even triple survival rates for these victims. 

I believe that saving lives is a community effort and I would like to challenge Pennsylvania to join with other states across the country who have all passed laws ensuring that every high school student is CPR trained. Worse yet is that the United States is only ONE of six countries (The others being Norway, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, and Philippines) to have a CPR graduation requirement. Those statistics are frightening. We need to do something about this. We need to take action now before it is too late. We needed these CPR classes YESTERDAY. I urge our lawmakers to support SB 948 and HB 1464 and pass CPR training legislation and all individuals to do the same by logging on to and learning how they can get involved. 

I have taken up this issue for my high school senior project because it has personal meaning. Unfortunately, my family and I have suffered the worst tragedy. My Uncle, Avelino Borromeo Lim JR., was a famous Filipino basketball player. As a matter of fact, he was inducted into the PBA Hall of Fame. However, that all fell apart just like the Biblical story of Joshua tearing down the walls of Jericho. 

On November 28th, 2014, my Uncle Samboy played at an exhibition game. All of a sudden, he collapsed on the ground. He was having a heart attack. The bystanders rushed him to the nearest hospital, but they did not know what to do. By not performing CPR on him, Uncle Samboy suffered hypoxia, lack of oxygen, to the brain for twenty-three minutes. He was pronounced dead on arrival at the ER. It was a miracle for him to come back to life, but it took him more than forty days to wake up from the coma. On the other hand, that does not mean he recovered instantly afterwards. Uncle Samboy cannot see, speak, or move; he is still fighting for his life. Nonetheless, my family and I will let him know that we will still be there and care for him. After all, he is still Samboy Lim even if he is trapped in a non-functioning body. He will always be my dearest, beloved Uncle Samboy. 

During the past year, I have been writing several essays on my Uncle Samboy, who is, “Larger than life.” My essays have impressed successful attorneys, basketball players, military officers, medical professionals, sports writers, and many more. In fact, a well-known Filipino sports writer, Mr. Quinito Henson, posted one of my stories on The Philippine Star, the equivalent of the USA Today in the Philippines. Because of my efforts and those who loved my Uncle Sam, the Samboy Lim Bill has been successfully initiated into law by the Filipino Congress and House. It would require Filipino students to undergo CPR training before high school graduation. Besides being a legend in Philippine Basketball, this is his most important legacy. The least I can do for my Uncle is to spread awareness of CPR, which hopefully makes some kind of impact on this world. Check out the article!

Also, by teaching Pennsylvania students CPR, you would do a great justice to this world and my Uncle Samboy. If you still have any doubts about my proposal, keep J.K. Rowling’s prominent quote in the back of your mind, “We're all human, aren't we? Every human life is worth the same, and worth saving.”         


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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 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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Anne and Cade Lindsey, Kentucky

A Story from the Heart
by Anne Lindsey, mother and CHD Advocate

The heart. It is our life force. The rhythmic pulse with which our bodies are oxygenated and cleansed. Our hearts are responsible for pumping about five quarts of blood each minute which is equal to about 2, 000 gallons of blood each day. In order to accomplish such a feat, our hearts will contract nearly 101,000 times per day. Even at rest, the muscles of the heart work twice as hard as the leg muscles of a person when sprinting. Without a strong heart, our life and normal body functions are in jeopardy.

Congenital Heart Defect Awareness week is February 7th through the 14th. I’ve considered many ways that I, the mother of a child with a congenital heart defect, could raise awareness. I wear my red heart pin throughout the month of February. It’s a subtle gesture, but one that is important to me. The pin sits close to my heart each day. The stitches that are etched across its center remind me of how quickly life can change, and how important and precious the gift of health is.

When it comes to CHD, there are many statistics to quote. I can tell you that each year in the United States nearly 40,000 infants are born with a CHD. That’s 40,000 families whose lives are forever changed. I can tell you that CHDs are the most common type of birth defect. Of the 40,000 babies born with a CHD, 1 in 4 of them will have a critical CHD that will require surgery or other procedural interventions within their first year of life. I can tell you that 75% of babies born with a critical CHD are expected to live to see their first birthday, and 69% of those babies will live to 18 years of age. I can tell you that as the mother of one of those babies, statistics like these take your breath away. But, I can also tell you that there is hope.

Medical innovation and improved treatment options have increased the life span and quality of life for CHD patients. In fact, today there are about 1 million adults in the United States living with a CHD. My own son, born with a critical CHD, is now 11 years old. Yes, there is hope. We find hope in the form of life saving procedures and technologies that continually improve the quality of life for our children. We find hope in surgeons and doctors and nurses and therapists and technicians who do not lose sight of the impact and difference they are making in our lives every day. We find hope in mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers who share our pain and understand our burden.  We find hope in the communities and friendships that encourage and support us in some of our darkest moments.

I can tell you all these things and more, but perhaps the most effective way I can raise awareness is to allow my son the opportunity to speak. My son, Cade, has allowed me to summarize some of his story with you in order to bring understanding and awareness of Congenital Heart Defects.

Although we have always been open and honest with Cade about his heart condition, he says that he didn’t realize the significance of his heart defect until he was about 8 or 9 years old. Around this time Cade was preparing for his third open heart surgery. His last major hospital stay was several years ago at age 3, and much of that time he doesn’t remember. With the realization that his heart was different, came many questions.

Cade always considered himself to be just another kid, but now he realized that these differences in his heart sometimes meant facing big challenges. CHDs are not simple. Complications often arise from the interventions and surgical procedures that are designed to bring relief and repair. Cade, after his third open heart surgery, suffered a stroke which left him paralyzed on his right side. His recovery has been nothing short of remarkable, but the proof is still there. He has a limp and continued weakness in his right leg. He’s also developed other complications which have brought us to our most recent hurdle – preparing for a heart transplant.

Throughout our conversation, Cade talked about how he came to accept that his heart was different. He says his family and friends have helped him realize that it’s not actually that bad having HLHS. He talks about how nicely he is treated by everyone, and this makes him feel a lot better about himself. He knows his limitations. He’ll tire easily if he runs too much and missing his medication would make him feel sick. He notices many differences between himself and other typical children his age. But rather than focusing on these differences Cade is determined to look towards the future. He says, "Coming up, I’m going to have a heart transplant, and I’m going to be really happy about that." He hopes that a new heart will allow him to do some of things his peers are doing now. Perhaps the most important message from our conversation came near the end when I asked Cade what people should know about CHD. He responded, "Well, just because you are different because you have this CHD doesn’t meant that you’re not a normal person." That’s the beautiful truth: Although his heart is shaped differently, it still loves just the same.

*Statistical information was taken from the following websites:

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