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Save the Date: AHA Advocacy Day on February 3rd

Guest Blogger: Sarah Higginbotham, Oregon Government Relations Director

Join us for an exciting day February 3rd, 2016 at the Oregon State Capitol! We will meet with lawmakers to discuss the American Heart Association's priority issues that are vital to building a healthier Oregon.

RSVP here to let us know you can join us!

Our focus in 2016 Legislative Session will be on improving the health of Oregon’s kids:

• Protecting kids from tobacco by raising the legal sale age to 21: Research has shown that raising the tobacco purchasing age to 21 will reduce addiction and prevent disease. With your help, we will build momentum on this issue.

• Getting kids moving with physical education: Too many Oregon kids aren’t getting the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity a day that they need to be healthy. Physical education can help and we need you to help us ask state leaders to support PE in schools.

Prior lobbying experience is not needed. Training and lunch will be provided for attendees.

In years past, our advocates have helped save lives by winning major policy victories for Oregonians including ensuring all Oregon students learn CPR before graduating; requiring all newborns be screened for congenital heart defects; and securing funding for tobacco control and physical education.

Hope you can join us for what should be an important day at the Capitol!

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Multnomah County positioned to lead on tobacco control policy

Guest Blogger: Sarah Higginbotham, Oregon Government Relations Director

On October 22nd, Multnomah County Commissioners heard from a long list of advocates and organizations supporting improved tobacco control policies that could help the county go from lagging behind the rest of the country to leading it. Multnomah County is ranked the worst in the country for illegal tobacco sales to minors, due in large part to a lack of a licensure program for tobacco retailers.

Oregon is one of only a few states that doesn’t require a license to sell tobacco, which would identify merchants, impose standards, and enforce laws that are currently violated without consequence. Tobacco retail licensure programs have effectively reduced sales to youth in many communities across the nation. During the public hearing, commissioners considered policies aimed at better protecting youth from tobacco.

Encourage all of the commissioners to protect our kids from tobacco by taking action here.

Commissioners also heard support for raising legal sale age for tobacco to 21.  A report released earlier this year by the Institute of Medicine indicates that raising the age of sale of tobacco products to 21 nationally would reduce the smoking rate by 12%.

“Recent research reinforces what we’ve known all along—age matters when it comes to tobacco prevention,” said Dr. Michael Shapiro, cardiologist and board member with the American Heart Association of Oregon & SW Washington. “Ninety-five percent of smokers start before age 21. The longer we can delay that first puff, the more likely our kids will enter adulthood free from tobacco addiction.”

The county would be following in the footsteps of more than 90 municipalities across the nation, including New York City, as well as the state of Hawaii, which raised the age to purchase tobacco this year.

Ori Alon, a 16-year-old student from Catlin Gabel High School, submitted his thoughts as testimony.

“Tobacco is so easy to get from friends who are seniors,” Alon said. “If you want to make it actually difficult, raise the tobacco age to 21."

Commissioners have the opportunity to pass policies that protect our kids from the dangers of tobacco addiction.

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Kathy August - Inspiring students to make a difference

Kathy is a dedicated advocate for the AHA and a teacher of 35 years. At South Salem High School, she engages hundreds of students in the mission of the AHA and empowers them to make a difference. In recent years, Kathy and her students have gotten involved in many ways: They have held one schoolwide Hands Only CPR event training over 2,500 people to save a life. They’ve organized three Red Out nights raising dollars to support the AHA mission. For the past two years, they’ve trained decision makers and state staff in Hands Only CPR at the Oregon State Capitol.

Mrs. August, as her students know her, inspires them and us every year, and we wanted to share Kathy’s story with you…

Why is the American Heart Association’s mission important to you?

“I personally have WPW and diabetes, so I am very aware of what that does to my heart. My husband had a stent done several years ago.  Most of my students have at least one family member with a heart condition.  My brother in law died of a blood clot to the heart.  We had two students here that had heart transplants.”

Why do you advocate alongside the American Heart Association?

“Because they put their money where their mouth is.  When you donate to AHA, you know your money is helping educate, find a cure and support our community.  They came to me with a request and supported me 110% through the donation of shirts, ideas, and representation at all our events.  I have been teaching for 35 years and have been asked to help with hundreds of causes over the years.  I have never witnessed the enthusiasm, dedication, support and guidance as this organization.”

Why is preventing heart disease and/or stroke important to you?

“It is the number one killer of women and it’s important to educate our community on simple, healthy ways to take care of your heart and to help someone in distress.  Since teaching “Hands Only CPR” we have had three students come to me to tell me they helped with an elderly woman choking, pulled someone from a pool and started CPR, and helped with an elderly grandparent until paramedics arrived.  I can’t remember having that kind of impact with a presentation.”

What have you found particularly inspiring during your work with the AHA?

“I am impressed with the power of students to take on a challenge and give everything they can, receiving nothing monetary in return.” 

When it comes to fighting heart disease and stroke, we’re up against a lot. Describe a challenge you’ve faced—and why you haven’t given up?

“I have diabetes and struggle with my weight.  AHA gave me the courage to join a gym and to eat healthy.  I’ve lost 25 pounds in three months and I’ve been trying for years without any success.  The secret is to NOT give up.”

We agree, Kathy! Thank you so much for your efforts to make Oregon a healthier and safer place to live, and for inspiring future generations to follow your lead.

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World Stroke Day is October 29th

October 29th is World Stroke Day, a day to raise awareness about stroke, America’s fifth leading cause of death.  World Stroke Day is a global campaign aimed at reducing the incidence of stroke around the world by educating communities on the facts and myths about stroke.  In the United States, stroke affects nearly 800,000 people each year and is the leading cause of long-term disability.

A stroke occurs when blood supply to the brain is disrupted causing brain cells to die.  Stroke can happen at any time and to anyone at any age. Timothy Gamble is a prime example of this as he was only 25 when he had a stroke over Easter weekend.

The American Heart & Stroke Association recommends that you think F.A.S.T. to spot the signs of stroke. Knowing the noticeable symptoms of stroke is important because the sooner a stroke victim gets to the hospital, the higher the chance of survival and decreases the likelihood of long-term damage. 

F.A.S.T. stands for:

Face Drooping Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile.

Arm Weakness Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

Speech Difficulty Is speech slurred, are they unable to speak, or are they hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence, like "the sky is blue." Is the sentence repeated correctly?

Time to call 911 If the person shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and get them to the hospital immediately.

To learn more about the F.A.S.T. stroke warning signs and other sudden symptoms of a stroke, visit

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Advocate Highlight - Brianne Cassidy

At age 24, Brianne Cassidy’s personality made a 180-degree change. She went from someone who made herself sick over the thought of a job interview or public speaking, to a young lady who gained so much confidence that she uprooted from her childhood home in Suburban Seattle and moved to the city, and back to the suburbs again, ended a long-term relationship, found a new boyfriend and started her own photography business. [GH1] 

It’s a nice coming-of-age story about a young woman taking control, only there’s a cruel twist.

This overhaul came following a stroke that nearly ended her life at age 24.

After a fun day out on Puget Sound with friends in 2013, Brianne was suffering from a headache after taking a spill off of a tube attached the back of a boat. She flew four feet in the air, landing on her head and toppled across the water as if doing a cartwheel.

In the days following, the pain increased in her head and the left side of her neck. She began suffering from blurry vision in her right eye and the tips of her fingers on her right hand were numb. It wasn’t until two weeks later that the worst headache yet hit while she was at work which sent her home for the day.

She went to the doctor the next morning. A snag over insurance paying for a CT scan meant a delay of several hours, so she went home to rest. She cuddled up with Casper, her golden retriever, and fell asleep. About 20 minutes later, Casper jumped up and started running around the room, barking. He never did that.

The noise woke Brianne and she tried to get up.

Brianne could barely move and knew something was wrong. She called her mom in a panic and at first her mom thought it was joke when her words came out garbled. She quickly realized it wasn’t and headed over, also calling a neighbor who got there right away and called 9-1-1.

Doctors at a nearby hospital diagnosed the stroke and gave her the clot-busting medicine tPA before transferring her to a larger facility. At the hospital the doctor’s performed a specialized medical procedure that removes a clot from a patient’s brain. Days later Brianne was walking and talking remarkably well and she finally had relief from the terrible headache.

Up to that point, Brianne was like most people in that she thought strokes were something that happened to old people. Since her recovery, she has learned that stroke is the No. 5 killer of Americans, and a leading cause of adult disability. And, of course, that stroke can happen to anybody at any age. Brianne is now a proud volunteer for the local American Heart Association and American Stroke Association, spreading awareness about the warning signs and the facts that stroke is largely preventable, treatable, and beatable.

To see Brianne share her story and talk about stroke click here.

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Simple Cooking with Heart - Tailgate Chili

Guest Blogger: Erica Phung, Senior Government Relations Director

The leaves are changing colors, and your favorite team is on the field. Fall is officially here!  When the weather turns cool, there’s nothing better than a warm, hearty bowl of comforting soup or chili to keep you going.  At Simple Cooking with Heart, we’ve got some great recipes that will keep you satisfied and heart-healthy! Here’s a fun one to try at your next tailgate or game-day party.

Click here to watch the how-to video!

4 Servings; about $3.44 per serving


1 pound 95% lean ground beef (or ground white meat chicken or turkey for a healthier option) 
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
1 medium jalapeno, chopped (optional, only if you like spicy chili)
2 teaspoons minced garlic from the jar or 4 cloves minced
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander 
1 (15.5 oz) can no-salt-added or low-sodium pinto or kidney beans, undrained 
1 (14.5 oz) can  no-salt-added or low-sodium diced tomatoes, undrained 
3/4 cup jarred salsa (lowest sodium available)


  1. Spray large saucepan with cooking spray. Cook beef and onion over medium-high heat for 5-7 minutes, stirring constantly to break up beef. Transfer to colander and rinse with water to drain excess fat. Return beef to pan.
  2. Stir in bell pepper, garlic, chili powder, and cumin, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer, cover and cook for 20 minutes.
  4. Optional – serve topped with low-fat grated cheese, a dollop of fat-free sour cream, sliced avocado, snipped cilantro or chopped green onions.

TIP: if you want 5-alarm chili, add 1 teaspoon Cheyenne pepper

Per serving:



Total Fat 

6.0 g

Saturated Fat 

2.5 g

Trans Fat

0.5 g

Polyunsaturated Fat

0.5 g

Monounsaturated Fat 

2.5 g


62 mg


288 mg


29 g


7 g


8 g


31 g

Dietary Exchanges:  1 starch, 3 vegetable, 3.5 lean meat

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Advocate Spotlight - TJ Haynes

For TJ Haynes it was a matter of time. TJ recently threw out the first pitch at a Mustangs game in Dehler Park to promote the AHA’s Raise the Roof in Red campaign after suffering a heart attack just a few months before.

On May 25, 2015 TJ had gone to the local shooting range in preparation for the annual Quigley Buffalo Match. The days leading up to the 25th he had experienced heartburn and back pain but didn’t think much of it. But after a short period of time at the range he found himself short of breath and in pain.

He called his wife to tell her he wasn’t feeling well and asked her to come pick him up. While he waited another shooter at the range noticed his condition and quickly dialed 911 when he told them he was short of breath and experiencing chest pain.

Thanks to the quick actions of those around him TJ was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance containing a 12 lead EKG machine that sent a snapshot of his heart ahead to the Billings clinic. By sending this snapshot ahead the hospital was able to know what they were dealing with and how to treat it as soon as he arrived. This allowed his clogged artery to be opened just 46 minutes from the onset of the attack.

This amazing equipment had been installed just one day earlier as part of the Mission Lifeline initiative that is largely funded by a grant from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust.

Today TJ is doing much better. He is in cardiac rehab, is working on his diet and is overall doing well.

TJ is thankful for the actions of those around him and the technology that was available to help him when he needed it most.


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Advocate Spotlight - Brittany Badicke

Welcome Back Brittany!

Brittany Badicke is the newest advocate to join the AHA team, in an exciting role leading our new initiative, Oregon Kids Move with Heart. Brittany is the Regional Campaign Manager for our effort to get more kids physically active during the school day, and over the next year she’ll be working to support our partners at Beaverton School District.

During the summer of 2014, Brittany worked as an Intern with the Advocacy team. During her time with AHA, she built legislative support for evidence-based tobacco prevention and cessation programs in key districts by educating legislators about the local program successes and current needs, and mobilized local public health experts and grassroots leaders to attend in-district meetings.

Brittany grew up in Longview, Washington and after graduating high school moved to Vancouver, Washington, became a Certified Nursing Assistant, and began pre-requisites for nursing school. Being intrigued by acute care, and with more opportunity to work in an acute care setting in Oregon, she earned her CNA II acute care license and moved to Portland, Oregon. Brittany had the opportunity to work in a variety of settings in just over three and a half years as a Certified Nursing Assistant, including: Assisted living, Medical Specialties, Oncology, and Skilled Nursing.

While working as a CNA and meeting several patients suffering from preventable diseases, she realized her passion is in health promotion and disease prevention, leading her to pursue a degree in health education. Brittany recently graduated from Portland State University with her Bachelor of Science in Community Health Education.

Over the last year she has also been a volunteer Referral and Care Coordinator at a local community health clinic where she has worked with a multidisciplinary team to provide support and link patients with necessary medical referrals. In her personal time she enjoys hiking, traveling, and spending time with friends and family.

We couldn’t be more excited to have Brittany (back!) on our team, and we know her tireless efforts will help hundreds of Oregon kids.

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Back to School Means New Opportunities to Move

Guest Blogger: Sarah Higginbotham, Oregon Government Relations Director

The start of a new school year is a great time to highlight a few of our top advocacy priorities in Oregon. That’s because we’re focused on removing the greatest barriers to a healthy future for our kids. Today, 1 in 4 Oregon kids is overweight or obese, leading to heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and eventually, early death. This dangerous trend is caused in part by growing inactivity—consider this: Today’s kids are the most inactive generation in history.

That’s why the American Heart Association is dedicated to supporting physical activity for kids before, during and after the school day. Here are a few exciting efforts we’re working on:

-  BEFORE & AFTER SCHOOL - Safe Routes to School: When kids can walk or bike to school, they can get over 60% of the daily recommended exercise needed for a healthy childhood. Unfortunately, many families lack the safe sidewalks, crosswalks and infrastructure to make walking or biking in their neighborhood an option. That’s why we’re part of growing effort called For Every Kid. These 30+ organizations are asking the Metro Regional Government to ensure every kid has a healthy future and the ability to safely walk, bike, or take transit to school. Please sign the letter to Metro Councilors asking for their support.

-  DURING SCHOOL - Physical Education & Activity: Kids spend most of their waking hours in school, so it’s important that they move a lot throughout the day to be healthy and to keep their minds ready to learn. Oregon Kids Move with Heart is an exciting new initiative made possible through a partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We are working with the Beaverton School District during the 2015-2016 school year to support their efforts to increase awareness of the importance of physical activity, and to increase physical education and activity opportunities throughout the school day for K-8 students. Take a look at these photos from the recent kick off with Beaverton School District.

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New Initiative! Oregon Kids Move with Heart

Guest Blogger: Sarah Higginbotham, Oregon Government Relations Director

Todays’ kids are less active than any previous generation—a dangerous trend since an inactive childhood is likely to lead to an unhealthy future filled with life-threatening chronic disease. Beaverton School District is dedicated to getting students moving more throughout the day, and along with the American Heart Association, will be working to support active students who are not only healthier but more focused and ready to learn.

This year, through the school district’s own investment as well as a grant-funded partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Heart Association, the Beaverton School District will be piloting some innovative efforts to increase physical education and activity throughout the school day.

A pilot project aimed at increasing physical activity at five participating schools is just one component of a plan originally put into action thanks to the leadership of the Beaverton School District’s Active Schools Task Force. The pilot program will train teachers to implement innovative strategies such as Brain Boosts to get kids more physically active throughout the school day.

Beaverton’s commitment to student health aligns with the mission of the American Heart Association, prompting the recent partnership. The American Heart Association will be working to support not only the district’s pilot project, but to enhance the district’s goals of increasing physical activity across the K-8 schools through its new initiative, “Oregon Kids Move with Heart.”

Check out photos from the kick-off of Oregon Kids Move with Heart.

Nationally known experts Scott Williams and Alex O’Brien will be working with Beaverton teachers during the upcoming in-service week before school starts.

Scott Williams is the 2013 AHPERD Elementary Physical Education Teacher of the Year, and the 2015 Virginia AHPERD K-12 Dance Educator of the Year.

Alex O’Brien, a trainer and Director of Film and Social Media with Focused Fitness. As a physical education teacher, he was instrumental in incorporating technology, social media and video into PE district wide.

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