American Heart Association - You’re the Cure
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Take the You're the Cure Advocate Survey

2015 was a great year for You're the Cure advocates and the many policy efforts that you work on. We have big plans for 2016, and we want to hear from you and what you want to see in the future for You're the Cure.

So take the survey now and let your voice be heard.

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Time to Go Red!

Going Red is about much more than wearing red on National Wear Red Day. It’s about making a change. Encourage your family and friends to take small steps toward healthy lifestyle choices to reduce their risk for heart disease and stroke.

 

Start by explaining “What it means to Go Red” by sharing the following acronym:

  • Get Your Numbers: Ask your doctor to check your blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose.
  • Own Your Lifestyle: Stop smoking, lose weight, be physically active and eat healthy.
  • Raise Your Voice: Advocate for more women-related research and education.
  • Educate Your Family: Make healthy food choices for you and your family. Teach your kids the importance of staying active.
  • Donate: Show your support with a donation of time or money.

 

Heart disease and stroke cause one in three women’s deaths each year, killing approximately one woman every 80 seconds. An estimated 44 million women in the U.S. are affected by cardiovascular diseases, yet 80% of heart disease and stroke events could be prevented. Early screening, early detection and early treatment are key to lowering risk for cardiovascular disease. 

 

Testing should occur as follows:

  • Blood pressure – every regular health care visit starting at age 20
  • Cholesterol – every five years starting at age 20. More often if: total cholesterol is above 200; if you are a man older than 45 or a woman older than 50; if you’re a woman whose HDL is less than 50 or a man whose HDL is less than 40; if you have other cardiovascular risk factors
  • Weight/body mass index – every health care visit starting at age 20
  • Waist circumference – as needed starting at age 20
  • Blood glucose – every three years starting at age 45

 

You can learn more about your numbers and key health indicators with the Go Red Heart CheckUp.

 

For more information about Go Red for Women visit here.

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Update on Christian Lybbert

Aimee Lybbert, Mother of CHD (Congenital Heart Defect) Survivor, Christian, updates us on his life now and what she sees every day as a “Heart Mom”

You can catch up on Christian’s story from nearly two years ago here.

Christian will be three at the end of next month. He's been through two more open heart surgeries and four open abdomen surgeries and one surgery through his ribs on his diaphragm. He's now living at Seattle Children's and is currently on the waiting list for a heart transplant.

He has quite the collection of scars. We as his parents do too.

We have been at Seattle Children's for almost 5 months now with most of our time spent in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CICU).

We have seen our share of families and children go through the CICU.

I've seen parents waiting anxiously for their surgery pagers as they wait for any update, I've seen parents hugging surgeons. I've seen rooms that have one little body in the room surrounded by scores of machines and staff working together to get the child through it all. I've seen parents cry with joy as their child had the breathing tube removed and they start to talk again. I've walked past rooms where moms are holding their children for the first time in forever as the nurse takes pictures. I've watched as they get transferred to the recovery floor, and I've watched parents take video of their toddler as he walked out the front door of the hospital after he conquered heart surgery. I've seen such joy at the many triumphs and miracles that happen here. 

I've also seen complete and utter despair. Sometimes things don't go as anticipated or as hoped.

Christian was like that. He had several emergency surgeries and he once bled out from a Gastrointestinal bleed and he had to be intubated and scoped while they transfused almost the entire volume of his blood. There were days that I didn't know how I could go on.

When my son headed off to one of his emergency surgeries I was a complete mess and was sobbing in the elevator on my way to the cafeteria. Another heart mom saw me. She asked me my son's name and told me that she saw me crying and couldn't leave me alone like that. She gave me a hug and said she'd pray for me.

She got off on her floor and I kept traveling down. The next day a card arrived with a note and a Starbucks gift card from her.

She had her own troubles and she took the time to look out for another person in need.

There are a surprising amount of kids and parents whose journey includes a hospitalization and or surgery in order to keep their CHD in check. Congenital Heart Defects are the most common birth defect. Approximately 25% of kids with a CHD will require a surgery or other intervention to survive. If you're on the outside looking in the most important thing to do is just to listen and quietly let them know you love them. If you're on the inside of the CHD storm it is important to realize that you're not alone.

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Advocate Highlight - Sara Hoffman

Hi my name is Sara and I am 37 years old. This year should have been one of the happiest times of my life. On April 18, 2015, I was married on a beach in Mexico. Like any bride, I spent months planning the wedding and could not wait to celebrate with our friends and family. The shocking part of this story is that I suffered a major heart attack during the flight on my way to Mexico.

I felt fine in the morning and for the first four hours of the flight. All of the sudden I started experiencing burning in my chest, jaw and arm pain. I instantly knew something was wrong. After about 20 minutes of experiencing symptoms, I asked the flight crew to land the plane. I knew that my age and the fact that we were on the way to our wedding could make people think I was just having a panic attack so speaking up for myself felt more important than ever.  I was later told by my cardiologist that I would have died on the plane that day if we had not landed the plane.

We did an emergency landing in Louisiana where I was wheeled into the ER with my wedding dress in tow. I had an Angioplasty and a stent placed in my left anterior descending artery. My heart stopped twice during my procedure and I had to be defibrillated both times. My poor husband thought he was going to be a widower and we weren’t even married yet.  Amazingly, I was cleared to fly to Mexico just two days after my procedure. The day of our wedding was amazing but and I felt so lucky just to be alive and standing there.

We cancelled our honeymoon so I could come home and recover. I had not felt well while in Mexico and ended up getting re-hospitalized the day after we came home. I was in congestive heart failure and was experiencing terrible side effects from my medication.

My recovery has been hard but I am learning so much about heart disease along the way. I knew my father had a heart attack at age of 36, but I can honestly say I never considered myself to be at risk. I was healthy, I used to run full and half marathons, I don’t smoke, and I am a vegetarian. I thought everything I was doing would counteract my family history.  I didn’t understand the power of genetics.

I hope my story can encourage other women to schedule a Well-Woman Visit and talk to their doctor about their family history and personal risk.

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Youth and e-cigarette exposure

About 18 million U.S. middle and high school students – 70 percent – are exposed to e-cigarette (also known as e-cigs) advertising online, in stores, newspapers, magazines and movies, and on television, according to a report released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

E-cigarettes deliver a nicotine-containing aerosol popularly called vapor by heating a solution usually made of glycerin, nicotine and flavoring agents. An American Heart Association policy statement said that e-cigarettes target young people and can hook people on nicotine and threaten to “re-normalize” tobacco use.

In a recent statement, AHA CEO Nancy Brown said:  “The tried-and-true methods to attract a new generation to tobacco must be reined in,” “Otherwise, more and more young Americans will put themselves at risk for heart disease, stroke or even an early death as a result of taking up tobacco in any form.”

The e-cig ads are following a familiar tobacco marketing playbook of old with themes of independence and rebellion that are aimed specifically to addict the next generation.  E-cig advertising to young people “is like the old time Wild West,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden in a media briefing. With no regulations and growing ad budgets, spending nearly tripled in one year from $6.4 million in 2011 to $18.3 million in 2012, according to a study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

The CDC said that manufacturers of e-cigarettes also target youth through advertising on social networks. Online ordering makes it easier for kids to purchase e-cigs and related products.

In 2014, e-cigs became the most common tobacco product used by middle and high school students. The most recent CDC data shows that from 2011-2014 e-cig use by high school students increased from 1.5 percent to 13.4 percent. Among middle school students it rose from 0.6 percent to 3.9 percent. This sudden and dramatic rise in youth use sadly illustrates the effectiveness of unregulated advertising for these products. 

For the full story, please visit here.

We are working to raise awareness on the issue at the local, state and federal levels on this growing public health issue.  If you want to get involved locally, please contact Josh Brown for more information.

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West Linn joins the Call for Safe Streets and Healthy Kids

Guest Blogger: Sarah Higginbotham, Oregon Government Relations Director

On November 16th, the West Linn City Council joined the call for a region-wide “Safe Routes to School” initiative to serve every kid in Clackamas, Washington, and Multnomah counties by unanimously passing a resolution calling on the Metro regional government to act.

This makes West Linn the fifth city in the Metro region and the second in Clackamas County to call for increased action to improve the health of kids by making communities safer for walking and biking. The city councils of Forest Grove, Tigard, Milwaukie, and Beaverton adopted similar resolutions in the spring.

The American Heart Association is a member of the For Every Kid coalition, comprised of over 60 organizations, school districts, and cities calling for healthier kids and safer streets.

Research shows that kids who most need opportunities for physical activity don’t have the necessary safe infrastructure—sidewalks, crosswalks, bike lanes—in their neighborhoods and around their schools to support a healthy childhood. Seventy percent of eighth grade students in Clackamas County say that they do not get the recommended amount of physical activity, according to the 2013 Oregon Healthy Teens Survey. By walking or biking to school, kids can get over half of their daily recommended exercise.

Metro Councilors, local mayors and commissioners have the opportunity in the coming year to allocate funding to create region-wide safe routes to school. Discussions with stakeholders are underway about creating an approach that will reach the communities that need it most.

Thousands of parents and community members are joined by public health experts, school districts, and local organizations in asking Metro to make Safe Routes to School investments that could make walking, biking, and transit safe for 150,000 kids in every school district in the Metro area.

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Eric Price - advocate highlight

Eric Price’s instinct for CPR response kicked in when Skyler Nelson collapsed of cardiac arrest at West Jordan Middle School on Oct. 14. Price is vice principal at the school in West Jordan, UT, and had completed a CPR refresher course just a few days before the 14-year-old went down while jogging with PE classmates around the gym.

KUTV in Salt Lake City featured the story, including gym surveillance video, which shows how officials at the school responded immediately. They called 911. Special Education Teacher Lucia Evans tried to find Skylar’s pulse and Price began CPR compressions. School Resource Officer David Hood assisted with compressions until Skyler’s heart began beating on its own.

The American Heart Association recently honored their teamwork with our HeartSaver Hero Award. Skyler was also on hand to help present the award and, although he doesn’t recall much of the event, he is grateful to his lifesaving team. "I'm feeling fine. I'd just like to thank all the people who supported me through this," he said. Doctors have determined that Skyler was born with a genetic heart defect that had gone undetected and he underwent surgery to have a defibrillator implanted in his chest to prevent future problems.

The lifesaving incident has led to CPR training at the school. Jordan Valley Medical Center and its owner IASIS Healthcare purchased CPR in Schools kits in the past and will use these to train eighth-grade students during their health class on Dec. 8.

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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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