American Heart Association - You’re the Cure

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  • Meet other likeminded advocates
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Do you know what F.A.S.T. stands for?

May brings the opportunity to discuss and educate on an issue that is more common than we want it to be – stroke. Stroke is the 4th leading cause of death in Oregon yet only eight percent of those recently surveyed in the American Stroke Association/Ad Council Stroke Awareness Continuous Tracking Study could identify each letter in F.A.S.T., an acronym of the most common stroke warning signs.

F.A.S.T. stands for:

  • F - Face Drooping: Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile.
  • A - Arm Weakness: Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
  • S - 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?
  • T - Time to call 9-1-1: 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.

Learn the F.A.S.T signs and share them with your friends and family. When you are done quiz each other by taking the F.A.S.T quiz!

Teaching people how to recognize a stroke and respond quickly is a primary goal of the American Stroke Association’s Together to End Stroke initiative, sponsored nationally by Medtronic. So let’s educate and hopefully minimize the damage stroke does in our communities.

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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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Advocate Highlight - Craig Miller

My adventure with cardiac disease is not one that everyone reading this will experience. It's 2016 and looking back I truly feel like a survivor. I have had seven stents, one robotic bypass and suffered a Transient ischemic attack (TIA). 

I have had eleven angioplasties’ to either place stents or look at the status of my cardiovascular disease. In 2011, after suffering yet another event I was approached by UC Davis Medical Center to have a new robotic surgery procedure that is a less invasive bypass surgery. After the ten hour surgery was completed I was told that it took so long because there was a lot of scar tissue that made it difficult. Within six weeks I was ready to return to work as Operations Manager for an armored transport company in the Bay Area. My hours were long and the responsibilities and dangers were stressful. In July of 2011 I collapsed at work and they discovered the bypass had failed.  I was told that doctors placed a stent in the artery however it was just a matter of time before it would also be rejected by my body. I was told not to return to work and that I needed to avoid stress and over exertion all together.

Depression set in after being unable to work. I was given social security disability that barely covered the basic necessities. My family filed for bankruptcy and I knew our life needed to change.  My daughter and her family lived in Meridian, Idaho and my wife Sally and I decided that Meridian is where we wanted to go. We sold everything we could to new start and in December of 2011 we moved.          

Our move meant I needed to find a new cardiologist. After experiencing several cardiologists I was getting pretty good at knowing who fit me well. I found Dr. Bass at St. Luke’s and the first thing he suggested was to do an angioplasty to see what was going on so he could properly help me.  The angioplasty confirmed what the previous cardiologist had diagnosed, I had congestive heart failure. 

Dr. Bass felt that cardiac rehabilitation may help me and he was right.  The program of personalized exercise along with diet and heart education was making a difference, however my depression was not improving. Counseling was suggested and with the support from all of the wonderful health professionals I started feeling more positive. I realized that I had a choice; I could continue down my path of feeling sorry for myself or pick myself up and start over. I joined Mended Hearts Chapter 380 and found that by helping others I also helped me. 

In 2013, I was going to cardiac rehabilitation three days a week.  One morning as I got ready to go I felt out of sorts and by the time I got to “rehab” I was a little disoriented and very weak. As I walked into “rehab” I was approached by Amber an educator and RN. Amber saw that something was wrong and after evaluating me called for an ambulance because she recognized I was having a stroke. Amber saved my life because of her quick and knowledgeable reaction!

So here I am in 2016, the President of Mended Hearts. I have without a doubt the best people to work with, and can never thank my doctors, nurses, health professionals, family and friends enough.

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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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Legislative Session 2016

This February the 2016 Oregon Legislature convened for a 35-day session. The American Heart Association had two priority issues that our advocates successfully educated legislators about and built momentum for Oregon’s longer legislative session in 2017.

Protecting Kids from Tobacco:

One of our top priorities was to protect Oregon kids from tobacco. We successfully kicked off our Tobacco 21 for Oregon campaign, our effort to raise the legal sale age of tobacco to 21. Research has shown that raising the tobacco purchasing age to 21 will reduce addiction and prevent disease. Alongside Sen. Steiner Hayward and youth advocates, we held a kick-off press conference announcing our new coalition of 22 organizations. Our advocacy generated media coverage across the state: here are the Statesman Journal and the Portland Tribune’s articles. Here are photos from Tobacco 21 for Oregon Kick Off.

We invited over 90 youth advocates in middle and high school to join us at the Capitol, where they signed pledges to be tobacco-free and to meet with their legislators. You can see our AHA Advocacy Day photos here: AHA Advocacy Day

As legislators introduced a bill to establish statewide tobacco retail licensure, we also worked to prevent Big Tobacco’s bad amendments from moving forward.

Supporting Physically Active Kids:

Another priority was to give Oregon kids opportunities to be more physically active. Too many Oregon kids aren’t getting the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity a day that they need to be healthy, putting them at higher risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.

This session we advocated for increased funding of Oregon’s Safe Routes to School program to support increased walking and biking. We also worked to increase support for Oregon’s critically important Physical Education requirement. Starting next year, all schools must provide the recommended number of PE minutes for elementary and middle school students.

While no additional funds were allocated this session, we successfully educated decision makers and built momentum for the longer 2017 legislative session.

Oregon Capitol Goes Red

Dozens of legislators joined the American Heart Association on Wear Red Day to raise awareness of the impact of heart disease, especially on women. You can see photos here: Oregon Capitol Goes Red

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Henry Philofsky, Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation - Partners with Heart

Henry Philofsky is the Western Regional Director at the Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation. Henry and the Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation are important and dedicated partners of the AHA’s on our Tobacco 21 for Oregon campaign. We wanted to share his story with you and a little bit more about the important work we are doing together.

What campaign do you partner with the AHA on?

I work with AHA on raising the age at which people can buy tobacco products to 21. The Tobacco 21 campaign is currently developing in many cities, counties and towns, and more are exploring it every day. We are gaining momentum, and with continued effort by the many organizations working on this issue, hopefully someday America will have Tobacco 21 nationwide.

Why is this particular issue important to you?

I work on tobacco issues for a few reasons. It’s the number one cause of preventable death in America, which leads to tragedy for many families, but also costs billions of dollars to the healthcare system that could be going to treat other unavoidable diseases.  Additionally, there is an entire industry committed to selling tobacco to anyone and everyone they possibly can with a history of targeting children. This seems so perverse and unjust that I feel the need to try and help in some way.

Why do you advocate alongside the American Heart Association?

Working with AHA is a blessing. It is a fantastic association staffed with great advocates and staff. I also very much appreciate the mission of the organization and the steps that AHA takes to carry out that mission. Working with AHA on their Advocacy Day in Salem, Oregon was really cool to see. Everyone was very informed, committed and persuasive when speaking to legislators, and it was great to see such an organized and concerted effort in support of AHA’s mission.

Describe a challenge you’ve faced—and why you haven’t given up: 

The biggest challenge for me in doing tobacco work is that much of the public and way too many elected officials no longer think that tobacco is a problem in America. I am regularly told “we solved that problem” which couldn’t be further from the truth. The tobacco control effort in America has made great strides due to the efforts of many advocates and organizations, but tobacco is still the leading cause in preventable death in America and more work is needed.

Would you recommend to someone else that they get involved? Who? Why? How?

I think anyone who cares about their own health or that of their family should get involved in advocacy and AHA is a great place to do it. Even for people who don’t smoke, tobacco still affects them either through second or third hand smoke, sick family members or other economic interests that are negatively affected by tobacco. AHA provides a fantastic service to the public in that they coordinate public involvement in the political process, allowing those with similar views to have a more sizeable impact on public policy than they might have individually.

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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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LeeAnne Ferguson - Partners with Heart

LeeAnne Ferguson is the Safe Routes to School Director at the Bicycle Transportation Alliance and the For Every Kid Campaign Manager. She is an important and dedicated partner of the AHA’s on the issue of Safe Routes to School. We wanted to share her story with you and a little bit more about the important work we are doing together.

Q: What campaign or effort have you been an advocate of?

LeeAnne: “I am most passionate about kids’ health and safety. I want every kid to be able to safely walk, bike and access transit to school (also called Safe Routes to School). This issue is important to be because our kids are in real danger from traffic fatalities and obesity related diseases. Too many kids. I am tired of the fact that where you live, what color your skin is, and how much money your family has determines how safe your streets are and how healthy you are.  We are leaving many, many kids and families behind and it is past time to change that.

Q: Why do you advocate alongside the American Heart Association?  

LeeAnne: “AHA has helped support the campaign through the Voices for Healthy Kids initiative, and staff engaged with our For Every Kid campaign very early on. AHA has been great mentor and inspiration for grassroots organizing.”

Q: What is the For Every Kid campaign?

LeeAnne: “We have 84 organizations in the For Every Kid coalition, including 5 cities and 8 school districts. Over 3,500 people have taken action and asked elected officials to dedicate $15 million to Safe Routes to School for every kid in the Portland metro area. Dozens of For Every Kid members have attended meetings and testified in support of Safe Routes to School.”

Q: Can you describe a challenge you’ve faced—and why you haven’t given up?

LeeAnne: “I was very discouraged at first. Like when every time we talked to an elected official, they would say that they agreed, but that it is not possible to make safe routes to school. Over time we have been able to change this statement to how can we make safe routes to school. Now elected officials are working through tough questions in a tight budget to figure out how to address the problem. We will continue to ask that they dedicate $15 million to safe routes to school for every kid.”

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Advocates Urge Legislators to Raise Age for Tobacco Sales to 21

On February 2nd the American Heart Association along with 22 other organizations united at the Capitol to urge legislators to protect kids from tobacco by raising the tobacco purchase age to 21.

It is estimated that if smoking rates don’t decline 68,000 Oregon children alive today will die prematurely from tobacco use and exposure.

Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death in Oregon and raising the tobacco purchasing age will help change this. National data indicates that 95% of adult smokers start before age 21.

Physician and State Senator Elizabeth Steiner Hayward and State Representative Barbara Smith Warner joined advocates to voice their support of the legislation. Steiner Hayward spoke about addiction and how she knows from her medical training that the younger someone starts smoking, the more difficult it is for them to quit. She believes that raising the purchase age is one critical way to combat nicotine addiction and ultimately prevent the 7,000 deaths each year in Oregon from tobacco use.

Overall, it was a great day at the capitol and we are so grateful to everyone who joined us. We hope we can count on your support as we continue to work on this important legislation. If legislation passes, Oregon will join Hawaii and over 110 cities in changing the legal purchase age for tobacco to 21.

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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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