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New Yorkers Attend White House Briefing

On Friday, September 9th, several New York advocates participated in an event sponsored by the White House, titled "Making Health Care Better Series: Cardiovascular Health."  The day-long forum offered an opportunity for volunteers to directly witness the impact of the American Heart Association's mission. 

The group was invited on a special tour of the White House prior to the briefing which provided an exciting glimpse into the history of the Presidency.  You can see many highlights from the tour on the American Heart Association's social media feed by searching with the tag #HeartAtTheWH.

In addition to the tour, the group joined advocates from across the country for a robust overview from our nation's leaders in heart disease and stroke prevention, care and treatment.  Presenters included Dr. Tom Frieden, Director of the CDC, Dr. Gary Gibbons, Director of NHLBI, Dr. Nancy Lee, Assistant Secretary of Health, Dr. Shari Ling, Deputy Chief Medical Officer for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and Debra Eschmeyer, the Executive Director of the First Lady's "Let's Move" initiative. 

The New York delegation was also briefed by national leadership from several organizations who have a vested interest in our mission against heart disease and stroke.  The American Heart Association's own CEO, Nancy Brown, presented on the progress made so far in the effort to promote health across the country.  She was joined by executives from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, YMCA USA, WomenHeart, the Horizon Foundation and Emory University.

With all of these impressive leaders in one room, perhaps the most impactful presentation was from a panel of heart disease and stroke survivors.  These personal stories of survival were at once inspiring and motivating.  While we have come a long way in our mission, there is still a lot of work to be done.

We are grateful for the many volunteers that attended from across the country. New York was well represented by:

* Annette Adamczak - Volunteer Advocate and one of New York's Premier Voices in Support of CPR & AED Training

* Dr. Mitchell Elkind - Professor of Neurology and Epidemiology, Fellowships Director, Department of Neurology, Columbia University

* Liz Elting - CEO, TransPerfect and New York City Go Red For Women Leader

* Janice Hall - Senior Vice President, Global Sales Capability at The Estée Lauder Companies Inc. and NYC Go Red For Women Corporate Chair

* William LaForte - Real Estate Attorney, Trevett Cristo Salzer & Andolina P.C. and Chair-Elect of the Founders Affiliate Board of Directors

* Wendy Mono - Volunteer Advocate and Chair Emeritus of the New York City Advocacy Committee

* Dr. Cheryl Pegus - Clinical Professor of Medicine and Population Health, Director, Division of General Internal Medicine and Clinical Innovation, Associate Chair for Clinical Innovation, NYU School of Medicine                    

* Dr. Stacey Rosen - Vice President, Women's Health, Katz Institute for Women's Health at Northwell Health and NYC Go Red for Women Medical Chair

The American Heart Association is grateful for the support of these wonderful advocates.  We look forward to putting the lessons learned at the White House to good use for all New Yorkers!

Photo Credit: Stu Mono

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Recess is over, time for healthy lunch and science class

With the August Congressional recess winding down, Maine’s Congressional Delegation will be headed back to Washington DC to deal with budgets and zika funding.  However, before they leave this beautiful state and return to the hot and muggy weather of early fall in the nation’s capital, the American Heart Association volunteer, Sarah Porter wanted to assure that Senator Collins and Congresswoman Pingree know how important NIH Funding and school nutrition are to her.

Sarah is originally from Presque Isle, went to UMaine at Orono and received her Master’s in Public Health from Columbia.  While at UMaine, at the age of 20, Sarah suffered a stroke.  Luckily, despite an initial misdiagnosis, she made a full recovery.  This stroke (and a subsequent stroke and brain surgery) inspired her career in public health as well as her advocacy on behalf of the American Heart Association.  Sarah wants to help all Mainers have long and healthy lives free of cardiovascular disease and stroke.

Sarah (pictured here in the red dress) spoke with Senator Collins’ State Office Representative Kate Norfleet about the importance of NIH funding of heart and stroke research.  In Maine, cardiovascular disease and stroke are tied with all cancers combined as the #1 killers.  However, only 4% of the NIH budget is dedicated to heart disease and only 1% to stroke!  This is despite the fact that every $1.00 spent on cardiovascular research has a return on investment of $30.00. Nearly 44% of the U.S. adult population is projected to have some form of cardiovascular disease by 2030.  Obviously, there is a huge discrepancy between the toll of cardiovascular disease and the funding directed to CVD research.

Also, Sarah made a plug for the bi-partisan Improving Child Nutrition Integrity and Access Act of 2016.  This bill would preserve the sodium reduction and whole grain standards in school foods.  These standards are crucial to making sure that when the bell rings in Maine’s schools, kids are getting healthy meals.

Sarah will be delivering her message to Congresswoman Pingree later this week.  If you’d like to be part of meetings with Sarah, on behalf of the American Heart Association, please let me know.  Becky.Smith@Heart.org

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Rhode Island Advocate Urges Support for NIH Research Funding

Rhode Island advocate Miriam Plitt recently met with staff for Senator Sheldon Whitehouse to discuss the importance of heart and stroke research funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH). 

In the meeting, Miriam shared that one of her grandsons was born with a congenital heart defect.  He recently underwent successful surgery, but will likely require additional procedures as he grows up.  Miriam noted that a stable and predictable funding stream for NIH research is critical so that new medical advances can help her grandson and others.   

We thank Miriam for sharing her story and for being such a passionate advocate! 

To learn more about NIH Research Funding, click the links below:

http://www.heart.org/idc/groups/heart-public/@wcm/@adv/documents/downloadable/ucm_481419.pdf

http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Advocate/IssuesandCampaigns/Research/Federal-Research-Funding-Issues_UCM_428164_Article.jsp#.V87YxE0UXmS

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Where in NC is PE?

When my granddaughter started elementary school, she had physical education (PE) class twice per week. At that time, we were disappointed that it wasn't every day. By the time she was in fifth grade, PE was only offered about twice per month. In her words, "How is that enough? I thought we needed PE every day!"

We can do better and now is our chance!

Tell our Public School Leaders to include PE in the state's education accountability plan. 

The federal law, Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), was passed in 2015 and now every state has to create an accountability plan. ESSA emphasizes a well-rounded education, prioritizing physical and mental health. We need to tell state education leaders PE should be included in NC's plan.

All students should have the opportunity to participate in PE - it not only helps their physical health, but their mental and emotional health as well. Just like my granddaughter, many students in NC do not get the physical education they need. With an ever-growing number of priorities competing for time during the school day, too many of our children have lost what was once a given: access to quality PE.

Will you help me save PE? Take action today!

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Information: The Most Valuable Player

Fall is the perfect time of year to learn more about your elected officials.  November 8, election day will help shape the course for our communities, state and nation for the next several years.  We encourage everyone to vote. 

We are often asked about learning more about elected officials and candidates. 

Some of our tips are:

· Google Search – take 10 minutes and simply "google" your elected official or candidate. 

· For current state lawmakers visit the NC General Assembly website. There you can learn what committees your lawmaker serves on, bills they have sponsored and how they have voted.

· For current local officials, you can normally find information on your local government webpage.

· Today most all candidates and lawmakers have their own webpages that tell about them.

· The State Board of Elections website also has information on candidates. 

You may also consider attending local candidate forums.  Normally you can find this information advertised in local papers, local access news stations and by hosting organizations. 

Getting to know the candidates and your elected officials is an important step to being a skillful and effective advocate.  That knowledge helps you gain greater understanding and will result in improving your ability to build a stronger relationship with them.  We challenge you to take ten – take ten minutes and "google" a candidate – see what you can learn.    

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Research Saved Grace's Life

Our team of nine climbers, all volunteers for a Kenyan orphanage, had begun the journey in a downpour, and the wet equipment, high elevation and ubiquitous beef stew had begun to take its toll on my body. Blurred vision accompanied exhausted muscles that pleaded for rest. But one foot in front of the other, I followed the team to summit. My body had experienced that type of complete physical exhaustion only once before – in June 2011, when I went into Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) at age 18. Read Grace's story of Sudden Cardiac Arrest and how research saved her life.

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Participate in your local August Recess!

We are looking for volunteers to take a meeting with their member of Congress while they are in town this August.

Important federal advocacy goals for Congress this year include:

  • CR (Cardiac Rehab) – changing a key Medicare provision so that those who have survived a coronary event can have easier access to rehabilitation programs
  • FA (FAST Act) – helping connect more stroke patients to life-saving telemedicine services
  • CNR (Childhood Nutrition Reauthorization) – protecting strong school nutrition standards
  • NIH (National Institutes of Health) – increasing federal research funding

 This is an important opportunity for us to get heart and stroke issues in front of our federal elected officials. If you can help us out, please contact Jess Nolan (jess.nolan@heart.org or 952-278-7928) as soon as possible.

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We Met At The Capitol

It has been a busy spring in the Mid-Atlantic Affiliate!  Across the affiliate we have been hosting Lobby Days to bring advocates together to meet with their lawmakers, so join us to learn what your neighbors have been busily working on this session.

South Carolina’s inaugural Lobby Day in March was an overwhelming success!  Advocates spent the day in key meetings with lawmakers, asking for bilateral support around H 3265 - CPR in Schools as well as funding for a position to oversee the state stroke registry.  We are pleased to share that Governor Nikki Haley signed H 3265 into law on April 21, 2016 H 3265.  SC advocates can thank their lawmakers by joining us here!

North Carolina hosted You’re the Cure at the Capitol State Lobby Day in May. What an experience!  Advocates gathered to educate lawmakers about the need for improving access to healthy foods and ask for support of HB 250/SB296: Healthy Food Small Retailer/Corner Store Act.  NC sweet potatoes accompanied by heart healthy recipes were also handed out, and a wheelbarrow filled to the brim with local produce was on display.  Since then, the House included $300,000 in their budget for the initiative and now the budget is headed to the Senate.  NC residents can take action on this issue – just click here.

Virginia held its annual Lobby Day in February, managing meetings with legislators in spite of harsh winter weather.  You're the Cure advocates educated legislators on how the Virginia Grocery Investment Fund would increase access to fresh foods across the state. Advocates followed the effort up later the same week by dropping off a grocery bag of fresh fruit with information about the need to legislators on their way into the Capitol.  Although funding was not ultimately included in the budget, the issue remains, and will be a continued advocacy focus. VA residents can further support this issue now by clicking here to take action.

The District of Columbia held its Lobby Day at City Council in April, bringing advocates together to talk about dealing with DC’s tobacco problems.  In addition to seeking funding for tobacco cessation and prevention programs, You're the Cure advocates asked Councilmembers to remove tobacco from sports venues, raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco to 21, and to treat e-cigarettes the same as other tobacco products in its city code. Although the tobacco funding was not approved, some of the other tobacco issues are still under consideration. Those who live in DC can help push these issues forward by clicking here to take action.  

Maryland’s Lobby Day, focused on including healthy food options in state vending machines, was held in February.  You're the Cure advocates worked hard to educate legislators about providing healthy choices among the other offerings, a measure that would support a healthier population and serve as a good role model for others.  Although the bill was killed in the committee stage, advocates will continue to build support throughout the year, and try again next legislative session. MD residents can speak up for healthy foods by clicking here to take action.

We’d love for you to consider joining us next year at your Lobby Day!  Don’t forget to take action today to tell your lawmakers you support the policies of the AHA.

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UVM Student Research Aids Restaurant Kids Meal Effort

An important part of advocacy is knowing the current environment surrounding an issue. Thanks to research conducted by UVM medical students this past year, we have great data to help us in our efforts this summer and fall to promote nutrition standards for kids meals at Vermont restaurants.  

As part of a public health project with the American Heart Association, the students surveyed Vermont restaurants who served kids meals and found that while 80% of restaurants said they offered healthy entrees, 80% also said they offered unhealthy entrees. This makes it more difficult for parents to feed their kids healthy because kids are often going to want to choose the unhealthy option that they perceive as more flavorful. We want to ensure that all entrée options on the kids’ meals menus are healthy to ensure kids can choose a healthy option, help parents and level the playing field because all Vermont restaurants that serve kids meals would be serving healthy meals. 

Another area to work on is that more than 50% of the restaurants still serve soda with their kids’ meals. But the good news is that the survey results showed the restaurant owners largely DISAGREED that their sales would decrease if they changed their beverage options. And most owners agreed that they had access to resources to make the changes easily.

 With some good data behind us, thanks to the UVM medical students, we hope you’ll help us as well in promoting the need for restaurants to make the healthy choice the easy choice on kids’ meals.

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Take Action for Corner Stores Today

We would all like the option to make a healthy choice, right?  We need your help now to speak up for the Healthy Corner Store Initiative. Legislative session is moving fast and the NC House will be debating the state budget next week. It is important that the $1 million appropriation for Healthy Corner Stores is included.

Ask your legislators to fully fund the Healthy Corner Stores in the state budget.

Over 1.5 million of our North Carolina neighbors live in communities where healthy foods aren’t affordable or accessible. The Healthy Corner Store Initiative can help change that by bringing healthy, local foods into small stores in neighborhoods that need them most.

We all deserve the right to make a healthy choice. Tell your lawmakers today that you want all North Carolinians to have that right and ask them to include full funding for Healthy Corner Stores in the state budget.

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