American Heart Association - You’re the Cure

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  • Learn about heart-health issues
  • Meet other likeminded advocates
  • Take action and be heard
Nutrition On the Go Can Be Easy!

On November 4th, we celebrated National Eating Healthy Day to encourage everyone to resolve to eat healthy. We know eating healthy meals in an on-the-go lifestyle can be quite the challenge.  So how can we make sure we are making smart choices? 

With holiday parties around the corner and all of the other great things that come between Thanksgiving and the end of the year, is it possible to keep the resolve to eat healthy? Did you know the American Heart Association has heart healthy recipes on our website that you can enjoy? For instance check out this tailgate chili recipe for the next time you are planning that ballgame viewing party!  What a way to make your next gathering more nutritiously delicious.

This is just one example, and you can find more in our heart healthy guide to seasonal eating here!

Finally, we have an idea for you!

We often say that you should be building the relationship with your lawmaker. Consider inviting your lawmaker to join you in the journey to overall better health. Simply take a moment to send them your favorite AHA recipe, and add a few sentences about your why you are making healthy eating a priority. Maybe your lawmaker will feature that recipe in an upcoming newsletter!

If you need help to find your lawmakers, contact your Grassroots Director and she will be happy to share that information with you! If you are in DC, Maryland, or Virginia, contact Keltcie Delamar, and if you are in the Carolinas, email Kim Chidester!

We wish everyone happy, heart-healthy eating!

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Kristin Salvi, New York

My name is Kristin Salvi and I am the newest member of the Government Relations team in New York! I look forward to the opportunity to champion our policy goals related to the prevention of heart disease and stroke.  Coming from doing advocacy work for the New York State Nurses Association, and most recently working for the state of New York, my background includes advocating for public health issues such as the CPR in Schools law, sugary sweetened beverage (SSB) tax bills, childhood obesity prevention programs, and many other important campaigns. I am excited to join with all of you here at the American Heart Association because I value the great work the organization has achieved on tobacco control, the healthy food and active living initiatives, access to care, and many other important public health topics.


As a new staff member of the American Heart Association, I've been learning about our platform, "Life is Why." (To learn more, click here.)  Being a relatively new mom of almost three year old twins, they are my 'why.' I want my kids to grow up in a world where receiving quality physical education in schools in the norm, healthy food is accessible to all regardless of where you live,  everyone has access to quality health care regardless of income, and everyone can live and breathe in a smoke-free environment. Although I may be aiming high, my reason for being so passionate on these issues is to make the world a better place for them. I look forward to working with all of you on all of the good stuff we are planning to do in the future!

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Should New York Pursue a Tax on Sugary Drinks?

Hi, everyone!

My name is Pam Bonney and I'm a member of the American Heart Association's Advocacy Committee in New York. I wanted to share my thoughts about a recent editorial from the New York Times (What a Big Tax on Soft Drinks Can Do- 10/19/15).  

Overconsumption of sugary beverages is a global problem and the overdose of sugar consumption in the American diet is a major contributing cause of this country’s alarming rate of obesity. Unfortunately, we exist in a time in which we are drinking most of our calories.

Consuming large quantities of sugary drinks can dramatically increase the risk of heart disease, stroke and other chronic diseases. One significant intervention that must be considered is to increase the retail price of sugary drinks. As the Times editors described, Mexico levied a peso per liter tax in 2013, and sales of sugary beverages were reduced by 12 percent when compared with the previous year. 

New York leaders could certainly improve public health by following Mexico’s lead and implement an excise tax on sugary drinks. Such a tax is a necessary tool to motivate healthier beverage selection. Imagine the impact to our health and our economy!

What do you think?  Should New York state implement an excise tax on sugary drinks?

- Pam

Pamela Bonney, MS, RD, CDN, Nutrition and Health Consultant, Co-founder, Tried and True Nutrition, Inc.

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Francee Levin

Francee Levin, Mid-Atlantic Affiliate

The last thing I remember of my poetry residency at Colleton County Middle School was getting an elevator key.  The next thing was seeing a strange ceiling, which turned out to be in an intensive care unit, over a week later.  I was told I was talking to a teacher when I flat-lined.   The diagnosis:  idiopathic asymptomatic sudden cardiac death. 

In fact, I died twice, but I’m still here.  Two incredible school nurses and a resource officer used CPR and an AED to somehow keep me alive.  I was air-lifted to a major medical center, where I was unconscious and on life support for over a week, given no chance for survival. I made the medical journals, because against all odds, I had a miraculous recovery.  

My heart failed and left me with a low ejection fraction.  I now have an implanted defibrillator, and I’m continuing cardiac rehabilitation.  I did not have a heart attack; in fact, my heart cath showed my arteries are perfect.  And I had no risk factors of any kind.  Without the AED and CPR, I wouldn’t be here. 

I was an American Heart Association (AHA) red dress volunteer before, and I’ve been a crusader and You’re the Cure advocate ever since.   Through AHA’s You’re the Cure, I’ve been able to serve as a survivor/spokesperson to provide testimony about the pending CPR bill that will assure every student gets trained before graduating, and had an Op-Ed I wrote ("A School Saved My Life”) published to help educate the public on the issue.  I'm in close contact with my legislators, who have been wonderful, and I've also contacted my county council, as well as the school board in Richland 2, my home district. I try to respond to all the You’re the Cure alerts and customize the legislator letters with my story. 

Colleton County (where I collapsed) School Board and County Council voted to put defibrillators in every school in the county (including some small rural schools) in my honor.

I'm on a mission now. My cardiac event happened on February 1, 2012, on AHA’s National Wear Red Day.  In 2013, my cousins had a party for me on my “heart-iversary.”  A few days later, I learned that on 2/2/13, the school principal, who’s now in another district, was having a robotics tournament on the athletic field when a woman collapsed and was revived with an AED.  

Every school should have an AED and trained people teaching CPR.  The cost is minimal, and the rewards are priceless.  It’s called LIFE.

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Share Your Story: Chris McLachlin

Chris McLachlin, Hawaii

I was a healthy 62 year old retired school teacher/coach when I experienced a severe stroke, paralyzing my entire right side and losing my speech. I was fortunate to be discovered quickly and got to a nearby hospital. Then I was fortunate that my clot was a non-bleeder and I was eligible for tPA. I was given tPA and have recovered almost 100% with few residual effects. I am obviously eternally grateful for the NIH funds that were available for the research to be done to clone tPA, a miracle cloning that has saved hundreds of thousands of lives since 1982. I hope that NIH funding is NOT cut so that more scientific miracles can be made possible.

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Don't Miss A Beat! September Is AFib Awareness Month

Happy September, Advocates!

As we head into the fall, there are many exciting things happening. Football is starting, the weather is beginning to grow cooler, and the holidays will be here before you know it. Additionally, as you may or may not know, September is AFib Awareness Month!

So, what does AFib mean?

AFib, short for atrial fibrillation, occurs when the heart’s two small upper chambers (atria) of the heart don’t beat the way they should: Instead of beating in a normal pattern, the atria beat irregularly and too fast, quivering like a bowl of gelatin. This can lead to several rhythm problems, chronic fatigue, heart failure, and even stroke – a 5x greater risk.

Unfortunately, this condition actually affects many more Americans than you might think: 2.7 million! Approximately 40% of individuals with either AFib or Heart Failure will develop the other condition – which is a lot of people.

Several of our Mid-Atlantic Affiliate volunteers have personal experience with AFib. Their experiences bring them to the AHA and You’re the Cure. Many of our policies, such as the importance of funding the NIH and their research, are the reasons why our advocates are passionate about the work of You're the Cure. You can encourage our lawmakers to continue NIH funding by taking action at the community site.

Join us here to learn more about AFib and AFib Awareness Month!


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The Time to Fight for NIH Research is Now!

For the last month, thousands of You’re the Cure advocates have signed our petition to say, “I won’t stop fighting for NIH”. We cannot wait to deliver all of these names this week when 20  advocates meet with their members of Congress.

However, your fight does not end here.

In addition to delivering your name, these advocates will also remind Congress that we must make NIH a priority... but they need your help. Will you amplify their message by sending one more letter to your legislators?

I know we have asked you to contact Congress a few times this year, but, thanks to you, we are the closest we’ve been in years to an increase in NIH funding. Proposed bills in both the US House and Senate give NIH additional funding, but nothing is final until we see a Presidential signature.

Every voice counts as we try to convince our lawmakers to support more medical research.

Will you urge your lawmakers to make NIH research funding a priority today? 



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New York City Loves our Hearts! Stay Tuned for the Salt Shaker Icon!

New York City is forging new territory in the fight against high blood pressure!  The city's Board of Health officially approved the Sodium Warning Icon policy.  Essentially, if your food has a dangerous level of sodium in it, the restaurant will be required to warn you with a salt shaker icon on the menu.  With nearly 90% of Americans at risk for high blood pressure, we all need to be more mindful about our salty diets.  And it's not the salt we're pouring on ourselves, but the high levels of sodium found in many restaurant meals. There is no reason we should be eating more than 2300 mg in one sitting.  In fact, most of us shouldn't be consuming 2300 mg in an entire day!  Seeing the salt shaker icon can help us make wiser decisions...not to mention the potential for restaurants to wise up and help our hearts by reducing the over-abundance of salt in their meals.

If you haven't done so yet - please text the word 'salt' to 52886 to show your support for this new law!  We can't wait to see the salt shaker icons take their place on our menus.  Thank you NYC for loving our hearts!

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We won't stop fighting for heart and stroke research!

This has been a great year for You’re the Cure volunteers advocating for more heart and stroke research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). So far, we’ve sent 23,000 messages to Capitol Hill, over 380 advocates met with lawmakers during You’re the Cure on the Hill, and countless numbers of passionate volunteers shared their stories on social media.

What did all of this hard work accomplish? The budget process is still not over, but here's the latest:


  1. A proposed budget bill in the U.S. House increases NIH's funding by $1.1 billion.
  2. A proposed budget bill in the U.S. Senate increases NIH's funding by $2 billion.
  3. Finally, the U.S. House passed a separate bill, the 21st Century Cures Act, which would give the NIH an extra $8.75 billion over the next 5 years. The bill is now in the Senate for consideration.

The House and Senate still need to work out its budget differences and nothing is final until the President signs a bill. However, this is the closest we've been in years to increased heart and stroke funding, so will you pledge not to give up the fight?

In September, another group of You’re the Cure advocates will join 300 other organizations in Washington DC. Not only will they urge Congress to increase heart and stroke research funding, but they will be delivering the names of everyone who has pledged to keep fighting for the NIH. 

It’s crucial that your name be on that petition we deliver to Capitol Hill. We've made great strides in the fight for more heart and stroke research funding this year, but we cannot give up now.

Your message to Congress is simple: "I won't stop fighting for the NIH." Tell them today!

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Dr. Mitchell S. Elkind, New York

Dr. Mitchell S. V. Elkind, a member of the American Heart Association’s Board of Directors, is gravely concerned about the high rates of hypertension in New York City.  And he’s pushing the city to do something about it. 

Dr. Elkind recently submitted testimony to the New York City Board of Public Health, supporting the proposal to place a warning icon next to restaurant menu items when food possesses a dangerous level of sodium.

In a recent interview, Dr. Elkind, a neurology and epidemiology professor at Columbia University in New York, stated that “people really have no idea how much salt they’re eating, and many would be shocked to discover they can get their full recommended daily salt intake at a single meal, or even a single dish. We have to educate them every step of the way, instead of just putting out a pamphlet that nobody reads. Educating people at the place where they’re actually eating could make a big difference.”

In his comments to the Board of Health, Dr. Elkind emphasized that dietary salt consumption is one of the most important, modifiable factors that can impact one’s blood pressure. If we reduced our individual salt intake, even slightly, we could prevent as many as 32,000 deaths per year.

In research published in 2012, Dr. Elkind worked with a team of clinicians and epidemiologists to analyze data from a cohort study designed to determine stroke incidence, risk factors, and prognosis in a multiethnic urban population from northern Manhattan.  Their findings underscore the need for public health initiatives, like the proposal in NYC, to reduce the sodium level in our food supply.

Dr. Elkind, as an advocate for the American Heart Association, looks forward to the NYC Board of Health’s vote on the Sodium Warning Icon proposal and its swift implementation this winter.

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