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Medicaid Expansion Editorial: It Makes Sense for South Dakota

Expansion access to quality health care is vital in our efforts to reduce the impact of cardiovascular disease and stroke on all South Dakotans, and all Americans.  We strongly support the Governor's plan to expand access to affordable healthcare coverage.  It saves lives, it saves money, and it makes sense for South Dakota. We are pleased to share this editorial published in the Argus Leader on Friday, February 5th. 

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Take Action to Expand Access to Health Care

The legislative session is well underway, and access to care through Medicaid is one of the issues that is gaining momentum in the early weeks of the session.  Expanding access to care through Medicaid makes sense for South Dakota.  It’s a good deal that will benefit counties and their governments at no cost to the state general fund, and it will ensure cardiac and stroke patients receive the medical care and prevention services they need to live healthier lives.

Join Governor Daugaard in his support for expanding federal funding of Medicaid in South Dakota.  Take Action Now! 

Thousands of hardworking citizens of our state are falling through the cracks and are being denied access to affordable healthcare coverage. You have the opportunity to close the gap and keep our most vulnerable citizens from falling through the cracks. Governor Daugaard is seizing upon a unique opportunity to solve the long-standing reimbursement issue and expand Medicaid to cover an additional 50,000 South Dakotans at no additional cost to state taxpayers.

Expanding Medicaid makes sense for South Dakota – here’s why:

  • Thousands of hard-working South Dakotans need coverage to stay healthy and productive
  • Expanding Medicaid in SD will have zero impact on the state’s budget
  • Increasing Medicaid access helps 50,000 facing tough times who don’t qualify for Medicaid
  • S.D. counties would see savings through poor relief

Let's not let another legislative session end without expanding Medicaid to those who need it most. Take action now and encourage your legislators to support the governor's plan to expand federal funding of Medicaid in South Dakota. 

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Make Plans Now to Attend the Sioux Falls Go Red for Women Events!

Heart disease is no match for the power of women's voices

Heart disease is no match for the power of women’s voices. Most women don’t notice the symptoms of heart disease until it’s too late. That’s why heart disease has been called the silent killer. But we won’t be silent. Yet, many of these deaths can be prevented.

The American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women is the world’s largest network of women standing together to save women’s lives from heart disease. Millions of women have united to raise their voices about their No. 1 killer. With your help, many more lives can be saved.

Find out how you can raise your voice to end the no. 1 killer of women at this year’s Go Red For Women events.

Red Dress Collection LIVESTREAM Fashion Show

Join us for New York Fashion Week’s Red Hottest Event as we LIVESTREAM the Red Dress Collection Fashion Show. 

Enjoy this all-ages women’s night out event, which will include complementary appetizers, a cash bar (cash & credit cards accepted), and a trunk show featuring fashions and accessories from the Sioux Empire’s hottest boutiques and benefitting the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women movement in Sioux Falls.  In addition, you’ll have a virtual front row seat at the real New York Fashion Week Fashion Show event.  Click here for more information. 

Go Red for Women Expo

Enjoy the “Purse-onalities” Silent Auction and Social Hour while enjoying a cocktail, and choose from gift packages developed and donated by leaders in our community.  All auction and beverage proceeds benefit the Go Red for Women movement.  Plus, grab your girlfriends for a photo at the Diva Wall!  You’ll also have the opportunity to learn from vendors about reducing your risk of heart disease. 

After a welcome from AHA – Midwest Affiliate Board Members Dr. Tom Stys of Sanford Health, guests can socialize with others who care about heart disease and stroke.  Attendees will be inspired by keynote speaker Dr. Annabell Volgman and local survivors.  For additional information, visit

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Advocate Spotlight: Theresa Ferdinand

Theresa Ferdinand South Dakota

AHA advocate and volunteer Theresa Ferdinand has worked for Rapid City Regional Hospital for 25 years.  She began her career as a staff nurse and then moved to Cardiac Rehabilitation where she continued as a nurse and as the director for 23 years.  She recently transferred to the Regional Health Employee Health department in July where, as the Department Manager, started a new Employee Well-Being program.  RCRH recently recognized Theresa for her can-do attitude and her commitment to her patients, employees, caregivers and volunteers.  We are honored to share Theresa's story. 

For more about Theresa, CLICK HERE. 

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Raising Awareness for Congenital Heart Defects During Heart Month

February is Heart Month, and even the littlest hearts can be affected by heart disease or congenital heart defects.  Two years ago, South Dakota passed a law requiring that all newborn babies be screened for congenital heart defects before leaving the hospital.  Such a simple little test that is saving little lives!  During Heart Month, we are raising awareness of heart disease, the number one killer of Americans, and congenital heart defects, the most common type of birth defect in the country by providing knitted red hats for babies born in February at participating hospitals. 

Congenital heart defects are malformation of the heart or major blood vessels that occur before birth.  In many cases, however, hospital stall may not identify these defects and outwardly healthy infants may be admitted to nurseries and discharged from hospitals before signs of disease are detected. 

Occurring in 8 out of 1,000 live births, congenital heart defects account for 24% of infant deaths that are caused by birth defects.  A quarter of infants who have congenital heart defects will be diagnosed with critical congenital heart defects (CCHD), a life threatening condition that requires surgery or catheter intervention within the first year of life.  Failure to detect CCHD and late detection of CCHD may lead to serious morbidity or even death. 

The program, Little Hats, Big Hearts™ started in February 2014 in Chicago, IL by collecting 300 hats in the first year.  The program has now expanded to 29 states. We are thrilled to have so many volunteers interested in Little Hats, Big Hearts™!  For information, or to help by knitting hats, CLICK HERE

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Early Access to Medical Care Improves Health in Adulthood

Several states will once again consider expanding access to medical care through Medicaid during their 2016 legislative sessions.  The American Heart Association strongly advocates for expanded access to medical care to prevent, diagnose and treat cardiovascular diseases and other chronic conditions. Medicaid is a vital part of our nation’s health care system, providing health coverage for 52 million low-, middle-income and medically-underserved children and adults. Millions of our nation’s poorest and sickest patients, including many with cancer, diabetes, heart disease and stroke, gain access to necessary care and services through the Medicaid program. Compared to being uninsured, having Medicaid coverage increases individuals’ access to outpatient care, prescription drugs, and hospital services. Medicaid enrollees also have increased use of preventive care and are more likely to have a regular source of care than people without insurance.

A new study published online in the Journal of Health Economics suggests that access to Medicaid coverage during childhood may lead to health improvements during adulthood. For more on this story, CLICK HERE

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Study could alter approach to treating high blood pressure

It was 2011 when David Baldwin got a diagnosis familiar to millions of Americans: He had high blood pressure. He did as his doctor advised – lost some weight, cut back on salt and took medication. Eight months later, it had dropped a little.

“That’s when I saw the flier on the elevator at work,” said Baldwin, a research coordinator at the University of Alabama at Birmingham who was 62 at the time.

That was his ticket into a study that, four years later, is now likely to launch a wave of newly aggressive treatment of high blood pressure across the U.S. Results showed 43 percent fewer cardiovascular disease-related deaths in patients who dropped their systolic pressure to near 120 – instead of settling for under 140, the target that has long been considered acceptable – in findings that headlined the American Heart Association’s annual Scientific Sessions in Orlando, Florida.

According to the AHA, one out of every three American adults – about 80 million – has high blood pressure, increasing their risk for heart disease, stroke and other health problems. For more on this story, CLICK HERE. 

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Higher Cigarette Taxes Linked to Fewer Infant Deaths

A recent study by Vanderbilt University and University of Michigan suggests that higher taxes and prices for cigarettes not only provides health benefits to those who are currently smoking or considering smoking, but it is also strongly associated with lower infant mortality rates in the United States.  Researchers found that for every $1 tax increase per pack of cigarettes, about two infant deaths were averted each day.  According to the study, there was an estimated 3.2 percent decrease in annual infant mortality rates, or 750 fewer infant deaths per year associated with the tax increase. 

“Exposure to cigarettes during pregnancy is associated with numerous health problems for newborns, including preterm birth which is the leading cause of infant mortality in the United States.  Taxing cigarettes is known to help convince people to quit smoking, or not to start. This study helps physicians, public health officials, and policymakers understand just how much benefit cigarettes tax increases can have on infant health,” said lead author Stephen Patrick, MD, MPH, MS, assistant professor of Pediatrics and Health Policy in the Division of Neonatology at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. 

For more on this story, CLICK HERE

Cigarette smoking continues to be the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States claiming approximately 480,000 lives prematurely every year.  Smoking not only takes the lives of those who use tobacco, but, as the study suggests, also those who are exposed to secondhand smoke.  The bottom line is that no tobacco product is safe to use. 

The American Heart Association advocates for significant increases in tobacco excise taxes at the state, county or municipal levels that cover all tobacco products.  We also support allocation of at least some of these revenues generated toward tobacco control, prevention, and cessation programs, as well as other health-related initiatives such as improving access to health care. 

We believe that tobacco taxes are a heath win that reduces tobacco use, saves lives, raises revenue for cash-strapped states, and lowers health care costs.  These taxes are a political win because they are popular with voters. 

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Survivor Spotlight: Owen Harris

Owen Harris South Dakota

Shortly after little Owen was born, their doctor told his family he had a very loud heart murmur and that they needed to do an EKG right away.  The doctor also said she would be consulting with a pediatric cardiologist from Sioux Falls.  A few days later, Owen’s parents met with the pediatric cardiologist and found out that Owen had bicuspid aortic stenosis. 

The plan was to watch him month by month and treat it with an angioplasty procedure. However, on June 12th Owen had a follow up appointment and he was sent immediately to the Children’s hospital in Omaha, NE. Owen’s aortic valve was narrowing and restricting blood flow.  Five days later, Owen had open heart bypass surgery to repair his aortic valve.  The following September, Owen was referred to a neurosurgeon for craniosynostosis but before he would do the surgery he wanted an okay from his cardiologist.

During his checkup with his cardiologist they found narrowing starting in his heart again caused by scar tissue. He was cleared for his surgery but would need to be checked monthly to watch his heart. In January Owen and his family got the news that the narrowing in his aortic valve had progressed and he would need a 2nd open heart surgery.

On February 3, 2015 Owen had his 2nd open heart surgery. They repaired his heart this time by using a donor valve.

Owen has recovered with flying colors. He is back on track and doing extremely well – living the life of a toddler! He will need to be monitored throughout his life, and possibly have more surgeries when he is in his teens or early 20's.

The Harris family credits all the research that has been done to diagnose and treat conditions such as Owen’s.  Amy and Scott hope that by sharing Owen’s story of treatment and survival, other parents will find hope and that early diagnosis of congenital heart defects can save young lives. 

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New CPR Guidelines: Everyone Has a Role to Play

Under the new CPR guidelines, released just last month, a cell phone and a willingness to step in are key components to saving someone’s life. 

According to the new guidelines, bystanders not trained in CPR should immediately call 9-1-1, put the phone on speaker, and then provide "hands-only CPR," pushing hard and fast in the center of the chest, 100 to 120 times per minute. According to the American Heart Association, have a cellphone can be a literal lifesaver, as dispatchers are specifically trained to provide instructions for performing CPR. 

More than 326,000 people nationwide experience cardiac arrest outside of a hospital each year, and about 90 percent of them die.  Administration of hands only CPR immediately can double or even triple a person’s chance of survival.  For more on this story, CLICK HERE. 

The latest American Heart Association guidelines, published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, highlight how quick action, proper training, use of technology and coordinated efforts can increase survival from cardiac arrest.  A leading cause of death in the United States, cardiac arrest occurs when the heart suddenly stops, usually due to an electrical malfunction in the heart that causes an irregular heartbeat and disrupts blood flow through the body.  Survival from sudden cardiac arrest depends upon immediate CPR and other actions starting with bystanders. 

With everyone having a role to play in the chain of survival, it is more important than ever that everyone be trained in how to perform Hands Only CPR.  For a video instruction of Hands Only CPR, CLICK HERE.  

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