American Heart Association - You’re the Cure

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Fit-Friendly Worksites Program Encourages Healthy Workforce

The American Heart Association recognizes employers who go above and beyond when it comes to their employees’ health. We want to reward organizations for their progressive leadership and concern for their staff. Designed to be a catalyst for positive change in American business, the program recognizes employers who champion the health of their employees by creating physical activity programs within the workplace. The program is also meant to encourage other worksites to participate and demonstrate similar physical activity practices for their employees.

The Benefits of Recognition
There’s no better benefit to offer your employees than helping them have healthier, longer lives, whether your workplace is a school, corporation, hospital or any other type of worksite. By teaming up with the American Heart Association you can help your employees get on their way to better health.

That’s why we’ve created these free tools:

  • Employee resources, such as walking and exercise programs, and healthy eating resources
  • Materials to help promote your wellness programs to employees, including the free Worksite Wellness Kit
  • A quarterly workplace wellness e-newsletter with content you may use in your own newsletters with tips for your employees that you may use in your own newsletters or email communication

What do Fit-Friendly Worksites Receive?

  • Recognition in the Honor Roll on the American Heart Association’s website
  • Recognition at local events
  • The right to use the program’s recognition seal for internal communications to employees and external communications related specifically to employment recruitment
  • A recognition plaque to display in your workplace
  • An official recognition letter from the American Heart Association
  • Consultation on workplace wellness, CPR/AED (automated external defibrillator) programs, and more

How to be Recognized
It’s easy to gain recognition for the work your organization is doing to help fight heart disease.

  • Review the requirements for recognition and gather the information needed.
  • When you’re ready to apply, visit our online application/renewal site.
  • American Heart Association staff and volunteers review your application and determine the recognition level.
  • You receive AHA resources, materials, consultation and support.
  • Each year you may renew your recognition.

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Celebrate National Healthy Eating Day! Learn New Cooking Skills!

One of our strategies to enable our advocates to lead healthier lives is to provide awareness and education about the important role good nutrition plays in keeping our hearts healthy.  Healthy nutrition is vital to our health from infancy throughout the rest of our lives.  But breaking bad nutrition habits can be a challenge – and we want to help! 

November 4 is National Healthy Eating Day and we celebrate the entire month of November by hosting FREE Cooking Demonstrations for interested survivors, advocates and volunteers.  National Eating Healthy Day is an annual event celebrated on the first Wednesday in November to raise awareness of the importance of good nutrition and making the best eating decisions to reduce a person’s risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke.

The following Cooking Demos will be held in South Dakota:

Sioux Falls: Wednesday, November 4, 5:30 p.m. at the Museum of Visual Materials, 500 Main Street, Sioux Falls. 

Chef Lance White from Chef to Plate will show consumers how simple it can be to cook healthy, inexpensive meals for their family and friends.  The National Eating Healthy Day program is sponsored by the South Dakota Beef Industry Council and will show attendees ways to put heart-healthy beef on their table this Holiday season. The event offers consumers basic cooking skills and techniques to get started and inspired – and have fun!

Other participants will include Chef Lance White, Avera Heart Hospital Director of Nutrition Mary Beth Russell, and South Dakota Beef Industry Council Director of Nutrition and Consumer Information Holly Swee.

Rapid City:  Friday, November 6, 7:00 p.m. at Ciao! Italian Eatery, 512 Main Street, Rapid City.

Chef Clark Braun from the Alpine Inn and Chef Scott Brinker from Rapid City Regional Hospital will show consumers how simple it can be to cook healthy, inexpensive meals for their family and friends.  The National Eating Healthy Day program is sponsored by the South Dakota Beef Industry Council and will show attendees ways to put heart-healthy beef on their table this Holiday season. The event offers consumers basic cooking skills and techniques to get started and inspired – and have fun!

Other participants will include nationally Renowned Chef Clark Braun of the Alpine Inn, Rapid City Regional Hospital Chef Scott Brinker, and South Dakota Beef Industry Council Director of Nutrition and Consumer Information Holly Swee.

At the American Heart Association, we are passionate about healthy nutrition because obesity is an epidemic in American.  Over 149 million Americans, or 67 percent of adults 20 and older, are overweight or obese.  More Americans eating outside the home than ever before, and when people eat out, particularly at fast-food restaurants, they tend to consume more calories high in fat and sodium.  Away-from-meals also contain fewer fruits and vegetables and whole grains than foods prepared at home. 

Many Americans lack the skills to prepare home-cooked meals – we want to change that!  Most adults don’t realize they are lacking the proper skills to prepare healthy meals at home. Seven out of ten adults rated their cooking skills above average, but less than four out of ten scored above average on a basic cooking skills quiz. Join us for our Cooking demo – learn new skills, help your family eat healthier meals at home! 

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Advocate Spotlight: Julie Boerhave

I was 5 months old when my family physician heard an unfamiliar sound in my heart.  My parents took me to see a heart specialist in Iowa City when I was 9 months old.  They diagnosed me with Atrial Septum Defect, a large hole in my heart. They wanted to wait , if possible  until I was 4 years old to do the open heart surgery, as it would hopefully be more successful. 

I was almost 4 when I was admitted into the University of Iowa hospital for heart catherization and then surgery.  We feel, in that four year wait, that heart research was advancing for that kind surgery.  It was a fairly new procedure at the time of my open heart surgery. A hospital stay for this kind of surgery back then was almost 2 weeks....but today, because of American Heart Association research, it is probably a much more routine type of surgery.

The surgery was successful and the only thing I needed to do for the next 18 years was to go to a heart clinic where they would run a battery of tests every year to make sure my heart was working as it should and that the repair held up. Other than being labeled high risk for my two pregnancy’s and checking in with my Cardiologists once a year I have been able to live a normal life and have been released in great health! 

It is interesting how things work out.  Because of the work of the American Heart Association - research that saved my life - I am now able to give back as I currently work for the American Heart Association as a Youth Market Director working with 175 schools in South Dakota and the southwest part of Minnesota.  I help schools set up Jump Rope for Heart, Hoops for Heart and Red Out events during the school year. These events help raise valuable dollars used to continued the life-saving research that saved my life.  During the Fall, Winter and Spring months I drive an average of 3000 miles a month doing kick off assemblies and making sure my schools as taken care of with their events. It's challenging work, but I love what I do and am very passionate about saving lives!

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Step it Up! The Surgeon General Advocates the Benefits of Walkable Communities

We applaud the United States Surgeon General for recently issuing a call to action to address major public health challenges such as heart disease and diabetes. Step It Up! The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Promote Walking and Walkable Communities articulates the health benefits of walking while addressing the fact that many communities unacceptably lack safe and convenient places for individuals to walk or wheelchair roll.

Data consistently show there are safety and accessibility issues that make communities less walkable. A 2013 study by the U.S. Department of Transportation, for example, found that three out of every 10 Americans reported that no sidewalks existed along any streets in their neighborhood. In many communities violence – and the perception of violence – may prove a barrier to walking. 

“Everyone deserves to have a safe place to walk or wheelchair roll. But in too many of our communities, that is not the reality,” said Dr. Vivek H. Murthy, the 19th U.S. Surgeon General. “We know that an active lifestyle is critical to achieving good overall health. And walking is a simple, effective and affordable way to build physical activity into our lives. That is why we need to step it up as a country ensuring that everyone can choose to walk in their own communities.”

The Surgeon General calls on community planners and local leaders to create more areas for walking and wheelchair rolling and to prioritize the development of safe routes for children to get to and from schools. The call to action suggests that these designs should include sidewalks, curb cuts, crosswalks, safe crossings for the visually impaired and more green spaces. The Surgeon General further calls on city managers, law enforcement and community and public health leaders to address safety concerns by better maintaining public spaces, working with residents to promote a shared sense of community ownership, ensuring proper street lighting and fostering neighborhood watch programs.

The Surgeon General’s report discusses the health benefits of walking and calls on individuals to make walking a priority in their lives. Fewer than half of all U.S. adults get enough physical activity to reduce their risk of chronic disease, and only a quarter of high school students get the recommended amount. Physical inactivity contributes to heart and lung disease, diabetes and cancer, which account for 86% of our nation’s health care costs. Building walking into daily life can reduce disease and save money.

“We know that an average of 22 minutes a day of physical activity – such as brisk walking – can significantly reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes,” added Dr. Murthy. “The key is to get started because even a small first effort can make a big difference in improving the personal health of an individual and the public health of the nation.”

At the AHA, we applaud the efforts of communities across our state for their efforts to improve the walkability and rollability of their streets and sidewalks.  We stand ready to partner with other communities to improve opportunities to be active by walking, rolling, biking and other physical activities. 

To read the Surgeon General’s Call to Action and learn how to promote walking and walkable communities, please visit

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Stroke is Why

Stroke is one of the leading causes of death in our country, and certainly one of the leading factors leading to disability.  Stroke is why we are laser-focused on preventing stroke, knowing the signs and symptoms of stroke, and knowing how to act immediately to get someone the care they need when stroke happens.  Stroke knows no age, gender, race or socio-economic group.  It's why we share stories of stroke survivors and the families impacted by stroke - to inspire others into action to ensure our public policy improves health outcomes when it comes to stroke.  Michelle McVeigh's story is one of inspiration and action.  Michelle McVeigh is why we do what we do.

Read Michelle McVeigh's story here. 

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Be Inspired! Share Your Story!

Share Your Story

The mission of the American Heart Association is relevant to everyone.  Every one of us has been impacted in some way by heart disease or stroke.  The impact of the AHA connects to millions of stories - stories of survival, stories of loss and families who inspired others to make a difference in fighting heart disease and stroke.  YOU have the capacity to inspire others and move them to action when it comes to reducing the impact of heart disease and stroke in our communities. 

One of the best ways to inspire others to action is to SHARE YOUR STORY!  Stories help make the connection between what it is we want to do with WHY it's important for us to do it!

Every month in The Advocacy Pulse, we share the story of a volunteer, survivor, caregiver or volunteer advocate who is using their experience to make a difference in cardiovascular disease and stroke prevention, treatment, and survival.  We know because we hear from our readers that these stories not only inspire others into action, but it lets our readers know they are not alone and that others have had similar experiences.  We hear them say that sharing their story helped to gain understanding, provide education, and encourage others to share their stories as well. 

Be INSPIRED!  Share your Story here so that we can share it with our readers.  Sharing our stories is Why, and Life is Why! 


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Back to School, Back to Good Health!

With summer drawing to a close, back-to-school season not only is a time to stock up on supplies, it’s also an opportunity to encourage kids to eat healthy, be active and avoid secondhand smoke. The AHA recognizes that a smoke-free environment can promote children’s brain development, prevent addictions and lead to healthier lifestyles later on (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).  All forms of tobacco and nicotine are unhealthy — cigarettes, cigars, hookahs and e-cigarettes. So what can parents do to help ensure their kids are ready to learn when the school bell rings?  Read here for heart-healthy tips on going back to school. 

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Complete Streets Resolution Promotes Safer City Streets

The Sioux Falls City Council passed an important resolution that will encourage safer transportation in the city for pedestrians and bicyclists.  The Complete Streets resolution is intended to make the city safer and more active by making sure all forms of transportation are considered in the street and neighborhood design process. The American Heart Association was an active advocate for this important policy resolution, and we thank our local advocates for encouraging city councilors to support this initiative. 

A Complete Street is a street designed to accommodate all users including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and public transportation. Complete Streets make it easy to cross the street, bicycle to work, and walk to destinations in a timely manner and in a safe environment.

A Complete Streets policy directs planners and engineers to routinely design and operate streets in manner that provides users safe access – no matter which mode of transportation they choose.

By incorporating complete streets elements, the city can provide safe and accessible networks for families in our community for walking, bicycling and accessing healthier foods. It’s also a great economic development tool to attract new people to our community and encourage young people, seniors and families to stay right here in Sioux Falls.

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Cardiac System of Care Conference Set for September

In April, 2010 the Helmsley Charitable Trust awarded the American Heart Association an $8.4 million grant to build a STEMI system of care in the state of South Dakota. The Mission Lifeline project has transitioned into the South Dakota Cardiac System of Care. The American Heart Association and the South Dakota Department of Rural Health are collaborating to bring the first Cardiac System of Care Conference to healthcare providers in South Dakota.

The focus of this conference is to continue the momentum of improvement in care by presenting information helpful to enhance the system of care for ST Elevation Myocardial Infarction (STEMI) patients and improve outcomes. There is also a focus related to the LUCAS™ 2 Chest Compression System device purchased by the South Dakota Department of Health through funding received from The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust. This three-year, $3.7 million investment in lifesaving equipment will improve survival rates from sudden cardiac arrest.

When: September 9, 2015, 9:00 am - 5:00 pm

Where: Red Rossa Italian Grill, 808 W. Sioux Ave. #200, Pierre, South Dakota 

The conference is free of charge and will cover topics such as Pre-hospital and hospital Resuscitation, pre-hospital cooling and case studies, LUCAS annotations, time critical decision making, community awareness and engagement, feedback loop to improve systems. The SD SIM trucks will also be available to conduct refresher training in the LUCAS device and 12 Lead EKG acquisition.

The target audience for this conference is South Dakota physicians, nurses and EMS providers.

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Advocate Spotlight: David Bordewyk

David Bordewyk South Dakota

As general manager and chief lobbyist for South Dakota Newspaper Association, I spend a portion of every winter at the state capitol in Pierre, advocating for newspapers, the First Amendment and open government issues before legislators and others.

Lobbying during the legislature involves “down time” -- waiting around the capitol to talk to legislators, sitting through lengthy committee hearings and more. It was during one of those down times a few years ago I took advantage of a mobile heart screening clinic being conducted at the state capitol.

That heart screening changed my life, if not saved my life.

Results of the screening led to further tests with a cardiologist in Sioux Falls and the discovery of severe heart disease. I had 90 percent blockages in three main coronary arteries.

I am grateful for the wonderful health care I’ve received here in South Dakota. I am blessed because I’ve been given a special opportunity to take better care of myself and do all that I can to live a healthy, wonderful life with my wife and two sons.

Excuse the pun, but I am serious when I say I’ve taken it all to heart. I exercise much more than I ever did. I eat much better these days. And I listen to my health-care providers. As a result, I feel better most days and I believe I live a more balanced, fulfilling life these days.

I also believe I have been given an opportunity to give back and that is one reason why I have chosen to be an advocate on behalf of the American Heart Association. If I can contribute in some small way to the wonderful, powerful work that AHA does, all the better.

It’s the least I can do, with the opportunities and blessings that have come my way.

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