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Find the Heart Walk Near You

The Heart Walk is the American Heart Association’s premier community event, helping to save lives from heart disease and stroke. More than 300 walks across America raise funds to support valuable health research, education and advocacy programs of the American Heart Association in every state. Our You’re the Cure advocacy movement – and our public policy successes along the way – are all made possible by the funds raised by the Heart Walk. Whether it’s CPR laws passed to train the next generation of lifesavers or policy to regulate tobacco products and prevent youth smoking,  together we are building a world free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke. The Heart Walk is truly a community event, celebrating survivors, living healthy, and being physically active. We hope you’ll join us and visit the site today. If there is not a walk listed in your area soon,  it may be coming in the spring season or you can join a virtual event. And don’t forget to connect with your local advocacy staff and ask about your local Heart Walk day-of You’re the Cure plans - they may need your help spreading the word. Thanks for all you do, and happy Heart Walk season.

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Health Care Task Force Releases Healthcare Coverage Plan for Tennesseans

On June 30, the Health Care Task Force unveiled their plan to provide increased healthcare coverage to Tennesseans. This task force had been commissioned by Speaker Beth Harwell to explore conservative ways to increase coverage for Tennesseans after the failure of our legislature to pass Governor Haslam’s Insure Tennessee plan. 

The task force held meetings across the state and listened to input from numerous groups and individuals. The American Heart Association urged the task force to recommend a plan that would increase coverage and be accepted by the Federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

The plan released by the Health Care Task Force will have two distinct phases. Phase one will provide coverage to Veterans and Tennesseans "qualifying diagnosis of a mental illness or substance abuse disorder." Phase two would allow enrollment for anyone making up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. The next step for the plan will be to negotiations by the task force with CMS. If CMS approves a wavier for the plan, then it will need to be approved by our full legislature.

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Help Protect PE for Kids Like Me!

Guest post from Reagan Spomer, 6th grader Alliance for a Healthier Generation Youth Advisory Board Member & You’re the Cure Advocate

I have two words for you… scooter hockey.  Sounds fun, doesn’t it?  That’s because it is!  Scooter hockey, along with cage ball and 3-way soccer are some of my favorite activities in gym class, which I have a few times a week.

I’m glad I have physical education for a number of reasons.  It keeps me active and teaches me to try new things.  It helps me focus on my school work.  It relieves my stress.  And most of all, it makes me feel great! 

But I know a lot of schools don’t have regular PE like my schools does.  That means a lot of kids are missing out on the benefits of being active during the school day.  I think this needs to change.   

Will you help?  As part of the nationwide campaign to protect PE in schools, Voices for Healthy Kids has created a photo petition map to show how many people across the country love PE like I do.  As people share their pictures, the map will change colors.  I’ve added my “I heart PE” photo for South Dakota.  Will you do the same for your state?  It’s really easy:

  1. Print an “I heart PE” sign (or make your own!)
  2. Take a picture of yourself holding the sign.
  3. Click on your state to share your photo.

Thanks for helping to protect PE for kids like me!
-Reagan

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Nashville Set to Become More Walkable and Bikeable

Residents and visitors of Nashville will soon have more means to travel through our city by way of walking and biking. Mayor Megan Barry’s new Executive Order for Green and Complete Streets will mean better crosswalks, safer sidewalks and an increase in bike lanes that allow you to be active on your way to shopping, work or school. The American Heart Association (AHA) applauds Mayor Barry’s efforts to help residents be heart-healthy with greater access to physical activity.

“The AHA supports Mayor Barry’s efforts to complete our streets with features that allow people of all ages and abilities to move about safely – especially in those communities where people have no other option but to walk, bike or take transit because driving is impossible for whatever reason,” says Ken Harms, board chair of the Greater Nashville American Heart Association.

The impact of the Executive Order goes beyond the basic safety needs for physical activity. This effort will ensure that those communities most in need of safer streets and sidewalks reap the benefits of the Green and Complete Streets plan. National health data shows these areas tend to suffer higher rates of poor heart health, and potentially stand to benefit the most from active transportation facilities that connect people to jobs, education, primary care and healthy food. This is additionally reaffirmed by the Metro Public Health Department’s studies about our community.

“I’m thrilled we’ve been able to work with Metro departments and key community stakeholders such as the American Heart Association on finding a path to a new policy for Nashville’s streets that will not only enhance community livability for citizens, ages eight to 80 and everyone in – between – whether they walk, bike, take transit or drive – but also seeks to reduce the impact of transportation infrastructure on our rivers and streams,” said Nashville Mayor Megan Barry.

As plans unfold, our community will remain informed of its progress through a provision within the Executive Order that ensures transparency by requiring online updates. Residents of Davidson County can look forward to learning about new Green and Complete Streets Policy advances.

“As our city continues to grow, developing a more walkable and bikeable Nashville, will have significant impact on improving the overall health of Nashville,” said Denise Costanza, AHA Government Relations Director of Tennessee.

Read the original story on Voices For Healthy Kids.

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Eric Bero, Tennessee

Guest Blogger: Eric Bero

Growing up I was a healthy child and never had any medical conditions. However, one evening in 1986, that all changed. I remember the panic in my mother’s voice and then my father racing in the car to get to the emergency room.  I had a very bad cough due to the change in Wisconsin weather. My cough triggered a reaction causing my heart to begin racing at an irregular rate and I fainted before reaching the hospital. My parents had no clue what was happening to me other than my pulse was irregular and I felt and looked horrible. 

That was when we learned I had a ventricular septal defect, which can lead to heart failure, high blood pressure in the lungs (pulmonary hypertension), infection of the heart (endocarditis), irregular heartbeats (arrhythmias) and delayed growth. Although my doctor treated the heart condition over several years, it affected the way I lived and viewed heart health. It impacted my life from which sports I could play in school to the kinds of food I was allowed to eat.

In short, I had small holes in my heart that could have healed on their own or cause no symptoms as I grew up. We hoped that would be the case but I had several larger holes that required surgery to stitch the hole closed and cover the hole with a patch. I lived with the condition for 12 years and at the age of 18, I decided to have surgery before going off to college in another state. 

Looking back, my grandmother died of a stroke and my grandpa died of a heart attack. It also turned out that my brother who is four years older than me had the same condition as I did. His condition wasn’t detected until much later when he was in college.

I feel lucky that I didn’t have additional complications and vowed to be an advocate for the American Heart Association (AHA). I’ve been volunteering for AHA for over 10 years and will continue to for as long as they allow me.

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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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Timothy Jacobs, Murfreesboro

Guest Blogger: Timothy Jacobs

As a 2016 American Heart Association legislative intern, my main goals were to learn as much as I could through a first-hand experience with the legislative process and to gain a better idea of what I want to do after I graduate from Middle Tennessee State University.  

As for the first goal, it is amazing how much I have learned in such a short amount of time, things I never could have learned sitting in a classroom.  I'm really glad I had the opportunity to work at the State Capitol with a lobbyist from such a great organization like the American Heart Association.  As for learning about what I want to do after graduation, I got to work with a lot of interesting people with jobs I think would be fascinating to do.  This internship certainly never felt like work and I am very glad I had the opportunity to do it.

I spent much of this internship working with Denise Costanza, Tennessee's American Heart Association Government Relations Director at the Tennessee State Capitol.  We would meet with legislators, try to find sponsors for bills that the American Heart Association wanted passed, attend committee hearings, and attend House and Senate Chamber meetings. 

I also spent the semester organizing an event to gain support for a policy that would bring more bike lanes and sidewalks to Murfreesboro.  I named the event, "Boro Complete Streets Rally" and scheduled Mayor McFarland, Senator Ketron, and Councilman Smotherman to speak at the event. I also organized live music, free food, and a raffle door prize giveaway.  Three speakers - Mayor McFarland, Senator Ketron and Gold's Gym Fitness Specialist  - cancelled at the last minute.  This gave me doubts about how the event would go, but it ultimately turned our really well and we were able to get nearly 50 petitions signed.

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Murfreesboro Complete Street Rally

The American Heart Association held a rally at the Campus Recreation Center at Middle Tennessee State University  on April 22 to educate students and volunteers about the importance of a local comprehensive Complete Streets policy. The event drew an engaged crowd, and we collected nearly 50 petition to present to the city council. Numerous exciting speakers attended the event including students and a city councilman.  With such a great turnout, there have been requests  from students who want to be more active in advocacy in their city. 

Murfreesboro is in desperate need of improved infrastructure for pedestrians and bicyclists.  This rally was very much needed with the large student population wanting to walk and bike to school, but unable to do so safely.  Our next steps will be to help the students with a grassroots campaign in appealing to the city council. If you would like to be involved please email: Denise.Costanza@heart.org

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Dr. Rakhee Urankar, Nashville

Our 2015-16 Tennessee Advocacy Committee is composed of individuals from across the state with different occupations, who have a great interest in advocating for policy change for heart-health issues.  Today, we'd like you to meet Dr. Rakhee Urankar of Nashville.

How long have you been a volunteer with the AHA and in what capacity?   Three months: advocate for worksite wellness for obesity prevention and control.

Who or what inspires you to help and volunteer your time to the work of the AHA?  Advocacy residency project requirement.

What heart-healthy issue is most important to you and why?  Prevention of obesity because of its related comorbidities and the rising health care costs for treatment of these comorbidities.

What are two ways you keep yourself healthy?  Diet and exercise

How is your community healthy that makes you proud?   Able to choose healthy food options by reading the food labels and engaging in a minimum recommended physical activity of 30 mins. per day five times per week.

How do you stay updated on current public policies in your state?  Through weekly didactic sessions and news

If you could help advocate for one change in your state, what would it be and why?  Obesity, because of the existing epidemic.

Do you have a favorite AHA/ASA event you annually attend?  What is your motivation to participate?   AHA Annual Advocacy Day. Main motivation for worksite wellness to prevent obesity.

Why would you tell a friend or family member to join You’re the Cure?   For added motivation to achieve their weight loss goals.

Tell us one unique thing about yourself.  I am ambidextrous.

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AHA Hosts Lobby Day in Nashville

On March 15, the American Heart Association hosted a roundtable discussion at the American Heart Association's Nashville office for members of the Vanderbilt Science Policy Group to learn how to be a strong science advocate. Speakers included: Dr. Joey Barnett, member of the American Heart Association National Diversity Leadership Committee, Dave Rosenberg, Davidson Council-member , Newt Williams, member of the AHA Greater Southeast Affiliate SA board, and Denise Costanza, Government Relations Director. Following the discussion, the students attended a question and answer session at the Capitol with Sen. Jeff Yarbro, Rep. John Ray Clemmons, and Rep. Bo Mitchell. Then, they dropped off packets to their lawmakers, asking for their support of the AHA’s main legislative issues. They concluded the day by watching a legislative committee debate bills.

The next day, a diverse group of close to 20 You’re the Cure advocates gathered for an advocacy training followed by a meeting with the Speaker of the House, Beth Harwell, and drop by visits with legislators and their staff. The group had lunch together on the Capitol steps and finished the day by watching a State Senate committee meeting.

Thanks to everyone who participated in the Lobby Days, seven legislators signed on as co-sponsors to our Stroke Task Force legislation.

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