American Heart Association - You’re the Cure

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Marilyn Boyd, Tennessee

Marilyn Boyd was 46-years-old, one day and 90-years-old the next.

She couldn’t move her right side and speaking had become difficult — at least that’s what she was told. “I thought that something must’ve been wrong with their ears because in my head, I sounded fine,” Marilyn said. “That’s one of the things of a stroke that’s really strange.” Although she was still 46, Marilyn’s abilities had become so hindered due to her stroke, she felt she was much older.

Marilyn’s survivor story began when she was outside her Jackson, Tennessee home wrangling the family’s cats one July night in 2002. While reaching for a cat under a metal chair, something went wrong. “I had a cat-tatrophe,” said Marilyn. That wrong move caused Marilyn to collapse and she hit her head on a terra cotta flower pot. Her husband Howard heard the clash and called for an ambulance when he saw her unconscious. Doctors now describe her incident as a “traumatic cerebral accident leading to a stroke.” 

“I didn’t have any risk factors for stroke,” said Marilyn. “This is something that can truly hit anyone at any time.”

After her treatment in the hospital, Marilyn began learning elementary skills again, like speaking, brushing her teeth and tying her shoes. The main focus of her rehabilitation was speech therapy, and after months of work and continued concentration, Marilyn could communicate again.

Now, Marilyn is speaking out in a big way. Using her experiences for reference, she has spent many hours in the offices of her local, state and federal lawmakers to help increase funding on stroke research, care and education.

“If you talk enough to enough people, somebody’s gonna do something,” she said.

Marilyn’s hoping that not only lawmakers, but also stroke survivors will get involved. She believes - by sharing her story other stroke survivors would benefit.

“I don’t view myself as significant,” Marilyn said. “But the issue is significant, so anything that’s done to help it is so important.” 

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From the Bottom of our Hearts - Thank You!

National Volunteer Week (April 12-18) is right around the corner and we couldn’t let it pass without saying how much we appreciate all your contributions as a You’re the Cure advocate. It’s advocates like you who give their time, energy, and passion to help create healthier communities across the country.  We are deeply grateful for your commitment and talent as an advocate.

Since staff can’t always shake your hand and say thank you in person we’ve got a brief video to share. When you watch I am sure you too will be moved by all the great work happening in your states and communities and we look forward to more success in the future. Take a moment to check out the video and then encourage other to get involved and join in the fun.

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National Walking Day at the Tennessee State Capitol

We lose nearly 18,000 Tennesseans each year from heart diseases and stroke. Yet these are largely preventable through healthy living behaviors, like walking. So the American Heart Association urged Tennesseans to take steps to turn that 18,000 around on April 1, National Walking Day. Activities were held across the state, including at the Tennessee State Capitol.

Close to 15 You’re the Cure advocates, including preventive health students from Meharry Medical College, gathered at the capitol to celebrate National Walking Day. They attended an advocacy training followed by a meeting with Speaker Beth Harwell. Speaker Harwell graciously took time out of her busy schedule to thank advocates for all they do to promote cardiovascular health in Tennessee. She also explained her involvement over the years with the American Heart Association in Nashville.

A special thank you to Speaker Harwell and all You're the Cure advocates who celebrated National Walking Day at the Tennessee State Capitol.

For more information about walking and living a healthy lifestyle, visit:

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Stroke Designation Legislation Introduced in Tennessee

Stroke is the No. 5 cause of death, and the leading cause of adult disability in the United States. Every year, 795,000 new and recurrent strokes occur nationwide; of which 137,000 are fatal. To address the issue in Tennessee, Sen. Bill Ketron and Rep. Bob Ramsey have filed legislation that will ensure stroke patients receive proper care in a timely manner once 9-1-1 is called. 

House Bill 1156 / Senate Bill 1034 establishes a program to facilitate the development of stroke treatment capabilities in hospitals and other healthcare settings in the state. Facility designations are earned based on evaluation of hospital infrastructure, services, personnel, and quality of care. The American Heart Association supports the establishment of stroke centers, hospitals that have the expertise and infrastructure to deliver high quality stroke care, accredited by the Joint Commission or another nationally recognized accrediting body. 

The American Heart Association supports this legislation, in an effort to increase survival and decrease the disabilities associated with stroke. Stay tuned for future You're The Cure alerts on the issue!

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Tennessee Legislature Says No to Insure Tennessee

On February 2, 2015, the Tennessee Legislature convened for a special session to consider Governor Haslam’s “Insure Tennessee” proposal. The session was expected to last at least a week, but ended on February 4 when the Senate Health and Welfare Committee voted 7-4 against the proposal. 

 If passed, “Insure Tennessee” would have provided more than 275,000 working, low-income residents with the opportunity to see a doctor regularly and receive timely preventive screenings, such as tobacco cessation services and stroke screenings. The program would have rewarded healthy behaviors, prepare members to transition to private coverage, promote personal responsibility and incentivize choosing preventive and routine care instead of unnecessary use of emergency rooms.

As a member of the Coalition for a Healthy Tennessee, the American Heart Association urged the Legislature to improve access to health care through “Insure Tennessee.” The American Heart Association will continue to support meaningful health reform that helps ensure affordable, quality health care for all Americans, regardless of race, gender, age, or ethnicity, in order to prevent and treat cardiovascular diseases.

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The American Heart Association's Go Red For Women Red Dress Collection 2015 Livestream

Join us for this exclusive virtual event where top designers and celebrities demonstrate their support for women's heart health during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. Heart disease is not just a man's disease. Each year, 1 in 3 women die of heart disease and stroke. We can change that--80 percent of cardiac events can be prevented with education and lifestyle changes. Help break barriers against heart disease and stroke by joining us for the Go Red For Women Red Dress Collection 2015 live online at on Thursday, February 12 at 8 p.m. Eastern. See you there!

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2015 Tennessee Legislative Session is Now!

The 109th Tennessee General Assembly convened on January 13 at noon. Click here to ask your legislators to support improving heart health in Tennessee.

This year, two key policies for the American Heart Association are:

  • Full funding for Coordinated School Health, a systematic approach designed to connect health with learning. Coordinated School Health was implemented in all Tennessee public school systems in the 2007-08 school year and has since improved children’s health across the state. 
  • Governor Haslam’s Insure Tennessee, the innovative health insurance proposal that will result in better health for our great state and its people. With Tennessee’s new ranking as the 6th least healthy state in the nation, a plan such as this is much needed.

Of course, we will follow all bills as they relate to heart disease and stroke and will keep you posted along the way. We hope we can count on your support. Together, we can help all Tennesseans live healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke.

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Meet the New Surgeon General

Dr. Vivek Murthy was confirmed by the U.S. Senate in December to serve as the next surgeon general of the United States. The surgeon general is America’s top public health official, and his responsibilities range from managing disease to promoting prevention and a healthy start for our kids.

At 37, Vivek Murthy is the youngest person and the first Indian-American to hold the post of Surgeon General.

Since this position was created in 1871, just 18 people have held the job. Dr. Murthy, the 19th, replaces an Acting Surgeon General who has filled the role since 2013. Dr. Murthy’s confirmation was delayed for nearly a year due to political issues, but in that time he received the endorsement of more than 100 public health groups, including the American Heart Association.

Dr. Murthy has both business and medical degrees from his studies at Harvard and Yale. He completed his residency at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, where he most recently served as an attending physician. He has created and led organizations to support comprehensive healthcare reform, to improve clinical trials so new drugs can be made available more quickly and safely, and to combat HIV/AIDS.

His resume is remarkable, and we look forward to working closely with Dr. Murthy to improve the health of all Americans.

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Nashville Health Forum, Jan. 14

According to the 2014 America's Health Rankings, Tennessee ranks 45th in the nation for overall health with high prevalence of obesity and physical inactivity. To address the issue, Vanderbilt University will host a forum on January 14 to discuss how the state's poor health affects the economic potential and quality of life of Nashville-area residents and Tennessee communities. The forum also will identify state- and community-led initiatives to improve health outcomes.

Speakers and panelists will include representatives from Vanderbilt University, Tennessee Department of Health, Saint Thomas Health, Governor's Foundation for Health and Wellness, University of Tennessee Center for Business and Economic Research, and Fayetteville Medical Associates. This event is free and open to the public.

WHEN: Wednesday, January 14, 2015, 2:30 PM  - 4:30 PM

WHERE: Vanderbilt University Student Life Center, 310 25th Avenue South, Nashville

Complimentary parking will be available in the 25th Avenue Garage on the Vanderbilt University Campus.

RSVP: Click here to register for this free event today! 

We hope to see you there!

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You're the Cure Year End Successes, Let's Celebrate!
It was another banner year for You’re the Cure advocates championing heart and stroke policy change across the country. Year end is a time to look back at what we achieved in states, think ahead to the work still to do, and celebrate the power of volunteers.
What did we accomplish last year?
Below are just three of many victories that made 2014 so successful.  


  • 35 states now have laws protecting our littlest hearts. Pulse oximetry, a simple detection screening for heart defects gives newborns a chance to survive thanks to early detection.
  • We reached a major milestone in ensuring all students learn CPR before graduating from high school. Now more than 1 million students, in 20 states, will graduate each year with this lifesaving skill.
  • 6 states increased funding for heart disease and stroke prevention programs.


Want to see more accomplishments? Check out the video below.

These are just a few highlights and for the full story be sure to check out the state by state wrap-up online. We couldn’t achieve these great accomplishments without the power of YOU our advocates. Your work to educate lawmakers, recruit family and friends, and share your story and expertise are what makes change happen. So from your AHA staff partners a big, Thank You!
P.S. – You can help inspire others to join the movement by sharing our accomplishments highlight video.

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