American Heart Association - You’re the Cure

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Be the Cure, Join Today!

  • Learn about heart-health issues
  • Meet other likeminded advocates
  • Take action and be heard
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:

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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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Strengthening Physical Education Press Conference in Tennessee

On March 25, the American Heart Association participated in a press conference at LaVergne Lake Elementary School to highlight the importance of PE legislation this year. Other organizations that participated included Champions for America’s Future, TAPHERD (Tennessee Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance), Coordinated School Health, Champions for America's Future, Mission Readiness, and Tennessee State University.

Remarks applauded the Tennessee Legislature for passing an annual PE Assessment and urged them to ensure the assessment given is stringent and meaningful. Another strong theme was the push for funding a Pilot PE Program, the Tom Cronan Physical Education Act. Before the press conference, members from the Tennessee State University track team participated in a PE class with students. After the press conference attendees traveled to Legislative Plaza and spoke with numerous elected officials about their concerns.


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The healthy difference a month can make

March is Nutrition Month, and a perfect time to get more involved with the AHA’s ongoing efforts to promote science-based food and nutrition programs that help reduce cardiovascular disease and stroke.

Every day, we’re seeing new initiatives: to make fruits and vegetables more affordable; to reduce the number of sugar-sweetened beverages that our kids are drinking; and of course, to ensure students are getting the healthiest school meals possible, all with the same goal: to help families across the country lead the healthiest lives they possibly can.

It’s also a great opportunity to lower your sodium intake. The average American consumes more than 3,400 milligrams of sodium per day – more than twice the AHA-recommended amount. Excessive sodium consumption has been shown to lead to elevated blood pressure, which increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. Visit for tips on to lower your intake and to get heart-healthy recipes.

However you choose to celebrate, Nutrition Month gives us all the chance to take control of our diets; to recommit to eating fresh, healthy foods; and to remember all month long that you’re the cure.

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Dr. Katherine Y. Brown, 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. Katherine Y. Brown of Nashville, founder of Learn CPR America.

How long have you been a volunteer with the American Heart Association and in what capacity? 25 years! During this time, some of my volunteer roles include: State Advocacy Chairperson, Go Red For Women, CPR Instructor, Regional Faculty,  National Speaker, Empowered To Serve, Facilitated National CPR Webinar, Health Fair Volunteer, Heart Walk Speaker, Speaker on Stroke Awareness. I also have severed as an American Heart Association Minority Health Council Member, 2010 Speaker for Scientific Sessions, Health Fair Volunteer, Gospel Tour Committee and State Advocacy Co Chair.

Who or what inspires you to help and volunteer your time to the work of the American Heart Association? As a survivor and medical professional, I am impressed by the work of the American Heart Association in my personal and professional life. The American Heart Association's resources change lives on a daily basis.

What heart-healthy issue is most important to you and why? As a national CPR Ambassador I am passionate about CPR education. Having used CPR in the real world, I believe that if more people learn CPR, more lives can be saved. I am committed to making a difference.

What are two ways you keep yourself healthy? Exercise daily, eat heart healthy and practice meditation and relaxation.

How is your community healthy that makes you proud? Nashville is committed to being a healthy place to work and play. There are many family-friendly, free resources including free green ways, walking paths, and also bike programs that make being healthy an achievable lifestyle.

How do you stay updated on current public policies in your state? You're the Cure! Serving as chair of the American Heart Association's State Advocacy Committee and working with the American Heart Association. Denise, our Government Relations Director, is amazing!

If you could help advocate for one change in your state, what would it be and why? More funding for CPR education. Sometimes funding is a barrier to CPR education and this should not be the case. Everyone should have access to life-saving skills.

Do you have a favorite AHA/ASA event you annually attend?  What is your motivation to participate? I have two - CPR week and Go Red For Women! I love teaching CPR and I also love seeing women learn ways to become heart healthy.

Have you attended a state or federal lobby day on behalf of the American Heart Association? If so, please briefly explain your experience. A wealth of resources and information that everyone should be involved with.

What have you learned in your time being a You’re the Cure advocate? To have a voice in advocacy, we must work together to increase active participation in the You're the Cure network.

Why would you tell a friend or family member to join You’re the Cure? It's imperative that we are active, informed, and knowledgeable in legislation that impacts us, our families, and the communities that we live in. It's not enough to talk about concerns; we must be active and engaged.

Tell us one unique thing about yourself.  I have been an American Heart Association volunteer since age 16.

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How Much PE Do Our Tennessee Students Receive?

When we send our kids to school, we don’t know everything that happens during their school day. But we now have a chance to get a glimpse! This week, lawmakers are expected to vote on having an annual PE Quality Assessment conducted with the results made publicly available.

Tell your lawmakers to support a parent's right to know about their children and PE!  

Through effective physical education, children learn how to incorporate safe and healthy activities into their lives. With your help, we can ensure a quality assessment is conducted on our students' PE classes with the results being posted on the Department of Education's website. Together, we can protect a parent’s right to know how PE is incorporated into their child’s school day.

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Take the You're the Cure Advocate Survey

2015 was a great year for You're the Cure advocates and the many policy efforts that you work on. We have big plans for 2016, and we want to hear from you and what you want to see in the future for You're the Cure.

So take the survey now and let your voice be heard.

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