American Heart Association - You’re the Cure

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WE ARE THE CURE for cardiovascular disease and stroke

Guest Blogger: Marc Watterson, Utah Government Relations Director

Each May we have an opportunity to celebrate and educate on an issue that is close to all of us – Stroke. As we have shared in the past Stroke in the fourth leading cause of death in Utah – and it doesn’t have to be. With your support we have improved the systems of care in Utah for how stroke patients are treated in our local hospitals. The success stories that we hear about are remarkable and it is all thanks to you!

One of the things that we have seen real movement on is the recognition of stroke signs in the community. FAST, can you name them?

  • Face droopiness, numbness and weakness
  • Arm numbness and weakness
  • Slurred speech or trouble speaking or understanding
  • Time to call 911 if these or other symptoms occur

More and more Utahns are becoming aware of these signs and acting accordingly when they seem them in themselves or others. But more can be done. Nationally, nearly one third of all Americans don’t know the signs. So, to celebrate our successes, familiarize ourselves with proven stroke prevention, educate the public on FAST signs – and have a little fun – we have been partnering with University of Utah Health Care in our “Together to End Stroke” community education program.

We are hosting several events in Salt Lake this month in hopes of creating “Stroke Heroes” among us!

  • Stroke Support Group – May 17th, 5:00 - 6:30 pm @ AHA|ASA Salt Lake Office (465 S 400 East, Suite 110)
    • For survivors, friends and families affected by stroke. This is an opportunity for individuals to share their successes and challenges, connect with others, and realize that you’re not alone! Caregivers are welcome to attend this group meeting as well. This month’s guest speaker will be speaking about Occupational Therapy. 


  • USOAR – Utah Stroke Outdoor Activity and Recreation, May 18th, 5:30 – 7:00 pm @ Liberty Park, Northeast Corner (600 E 900 S)
    • The University of Utah Health Sciences Program is having their kickoff event for this program. Activities will focus on ways to help stroke survivors adapt to outdoor activities and how these can help with rehab. Activities like biking, golfing, rafting, bowling, and more will be showcased!


  • Striking Out Stroke, May 25th, 11:30 -1:30 pm @ City Creek Shopping Center (40 East South Temple)
    • The American Heart Association | American Stroke Association, in conjunction with our “Together to End Stroke” community partner, University of Utah Health Care, will be putting on a special event downtown. We’ll have a pitching area for participants to show off their pitching skills, an on-site vehicle from 101.5 The Eagle to share some tunes, and heart-healthy snacks for all to enjoy!


  • Savings Strokes – June 17th, 10:30 – 1:00 pm at Nibley Park Golf Course (2780 S 700 E, Salt Lake City)
    • A free opportunity for stroke survivors and their caretakers to participate in golf for pleasure as well as for physical rehabilitation. This year’s event is sponsored by University of Utah Health Care and will feature a free lunch for participants.

If you would like more information on these events or would like to volunteer to help us out please contact Lavinia Sasaki with the AHA|ASA at

Together, with your help, WE ARE THE CURE for cardiovascular disease and stroke!

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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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Advocate Highlight - Craig Miller

My adventure with cardiac disease is not one that everyone reading this will experience. It's 2016 and looking back I truly feel like a survivor. I have had seven stents, one robotic bypass and suffered a Transient ischemic attack (TIA). 

I have had eleven angioplasties’ to either place stents or look at the status of my cardiovascular disease. In 2011, after suffering yet another event I was approached by UC Davis Medical Center to have a new robotic surgery procedure that is a less invasive bypass surgery. After the ten hour surgery was completed I was told that it took so long because there was a lot of scar tissue that made it difficult. Within six weeks I was ready to return to work as Operations Manager for an armored transport company in the Bay Area. My hours were long and the responsibilities and dangers were stressful. In July of 2011 I collapsed at work and they discovered the bypass had failed.  I was told that doctors placed a stent in the artery however it was just a matter of time before it would also be rejected by my body. I was told not to return to work and that I needed to avoid stress and over exertion all together.

Depression set in after being unable to work. I was given social security disability that barely covered the basic necessities. My family filed for bankruptcy and I knew our life needed to change.  My daughter and her family lived in Meridian, Idaho and my wife Sally and I decided that Meridian is where we wanted to go. We sold everything we could to new start and in December of 2011 we moved.          

Our move meant I needed to find a new cardiologist. After experiencing several cardiologists I was getting pretty good at knowing who fit me well. I found Dr. Bass at St. Luke’s and the first thing he suggested was to do an angioplasty to see what was going on so he could properly help me.  The angioplasty confirmed what the previous cardiologist had diagnosed, I had congestive heart failure. 

Dr. Bass felt that cardiac rehabilitation may help me and he was right.  The program of personalized exercise along with diet and heart education was making a difference, however my depression was not improving. Counseling was suggested and with the support from all of the wonderful health professionals I started feeling more positive. I realized that I had a choice; I could continue down my path of feeling sorry for myself or pick myself up and start over. I joined Mended Hearts Chapter 380 and found that by helping others I also helped me. 

In 2013, I was going to cardiac rehabilitation three days a week.  One morning as I got ready to go I felt out of sorts and by the time I got to “rehab” I was a little disoriented and very weak. As I walked into “rehab” I was approached by Amber an educator and RN. Amber saw that something was wrong and after evaluating me called for an ambulance because she recognized I was having a stroke. Amber saved my life because of her quick and knowledgeable reaction!

So here I am in 2016, the President of Mended Hearts. I have without a doubt the best people to work with, and can never thank my doctors, nurses, health professionals, family and friends enough.

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Advocate Spotlight - TJ Haynes

For TJ Haynes it was a matter of time. TJ recently threw out the first pitch at a Mustangs game in Dehler Park to promote the AHA’s Raise the Roof in Red campaign after suffering a heart attack just a few months before.

On May 25, 2015 TJ had gone to the local shooting range in preparation for the annual Quigley Buffalo Match. The days leading up to the 25th he had experienced heartburn and back pain but didn’t think much of it. But after a short period of time at the range he found himself short of breath and in pain.

He called his wife to tell her he wasn’t feeling well and asked her to come pick him up. While he waited another shooter at the range noticed his condition and quickly dialed 911 when he told them he was short of breath and experiencing chest pain.

Thanks to the quick actions of those around him TJ was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance containing a 12 lead EKG machine that sent a snapshot of his heart ahead to the Billings clinic. By sending this snapshot ahead the hospital was able to know what they were dealing with and how to treat it as soon as he arrived. This allowed his clogged artery to be opened just 46 minutes from the onset of the attack.

This amazing equipment had been installed just one day earlier as part of the Mission Lifeline initiative that is largely funded by a grant from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust.

Today TJ is doing much better. He is in cardiac rehab, is working on his diet and is overall doing well.

TJ is thankful for the actions of those around him and the technology that was available to help him when he needed it most.


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Jocelyn Gomez

August 7th, 2015 was the start of the most life-changing event of our lives. My father, mother, and I were sitting in the emergency room that night waiting to be called on. As the minutes went by a tragedy was about to occur without even knowing. My father was at the emergency room for the pain he had on his left foot. His pinky was swelled up, bruised, and a very bright red mark was on the top part of his foot. 

That night my father found out he was diabetic when his blood sugar level was at 750. My father was already a survivor of three heart attacks and the news of him being diabetic was just another thing to add to the plate. Unfortunately, my father has a rare condition where he creates blood clots very easily. This became a massive problem to his foot. The pain was due to the lack of blood circulation and the different techniques that the doctor’s applied were just not enough. After the unsuccessful peripheral bypass surgery, there was no other option than to have an amputation below the knee.

Recovery is and will always be difficult because it is not only a physical recovery, but a mental recovery as well. His loving family and friends always surround him, which is a huge support. Today, my father is slowly adapting to his new lifestyle with a very optimistic attitude. Being diabetic has given him a different view to life and is thankful that he is still alive to tell his story.

My experience at the American Heart Association as an advocacy volunteer has been one of a kind. I’ve learned remarkable things and became part of a community that works very hard to prevent serious health conditions such as diabetes. Working on the SSB campaign has helped me gain more understanding on how much sugar we are consuming without even knowing. Avoiding sugar sweetened beverages and learning how to prevent health conditions such as heart disease and diabetes is extremely important. My father did not care much about his health until his unfortunate amputation. After this life experience, my interest in working in the public health arena has skyrocketed. Educating my own family on healthier choices to prevent any further health conditions is just the beginning. It is never too late to live a healthy lifestyle!

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2016 Legislative Session Wrap Up

Guest Blogger: Marc Watterson, Utah Government Relations Director

The 2016 Legislative Session has finally come to end and while there are important issues that have yet to be resolved, we can be proud of the efforts we have engaged in and the results we were able to see.

This year the Utah State Legislature made initial steps toward working on Healthcare issues affecting the State by passing House Bill 437 “Health Care Revisions”. This bill had the effect of partially expanding Medicaid coverage for an estimated 17,000 Utahns who currently have no insurance coverage. I’m happy to report that as part of the AHA’s efforts to fully expand Medicaid we were able to work with the bill sponsor and successfully include language in House Bill 3 “Appropriations Adjustments” that ensures that Tobacco Cessation services that meets AHA criteria will be extended to all Medicaid recipients in the state! Your efforts will ensure that all Medicaid recipients will have access to both counseling and all FDA-approved pharmaceutical methods for tobacco cessation at no or minimal cost sharing. These efforts will ensure coverage for those most in need and will further contribute to Utah’s nation-leading low smoking rates!

At our annual lobby day in February, You’re the Cure volunteers from across the state had an opportunity to participate in a full day of activities, including a special bill signing ceremony with the Governor where we celebrated the 40th Anniversary of the Utah Indoor Clean Air Act and honored the individuals who made it all possible those many years ago. After the ceremony our volunteers spoke to their legislators on a number of legislative issues. Conversations between Board Members and legislative leadership surrounding Medicaid Expansion allowed us to begin discussions on enhancements to tobacco cessation services. Although the legislation in question was not a full expansion of Medicaid services as envisioned in the ACA, legislative leadership saw the wisdom in enhancing tobacco cessation services as a means of decreasing tobacco use and more effectively utilizing state resources.

But none of this would have been possible without your help and support! As was highlighted during last month’s blog about the CPR save by the Hurricane Wrestling Team, your advocacy efforts have a direct impact on the lives of our fellow Utahn’s. Whether it’s CPR, Tobacco Cessation, Safe Routes to Schools, or Hospital Stroke Treatment, you are making a difference and helping the AHA to achieve our Mission of saving lives and improving health. Thank you for all you do and do not hesitate to get involved! The next great thing we do could all come down to you!

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AHA President Says: The Science is Clear on Sodium Reduction

Check this out! In a new video, the President of the AHA, Dr. Mark Creager, explains that the science behind sodium reduction is clear. He says that robust evidence has linked excess sodium intake with high blood pressure, which increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, and heart failure. And, he points out that you can do something about it: join AHA’s efforts to demand change in the amounts of sodium in our food supply.

“Nearly 80 percent of the sodium we eat comes from processed, prepackaged, and restaurant foods” says AHA president Dr. Mark Creager. The video shows the 6 foods that contribute the most salt to the American diet: breads & rolls, cold cuts and cured meats, pizza, poultry, soup, and sandwiches."

To see the video, head over to our Sodium Breakup blog!

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What You Do Saves Lives

Guest Blogger: Marc Watterson, Utah Government Relations Director

I wanted to draw your attention to an amazing story out of southern Utah that stands as an amazing reminder that the work we do truly does save lives!

Many of you might have seen the recent news about wrestlers from Hurricane High School who were out of town at a tournament and saved the life of a man who suffered a heart attack. What you might not have realized is that those students received life-saving CPR training while in school – a direct result of advocacy efforts that you helped pass at the state legislature two years ago!

Working with Representative Mel Brown and other legislators, advocates like you were able to successfully convince legislators to set aside funding so that all high school students in Utah would receive CPR training before they graduated. Allan Madsen, a senior at Hurricane High School, described to KSL his feelings after he and his team took action:

"It gives me chills every time I think about it," said Madsen. "I took a CPR class just a few weeks ago at school and it was great to have that knowledge when I was there."

The man, Kent Moser from Preston, Idaho, was taken to a hospital. He's doing well now. Doctors told the family the team saved his life.

Stories like this bolster our efforts and strengthen our resolve to see that heart-healthy policies are made a priority here in the state.

This session our You’re the Cure advocates have had an opportunity to advocate for important polices that will keep tobacco out of the hands of youth, provide life-saving insurance coverage to Utahns most in need, and ensure that students have a safe route to take to and from school. We continue to work on these important polices and know that – just like our work with CPR two years ago – adopting these policies will have a profound impact in our families, communities, and across the state.

Thank you for all you do to support the important work of the American Heart Association! I look forward to sharing a recap of this year’s legislative session with you next month. We appreciate your engagement and know that with each legislator you speak to and each action alert you respond to we are one step closer to fulfilling our life-saving mission.

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Heart on the Hill 2016

Guest Blogger: Marc Watterson, Utah Government Relations Director

This past Friday volunteers from across the state gathered at the Utah State Capitol as we celebrated National Wear Red Day with our annual “Heart on the Hill” Lobby Day. Advocates just like you had a chance to listen directly from State Legislators as they discussed important legislation that impacts cardiovascular health: Tobacco Use, Affordable Healthcare, and Safe Routes to School. You’re the Cure advocates then had a chance to take their message to their legislators as they discussed these important policies with them.

A special feature this year was an opportunity for us to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the Utah Indoor Clean Air Act. Working with Representative Paul Ray and Senator Ralph Okerlund we were able to streamline the passage of HCR 2, which recognizes this important anniversary as well as honoring the men and women who made it available, in particular the late Representative Gerald Woodmansee and David Hughes Horne. We were honored to have David Horne with us as well as many members of both families – some who had traveled as far as California to be here with us!

The day culminated with a very special signing ceremony for HCR 2 with Governor Herbert and his staff. We were pleased to also be joined by Dr. Joseph Miner, Director of the Department of Health and Alan Matheson, Director of the Division of Environmental Quality. A very special thanks to Governor Herbert who was very gracious with his time and stayed so all of our volunteers could have their picture taken with him.

A very special thanks to AHA Staff who helped put the event together, members of the local Board of Directors who supported the event, Western States Affiliate Board President Dr. Kirk Knowlton who was in attendance and addressed our advocates, IASIS Healthcare who provided breakfast and health screenings, and the many volunteers and family members who took the time to make this event an overwhelming success! In all we had nearly 100 attendees for this amazing event – and it all is thanks to the support we receive from our active volunteers from across the state. It was truly a moment to remember that when we are all committed to a singular goal that we can all be the cure for cardiovascular disease and stroke!

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Little Hats Big Hearts Utah

The Little Hat, big Hearts campaign has volunteers from all over Utah picking up their knitting needles. More than 800 hats will be donated to babies and children at Utah hospitals to promote awareness about heart disease and congenital heart defects during American Heart Month in February. One in every three deaths is due to heart disease in America, making it the #1 cause of death. Many babies are born with heart defects. In fact, congenital heart defects are the leading birth defect in infants.

Thanks to our volunteers, including members of Intermountain Healing Hearts, hundreds of tiny babies will feel the warmth this February. Every baby born in February at a participating Utah hospital should receive a red hat. Little Hats, Big Hearts started in February 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. Since then the program has expanded to 29 states, including Utah. The American Heart Association uses the increased awareness to provide funding for research in support of congenital heart defects, which affect 1 out of every 100 babies born and can result in dozens of surgeries and procedures for each baby.

The number of donations this year has been outstanding. With the original goal of 200 hats, more than 800 hats were donated. More babies then ever will be able to go home with special red caps and warm heads. Caps will be distributed to Primary Children’s Hospital, LDS Hospital, Intermountain Medical Center, Alta View Hospital, St. Mark’s Hospital, Salt Lake Regional Medical Center, University Hospital and Lakeview Hospital. Little Hats, Big Hearts is making a big statement in our community about the importance of research and awareness of heart defects.

Pictured is four-year-old Jaxon Jensen is a congenital heart defect survivor. His grandmother, Rachel Gordon and her co-workers knitted 100 hats to support other children in Utah with heart problems.

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