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Advocate Highlight - Turner Prewitt

Turner Prewitt was given the “gift of life” when he received his new heart in August of 2008. His firsthand experience with heart disease has led Turner to become a dedicated volunteer with the American Heart Association.

Turner originally became involved by participating in our annual Heart Walk, eventually forming his own team. He participated in his first Heart Walk in 2009 and by 2014 his team had 122 walkers and they raised $10,000 for heart disease and stroke research.

His dedication didn’t stop there, in search of other ways to give back, Turner discovered the advocacy branch of our organization. Turner has become a dedicated You’re the Cure volunteer. He has attended our annual Washington State Advocacy Day since 2012. With the help of Turner and advocates like you, Washington passed lifesaving legislation in 2013 that ensures all Washington high school students will receive hands on CPR training. Turner also lent his voice in 2015 to help pass a bill that ensures all newborns in Washington are screened for heart defects with a simple test called pulse oximetry.

We want to thank Turner for everything he does for the American Heart Association. It is with volunteers like Turner and you that we accomplish the important things we do to improve quality of life in our state.

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Our Children Are Sweet Enough

Guest Blogger: Kami Sutton

As adults, we are responsible for making sure the next generation grows up happy and healthy. Recently, the American Heart Association came out with its first ever scientific statement in regards to the maximum amount of added sugar children should consume.

Based on research we believe children should consume no more than 6 teaspoons of “added sugars” a day. These added sugars can come in many forms and are often added to foods in addition to the naturally occurring sugars. Along with the limits on added sugars in food it is recommended that children consume no more than 8 ounces of sugary beverages a week. This may include soda, fruit juices with added sugar and sports drinks.

These limits are important as we work to minimize a child’s risk of conditions such as obesity and diabetes that can lead to cardiovascular disease. If started early, parents can help shape a child’s taste preferences to last into their adult years when they are making the decisions for themselves and their own families in the future.

This announcement comes on the heels of cities such as Berkeley, California and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania passing legislation that will assess a tax on the sale of sugary drinks.  Berkeley has already seen a 21 percent decrease in consumption of sugary beverages in low-income neighborhoods since the implementation of the fee.

This new research confirms what we have long thought, children are sweet enough as they are, they don’t need added sugar in their diets.

If you would like more information about the AHA’s new science guidelines on children and sugar please visit: http://news.heart.org/kids-and-added-sugars-how-much-is-too-much/

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Ready, Get Set, Get Fit: #GoRedGetFit Launches its 3rd Quarter Challenge!

#GoRedGetFit is a Facebook fitness challenge and platform that provides women with the education, support, motivation and accountability to create optimal results in living a healthy lifestyle. Each challenge includes a physical activity and nutrition component.

The new challenge “Less Salt, More Sweat” consists of limiting your sodium intake to 1,500 mg or less a day and getting 150 minutes of physical activity a week (or 30 minutes, 5 days a week). The challenges are designed and led by the expertise of (4) volunteer celebrity trainers and wellness experts. #GoRedGetFit is a Go Red for Women initiative nationally sponsored by Macy’s.

This group might just be what you need to have a breakthrough in living a healthier lifestyle but don’t just take our word for it. Check out the group and see what some of the members have to say.

“While I haven’t suffered from heart disease, stroke or any of the major risk factors, each and every personal story shared in the Go Red Get Fit Facebook group has inspired me to start working out, eat healthier and stay consistent in my journey toward achieving a healthy weight. I now make my health and my “self” a priority as diseases can afflict anyone at any time,” says Teresa Coulter, Go Red Get Fit Facebook group member. “This group has prevented this woman from having health complications in the future. So from the bottom of my healthy heart, thank you for the daily awareness, support and motivation I’ve never been able to find.”

We invite you to join today because your health can’t wait. Are you up for the challenge? Get more details here.

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Please Join Us at a Heart & Stroke Walk

We are having a lovely summer this year in Washington and while I don’t want to fast forward the calendar, I do want to take a moment and invite you to join us at one of three Heart & Stroke Walks in Washington this fall:

Spokane – September 10th at Riverfront Park

South Sound- Saturday, October 8th at Cheney Stadium

Puget Sound- Saturday, October 15th at Seattle Center

The Heart & Stroke Walk celebrates survivors, those we’ve lost to cardiovascular diseases and stroke; and those who have pledged to live healthier lifestyles.

Create a team with your co-workers or family and friends and join us at this free family event! Join us for a morning of healthy snacks, music, walking, raising awareness, and help raise the dollars needed to fund life-saving research and community initiatives.

In 2013, 13,176 people in Washington died from heart disease and stroke. We, the American Heart Association, want to lower that number and that is why we’d love to see you create a team!

We hope to see you at the Heart Walk!

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Advocate Spotlight: Cindy Peterman

After 35 years of smoking, bouts with bronchitis and increasing prices, Cindy Peterman decided it was time to quit and she credits the recent price increase for tobacco products in Nevada with helping her.

 

“Last year on July 4th weekend when I went to buy cigarettes I realized with the increase I can’t do this anymore; I have rent to pay. I am so grateful for the increase. It led to me quitting for good,” said Cindy.

In addition to the tax increase, Cindy’s can-do attitude and positive outlook on life made it easier for her to quit. Prior to moving to Las Vegas to be near her son and grandkids, she owned both a restaurant and home in Texas. When the recent recession hit, Cindy lost the restaurant and then her home.

 

“After going through all that change, I thought I can make another change in my life,” she said. 

Upon deciding to quit, Cindy visited her doctor and received the patch (covered by Medicaid). While the patch has four cycles, Cindy only used it for the first cycle.

 

“I have not smoked or used the patch since,” she said.

 

Her son is overjoyed that she quit and she notes how important it is to be a good example for her grandkids. In her job at checkout at Walgreens, Cindy has discovered many of her customers are quitting since the tobacco tax increase. She shares her story to encourage them and now they have formed a small support group. Cindy also hopes by sharing her story with the AHA/ASA, she can inspire even more people to quit.

 

Most of all, Cindy is enjoying her new smoke-free life.

 

“At age 65, I enjoy having the time to start my life over,” she said.

 

Thank you, Cindy, for sharing this wonderful example of how smart, strong public health policy can positively affect the lives of individuals and communities. Keep up the good fight, Cindy!

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How fate brought together three stroke survivors' families

The following article about You're the Cure advocate Ryley Williams and two other youths who survived strokes on the same day was published by AHA CEO Nancy Brown in the Huffington Post on July 6th, 2016. A link is provided at the end of the story.

In the community of Dartmouth in the Canadian province Nova Scotia, Nik Latter’s family is throwing what his mom promises will be “a big ol’ party.” Fist bumps and hugs will celebrate the fact he’s made it an entire year since his devastating July 8th.

One by one, over each of the last three July 8s, Ryley, Amber and Nik suffered a stroke. Yet the oddity of their shared date is only part of what led their moms to create a de facto support group.

What really brought them together is that Ryley, Amber and Nik were — and still are — teenagers.

Ryley was 15 and devoted to becoming the starting nose guard on his varsity football team. Amber was 13 and loved playing softball and hanging out with the two girls who’d been her best friends since kindergarten. Nik was a few days shy of 18 and had left school to work at a restaurant; he’d bought a car and aimed to become a voluntary firefighter following that upcoming birthday.

Now, well, their dreams are different.

As we approach July 8, the families allowed me to share their stories to send an important message: Stroke can attack anyone at any time.

***

Ryley Williams went into the summer following his freshman year at Bentonville (Arkansas) High with one goal. He wanted to draw the attention of the varsity football coaches.

So he ran and lifted weights. He ate six meals a day, devouring only foods that would expand his 6-foot, 242-pound frame the right way.

“Honey, you’re never late, you make good grades, you don’t cause any problems — trust me, the coaches notice you,” his mom, Terri Rose, told him. “They just won’t tell you they notice you.”

The morning of Monday, July 8, 2013, Ryley went to an indoor field for football practice. He was stretching when he grabbed his leg and collapsed. Everyone thought he’d pulled a muscle and overreacted. Then they realized there was more to it.

At the hospital, a brain scan showed a bigger problem than the facility could handle. He was flown by helicopter to Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock. It wasn’t easy fitting someone his size into the chopper.

When they landed, seizures began. Off he went for an MRI. Looking at the results, the doctor pointed to five spots.

“This is a stroke, this is a stroke, this is a stroke, this is a stroke and this is a stroke,” the doctor said. “We need to find out why he has so many blood clots in his brain.”

Around 3 a.m. Wednesday, they still didn’t know why. And now they had a new problem. Ryley’s brain was swelling.

He underwent an operation to remove part of his skull. With Ryley sedated, doctors also took a closer look at his heart. They found hair-like strands of a bacterial infection on the outside of two valves. A-ha! This was the source.

Next question: How much brain damage had he suffered? His right side didn’t function. Doctors cautioned he may never walk or talk.

As Ryley was coming out of his medically induced coma, some football players visited. Coaches, too. They brought a varsity jersey with his number, 99.

“The head coach drove down to Little Rock and stayed with us when Ryley had the skull surgery,” Terri said. “Other coaches came to visit, too. They told us they were watching him. They knew he was going to have a big year. Hearing that was bittersweet.”

Fast forward to today.

His right arm remains compromised. He also battles aphasia, a condition that sometimes makes it hard for him to get words out. Still, Ryley recently graduated high school, right on time. He even spent the last year working at a Walmart Neighborhood Market. And he’s become an advocate for the American Stroke Association. Last year, he and Terri encouraged a Congressional subcommittee in Washington, D.C., to support more funding for research and awareness about pediatric stroke.

He’s spending this summer at a facility that specializes in neuropsychology recovery for victims of strokes and traumatic brain injuries. He’s learning skills to live on his own, although he plans to spend two years at home while attending Northwest Arkansas Community College.

“He’s incredibly positive,” Terri said. “He’s accepted everything. He tells you, `This is who I am now.’”

***

The night of July 8, 2014, Amber Hebert was on first base when the next batter hit the ball to the outfield.

Amber ran to second base without anyone trying to get her out, then fell as if she’d been punched. She vomited and went into a seizure. Her 5-foot-3, 86-pound body thrashed so violently that four firefighters held her down while a fifth injected her with medicine.

The local hospital in Bellevue, Nebraska, ended up sending her to Children’s Hospital & Medical Center in Omaha. The seizures continued until 3 a.m.

“When she finally stopped seizing, she was able to see and talk and understand you,” said her mom, Tirzah Hebert. “But I could see the fear in her eyes.”

Tests — and seizures — continued throughout the next day. Finally, doctors declared she’d suffered a stroke.

The next day, Amber sat in a chair holding a cup and walked around her hospital floor. The following day, she had a bit more difficulty holding a cup but could still walk. That night, Tirzah asked if she understood what had happened.

“I don’t know,” Amber said.

The next day, a Saturday, Amber couldn’t walk, talk or hold up her head. This continued until Tuesday, when she finally underwent an MRI. It showed that her brain was swelling.

Doctors were able to reduce it with medicine. Then came the waiting game to determine the extent of brain damage. Soon, she began smiling and communicating with her left hand — fist for yes, open palm for no.

These days, Amber walks, but sometimes the toes on her right foot curl, causing her to drag her foot.

She can’t move her right hand or wrist. She also has aphasia. Therapists believe that with practice she’ll improve in every area. (Doctors never determined the cause of her stroke.)

Alas, there have been other obstacles.

Shortly after Amber made it home, her dad’s dad — with whom she was very close — died of cancer. Four months later, a lump in her dad’s neck was found to be cancerous. Early detection plus chemotherapy and radiation helped him beat it.

School proved no refuge. She went from being one of the most popular girls at school to getting bullied. Her two lifelong best friends “just disappeared,” Tirzah said. Amber switched to homeschooling until giving the classroom another try this summer.

“She’s a happy girl, for the most part, very loving and caring,” Tirzah said. “She still has some depression, but who wouldn’t? To have your life completely turned upside down like hers has?”

***

Even as a child, Nik Latter struggled with migraines. So, last June, when he had one that was bad enough to go to a hospital, nobody thought much of it.

Nor did anyone think twice when he left work complaining of a migraine on Sunday, July 5, 2015.

The next day, he endured what he described as the worst migraine he’d ever experienced. He wore sunglasses indoors and had his mom, Rhonda, drive him to a clinic. The next day, he slept at his grandparents’ house because it was quieter than being home with his two younger sisters.

Rhonda visited him Wednesday, he stared blankly. He tried talking, but nothing came out.

“He’s having a stroke,” she declared. “Call 911!”

A scan showed a mass on the right side of his brain. During an operation, doctors determined it was a stroke. Days later, it was determined the cause was a sinus infection gone severely wrong. The infection broke the barrier between the sinus and the brain, releasing a blood clot.

Nik’s recovery started great. He gave hugs, pulled his mom’s hair and played thumb wars with his sisters. Then, in the early hours of July 16, he had another stroke. On the other side of his brain.

Doctors said Nik may not survive. But the family wanted to give him every chance. Their faith was rewarded when he was weaned off the breathing tube.

He continued clearing hurdles, although he remained hospitalized until March. The long struggle seemed to deflate him; being home reinvigorated him. He now puts his right foot down and pushes his wheelchair. He fist bumps with his right hand, laughs, smiles and kicks.

He makes sounds and, sometimes, says words. Not enough to say he’s talking. But he’s trying.

“He’s very aware of his surroundings,” Rhonda said.

***

While each stroke story is different, every stroke shares similarities.

Time lost is brain lost. The sooner the stroke can be recognized, the sooner treatment can begin. The gold standard of treatment is called tPA. If this clot-busting drug is administered within three hours, and up to 4.5 hours in some cases, the extent of recovery can improve drastically.

That’s why the American Stroke Association urges everyone to remember the acronym FAST. When you see Face drooping, Arm weakness or Speech difficulty, it’s Time to call 911.

Stroke is the No. 2 killer worldwide and No. 5 in the United States. While it’s true that strokes usually happen to older people is true, Ryley, Amber and Nik are proof that’s not always the case.

The world of pediatric stroke is small enough — and the pull of the internet is strong enough — that families of survivors are bound to find each other.

For instance, Terri connected with Lea Chaulk, a Canadian mom whose son was about the same age as Ryley and had a stroke about the same time. Terri and Lea became like sisters as they helped their sons grieve over the lives they lost and learn to embrace their new reality. Lea later introduced Terri to Rhonda.

Meanwhile, Ryley got to know four teenagers from the Kansas City area who were featured by American Heart Association News after they overcame strokes during high school to graduate on time. One of those families had gotten to know the Heberts, and they connected Terri and Tirzah.

The three moms — Terri, Tirzah and Rhonda — lean on each other often. They’ve yet to meet in person, although Ryley and Amber have shared messages via Facebook.

“Knowing that I’m not alone has helped soooo much,” Tirzah said.

“If I didn’t have some of these moms, I think I’d go insane,” said Rhonda, laughing. “Sometimes I sit down and get lost in thought and get upset. Then I’ll send one of them a message saying `I need you to bring me back down to Earth.’”

Three families irrevocably altered, all on a July 8. It’s incredible. Yet from this coincidence comes strength.

“I’ve told my family, `Look, it happened to two other kids on the same day,’” Tirzah said. “It’s like, Wow. And we’ve all made it this far. And you know what? We’re going to keep on going.”

Read the rest of the story on the Huffington Post.

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What are you actually drinking?

We all know that certain drinks have added sugar in them but how easy is it to really know just how much?  Sometimes even when reading the nutrition label, understanding grams of sugar just doesn’t really make sense in practical terms. This graphic from the Center for Science in the Public Interest does a great job demystifying just how much sugar is in some of the most commonly consumed beverages.  For your heart health, make sure you know what you are drinking during these hot summer months. And remember, a glass of cold water is not only refreshing but it is sugar free!

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Advocate Highlight - Eric Rothenberg

We are so excited to share with you the news that Washington advocate/volunteer Eric Rothenberg was the recipient of this year’s American Heart Association Western States Affiliate Volunteer Advocacy Award. The award was presented at the AHA’s annual volunteer awards dinner in Los Angeles on June 6, 2016.

Eric began volunteering with the AHA after he survived sudden cardiac arrest while playing tennis in 2009. He credits quick action from bystanders for saving his life. “Fortunately the club has two AEDs (automated external defibrillators) and there were a few doctors playing on adjacent courts. They began CPR within about 30 seconds of me going down and a friend ran and got an AED. They shocked me twice and I was revived before the medics arrived,” he recalls. “Without CPR and that AED, the outcome would have been very different.”

Eric has been a volunteer for the AHA’s Puget Sound Division for many years and was instrumental in lobbying for required CPR instruction in Washington high schools, which became Washington state law in 2014.

He also serves as chair of the AHA’s Washington State Advocacy Committee and was honored for exceptional grassroots advocacy achievement in support of a historic increase in funding for the Washington State Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Program. His leadership helped to secure an annual expenditure on bicycle/pedestrian projects of $10.25 million.

Thank you Eric for everything you do and we are so glad that you received this recognition. We could not do what we do without our volunteers.

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Shrimp Tacos - Delicious Decisions

Cooking at home more often is a great way to start changing your relationship with salt. Meals on the go can be hard on your heart, because many prepared foods and restaurant foods are loaded with sodium. And did you know that meals away from home account for nearly half the money Americans spend on food?

Eating healthier (and saving money as an added bonus) isn’t as hard as you might think. This summer, try our recipe for Heart Healthy Shrimp Tacos below. 

Serves 4, has roughly 206 calories and 308 mg of sodium per serving.

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup of fat-free sour cream
  • 2 tbsp. snipped, fresh cilantro
  • 1 tsp. canola or corn oil
  • 13-14 oz. peeled, raw shrimp, rinsed, patted dry
  • ½ tsp. chili powder
  • ½ tsp. ground cumin
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 6-inch corn tortillas
  • 2 cups shredded lettuce
  • 1 small tomato, diced
  • 2 tbsp. sliced black olives

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl, stir together the sour cream and cilantro. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
  2. In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat, swirling to coat the bottom. Add the shrimp to the pan.
  3. Sprinkle the chili powder and cumin on the shrimp. Sprinkle with the garlic. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes if using large shrimp, or 2 to 3 minutes if using small, or until the shrimp are pink on the outside, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat.
  4. Using the package directions, warm the tortillas.
  5. Put the tortillas on a flat surface. Sprinkle with the lettuce, tomato, and olives. Spoon the sour cream mixture on each. Top with the shrimp. Fold 2 opposite sides of the tortilla toward the center. If you prefer a dramatic presentation instead, place 2 unfolded tacos side by side on a dinner plate. Fold each in half. Push a 6-inch wooden skewer through both tacos near the tops to hold them together. Repeat with the remaining tacos. Your family will be able to remove the skewers easily before eating the tacos.

Nutrition Tip: Shrimp are relatively high in cholesterol, but they are also very low in harmful saturated fat. Even if you're watching your cholesterol, you can still occasionally enjoy shellfish, including shrimp, as part of a balanced diet.

Click here for more low-sodium recipes.

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Tobacco Control Roundup

Guest Blogger: Lindsay Hovind, Washington Government Relations Director

While the American Heart Association has long been a partner in tobacco prevention and control, you’ve been hearing a lot from us recently about new efforts and wins in the fight against tobacco. The tobacco landscape is changing. Just last month the Centers for Disease Control released data showing that tobacco use has dropped to 15% nationwide; while we’re glad to celebrate this step toward tobacco-free living for so many of our friends and neighbors, we’re seeing worrying trends of rapidly rising e-cigarette use, especially among youth. The American Heart Association has anticipated this multi-front fight against tobacco and continues to lead in many ways.

E-cigarettes

In 2016 the Washington state Legislature passed legislation to regulate the e-cigarette market and further protect against youth access to these products. Now retailers will be licensed just like tobacco retailers, products must adhere to packaging and labeling regulations, and use is restricted where children often gather. Funds related to the regulation of the market will be used to fund youth tobacco and e-cigarette prevention work throughout the state.

Shortly after Washington moved to keep e-cigarettes away from youth, the Food and Drug Administration extended its authority over tobacco products to include e-cigarettes. This regulation includes a national prohibition on sales to minors, prohibits free samples, and establishes restrictions around ingredients and health claims.

Tobacco to 21

Last month we joined our California colleagues in celebrating the passage of several tobacco control bills. Perhaps most exciting, Governor Brown signed a bill that raised the legal age for purchasing tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, to 21. California joins Hawaii as the second state to pass Tobacco to 21 legislation. 

In Washington we hope to join California and Hawaii in 2017. Last session Attorney General Bob Ferguson requested legislation to raise Washington’s legal age to purchase tobacco to 21. Though the bill died, we are working with our community and public health partners to launch an even more robust campaign to take this important step to keep tobacco out of the hands of youth.

We have celebrated many exciting wins this year and many exciting possibilities are still ahead!

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