American Heart Association - You’re the Cure

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Join Us at the Capitol on Feb 2nd for 2016 WV Advocacy Day!

February is quickly approaching, which makes today the perfect time to register and make plans to join us for WV Advocacy Day: You're the Cure at the Capitol on February 2nd. Join others from across the Mountain State as we meet with lawmakers in support of heart-health policies, like protecting WV's local smoke-free regulations.

As you may know, during the 2015 WV Legislative Session, several bills were introduced that would roll back smoke-free laws in your favorite venues that have been smoke-free for years. We anticipate that there will be more attempts in the 2016 session and we need your voice!

Simply register today, make plans to join us on February 2nd and we'll take care of the rest!

What: American Heart Association WV Advocacy Day

When: February 2, 2016, 8:30 am - 1 pm

Where: State Capitol, Charleston, WV

Take a moment now to register, and then watch your inbox for more details as the date approaches.

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We're Feeling Grateful

As AHA Advocacy staff, we get to work alongside the most remarkable volunteers- like YOU! We get to see lives improved and lives saved as a result of the work we’ve done together, and for that, we're grateful.

As You’re the Cure volunteers, you share personal stories of loved ones lost too soon, of survival, or of triumph over heart disease or stroke- all because you know your stories will make a difference in someone else’s life. It is often those stories that convince lawmakers to pass the policies making our communities healthier.

Because of you, more babies are being screened with Pulse Ox and having their heart defects corrected before it’s too late. Because of you, people in communities around the country have been saved by students who learned CPR in school. Because of you, people are getting better stroke care, families have safe places for active play, fewer people are smoking, and kids are eating healthier food at school.  The impact you’re making is incredible, and our communities are better places- because of you.

You make us cry. You share your joy. You inspire us. You amaze us. And we’re just so grateful for all you do.

We’re including YOU as we count our blessings this month, and we wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends!   

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Michael Flynn, Pennsylvania

Michael Flynn Pennsylvania

On March 23, 2015, Michael Flynn was working in the city of Philadelphia when he went into full cardiac arrest at the VA Administration Building. A co-worker secured the site and they found a nurse in the building that started CPR. An AED was used on Michael two times. Medics quickly arrived and transported him to Temple University  Hospital. Michael had just turned 35 at the end of February, has a 3 year old daughter, Della, and his wife Julia was pregnant and due in May. He said he didn’t feel well, but other than that, there were no signs or symptoms. 

Michael awoke at Temple University Hospital. Doctors did a heart catheterization and found 100% blockage on the lower left side. He spent his first week in the hospital heavily sedated while on a breathing machine before his stent went into place. Among his visitors at the hospital was his supervisor who told him that, “everyone should be trained in CPR.” 

Michael was released from the hospital approximately two weeks later, has finished six weeks of cardiac rehab and is now back to work. There was damage to his heart and he is still working to get his heart rate up to where it should be. In the meantime, he welcomed his son, Cade, into the world in May 2015, and he is committed to a healthy lifestyle so that he will be around a long time for his family.

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Roy Varghese, M.D., Kentucky

Roy Varghese, M.D. Kentucky

After more than thirty years of caring for patients in his Eastern Kentucky community, Dr. Roy Varghese unexpectedly became a patient himself. Dr. Varghese had been suffering indigestion-like symptoms throughout a long day of caring for patients, when he made the decision to go to his local emergency room, ARH Mary Breckinridge Hospital in Hyden. That decision saved his life, as he was suffering from an acute inferior myocardial infarction, or heart attack.

Shortly after his arrival in the ER, Dr. Varghese's condition worsened and he required an electric shock to restore normal heart rhythm. He was transferred to Hazard ARH for additional cardiac care, and eventually on to UK Chandler Medical Center and the Gill Heart Institute, where he arrived on a ventilator and remained unconscious for more than a week. Thankfully, his family elected not to have life support withdrawn and with determination and the support of his loved ones, Dr. Varghese recovered. He continues his cardiac rehabilitation by walking three miles daily in his Hyden community where he returned to his practice.

Dr. Varghese recently put his passion for advocacy for heart disease research and prevention to work, traveling to Capitol Hill to share his story with lawmakers during the Rally for Medical Research. Since returning from DC, Dr. Varghese, has met again with staff from Senator McConnell's and Congressman Rogers' local offices to speak with them about his own research. Dr. Varghese is piloting a study examining how 2-3 cups daily of homemade yogurt containing the probiotic lactobacillus can help reduce or prevent the intestinal bacteria the leads to trimethylamine oxide (TMAO). TMAO in the blood allows fat and cholesterol to enter blood vessel walls and start the process of atherosclerosis. It is thought that by suppressing the production of TMAO, much of the entry of cholesterol into blood vessels could be prevented. 

We thank Dr. Varghese for his dedication to cardiovascular research and look forward to continuing to work with him to advocate for research funding.

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Join the Patient Support Network Today!

Improve your life and the lives of others when you join the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association Support Network, a virtual support community. Share your experiences. Give and get emotional support. Our communities and conversations offer survivors, caregivers and family members a place to ask a question, share concerns or fears, provide helpful tips, and find encouragement and inspiration. Whether you are a heart disease or stroke survivor or someone who loves them, our goal is to connect you with others who are going through similar journeys. Join the network today!

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Sing to End Stroke

One in three Americans can’t recall any stroke warning signs. What if singing a song could help people recognize a stroke and give someone the power to save a life?

On World Stroke Day, October 29th, the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association is using music to help people remember the common warning signs of stroke, F.A.S.T. (Face drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, Time to call 9-1-1).

Why learn the F.A.S.T song? The quicker you recognize the stroke warning signs and call 9-1-1 for stroke, the better the chances of recovery. 

Here is how you can participate:

So get your vocal cords ready and let's sing to end stroke!


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Stand with Us on World Stroke Day!

October 29 is World Stroke Day, created in 2006 to raise awareness of the seriousness of stroke and the need to seek immediate medical attention. Stroke is the No. 5 cause of death and a leading cause of adult disability. In fact, nearly 795,000 people in the United States suffer a stroke each year--that’s someone every 40 seconds.

Take a moment today to learn more about the signs and symptoms of stroke and don't forget to help spread the word this World Stroke Day!

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Lisa Hamrick, West Virginia

Lisa Hamrick

I remember riding with my parents and sisters in our station wagon as we made our way to my grandparents' house in Euclid, Ohio. I was going to be entering the Cleveland Clinic in a few days for heart surgery. We were fortunate that my Mom's parents lived so close to the Clinic. I was 19 years old at the time and had just completed my junior year of college--it was the summer of 1983.

I had what I would call the typical childhood growing up in the 1970s. I remember playing outside for hours and riding our bikes all over the neighborhood. And who could forget those pogo sticks we all had to have? I don't remember when I started experiencing issues with my heart, only that in junior high I passed out during a choir concert.  I recall being told not to stand with your knees locked.

I graduated from high school and began my college life at Alderson-Broaddus College. I began feeling very tired all the time so my Dad got an appointment for me with his cardiologist. You see, Dad has lived with heart disease his entire adult life. Dad's cardiologist examined me and did an echocardiogram in his office and could tell right away what my problem was. I had patent ductus arteriosus.  PDA is a condition in which a blood vessel, called the ductus arteriosus, fails to close normally in an infant soon after birth. This condition leads to heart murmur, as well as abnormal blood flow between the aorta and pulmonary artery. The doctor said my heart was working harder than it should due to the abnormal blood flow. I had been living with this problem since birth! At that time, no one in WV was performing surgical repair of PDA in adults, so my journey to Cleveland began.

I realize now that I was fortunate to survive with the condition undetected for so long. The surgery went well and I spent a few weeks at my grandparents' house recuperating. That was almost 30 years ago.

I tell my story in hopes of raising awareness in women that heart disease is not just a man's disease. We as women are the caretakers and superwomen who do it all at home and at work and we tend  to put ourselves last. You must take care of your heart so you will be around to receive all that love you give brought back to you!

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September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month and to help raise awareness with families across the country, the American Heart Association has brought back a fun and easy way to help you with the No. 1 health concern among parents – childhood obesity. Through the Life is Why Family Health Challenge™  families and kids will learn to take control of their health in four weeks by pursuing a different goal each week with activities that are fun, simple, won’t break the bank and can be done as a family! By the end of the month, you might feel accomplished and be better equipped to live a heart-healthy life. There will also be four Life is Why Family Health Challenge™ Twitter Chats every Wednesday in September.

Mark your calendars and get ready to take the challenge in September by visiting - where you will have access to videos, complimentary challenge materials, and the Life is Why Family Health Challenge™ social media group that will help you, and your family, stay on track.  



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Advocate Spotlight: Gloria Hobbs, Ohio

For many years, Gloria Hobbs lived with her husband on the south side of Youngstown, where there was a grocery store a few blocks away. Unfortunately, the passing of Gloria’s husband and the economic downtown precipitated many changes in her life.  She now lives in subsidized senior housing downtown and is no longer able to drive, which unfortunately means she no longer has convenient access to a grocery store. 

For Gloria and the 300 other seniors living in the complex, a trip to the store now entails four buses. It also changes what they can buy. “Going by bus, I can only carry two, maybe three grocery bags,” Gloria said.

Some seniors opt to avoid the walk to the bus stop and waiting in the cold, heat and rain, by taking senior rides to the store.  While the senior housing will subsidize these and it allows for more than a few bags of groceries, Gloria’s neighbors have shared that it still costs between $10 and $20 per ride.  This is a substantial amount when living on a fixed income.  

“My only choice downtown is to get food at the convenience store around the corner. They don’t sell greens or meat. They do sell apples, oranges, bananas, and potatoes, at twice the rate of a grocery store. Seniors on fixed income can’t afford to pay twice the going rate for healthy foods,” Gloria shared.  She believes since moving downtown, her health has deteriorated in ways related to lack of items for a healthy diet.

Gloria supports efforts to make a change. She believes development of an Ohio Healthy Food Financing program will positively impact Ohioans who live in areas like hers, that currently do not have a grocery store. Learn more about Healthy Food Financing efforts and how we can all help.

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