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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 GoRedForWomen.org/RedDressCollection on Thursday, February 12 at 8 p.m. Eastern. See you there!

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Wear Red Day Reception at the Capitol 2015

We are glad to have so many wonderful advocates, volunteers, survivors and lawmakers who were able to join us for our Wear Red Day reception at the Capitol last week.  Special thanks go out to Senator Jennifer Shilling and her staff for all their help.  Thanks also to Cari Anne Renlund, 2015 Madison Go Red for Women Chair, for speaking at the event.  We hope to see even more of you in 2016!

 

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Share your Story: Carrie Hoch-Mortlock

Carrie Hoch-Mortlock Michigan


I will begin by taking you back to year 2010.  I woke up one Sunday in March and decided to stop smoking, cold turkey. I never smoked a lot, a pack per week or two. I was a social smoker.  In January of that same year, I started working with a personal trainer. It was my 40th birthday and decided I wanted to live a longer life. I needed to become healthy again by eating better and exercising.  It was also about the same time our company was getting more serious about wellness awareness, education and benefits.  I thought...well…I need to be a role model for others.  If I do so and show how easy it could be, I can inspire others.


In 2011 I started running on the treadmill and running a little around the neighborhood.  In 2012 I signed up for my first running race. Smoke free for two years and 20 pounds lighter, I ran my first 5k on May 5.  I was hooked. I have participated in over 20 races since that date averaging about 15 miles per week.  I did everything the right way, followed the plan, and made the transformation slow and healthy. I decided to sign up for my first 10K in 2014.

 
On December 5 of 2013, I woke up with a sharp pain at the top of my quad in my left leg.  Had a little hard time walking that day and thought I just pulled a muscle. Because I am who I am, I ran 2.5 miles at an event that night. I made a promise, I kept it. I paid the price as I woke up the next morning with the same pain. I stopped running for a few weeks giving it time to heal.  Unfortunately, it didn’t get any better. I finally gave in and made an appointment with an orthopedic doctor, who specializes in running injuries. The X-rays did not show anything. I was still having a hard time walking straight, so she scheduled an MRI.  MRI on January 12, 2014 showed a stress fracture, what?  My doctor was more shocked than me. The decision was to avoid surgery and place me on crutches for a month and keep weight off the left leg and hope it heals. After my first week of crutches, I was tired, more tired than I had ever felt before.  I remember on Friday evening falling asleep on the couch.  My husband woke me when he returned from work and we realized I had been asleep for hours.  Not like me at all. I thought I must just be coming down with the flu or something.  That is the last thing I remember, I woke up in Bronson Hospital two days later.


On Saturday January 25, 2014 two blood clots traveled to both lungs and I suffered a double pulmonary embolism. Because it caused lack of oxygen to my heart, I suffered a cardiac arrest and underwent CPR for about three minutes.  The paramedics had kept asking my husband what kind of drugs I was taking. It was the only explanation they could diagnose relative to my symptoms; I had to be overdosing they said.  My husband kept saying: I promise I know my wife is not taking drugs; she rarely even takes an aspirin. Giving CPR is so grueling on the body, back up was requested and anyone close by has to report for help.  Eight cop cars showed up at my house that day to help. Life EMS and KPS saved my life! My husband laughs at me, but every time I see a Life EMS ambulance, I say “who hoo”!


About three days later in the hospital surrounded by my family, I started asking more questions. Why am I here? Did all of this happen while I was asleep? Thoughts quickly go back to everything my Mother taught me.  Please tell me I had on clean underwear. I remembered nothing, absolutely nothing. Later on I had a faint memory of my husband yelling my name. Reality was I had awaked to my alarm, took a shower and was fully dressed before I collapsed to the floor.  I remember none of it.  I had passed out on the floor and my husband found me and woke me up.  My response when I awoke? “Call Sarah and tell her I can’t make my hair appointment”.  Really, that is what came out of my mouth?  For those that know me, that should not be surprising.  Thankfully my husband called 911. Why? Because when he asked if he should, I did not argue back. Yes, I just said that and yes, because I am a control nut. When I found out about all of the cop cars, the first thing I thought was “oh no”!  The neighbors must think we are running a meth lab in our basement. We just moved into a new house and not yet met any of the neighbors.


I was finally moved out of ICU into a regular hospital room after about four days.  I was only supposed to be in the hospital about six days.  My team of doctors was not able to get my Coumadin levels at a therapeutic level, therefore, had to keep me a few days longer. I believe that happened for a reason. On Friday, January 31, I suffered two strokes. One affected the right side of my brain and the other the occipital lobe in the back of my brain that left me vision impaired and limited use of my left hand. My body was throwing blood clots, and we could not figure out why. The doctors went into overdrive. At one point, I had a team of six specialists looking after me, an internal medical doctor, a cardiologist, an ophthalmologist, a neurologist, a hematologist, and now a gyn/oncologist…


It took almost twelve hours for the doctors to determine I had two infarct strokes.  First MRI showed no damage.  At first, the nurses treated me for a migraine headache. There was no way to reverse the stroke; I was already on all the medicine used to do so. The neurosurgeon came in on Saturday and told us that they have no idea when and how the vision would return. The brain tissue has to die and your brain spends time rewiring. It could take four months to six months or as long as twelve months; it was too soon to tell.  I just went silent.  My husband wondered why I was so calm.  Truthfully, I was screaming inside.  I never said why me or why did this happen? I just said to myself, “I can’t do anything about this; all I can do is hope for the best”.  I suffered very bad headaches for two weeks that were very debilitating. I would see a bright neon light in the upper left hand side of my vision, an aura.  They would have to give me pain medicine and I would be down for hours.  I now have a blind spot in the same location.  I remember looking into the mirror at myself in the bathroom for the first time; all I could see was my right eye and eyebrow, a tiny section of the upper right side of my face was all I could see. Everything else was blurry.


A hematologist/oncologist was the one that saved me.  He said the last time he saw something similar, it was cancer of the female reproductive organs.  They called in an oncologist who ordered an MRI.  The next day she came in and told us my uterus had tripled its normal size.  Whether cancer or not, it had to come out and as soon as possible. How on earth could I not have known?  I didn’t have any symptoms. Again, I had no knowledge.
They found pre-cancer cells in the endometrial lining of the uterus.  They would have to perform a hysterectomy and once they opened me up, they would have knowledge if cancer had formed in areas unable to be detected by bloodtox screens and if radiation or chemotherapy would be needed. I remember my Father saying to me while in the hospital, “I am very proud of you and how you are getting through all of this”. No sense in getting upset, I can’t change it, all I can do is fight!


Before surgery, it was onto therapy boot camp. They had to wait two weeks from the date of stoke to perform surgery, it was safer that way.  They checked me into an in-house rehabilitation center and every day went through hours of therapy. They had me putting together puzzles, completing word searches, memory games, reading, using a computer…even teaching me how to operate a microwave and a washing machine.


On February 14, I had my surgery, a hysterectomy.  Yes, on Valentine’s Day.  I had never seen so many doctors in an operating room.  Post surgery, doctors let me know they found no cancer, finally some good news!  Not sure if coincidental, but once I woke up from surgery, I never experienced another headache again. And my vision improved a little every day.  I was lucky! People would ask, “how is your vision today?” I felt it improved each day but I was hesitant to say so as I was not sure if it was really improving or my brain was compensating.  The day I knew it was better is when I arrived for my follow up appointment at the neuroscience center.  I could actually see the face of the neurologist.  When she first presented to my hospital room, I knew she was blonde, but was not able to make out her face.  I could see her face for the first time, definite progress!


Bottom line… no symptoms of any kind. Well, unless you classify the hip fracture as a symptom. Remember where this all began? With a hip fracture if you recall.  Interesting that my major concern ended up being a minor one.  It was the perfect storm. I look back and it’s hard to believe.  People ask and I have to think, a hip fracture…a double pulmonary embolism, a cardiac arrest, two strokes and a hysterectomy… all in 30 days.  You can’t make a story like that up. A funny thing.  While in the hospital we received a letter from our insurance carrier. It stated UHC had audited my medical claim and your MRI performed on January 12 has been deemed unnecessary…really?  Good thing I can laugh at that now.


The staff at Bronson Hospital was amazing. I felt like I was the only person there. When you spend three weeks in the hospital, you get to know many people personally.

 
I finally made it home on Monday, February 17.  All I wanted was to sleep in my own bed next to my husband. My Mom stayed with me for a few weeks and my Dad was there too for about a week of that time. My brother drove up for a weekend.  My in-laws were by my side every day.  I can’t even begin to tell you the amazing support I received from family and friends and countless cards and letters sent.  I had visitors at my hospital bed every day and my hospital room looked like a flower shop. My family had posted Facebook messages for prayers.  I had people praying for me that never met me before.  Dad told me even months after my ordeal, he still had folks in his town walk up and ask him how I was doing.   God bless family and friends. My most treasured gifts were the bouquet of flowers sent by the Bronson HR team, a big Get Well card from work with many personal messages and a card from our banquets team with their hand prints with messages that accompanied food they sent to the house for us.


I was in a wheelchair during my rehabilitation and my first week home. I amazed myself how well I did.  At one point I was contemplating having a wheelchair race party. Bronson had physical therapy perform home visits almost every day to get me up and walking again.  I finally transferred to a walker for assistance for about two weeks.  I walked without the walker for the first time on my birthday, March 2. I remember on March 10, my husband and I traveled up north for an event.  It was the first time I had worn dress up clothes, other than a hospital gown and pajamas. I almost forgot how to apply make-up and use a hair dryer. It felt so good.

 
While at home, I kept watching television.  All I could see was the upper right hand side of the screen. I would see many distortions. Strange objects would shoot from the television; it was a manifestation of auras. To read, I had to move my head and focus using the right sides of my eyes. I decided I wanted to go see a movie, just to see what I could see on a big screen.  We went to see “Pompei” and I could make most of it out. As soon as I was stable, I started completing jigsaw puzzles. My father-in-law purchased some five puzzles for me. I would take a picture and text him every time I completed one. I am hooked.  I worked my way up to a 2000 piece puzzle of the Las Vegas strip.


Today, we joke and say I slept for 2 months.  I can say it’s much easier being the patient than the spouse. My husband really is the person that lived through this entire ordeal. He won the Husband of the Year Award hands down. Thanks to amazing care, my vision improved to 75% in just a few months.

 
On March 19 I returned to work. My boss went on a five week trip to Australia.  Folks said that I would beat him back to work.  You can’t say something like that to me; because I of course did everything I could to beat him back to work.  I did, I beat him by two days. On April 25 I jogged for the first time again.  I was only able to run three and a half minutes.  That was okay to me, I will take it!  I was frustrated at first, but then I thought, just a few months ago you almost died twice. Take three and half minutes, it’s a miracle! I drove for the first time on May 10.

 
How did I get through all of this?  Outside of being a miracle, it was positivity, loving family and friends, my faith and a hundred angels.  God was not ready to take me, it was not my time.  I must have more to do here, and now I have to figure out what that is.  I do have survivors’ guilt every now and then, and I remind myself, there is a reason you are still here. Somewhere, someone is counting on you.


The reality is I am brain damaged. You would not know by looking at me.  Doctors today scratch their head in disbelief of what happened to me.  I think maybe I hide it well? I hold onto something in my left hand, it shakes. If I spend too much time on one task, my left hand freezes up. I have two blind spots on my left side and my field of vision is from one to two feet.  Glasses help a little to see up close and far away.  But glasses won’t fix it. I am brain damaged, my eyes are fine.  I have hard time processing information if there are too many things going on at one time. I sometimes forget about conversations and at times have a hard time finding a simple word.  It’s difficult to articulate too sometimes. But, I can live with all of this, it’s my new normal.

They say when you have a near death experience, you change. I am changed.  One real moment was when my in-laws came over for dinner on a Saturday night.  My Father in Law was helping me with a puzzle and he said to me, “it was nice getting to know you these past two months”. My heart sank into my stomach.  I have been with Michael, my husband, for 15 years.  You realize you have one life, now you have to live it.

 
What now? My team of doctors state they are 50% sure that my uterus caused the blood clots to form that is only 50%.  I have to give myself a shot every morning. .  I am still under the care of Neurology and Hematology/Oncology for the next few years as they keep watch over me. I volunteered to be a research subject for the University of Michigan Stroke Center. If they can find out the why and how, I might be able to save someone in the future from having to go through the same course of events.


One word comes to mind, resilience.  Where did this come from? Both my parents come from humble beginnings.  You learn early on there is a difference between want and need.  And if you wanted, you had to work hard to get it. My Mom grew up in the mountains of Virginia and did not have indoor plumbing until she was 17 years of age. My Dad grew up with three sisters in a two room house with a single Mother who worked in a school cafeteria. My Dad’s Father died when he was nine years old.  And as the oldest child and the only male, he grew up fast.  He lived in the wet basement of that house. He can remember times when they only had white rice for dinner. My parents are both self made. My Dad was hard. He was the pusher; he taught me high expectations. Mom was the nurturer.


It all goes back to resilience. You take your positive energy and make the best of any situation, and you will persevere.  I recently read a quote that spoke to me…"The winner’s edge is not in a gifted birth, a high IQ, or in talent. The winner’s edge is all in the attitude" - Dennis Waitley.


This speaks to me. I get it! I am a miracle.

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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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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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This Holiday Season, Shop Heart!
It's that time of year again, when we’re all doing our last minute holiday shopping. This year consider giving a gift from the heart. Shop Heart and choose from an assortment of items like cookbooks, apparel, and accessories. You can share the message of heart health when you give an American Heart Association t-shirt, jacket, lapel pin, or tie. Along with all of these great gift ideas, we also have many of our educational materials available, so you can share important heart and stroke prevention advice with friends and family. Best of all when you Shop Heart the money you spend goes directly towards supporting the mission of the American Heart Association!
Also, don't forget to share the Shop Heart site with your own networks, we think you'll find some great gifts for friends and family. Happy Holidays!

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Giving Thanks for a Great Year!

As fall draws to a close, we are taking the time to thank all of our volunteers and celebrating a great year. Together, You’re the Cure advocates, like you, successfully advocated for heart healthy and stroke smart policies in their communities and states. We could not achieve the positive change in our communities without each and everyone of you. We are truly thankful for all that you do!

Below are just a few of the accomplishments we are thankful for this year: 

 

  1. Six new states require CPR as a graduation requirement. That means over 1.1 million students will be trained in life-saving CPR every year! With your help, we can add even more states to this list!
  2. Twelve new states require newborn screening for congenital heart defects before they leave the hospital. The earlier we can detect an issue with these little hearts, the better chances at a healthy life. Thirty-two states now require this screening.
  3. A half-a-dozen states increased funding for heart disease and stroke related programs.
  4. Advocates from all over the country made their voice heard in Washington D.C. on issues from more physical education in school to increasing funding for more heart and stroke research.

Once again, thank you for all the work you have done this year and for years to come! We cannot wait to see what the next 12 months brings us, but with your help, we know we will improve the lives of heart and stroke patients across the country.

Want to learn more about what we do? Check out the video below and share it with others!

(Please visit the site to view this video)

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November is National Family Caregivers Month.

Each November, the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association recognizes National Family Caregivers Month (NFCM) to acknowledge the millions of family caregivers who are caring for their loved ones with a chronic disease. With 2.2 million stroke family caregivers in the U.S., the AHA/ASA strives to provide the post-stroke resources, information, and recognition family caregivers need to not only help their loved one, but to find the time for self-care they often lose. Join us in recognizing these amazing caregivers this November and beyond.

Click here to visit our website to get more information about National Family Caregivers Month and check out our five easy ways to help support the campaign:

  • Download and share Caregiver Resources to help you and/or your loved ones through the caregiving journey.
     
  • Join the new Support Network to connect with other stroke survivors and caregivers, share your story and more. 
     
  • Recognize your family caregiver by nominating him/her as a Stroke Hero on ASA's Facebook page.
     
  • Take the Spot A Stroke F.A.S.T. Quiz so you can be prepared in a stroke emergency.
     
  • If you're a healthcare professional or provider, you can also use our resources available on the Stroke Resource Center to help educate your staff, patients and community about stroke.  

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Trick or Treat?

Candy Corn, Gummy Bears, Peanut Butter Cups, Swedish Fish, Candy Bar, Bubblegum and Cotton Candy… These may sound like treats the neighborhood kids are hoping to pick up when they go trick-or-treating later this month, but they’re actually the tricks used by companies to hook our kids on nicotine. These are flavors of e-cigarette liquid available for purchase today.

With alluring flavors like those and a dramatic increase in youth exposure to e-cigarette advertising, the rising popularity of e-cigarettes among youth shouldn’t come as a surprise. Still, it raises concerns. Strong regulations are needed to keep these tobacco products out of the hands of children. We’ve asked the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to prohibit the marketing and sale of e-cigarettes to minors, and we’re still waiting for them to act.

Meanwhile, CDC launched this week their #20Million Memorial. 20 million people have died from smoking-related illnesses since the 1964 Surgeon General’s report on smoking and health. Has smoking affected you and your family? Check out this moving online memorial, then share your story or honor loved ones lost too soon with the hashtag #20Million.  

AHA staff and volunteers across the country are preparing to fight the tobacco epidemic in upcoming state legislative sessions. They’ll ask for state funding for tobacco prevention programs and for increased tobacco taxes, a proven deterrent for youth smoking.

This Halloween, don’t let our kids continue to get tricked by the tobacco companies. Help end the tobacco epidemic for good. To amplify our message with lawmakers, ask friends and family members to join us, then watch your inbox for opportunities to act!  

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October is Sudden Cardiac Awareness Month

Do you know the difference between a heart attack and sudden cardiac arrest?  People often use these terms interchangeably, but they are not synonyms. A heart attack is when blood flow to the heart is blocked, and sudden cardiac arrest is when the heart malfunctions and suddenly stops beating unexpectedly. A heart attack is a “circulation” problem and sudden cardiac arrest is an “electrical” problem.  Click here to learn more about the differences!

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