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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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CPR in Schools - it's official!

On Tuesday, April 26th, Governor Scott Walker signed Wisconsin’s CPR in Schools legislation into law, making Wisconsin the 31st state to ensure all students learn compressions-only CPR.

The American Heart Association’s CPR in Schools campaign began in earnest in August of 2015 when key AHA advocates and board members started to meet in-district with their legislators. Our grassroots efforts continued into the fall with a successful lobby day, bringing 120 people from every corner of the state in Madison to lobby legislators. During this time we also built a significant stakeholder coalition and released a promotional video starring three CPR-trained teenagers and the heart attack victim they helped save. 

In December our media advocacy efforts increased, resulting in significant print, radio and TV coverage. In early January we had public hearings in both the Senate and the Assembly, and AHA Board members joined advocates and experts from around the state in testifying. Full floor votes were soon after, with the Assembly passing the CPR in Schools bill on February 9th and the Senate following suite one week later.

Wisconsin’s CPR in Schools law takes effect in the 2017-2018 school year and will add over 58,000 CPR trained youth to local communities each year, thus bringing the total number of students trained every year to 1.8 million in all 31 states.

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Share Your Story: James Young

James Young, Michigan

Winter season 2011, will forever be a reminiscence of what eventually became a diagnosis of Congestive Heart Failure.  There I was, after a snow storm, shoveling a path down the sidewalk when I began to cough up, what I thought to be phlegm. However, after taking further notice behind me, as I continued to shovel snow, it was actually a trail of blood.  I'm sure some would instantly go into shock, panic, and drive themselves to the nearest emergency room.  Not me.  Instead, I kept shoveling that snow and when done, I went inside, where it was warm, took off my winter coat and accessories, made some hot cocoa and enjoyed the next few hours of YouTube video surfing.  Big mistake.

As Spring chased away the bitter cold and introduced sunshine, not only was I still coughing up blood but now my couging had worsened to the level of coughing convulsions -- especially when I laid down at night.  I could barely hold a conversation with anyone because once I opened my mouth to formulate words, my coughing would interrupt that attempt.

Because of my high acidity diet that included a high beer consumption on a regular basis, I would develop gout in my feet.  These gout attacks would become more constant and frequent as time went on.  Gout tends to cause inflammation and swelling around the big toe and around the ankles of the feet.  Ultimately, my "Band-Aid" attempts of taking Motrin proved to be non-beneficial and my gout flare ups became immune to the medication which caused me to limp a lot and, at times, not even able to put on my shoes.  I would also have to walk with my grandfather's cane, just to get around.

As summer came into view, I would awakened in the mornings and vomit, on top of the lingering coughing attacks that, at this point, were so strong, I would have to brace myself to prevent falling to the floor that's how strong my coughs became.

In terms of my heart, its beating patterns were so rapid, it felt as if I ran a marathon - just sitting.  One could actually see my heart beating out of my chest.

One day, my sister, out of much concern, convinced me to go see my doctor.

My first visit, I was given a full physical and placed on high blood pressure medications. In addition, my doctor gave me some other prescription medications that no human could possibly decipher into the English language.

The medication did very little in bringing about any normalcy in my condition so my doctor thought to perform an EKG.  When those results came back I was strongly encouraged to return to the doctors office immediately for the news.

Congestive Heart Failure was the diagnosis.  CHF is a chronic condition in which the heart doesn't pump blood as well as it should.  Still not quite understanding what those three words truly meant, she then hit me with kidney disease, pneumonia on my lungs, fluid retention, and an enlarged heart. Possibly because of the heavy medication I was under, I took all the news rather lightly and unconcernedly.  I had no idea how badly of a state my health was in. 

After several additional visits to the doctors office, which became weekly visits, this one visit was the tipping point.  My mother drove me to this appointment because by this time, I couldn't drive myself, due to the heavy medication I was under.  When we reached the reception area, I found it very difficult to get settled in a chair, I began to feel warm and my nerves were all over the place.  I told my mother I was going to step outside to get some air.  Unbeknownst to me, my mother and my doctor found me standing in the center of the parking lot, head tilted to the sky, trying my best to inhale air. 

My doctor yelled at me to get to emergency immediately.  I complied and found my self admitted.  During my almost two week stay, I was told that at 40 years of age I was the youngest person in the unit.  The cardiologist informed me that if I had waited another week, I would have died.

Laying in the hospital, confined to bed as a fall risk, I had no other choice but to reflect on my life, what I had done to myself, and if given another chance, what I would do differently...if I had another chance in my immediate future to change.

After my initial release I found myself back in emergency due to the fluid retention in my legs not subsiding.  After being released seven days later I began having regular visits to a cardiologist which terrified me with his ending comments into his handheld voice recorder.  Those last words were "...Patient James Young...if we do  not see improvement in his condition within the next 30 days, we will proceed with defibrillator implementation.

Let's just say, I used the next 30 days as if they were my last!  I stopped drinking alcohol, sodas, fast foods, minimized my cigarette smoking significantly and remained faithful to the Lasix medication regiment.  In less than a month, I was under 200 lbs. (195 lbs.) from 270 lbs.  I had another physical as well as an EKG on that day.

The results were delivered in the mail and the first thing I see is a personally drawn happy face with the words "Good Job James" next to the happy face.  After reviewing the results with my doctor she made one last comment that stuck with me.  She said "you have become responsible."  She went on to add, "you have overcome a condition that thousands of individuals suffer from everyday and your job in this second wind in life, it is important to share your triumph and give others the same hope that they too can CHANGE!"

So here I am today, still no alcohol consumption, done with cigarettes, and soda is a distant memory.  I am now able to do upwards of 10 miles on the track.  And to top it all off, I'm not longer on prescription medication.

If I can lend any advice, I had to learn to love myself MORE than my bad habits.  I had to deal with what was eating me before I effectively tackled what I was eating and putting into my body that was literally killing me.  Now, life is GREAT!!

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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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CDC releases new study about school lunches

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released a new study entitled, “Improvements and Disparities in Types of Foods and Milk Beverages Offered in Elementary School Lunches, 2006–2007 to 2013–2014,” by Lindsey Turner, Punam Ohri-Vachaspati, Lisa Powell and Frank J. Chaloupka. 

In this study, researchers analyzed survey responses from 4,630 public elementary schools participating in the National School Lunch Program. The survey evaluated disparities and changes in school lunch characteristics from 2006-2007 to 2013-2014. A report evaluating the changes in school lunches was published last year by Bridging the Gap, a nationally recognized research program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. This latest paper evaluates the disparities findings of the research.

Check out the rest of the story on PreventObesity.net

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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 www.heart.org/sodium 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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What's up with CPR in Schools?

In case you missed it, on February 16th, the Wisconsin State Senate passed AB 545, the bill that would ensure all students in Wisconsin are trained in hands-only CPR before they graduate from high school!

We expect that this bill will make it to the Governor's desk for his signature in the near future.  Keep an eye out for an email later this week about an activity you can do to help thank the Senators who helped pass this important legislation.

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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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Have you watched our CPR video yet?

The facts are clear.  Bystander CPR saves lives.  And the more people trained in hands-only CPR, the more potential lifesavers there are, ready to put their skills to use in an emergency. 
 
Dan Christianson is alive today because of the quick actions of three high school students who knew CPR and dialed 9-1-1.  Click the picture below to check out this video that shows why the American Heart Association is advocating so strongly for CPR training.

(Please visit the site to view this file)

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Join us on National Wear Red Day, Friday, February 5

The American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women are asking for your support by participating in National Wear Red Day® on Friday, February 5, 2016 and donating to help fund research during American Health Month.

Why Go Red? Heart disease and stroke cause 1 in 3 deaths among women each year, killing approximately one woman every 80 seconds.  Fortunately, we can change that because 80 percent of cardiac and stroke events may be prevented with education and action. That’s why this year we are asking that you wear red on National Wear Red Day® and donate to Go Red For Woman. By doing so you help support educational programs to increase women’s awareness and critical research to discover scientific knowledge about cardiovascular health. 

And don’t forget to make your heart health a priority. Schedule your Well-Woman Visit, a prevention check-up to review a woman’s overall health so her doctor can measure blood pressure, check cholesterol and look for signs of heart disease, stroke and other illnesses. Then encourage others through your social channels to do the same.

We couldn’t make positive changes without the support and donations by individuals like you.

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