American Heart Association - You’re the Cure

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American Heart Association Praises Historic FDA Action to Remove Trans Fat from Foods

Washington, D.C., June 16, 2015 – American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown issued the following comments on the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) final determination that partially hydrogenated oils are no longer “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS), released today:

“The American Heart Association joins the public health community today in celebrating what is truly a historic victory for the nation’s health. After years of advocating for the removal of industrially produced trans fat from the country’s food supply, we couldn’t be more gratified that this day has finally come."

Click here to read more!

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Share your Story: Andrew Christensen

Andrew Christensen  Michigan

I was born on May 3,1990 with a rare heart condition called Truncus Arteriosus with ventricular bi septal defect, a condition that effects only 1% of children born with congenital heart conditions. It means that one large blood vessel leads out of my heart instead of two separate vessels coming out of the heart. Also, the two lower chambers of the heart are missing a portion of the wall that divides them. As a result of truncus arteriosus, oxygen poor blood that should go to the lungs and oxygen rich blood that should go to the rest of the body are mixed together. This was found minutes after my birth when I experienced what is called “blue baby syndrome” and was rushed into heart surgery at the University Of Michigan Mott Children’s Hospital.

The first surgery I had to repair the truncus was successful, but I did require two more open hearts within my first two weeks of life. This lead to me never living quite a normal life. Being fed through tubes as an infant, doctor appointments, medicine to take, and never being able to play sports like a normal child. I did have to have another open heart procedure at the age of 8, causing me to miss most of my second grade year at school. This was the first surgery I remember, but within days after returning home my mother caught me outside throwing a football and running around the yard. My childhood remained pretty normal with only a few minor bumps in the road with my condition: an Amplatzer placement when I was 11 years old to fix a leaking valve in my heart and a heart cath followed, and was told I was not going to have to experience another open heart procedure until my mid to late 20s.

I wish that was the case.  During baseball practice in junior high I suffered a major Tachycardia, a resting heart rate exceeding 100 bpm. Mine was 285 bpm when I arrived at the ER, but was much faster than that when it initially happened. I arrived at the Greenville emergency room nearly an hour after my tachycardia started and was rushed into a room where the medical staff franticly started an IV and hooked me up to a heart monitor; they were shocked to see that I was still alive and walking with such a fast heart rate. They administered a medicine that stopped my heart in order to restart it to a normal rhythm. I flat lined for about a minute and a half. I was clinically dead for that 90 or so seconds, experiencing an out-of-body experience in which I could not hear, feel, or see anything in the room that was in. The nursing staff could not start my heart back up right away due to the fact that it was simply too tired to work anymore. I eventually opened my eyes to see my mother five inches from me, tears running down her face and a blank expression for what she just saw happen to her son. When I awoke my heart rate was a calm 75 bpm and I felt tired, but normal.

After this event I was transported back to the University of Michigan for two more open heart surgeries, one ICD (implantable cardioverter defibrillator) placement, a collapsed lung, and 45 pound weight loss. After about two months I was able to return home with my family. However, I did not return as my old self. I brought home not only physical scars from my ordeal, but mental scars too. I have since been diagnosed with PTSD, major depression, and anxiety along with panic attacks and nightmares about having another heart attack. I am, however, getting better and working daily to regain control of my life.

That is why I want to be proactive in helping others with heart conditions, and those who have had similar experiences.  I have felt alone for a long time, but I know I am not, and this website is proof of that.  I am going to dedicate my life to helping others with congenital heart defects: children, adults, anyone who needs it.  I am very glad to be able to share my story with all of you and the American Heart Association and I hope to be more involved in the future.  I'm excited about where this journey of my life will take me and the people I will meet that will inspire me.

Thank you for reading my story,


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Summer Health Tips

The arrival of summer means days at the pool, family barbeques, picnics, sports and other outdoor activities. Below are a few tips that you can use this summer to keep your whole family happy and healthy.



Staying active in the summer months

  • Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate! Drink plenty of water before, during and even after physical activity.
  • Protect your family from the sun.
  • Try to avoid intense physical activity during the hottest parts of the day (between noon to 3pm).
  • Dress for the heat.
  • Head indoors when the heat becomes unbearable. There are plenty of indoor activities that can keep you active on the hottest days.

Heart-Healthy Cookout Ideas

  • Go fish!
  • Make a better burger by purchasing leaner meat and adding delicious veggies.
  • Replace your traditional greasy fries with some heart healthy baked fries.
  • Veggie kabobs are a fun and healthy addition to your family barbeque.
  • Try grilled corn on the cob.

Healthy Road Trip

  • Make “rest breaks” active.
  • Pack healthy snacks to avoid the unhealthy foods at rest stops along your way.
  • Pack to play to continue your regular physical activity.
  • Reach for water instead of being tempted by sugary drinks.

Summer Snack Ideas

  • Homemade freezer fruit pops are an easy and fun treat for the whole family.
  • Keep your veggies cool and crisp during the summer months and they becoming a refreshing treat.
  • Fruit smoothies area a healthy way to cool yourself down on a hot summer day.
  • Mix up your own trail mix to take on all of your summer adventures.
  • Just slice and serve all the delicious fruits that are in season during the summer months.


Read more about these tips and other getting healthy tips over at 

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Op-Ed: Wisconsin should encourage sidewalks and bikeways

Check out this great op-ed that was printed in the Wisconsin State Journal this month.  It was submitted by Andy Wiegman, a member of our State Advocacy Committee and a member of the Metro-Milwaukee Board of Directors for the American Heart Association.

"In Wisconsin, some politicians in the Legislature want to eliminate a policy that places a premium on street design, taking away an important tool to increase the number of safe places and connected destinations for people who drive, walk and bike.

West Virginia, meanwhile, recently passed a law aimed at allowing people walking and biking to get around in a safer manner.

Interestingly, officials in both states are talking about the same program: Complete Streets."

Read more:


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Share your Story: Scott & Danielle Hawkins

Scott & Danielle Hawkins Michigan

In April of 2014 my husband, Scott, had an Ateriovenous Malformation (AVM) rupture. Fortunately, Scott knew something was happening because he had an intense headache and slurred speech. After calling me, we both called 911.

That phone call saved Scott's life and was the only reason he made it to the hospital in time to have life saving procedures.

The  AVM aneurysm caused a hemorrhagic stoke and also a heart attack. 

After 3 weeks in ICU,  5 weeks in pulmonary rehab and 20 weeks of inpatient intense rehabilitation, Scott came home. Something I was told many times would never happen.

Before the AVM, we led a very busy life. I worked full-time, Scott was about to start Graduate School at Michigan State University (Go Green!). We traveled, spent a lot of time with our children, went to music festivals, road trips and spent so much time with all of our family and friends.

Now, a year into our new life, it is definitely slower. Therapy is going strong and it is so encouraging to see progress still EVERY SINGLE DAY. We love to spend time with the kids, going to the movies, out to dinner and watching them in their many activities. We are also so excited to make it to music festivals again this summer. Of course there are many new limitations and obstacles and it has been quite a learning experience. But we have found so many resources and met so many incredible people along this journey. Scott and I really are lucky to have the most amazing support system of friends and family that support us and are excited to join us in this next step of our life.

Now, even though there is still a long road of recovery for Scott, we feel drawn to start helping others. While in the hospital Scott and I were able to join stroke support groups and it helped,especially me, with staying strong and pushing forward. We hope to give that type of encouragement and hope to others.

There is always hope.

Scott & Danielle Hawkins

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Lobby Day MVPs in the Spotlight

There were SO many amazing stories surrounding this year’s Hill Day that it was hard to narrow down our annual lobby day award winners. Not a bad problem to have! Please join us in congratulating these You’re the Cure MVPs, and then learn more about their stories in this video.


  • Science Advocate of the year – Dr. David Yu-Yiao Huang: Dr. Huang has been involved with AHA advocacy since 2003. From submitting expert written testimony and attending in-district meetings, to speaking before lawmakers, his passion for policy and his belief in the positive change policy can achieve has contributed significantly to big wins in North Carolina.
  • Volunteer Advocate of the Year – Theresa Conejo: Theresa has been one of the key proponents of Pennsylvania’s comprehensive smoke-free law. Last year, she signed a smoke-free op-ed which was picked up by major news outlets across the state. She also aggressively advocated for the proposed Clean Indoor Law. In addition, she recruits new You’re the Cure advocates at every opportunity. In fact, just recently, she signed up an additional 35 volunteers to join her in Pennsylvania’s smoke-free fight.
  • Survivor Advocate of the Year – Jim Bischoff: Jim’s own struggle with heart disease, as well as his experience with his son-in-law’s stroke, gives him a unique perspective to share during state and federal lobby days and meetings with lawmakers. His family history inspired him to provide leadership on stroke systems of care legislation. He also dedicates his time to tobacco issues, and attends in-district meetings with his lawmaker to discuss both of these important issues.
  • Youth Advocate of the Year – Cassidy Collins: Cassidy uses her story as a congenital heart survivor to illustrate the importance of AHA’s policy issues. At the age of 16, her resume is already quite impressive – she’s met with U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin to advocate for tobacco control funding; she has been a top fundraiser for the Roanoke Heart Walk for two years; and she has applied to work as a youth advocate for the Alliance for a Healthier Generation.

Check out a video below highlighting the award winners!

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How to Keep the Winning Game Going

You're the Cure on the Hill isn’t the only opportunity to connect with members of Congress! As their constituents, you have the power and the RIGHT to tell them at any time to step up to the plate on the heart and stroke issues you care about most.

Here are some tips for getting your lawmaker off the bench and into the game:


  • Follow them on social media and send them messages on issues you care about.
  • Sign up for their e-newsletters on their websites. This is a great way to learn about events where you can meet the lawmakers in person and stay informed.
  • Work with your local AHA advocacy staff to schedule an in-district meeting. Members of Congress come home throughout the year on recess breaks, so they use this time to meet with constituents back in the district. Take advantage of their time at home and schedule a meeting to discuss the heart and stroke issues that matter to you and your family.
  • Most importantly, take action year round. Watch your inbox for calls to action from You’re the Cure and continue engaging your lawmaker through emails, phone calls and tagging them in your social media posts.

We had a real impact this week, but we need to keep the momentum going. Let's keep reminding our members of Congress that they need to step up for heart health all year round!

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May is American Stroke Month

Anyone can have a stroke and everyone should be ready.

Every 40 seconds, someone in the U.S. suffers a stroke and every 4 minutes, someone dies from a stroke. That is why The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association is inviting all Americans to become Stroke Heroes by learning and sharing the warning signs of stroke, F.A.ST. (Face drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, Time to call 9-1-1).

Recognizing and responding to a stroke emergency immediately can lead to quick stroke treatment and may even save a life. Be ready!

Here is how you can participate in American Stroke Month

  • Share the F.A.S.T. acronym with your friends, family and loved ones throughout American Stroke Month.
  • Share our F.A.S.T. Quiz to test your stroke knowledge.
  • Download our free Spot a Stroke F.A.S.T. mobile app to prepare you in case of a stroke emergency and to have easy access.

Go to to learn more about how you can get involved.




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From the Bottom of our Hearts - Thank You!

National Volunteer Week (April 12-18) is right around the corner and we couldn’t let it pass without saying how much we appreciate all your contributions as a You’re the Cure advocate. It’s advocates like you who give their time, energy, and passion to help create healthier communities across the country.  We are deeply grateful for your commitment and talent as an advocate.

Since staff can’t always shake your hand and say thank you in person we’ve got a brief video to share. When you watch I am sure you too will be moved by all the great work happening in your states and communities and we look forward to more success in the future. Take a moment to check out the video and then encourage other to get involved and join in the fun.

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Spring Heart Walk season is here!

Heart Walk season is here!  Would you like to start a team and bring your friends and family on board?  Can you help us get your company involved?  If you’d like more information, drop an email to and I’ll connect you with the Corporate Events Director in your area!  Here’s what’s coming up:




Portage County & South Wood County Heart Walk
May 2, 2015
Click here for more info:

Washington County Heart Walk
May 16, 2015
Click here for more info:

Wausau Heart Walk
May 16, 2015
Click here for more info:

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