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The Time to Fight for NIH Research is Now!

For the last month, thousands of You’re the Cure advocates have signed our petition to say, “I won’t stop fighting for NIH”. We cannot wait to deliver all of these names this week when 20  advocates meet with their members of Congress.

However, your fight does not end here.

In addition to delivering your name, these advocates will also remind Congress that we must make NIH a priority... but they need your help. Will you amplify their message by sending one more letter to your legislators?

I know we have asked you to contact Congress a few times this year, but, thanks to you, we are the closest we’ve been in years to an increase in NIH funding. Proposed bills in both the US House and Senate give NIH additional funding, but nothing is final until we see a Presidential signature.

Every voice counts as we try to convince our lawmakers to support more medical research.

Will you urge your lawmakers to make NIH research funding a priority today? 



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We won't stop fighting for heart and stroke research!

This has been a great year for You’re the Cure volunteers advocating for more heart and stroke research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). So far, we’ve sent 23,000 messages to Capitol Hill, over 380 advocates met with lawmakers during You’re the Cure on the Hill, and countless numbers of passionate volunteers shared their stories on social media.

What did all of this hard work accomplish? The budget process is still not over, but here's the latest:


  1. A proposed budget bill in the U.S. House increases NIH's funding by $1.1 billion.
  2. A proposed budget bill in the U.S. Senate increases NIH's funding by $2 billion.
  3. Finally, the U.S. House passed a separate bill, the 21st Century Cures Act, which would give the NIH an extra $8.75 billion over the next 5 years. The bill is now in the Senate for consideration.

The House and Senate still need to work out its budget differences and nothing is final until the President signs a bill. However, this is the closest we've been in years to increased heart and stroke funding, so will you pledge not to give up the fight?

In September, another group of You’re the Cure advocates will join 300 other organizations in Washington DC. Not only will they urge Congress to increase heart and stroke research funding, but they will be delivering the names of everyone who has pledged to keep fighting for the NIH. 

It’s crucial that your name be on that petition we deliver to Capitol Hill. We've made great strides in the fight for more heart and stroke research funding this year, but we cannot give up now.

Your message to Congress is simple: "I won't stop fighting for the NIH." Tell them today!

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A Winning Game for School Lunches and Research Funding!

At You’re the Cure on the Hill 2015, more than 380 AHA advocates and staff from all 50 states, plus DC —and thousands more back home—stepped up to the plate for healthy school lunches and medical research funding. This year, our Hill day theme was built off the great American game of baseball, something that could resonate with advocates and lawmakers alike and give them a rallying cry for the event: Step Up to the Plate! It was an invitation from advocates to lawmakers, asking them to get off the bench and into the game. And they knocked it out of the park.

It was one of our most exciting days on the Hill with a combination of passionate advocates meeting face-to-face with their lawmakers and thousands of supportive voices from around the country who backed them up with phone calls, emails, tweets and Facebook posts. Together, our voices hit a home run for healthy school meals and heart and stroke research funding.

Advocates conducted 293 meetings with lawmakers, asking them to protect the progress made by the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act and support school nutrition standards. At the same time, advocates asked lawmakers to make heart disease and stroke research a national priority by increasing the budget of the National Institutes of Health.

Meanwhile, advocates back home around the country jumped in as pinch hitters to call and email their members of Congress and ask them to Step Up to the Plate. Capitol Hill received over 6,218 messages from constituents back home.

Throughout the day, we had so many all-star advocates who made the views, passions and needs of constituents known to their lawmakers in new and compelling ways. On top of that, we had two Congressional Award Winners who rounded out the team: Sen. Crapo (R-ID) and Sen. Mikulski (D-MD). They received the American Heart Association’s National Public Service Award, which has been granted biennially since 1982 to members of Congress who have actively promoted our mission. We are so thrilled to have their support!

Below is a snapshot of our day!

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Ryley Williams testifies to promote funding for pediatric stroke research

Ryley Williams was 15 years old, a 6-foot-2, 220-pound football player – and he was also the victim of a stroke.

Today, nearly three years after intense surgeries and still in ongoing physical therapy, he will be testifying before Congress on Wednesday to promote more funding for research and awareness about pediatric stroke. He and his mother will appear before a Labor, Health and Human Services Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee.

His mother, Terri Rose of Bentonville, Arkansas, who will testify with him, said she wants lawmakers to remember Ryley when they start working on the budget.

This article originally appeared on the American Heart Association main website. Click here to read the entire article.

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Advocate highlights for legislators the importance of research funding

As a girl of 11, Shobha Ghosh experienced the deaths of both her mother and older sister in the span of just 10 days. It was a trauma that would set her on a course she has travelled for four decades now, a search to find a cure to heart disease.

Today, Dr. Shobha Ghosh, is a leading researcher looking for ways to use gene therapy to flush plaque-building cholesterol from cells. She will be describing her research during a briefing Tuesday on Capitol Hill that highlights the value of “Discovery to Delivery” – and highlighting for legislators the importance of critical funding over time so that innovations in medicine can become realities.

The event features basic, clinical and health services researchers, as well as heart patients. It is sponsored by AcademyHealth, Research!America, American Heart Association, and The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease.

This article originally appeared on the American Heart Association webpage. Click here to read the rest of the article.

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Tell your lawmaker: Heart and stroke research is a priority!

Imagine if we didn’t know that smoking led to heart disease or stroke. Think about all of the lives lost if we didn’t have AEDs. How many stroke and heart disease survivors would we have if it weren’t for clot-busting drugs?  It’s hard not to take these and other medical milestones for granted. But if it weren't for our investment in the National Institutes of Health (NIH), these breakthroughs might not be here today.

Unfortunately, future discoveries will be in jeopardy if our lawmakers continue to inadequately fund medical research.  Will you contact your lawmaker today and urge them to make NIH heart and stroke research a national priority?

Right now, members of both the U.S. House and Senate are determining their priorities for upcoming appropriation bills. It's crucial that as many lawmakers as possible request a funding increase for the NIH if we hope to discover more lifesaving heart and stroke treatments.

Over the past 10 years, the NIH budget has not kept pace with medical research inflation, resulting in more than a 20% loss in purchasing power. Moreover, NIH continues to invest only 4% of its budget on heart research and a mere 1% on stroke research. This means promising discoveries to save even more lives will be left in the lab room and not in the hands of doctors.

Like me, I am sure you find this unacceptable. But this trend will only change if we stand up and urge our legislators to make NIH a national priority.

Medical breakthroughs do not happen overnight. Each step takes countless hours of research and manpower, trial and error, hope and frustration. But each step is an opportunity to bring a new chance at life to countless Americans across the country. It’s why the work NIH does is so vital, and it’s why the work we do to increase NIH’s funding is so critical. Our nation’s future health depends on it.

Join me and speak up today!


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You're the Cure Advocates Come to DC!

Last month, eleven You’re the Cure advocates joined 300 volunteers from other participating organizations for the Rally for Medical Research Hill Day in Washington, DC. Their purpose in coming to Washington was to share their stories with Congress and to urge them to increase medical research funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

There were 6 heart and stroke survivors, 4 caretakers and 1 researcher participating for the American Heart Association. They were able to share their personal experiences with their members of Congress in a powerful way, by sharing their stories. Check out this video, to learn more about these advocates and why they support increased medical research funding!

(Please visit the site to view this video)

They also shared messages from all of you! 1,500 You’re the Cure advocates shared why heart and stroke research is important to them. While in Washington, DC, our eleven advocates were able to deliver your message to Congress.

There are so many reasons to support heart and stroke research, yet Congress continues to fail to prioritize our nation’s investment in the NIH. If you haven’t already, encourage Congress to increase NIH funding in the 2015 budget! Medical research is an important issue for You're the Cure advocates, especially for those who shared their message with Congress last month. So help them and the many other who need the benefits that come from medical research by sharing your thoughts with Congress today!


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What is Pediatric Cardiomyopathy?

Did you know that one in every 100,000 children in the U.S. under the age of 18 is diagnosed with a diseased state of the heart known as cardiomyopathy?  While it is a relatively rare condition in kids, it poses serious health risks, making early diagnosis important.  As the heart weakens due to abnormities of the muscle fibers, it loses the ability to pump blood effectively and heart failure or irregular heartbeats (arrhythmias or dysrhythmia) may occur.

That’s why we’re proud to team up with the Children’s Cardiomyopathy Foundation this month- Pediatric Cardiomyopathy Awareness Month- to make more parents aware of this condition (signs and symptoms) and to spread the word about the policy changes we can all support to protect our youngest hearts.
As a You’re the Cure advocate, you know how important medical research is to improving the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of heart disease.  And pediatric cardiomyopathy is no exception.  However, a serious lack of research on this condition leaves many unanswered questions about its causes.  On behalf of all young pediatric cardiomyopathy patients, join us in calling on Congress to prioritize our nation’s investment in medical research.
Additionally, we must speak-up to better equip schools to respond quickly to medical emergencies, such as cardiac arrest caused by pediatric cardiomyopathy.  State laws, like the one passed in Massachusetts, require schools to develop emergency medical response plans that can include:

  • A method to establish a rapid communication system linking all parts of the school campus with Emergency Medical Services
  • Protocols for activating EMS and additional emergency personnel in the event of a medical emergency
  • A determination of EMS response time to any location on campus
  • A method for providing training in CPR and First Aid to teachers, athletic coaches, trainers and others – which may include High School students
  • A listing of the location of AEDs and the school personnel trained to use the AED

CPR high school graduation requirements are another important measure to ensure bystanders, particularly in the school setting, are prepared to respond to a cardiac emergency.  19 states have already passed these life-saving laws and we’re on a mission to ensure every student in every state graduates ‘CPR Smart’.
With increased awareness and research of pediatric cardiomyopathy and policy changes to ensure communities and schools are able to respond to cardiac emergencies, we can protect more young hearts.

Have you or a loved one been diagnosed with cardiomyopathy?  Join our new Support Network today to connect with others who share the heart condition.   

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FDA Announces Plan to Help Improve Health Equity for Women and Minorities

A new action plan released by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to increase the participation of women, minorities, and the elderly in research trials was welcomed today by four leading health organizations as taking an important step toward closing the health care disparities gap.  The groups called on the agency to implement the plan swiftly.

The American Heart Association, National Women’s Health Network, Society for Women’s Health Research, and WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease said the “FDA Action Plan to Enhance the Collection and Availability of Demographic Subgroup Data” will not only help boost representation of these population groups in clinical trials, but also will lead to more analyses on how medical drugs and devices affect women and men differently.

The groups particularly applaud the FDA for finalizing its guidance on the evaluation of sex-specific data in medical device studies and for establishing a steering committee and website to oversee and track progress on implementing the action plan. The groups, however, urged the FDA to do even more.  

The FDA’s Action Plan was required by the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act (FDASIA), signed into law in July 2012.  The act directed the FDA to review medical product applications to determine the extent to which data on how new drugs and devices affect certain subpopulations is being collected, evaluated and released publicly. By taking the actions outlined in the plan, the FDA will emphasize the need to look for sex, race, ethnicity and age-based differences through medical research, allow subgroup-specific data to be more widely available for use in medical practice, and improve the participation of women and minorities in research trials.

“Guaranteeing greater diversity in research trials will help ensure that patients and their health care professionals have the most up-to-date information needed to make the best decisions about care and treatment,” said the four organizations. “By carrying out the actions recommended by the FDA plan, we can advance our nation’s efforts to achieve the high quality health care that women and minorities want and deserve.”

While the organizations applauded the FDA’s work to address the many issues they highlighted in testimony before the agency earlier this year, they called on the FDA to:

  • Establish and clearly spell out for application sponsors the consequences of not collecting or analyzing subgroup data;
  • Take action to address concerns related to the under-inclusion of women, minorities and the elderly in early phase trials; and
  • More aggressively move forward with additional, standardized subgroup information in the labeling of medical products.

“Gender, race and age play a decisive role in how heart disease, stroke and other forms of cardiovascular disease affect us. Yet, these key populations are often left out of the research necessary to better understand the diverse impact of these diseases,” said Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association. “That’s why the FDA must not allow this new plan to just gather dust on a shelf. It’s critical that these actions be carried out rapidly and aggressively, and we look forward to working with the FDA to implement this plan.” 

“Women and their health care providers need complete and accurate information about the medical products available to them, particularly the specific benefits a drug or device might offer and the risks it might pose to her because she is a woman,” said Cynthia Pearson, executive director of the National Women’s Health Network. “The current lack of information exposes women to harm that could be avoided by more inclusive requirements for clinical trials. While the FDA Action Plan is a step in the right direction, the agency must do more than remind and encourage industry to include women and minorities in trials and analyze the data. The FDA must require that companies do this to ensure that that the products women use are safe and effective for them.”

“The Society for Women’s Health Research is pleased that the FDA heard our call for the need to release demographic data and establish training for all reviewers to look for sex differences. One of SWHR’s key priorities for more than 20 years has been making sure this data is appropriately analyzed and reported by the FDA,” said Phyllis Greenberger, president and CEO of the Society for Women’s Health Research.  “Still, the Action Plan falls short in several important areas. The FDA should do more to prioritize finding out how medical products affect women and men differently and report that information to patients and health care providers, especially since there have been significant discoveries of sex differences from biomedical research in the last two decades.”

“Women and their health care providers are tired of waiting for access to data demonstrating whether drugs and devices are safe and effective for their use. The FDA has studied this problem for decades, yet
the problem has not been fixed,” said Lisa M. Tate, CEO of WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease. “Implementation and enforcement of these recommendations would go a long way toward assuring that providers can recommend appropriate treatments for 51 percent of the U.S. population, including the 43 million women living with or at risk for heart disease.”

In the coming months, the organizations will submit additional comments and recommendations about the FDA Action Plan and work with the agency and Congress to address continuing areas of concern vital
to the health of women, minorities and older Americans.

Read what FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg had to say about this important step.

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Tell Congress WHY you support medical research

We don’t have to think twice about why we support more funding for organizations like the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to research cures for cardiovascular disease and stroke. But unfortunately the funding cuts continue.

We routinely tell Congress that NIH research leads to innovation, jobs, and life-saving medical breakthroughs. But right now they need to hear the personal reasons why research is important from advocates like you!

Tell us, WHY do you support medical research?

For me, I support the NIH because of advocates like Ryley. In 2013, Ryley, just a teenager, unexpectedly suffered from multiple strokes that affected five different areas of his brain. Since then, he has had to endure thousands of hours of physical therapy and testing to relearn to walk, talk, and function like his normal self. But despite the large obstacles he has faced, he has had the opportunity to share his story and help others like him.

Ryley has made tremendous progress in the face of such large obstacles, but doctors still have much to learn about his condition. With more available funding, NIH has the opportunity to find real cures for cardiovascular diseases, giving hope to families like Ryley’s who depend on research to provide clarity and answers.

For me, individuals like Ryley are why.

What about you? Tell Congress today why you support medical research!

Finding a cure doesn’t happen overnight; however, each step takes countless hours of research and manpower, trial and error, and hope and frustration. But each step is an opportunity to bring a new chance at life to families across the country. It’s why the work NIH does is so vital, and it’s why the work we do to protect NIH’s funding is so critical.

Ryley is why. A cure is why. Life is why. Show your support for NIH and tell us: what’s your why?


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Our new anthem: life is why

School behavioral specialist Carla Leonard had her hand on her heart during the Pledge of Allegiance when a heart attack nearly killed her. Her doctor didn’t mince words with her family afterward: “If I didn’t have surgery, they should pick out a dress for my funeral,” she said. “Plain and simple.”

But Leonard wanted to live — to see her daughter graduate from high school — so after surgery she started on a new path that continues today. She kicked her soda habit, started visiting her doctor regularly and got healthy enough to experience many important milestones in her life.

Leonard exemplifies the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s new brand tagline, “Life Is Why.” The phrase, which began appearing with the logo on on Aug. 1, is much more than a slogan. It’s the singular idea that stands behind all the lifesaving work the AHA has carried out for 90  years – and it’s the very basic idea that people should be healthier so they can enjoy their lives more.

“The work we do matters,” American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown said. “It has mattered to my family and I’m sure it has mattered to your family. Life is why.”

(Please visit the site to view this video)

Brown’s grandfather had a blockage of his carotid artery in the early 1970s. During surgery, he suffered a stroke, and his life was never the same — nor was his family’s. He died a few years later after another stroke. “I missed my grandfather then and I continue to miss him today,” Brown said.

But she pointed out that scientific research and treatment guidelines have led to much better outcomes for many others in the decades that followed. One of those survivors is Brown’s sister, who is thriving despite two recent strokes. She received treatment at one of the AHA’s primary stroke centers, helping her working through rehabilitation and regain her life.

“My sister is why, my grandfather is why — and all of you are why,” Brown told the organization’s volunteers and staff when announcing the adaptation of “Life Is Why” as a focal point of the AHA’s brand.

The American Heart Association is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary health organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke — the two leading causes of death in the world. The AHA fights these diseases through a wide variety of tactics, yet “Life Is Why” can be attached to every facet of the organization’s work.

Life is why the AHA helps people eat healthier foods and get more active — among the many activities the organization has to help people live healthier lives.

Life is why Roni Noone decided to lose weight so she could enjoy her life with her family.

Noone, a 38-year-old Baltimore mom who struggled with her weight in her teens and 20s, has lost a total of 70 pounds because she wants to be there for those special moments with her family. She has joined a gym and even run a marathon – saying she didn’t want to set a poor health example for her sons Ryan, 9, and Evan, 3.

Roni Noone is motivated by the special moments with her family.

“Last year I took Ryan whitewater rafting, and it was really emotional for me. Now I’m doing all the things I got healthy for,” said Noone, a fitness blogger who’s also writing a book. “I want to run a half-marathon with him when he’s 18. And I want to be able to do all these things that I’m doing in my 30s when I’m in my 50s.”

Life is why the American Heart Association has funded more than $3.6 billion in heart disease and stroke research, more than any other organization outside the federal government. Life is why the association works to develop treatment guidelines that help healthcare providers follow scientifically proven treatment standards.

Life is why the AHA is the nation’s leader in CPR training and science, and why the AHA has helped pass many laws and policies that have improved the public health. In fact, now that 17 states have passed laws requiring CPR as a high school graduation requirement, more than 1 million seniors will leave school every year with this lifesaving skill.

Leonard, 52, has gone on to be an AHA advocate for CPR in schools and screenings to detect heart defects in newborns. And she did get to see her daughter Yasmine finish high school, just one of many milestones she has experienced since her surgery eight years ago.

“The highlight of them all was when I heard that my child had used my life-and-death experience to write her entrance essay for college,” she said. “I want to be able to look back on my life and say that I did not waste the second chance I was given.”

And as 13-year-old Natalia Bascunan of Nutley, New Jersey, will attest, loved ones and special moments are the most important illustration of Life Is Why. Natalia made the Little League all-star team years after facing two open-heart surgeries for a heart defect.

“They loved it because she was the only girl in the state on an all-boys team,” said Natalia’s mom, Roe Corsi. “When they found out she had a heart condition, they loved her even more.”

Another person who has embraced life’s special moments thanks to better health is Bernie Dennis, a longtime volunteer with the AHA who is now the chairman of the board.

Dennis said he didn’t appreciate the risks he was taking with his health until he had three heart attacks in one month, followed by a quadruple bypass. While he recovered, he started realizing some of the things he’d taken for granted.

“I can remember the fact that I was sitting on my porch saying to myself, ‘this is the first time in my life I’ve appreciated the warmth of the sun in May,’” he said.

Getting healthier has meant Dennis has gone on to experience precious family time that he would’ve missed. A high school graduation. A wedding. Playing with his “two beautiful granddaughters.” And dressing up as Santa Claus at Christmas.

“There’s a choice you get to make about living or not living,” he said. “My wife’s hand gave me reason to live. My wonderful family gave me reason to live.”

Learn more at 

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Where Do Your Candidates Stand?

Federal funding for basic research is an essential step towards achieving medical progress for heart and stroke patients. Over the past decades, we have seen remarkable breakthroughs done at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), such as the development of pacemakers and the discovery of a clot-busting drug used to treat stroke.

However, during the last ten years, the NIH has lost more than 20% of its purchasing power. This dramatic downturn has come at a time when other countries are increasing investments in science and when the need for innovation to prevent, diagnose, and treat heart disease and stroke is great.    

But we can change that by exercising our right to vote in November!  To help voters choose candidates whose values on medical research align with their own, the American Heart Association has partnered with Research!America to launch the 2014 Ask Your Candidates! initiative – a national, non-partisan voter education program that empowers voters to be more informed about their candidates’ views on medical progress. If elected to Congress, what will your candidates do to ensure that discoveries of life-altering or live-saving treatments or cures continue?  Will they support funding increases for the NIH?  The answers to these questions is crucial as the nation prepares to go to the voting booth in November.

How can you get involved? Here a couple ways:

1) Visit and complete an online form that will assist you in sending a message to your candidates to find out how they view the future of medical progress. It’s easy and only takes a few minutes.

2) Keep an eye out on your candidates' websites, newsletters and social media pages for information about town hall meetings they are hosting in your community! If you decide to attend, go ahead and ask a question of about research. We have provided some sample questions for you to customize.

  • As a stroke survivor, I am very concerned that the National Institutes of Health continues to invest a mere 1% of its budget in stroke research, despite promising research opportunities.  What will you do to secure an increase in funding for stroke, the No. 4 killer and a major cause of permanent disability in the United States?
  • As a heart disease survivor, I am very concerned that the National Institutes of Health continues to invest only 4% of its budget in heart research, despite promising research opportunities.  What will you do to secure an increase in NIH funding for heart disease, the No. 1 killer and a major cause of disability in the United States?
  • The National Institutes of Health (NIH) invests in every state and in 90% of congressional districts, including our own.  In addition to saving lives, NIH is an economic driver, supporting high paying jobs, spurring innovation, and maintaining our Nation’s position as the world leader in medical research.  But, over the last decade, NIH has lost 20% of its purchasing power at a time of heightened scientific opportunity and when other countries are increasing their investment in research—some by double digits. What will you do to reverse this trend?

Medical research done at the NIH is crucial for the future of our country’s health and economy. Let’s see where our candidates stand on this important issue before heading to the polls in November!

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Knowing Which Medical Products Are Best for Each Person -- It Just Makes Sense

Check out American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown's latest Huffington Post blog post about the need to address health disparities in clinical trials.  

"Turn on your television at any point during the day or night and you will likely run across an ad for a prescription drug, along with a disclaimer about possible side effects. It seems only logical that those side effects are a possibility for anyone who takes the medicine, regardless of gender, race or age.

Unfortunately, that logic is wrong.

Studies of drugs and medical devices do not always report what effects these treatments may have on women, minorities or the elderly. Worse yet, those effects are not always investigated, as members of those populations are often underrepresented in trials -- despite the fact gender, race and age makes people more prone to certain diseases."  Read the full article on the Huff Post Healthy Living Blog. 

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Spring Has Sprung and So Has Budget Season!

It’s that time of year again.  While we wait for the cherry blossoms to bloom in Washington, D.C., budget discussions are heating up between the White House and Capitol Hill. 

On March 4th, the President released his budget proposal for 2015 and now Members of Congress are working to establish their funding priorities to begin the appropriations process and eventually pass a budget.  And that’s where you come in! 

With tight economic times, we need to continue to make the case for heart disease and stroke research and prevention funding that helps drive innovation, cuts health care costs, improves the health of our workforce, protects the health of our youngest generations, and saves lives.  Basically, your lawmakers need to hear from you that the fight against our nation’s No. 1 and No. 4 killers, heart disease and stroke, must be prioritized. 

In addition to funding that would help communities support walking, biking, and recreation, and funding for nutrition programs that would improve access to healthy food and nutrition education, the President’s budget included two key issues that deserve a special note:

  • On the positive side, the budget included a public health ‘win-win’ by proposing an increase to the federal tobacco tax, which would help curb youth smoking rates, to pay for efforts to improve early childhood education, which includes nutrition and physical education for our youngest Americans. 
  • On the negative side, the budget proposed near level funding for the National Institutes of Health, which is disappointing for research-advocates who are continuing to push our nation’s lawmakers to restore significant cuts to the NIH that took place last spring.  As our AHA President Dr. Mariell Jessup said in a statement, “With a meager 1 percent increase over last year, President Obama’s proposed budget for the National Institutes of Health is utterly inadequate.”

But the President’s budget proposal isn’t the end of these decisions.  The work now shifts to Members of Congress to consider these proposals, set their priorities, and negotiate to pass a final budget.  In fact, right now, our legislators are submitting their funding priorities to leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate and we need your help to speak-up for heart disease and stroke research!  Will you take two minutes to send a quick message to Congress?  

Without us speaking up- loud and clear- for important funding increases to the NIH, we will see progress and innovation in the way we prevent, diagnose, and treat heart disease and stroke slip backward.  From the jobs it creates to the lives it saves, medical research must be made a priority in the U.S..  Speak-up today! 

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AHA Frustrated by President’s NIH Budget

American Heart Association President Mariell Jessup, M.D., issued the following comment today on President Obama’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2015:

“With a meager 1 percent increase over last year, President Obama’s proposed budget for the National Institutes of Health is utterly inadequate. Especially when you consider that the NIH has lost more than 20 percent of its purchasing power over the past decade due to medical research inflation. What is basically flat funding will keep the NIH on a downward spiral that will further jeopardize research progress.

Without sufficient investment in research, cures for prevalent and costly diseases such as heart disease and stroke will be delayed. This is particularly troubling because as our nation’s population ages, nearly 44 percent of the public is likely to face some form of cardiovascular disease by 2030 – a disturbing projection. Now is not the time to hold back on the NIH funding needed to support lifesaving medical discoveries.

What’s even more of a concern is that flat funding comes at a time of heightened scientific opportunity. Other countries have figured out that economic growth is tied to innovation and are increasing their investment in scientific research. Russia is planning a 65 percent increase, while China’s funding has grown 26 percent and India has boosted its research budget by double digits.

While we appreciate the president’s gesture to provide supplemental funding to NIH through the Opportunity, Growth, and Security Initiative, there is almost no chance Congress will approve the additional support this year. As the annual budget process moves forward, the American Heart Association will continue to advocate for federal funding that will restore the remainder of the sequester cuts and provide for at least modest growth of the NIH’s budget.”

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You're Invited!

Throughout American Heart Month, you've helped raise awareness about heart disease in women by wearing red and speaking up about the risk factors we face.  But just how much progress is being made in the fight against our nation's No. 1 killer of women?  To answer that question and more, join us for the 4th Annual State of Women's Heart Health webinar on Wednesday, February 19th at 5:00 pm EST (4:00 pm CST)! 

This LIVE, virtual discussion will feature some of our nation's leading health experts, including Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius and National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Director Dr. Gary Gibbons, so come with your questions ready.

To participate, RSVP today!

Do you have friends who may be interested in joining too?  Share this invitation and the registration link ( on Facebook! 




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NIH Budget Disappointing, Says American Heart Association

Washington, D.C., Jan. 14, 2014 — American Heart Association President Mariell Jessup, M.D., made the following comments today on the FY 2014 federal budget legislation: 

“For months, the American Heart Association has been pressing federal lawmakers to reverse the enormously destructive sequester cuts imposed on the National Institutes of Health. We were disappointed to find out that the new omnibus budget bill does not fully restore these funds.

As a result, the treatments and cures many Americans so desperately need are likely to be delayed – perhaps indefinitely. These cuts have and will continue to pose a serious threat to the extraordinary progress we have made in the fight against heart disease and stroke. We strongly urge Congress to stop placing promising research at risk and increase federal support for the NIH.”

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AHA Urges Lawmakers to Use Budget Act Funds for NIH Sequester Relief

Washington, D.C., Dec. 18, 2013 — American Heart Association President Mariell Jessup, M.D., made the following comments today on the Senate’s passage of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013: 

“The American Heart Association is pleased that Congress has put aside its partisanship and passed the Budget Act of 2013. We remain optimistic that this spirit of collaboration will continue as Senate and House Committee members craft a FY 2014 appropriations bill.

We urge the committee members to appropriate $31 billion of the additional funds made available by this budget bill to replace the extremely harmful sequester cuts imposed on the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Every day that passes without this support moves us further away from new treatments and cures for two of the top killers of Americans – heart disease and stroke.

NIH-supported research not only saves lives and enriches health, but also acts as an economic driver, which supports good jobs, stimulates innovation, and preserves our nation’s role as the world leader in medical research. Moving forward, we encourage Congress to strengthen and protect our investment in the NIH.”


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Let's Fix the Damage

After a rough year for medical research funded through the National Institutes of Health (NIH), there is finally good news out of Washington!

Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bipartisan budget deal to fund the government for two years and stop some of the funding cuts made to various government programs last spring under sequestration. The Senate is on the verge of passing the same deal. After the President’s signature, Congress will then decide if they will replace any of the NIH funding cuts made last spring. This is where I need your help! 

Urge Congress to reinvest in medical research today!

This year was a turbulent one for the NIH. Last spring, $1.5 billion, or five percent, was cut from the NIH budget. As a result, 640 grants, 20,500 jobs, and countless medical discoveries were jeopardized. However, Congress has a chance to fix the damage by replacing this lost funding! Every dollar is crucial and adequate funding is critical as we explore new ways to fight and even prevent heart disease and stroke.

But I need your help. Will you email Congress and urge them to fund medical research?

This was a challenging year for the NIH. Let’s start 2014 on a positive note!


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AHA Voices Support for Bipartisan Budget Deal

Washington, D.C., Dec. 11, 2013 — American Heart Association President Mariell Jessup, M.D., made the following comments today on the budget agreement announced by Rep. Paul Ryan (R.- Wis.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D.-Wash.):

“The proposed Ryan-Murray budget agreement takes a very positive step toward the finish line of a federal budget. The American Heart Association is hopeful that this deal will bring an end to the crippling partisan gridlock that has kept Congress virtually dysfunctional during the current session. We strongly recommend that both houses swiftly pass this proposal.

If the budget deal is approved by Congress, then the Senate and House Committees on Appropriations must allocate the additional federal funding made available by the agreement. We urge the committee members to use these funds to replace the extremely harmful sequester cuts imposed on the National Institutes of Health. Every day that passes without this support moves us further away from new treatments and cures for two of the top killers of Americans – heart disease and stroke.

Medical research is vital to creating jobs and, more importantly, saving lives. We hope the budget committee members remember that when they move on to the next lap of this race – a critical one for the health of all Americans.”

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Share Your Medical Research Story

With terms like continuing resolutions, sequester and budget cuts, federal funding for medical research conducted at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) can be very confusing (check out our latest blog post for more details!). Fortunately, the way to influence lawmakers is simple. As a You’re the Cure advocate, you possess the most powerful tool to sway the mind of elected officials: your story. And we need those stories more than ever.

Due to sequestration cuts last spring, five percent, or $1.5 billion, was cut from medical research and could potentially result in the loss of 20,500 jobs, 640 research grants and countless medical breakthroughs. I think you would agree that enough is enough!

Your story shows how important medical research is to all Americans. Has your life been improved by medical research? Tell us your story today!

Need help getting started? Here are a few ideas:

  • Have you or a loved undergone a lifesaving surgery?
  • Do you or someone you know take blood pressure medication or another prescription regularly?
  • Do you have a medical condition and are hoping on a medical breakthrough in the near future?
  • Are you a researcher and have felt the effects of these budget cuts in your work?

Research is crucial for advancing our country's medicine. Work at the NIH holds the key to saving countless numbers of lives, but that can only happen if Congress continues investing.

Will you please share your story with us, so we can put a face to medical research?

Earlier this week, a bipartisan committee from both the House and Senate announced a deal that would set overall government spending for the next two years. If both the House and Senate pass this deal, the next step is for committees in both chambers to decide how much funding government programs receive, including NIH. That is where we will need your help again. Stay tuned for more ways to protect medical research in the future!

P.S. In order to share your story, you will need a complete community profile. If you have not done so yet, click here!

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What is going on with the Federal budget and medical research?

Sequester, continuing resolutions, government shutdowns, debt ceiling, and cuts. The federal budget can be very confusing, especially when it pertains to medical research and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).  Below, we tried to explain how we got to this point by answering the questions we hear from our advocates every day.

How did we get here?
To answer this question, we will have to go back to 2011, when the United States was dangerously close to crossing over something called the debt ceiling.

What is the debt ceiling?

The debt ceiling is a limit on the borrowing power of the United States.  Once the Treasury has paid what it owes from the money that it has collected, it borrows to fill the gap. The debt ceiling limits how much the Treasury can borrow and if there are still debts owed after the limit is reached, the country could default. If that happens, the economic consequences would be severe. (Think about not paying your home mortgage - but much, much worse!)

In the past, Congress has routinely raised the debt ceiling – but partisan gridlock has made even the debt limit a highly contentious issue. 

So, back to 2011.

During a debt limit crisis that year, Congress agreed to raise the debt ceiling – but also agreed that if they were unable to come up with a way to reduce deficits and debt, there would be automatic, across-the-board spending cuts affecting most government spending.   Ultimately, Congress could not agree on a compromise and in March 2013, severe automatic budget cuts, knows as sequestration, took effect for most parts of the federal budget, including NIH.

As a result, $1.5 billion or about 5% was cut from the NIH budget. These cuts reduced the number of planned grants by 640, and have the potential to eliminate an estimated 20,500 jobs, and postpone important medical discoveries.

Over the past several months, the AHA and You’re the Cure advocates have urged the Congress to restore that 5% cut in emails, letters to the editors, in person meetings, and rallies.  But gridlock continues – and we now face a second round of cuts in January.

So, why did the government shutdown this fall?

Lately, it has been very difficult for Congress to agree on an actual budget. As a result, Congress has funded the government using a continuing resolution (CR). A CR allows the government to continue operating with current funding levels until agreement on a new budget can be reached.

This spring, both the Senate and House passed separate budgets, but predictably, they could not agree on how to resolve their differences. The government was running out of money and even a last-minute CR was rejected.

As a result, the government shut down for 16 days this fall.  At the same time, the Treasury was once again getting dangerously close to the debt ceiling deadline and a possible default. With little time to spare before a possible default, Congress passed a bill to both open the government by extending current funding levels using a CR until January 15th and increased the debt ceiling until February 7th. 

Now, members of a Senate and House conference committee will try and resolve differences between their two budgets passed earlier in the year. They have until December 13th to accomplish this.

So, what does this mean for NIH research?

If Congress can reach an agreement that replaces the sequester and raises overall levels of domestic spending, that would be good news for the NIH.  But it’s not clear whether or not that will happen.  In order to roll back the sequester cuts, Democrats and Republicans must agree on what to replace those cuts with, and at this point, that seems like a tall order. However, they may be more inclined to agree if they hear from constituents like you about the consequences of more cuts in research funding. NIH took a big hit last year with sequestration, and medical research cannot afford to take another one this year. We must make sure our voice is being heard loud, clear and often.

Stay tuned for new opportunities to fight for medical research in the near future. Remember, in the fight against heart disease and stroke, You’re the Cure!

**UPDATE 12-11-13**

Earlier this week, a bipartisan committee from both the House and Senate announced a deal that would set overall government spending for the next two years. If both the House and Senate pass this deal, the next step is for committees in both chambers to decide how much funding government programs receive, including NIH. That is where we will need your help again. Stay tuned for more ways to protect medical research in the future!

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The 2013 State Legislative Wrap-Up is Here!

Today’s blog post is by Mark Schoeberl, the American Heart Association’s Executive Vice President of Advocacy and Health Quality

I am pleased to again this year present you with our annual report of state and local public policy progress. We take pride in the diligent efforts of our advocates, volunteers and staff who ensure that we remain focused on helping improve the cardiovascular health of all Americans.  As you read this report you will quickly realize that we saw unprecedented public policy success across the country during this last fiscal year.  The victories you will read about in the following pages have a direct and profound impact on our 2020 national goal: To improve the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20 percent while reducing deaths from cardiovascular diseases and stroke by 20 percent.

As we review our 2012–2013 state and local public policy, we should be proud of our active advocacy presence in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.  We helped support the passage of state laws and local ordinances that impact heart disease and stroke risk factors as well as policies that further protect survivors of heart disease or stroke.  Our significant public policy achievements, which you can read about below, include public policies enacted in fifteen states that will assure all newborns are screened for critical congenital heart disease before going home for the first time. Seven states enacted new laws that will assure all students have been CPR trained before they graduate from high school. In the area of encouraging physical activity, two states passed shared use laws that will expand opportunities for physical activity in communities across those states. Six states enacted policy that will strengthen their stroke systems of care and six states moved to strengthen their STEMI systems of care.  Four states were successful in increasing their public funding for heart disease and stroke at the state level. Tobacco tax increases occurred in three states and two states moved to strengthen their smokefree air laws.

On behalf of the thousands of You’re the Cure advocates, association volunteers, donors, and staff who have made these successes possible, it is my pleasure to present to you this annual report of state and local advocacy accomplishments.  Together, we are the architects of a healthier future.


 Click on the image to view the 2013 State Legislative Wrap-Up!


















PS- Stay tuned next month for a video highlighting these successes!  We’ll need your help to share it with friends, family, colleagues, and neighbors to demonstrate the progress we’re making toward healthier communities and healthier lives through public policy changes… and to encourage others to join the You’re the Cure movement too!

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The Government is Shut Down, but Our Fight Is Not

Turn on any cable news station these days and you’ll see it… the continuously running clock that is tracking the hours and minutes of the government shutdown.  When I see it, I can’t help but think about what could or should have been accomplished during that time, especially when it comes to important policy changes that can help Americans live healthier lives. 

Will you speak-up and tell Congress that we can’t afford inaction when it comes to the fight against heart disease and stroke?  

You see, the 10 days our nation’s elected officials have spent trying to figure out how to reopen the government is time they could have used to:

1) Restore funding for the National Institutes of Health, which supports life-saving heart disease and stroke research.

2) Make progress toward the passage of an education bill that includes the regular, quality physical education our kids need to stay active and healthy.

3) Extend the Medicare therapy caps exceptions process which is necessary in order to ensure Medicare beneficiaries who have a stroke are able to access and afford the rehabilitation they need. 

With less than three months left before the end of the year, we need a quick resolution to the government shutdown to ensure Congress is able to address these key issues and others.  And while our lawmakers have been doing a lot of talking lately, it is time for them to listen… to you!

Please take two minutes right now to remind Congress about the work left on their ‘to-do’ list that heart disease and stroke patients, caregivers, researchers, and advocates are counting on them to accomplish. 

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'Hearts for Research' Petition Heads to Capitol Hill

We called and you delivered!  Throughout the last month, we asked You’re the Cure advocates to join our ‘Hearts for Research’ photo petition to help us call on Congress for a strong national investment in medical research- and the results have been outstanding!

Over 7,200 advocates have signed our petition and more than 200 have submitted photos (take a peek)!  Researchers, survivors, caregivers and many more stepped forward to show our nation’s lawmakers the faces of medical research and deliver the message: ‘We need cures, not cuts!”. 

So, what’s next?!  On September 18th, the American Heart Association will join partners in the medical research community for the Rally for Medical Research Hill Day in Washington, D.C.  30 You’re the Cure advocates will meet face-to-face with lawmakers to share their stories and deliver the names and pictures of their fellow advocates who support funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH).  One of those advocates will be Ginny Ekins from Washington State.  As a heart disease survivor, who has undergone multiple surgeries, Ginny knows first-hand that research saves lives. 

Thank you for participating in this important petition and stay tuned for more updates from this event on our Facebook and Twitter feeds!

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Show Congress the Face of Medical Research

When Congress cuts funding for medical research, as it did in March, we all feel the impact.  Many research labs that rely on funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have been forced to delay or abandon promising projects and to fire staff.  The end result: patients will wait longer for new treatments and cures to help them overcome the most debilitating diseases, like heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer's.     

Funding NIH is not just about the numbers.  It's about the real people who are counting on medical research to deliver a cure or improve their quality of life.

Whether you are a heart disease or stroke survivor, caregiver, researcher, medical professional, or advocate, we need your help to show Members of Congress the face of medical research!  Add your name and picture to our photo petition today!

A group of You're the Cure advocates will join our partners in the medical research community to visit Members of Congress in Washington, DC on September 18th.  They'll take with them the names and photos of thousands of fellow You're the Cure advocates- like YOU- who have joined the call to our nation's decision-makers to prioritize our nation's investment in medical research.

Don't miss this opportunity!  Be sure you are among those telling Congress: WE NEED CURES, NOT CUTS!  

We can't bring everyone to Capitol Hill, but we can still deliver your message to lawmakers. Be sure to sign the petition and add your photo today! 

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Research Without Funding

A car without an engine, a bicycle without tires... they just don't work. Neither does research without funding. In order to make discoveries that lead to treatments and cures for our nation's most devastating diseases, researchers need test tubes and other equipment, lab staff to conduct research and analyze results... things that cost money. But the March 2013 sequester cut funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which in turn forced NIH to give fewer grants to support research projects. Promising studies are being delayed or stopped altogether as a result of reduced NIH funding. 

We knew the impact of NIH funding cuts was going to be devastating. We asked researchers to share the real-life stories, and you can read a few of their responses below.

 Brett Mitchell, PhD, a researcher at Texas A&M Health Science Center, has let one lab technician go already as a result of reduced funding, and a second lab technician will be let go this summer. Mitchell says, "We were really close to discovering a novel therapy to decrease blood pressure in patients taking immunosuppressive drugs, which include those who have received an organ transplant and those with autoimmune diseases, however without NIH funding being restored, we will have to abandon this project and try to operate a laboratory without any technicians."

Shoba Ghosh, PhD, FAHA,  a researcher at Virginia Commonwealth University, shared that she is faced with reducing the scope of her studies as a result of the sequester. She said "At this crucial point, a decrease in funding will slow us down, resulting in delayed development of a potentially novel therapeutic strategy for preventing heart disease. This and similar instances across the nation underscore the need to restore funding for heart disease."      
 Mark Sussman,PhD,  a researcher at San Diego State University, said they are are struggling to recover from the devestating news of reduced NIH funding and expressed concern about the impact on training future researchers and recruiting underrepresented minorities into the field of cardiovascular research. Sussman shares, "Our program involves training of multiple postdoctoral and junior faculty with promising careers that will be compromised by lack of support." He goes on to say that his program provides rare and important access to training in cardiovascular research for the underrepresented Hispanic population, and that the program's diversity-related efforts have helped to launch the careers of many minority students.

Research is our best hope for finding new ways to prevent, treat and cure diseases, but the future of research is in jeopardy. Stay tuned for your opportunity to call on Congress to restore funding for NIH.

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Bringing Stroke Awareness to the Hill

Today, the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association hosted a briefing on Capitol Hill to share the latest stroke data with congressional staff and to educate them about important research underway to better understand the human brain. 

Dr. Bruce Ovbiagele, professor and chairman of the Department of Neurology at the Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, presented the key findings from a new AHA/ASA study released today, including:

  • Almost 4 percent of U.S. adults — nearly one in 25 — will have a stroke. This translates into an additional 3.4 million people with stroke in 2030.
  • Costs to treat stroke may increase from $71.55 billion in 2010 to $183.13 billion.
  • Annual costs due to lost productivity could rise from $33.65 billion to $56.54 billion.
  • Americans currently 45-64 years old are expected to have the highest increase in stroke at 5.1 percent.
  • Stroke prevalence is projected to increase the most among Hispanic men between now and 2030, and the cost of treating stroke in Hispanic women is expected to triple.

Additionally, National Institutes of Health (NIH) leaders presented information about the recently-announced BRAIN Initiative, an ambitious new effort to map the human brain. Dr. Kathy Hudson, the  NIH’s Deputy Director for Science, Outreach, and Policy, and Dr. Story Landis, Director of the NIH’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, spoke about how the new tools being developed through the BRAIN Initiative can lead to a better understanding of how the brain works and advancements in how neurological conditions such as stroke, epilepsy, and Parkinson’s disease are treated.

The briefing was capped off by You’re the Cure advocate Jose’ Maldonado, was able to help bring the facts to life by sharing his story of surviving a stroke.  After suffering a stroke at the age of 46, Jose’ found himself having to learn to talk, walk, and read all over again.  But through his determination and the dedication of his family to his rehabilitation, Jose’ is now thriving.  He regularly counsels fellow stroke survivors, advocates with his lawmakers, and participates in clinical research trials.    

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Funding Cuts Continue to Threaten Medical Research

Across-the-board federal budget cuts that took effect in March, known as the sequester, eliminated $1.5 billion or 5% from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) budget. These devastating cuts are already causing the cancellation or delay of promising research projects throughout the country, slowing progress in the prevention and treatment of heart disease and stroke- as well as other diseases like cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s.

The American Heart Association has joined other groups in the medical research community in urging Congress to restore the funds cut in the sequester and to dedicate $32 billion for NIH in the fiscal year ahead to get NIH back on track.  President Obama’s FY2014 budget proposal submitted to Congress on April 10th requested $31.331 billion for the NIH.

Both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives have passed budget bills, and the work now moves to the committees charged with appropriating the funds.  Restoring funding for NIH has strong bipartisan support, with 52 Senators and 168 Representatives having signed letters asking appropriators to get the NIH back on track so life-saving medical research isn’t delayed any further. 

The recent funding cuts will reduce the number of planned grants by about 2,300, eliminate more than 20,000 jobs nationwide, and reduce new economic activity by nearly $3 billion.  It is vital we bring these statistics to life, as appropriators decide the future funding levels for NIH, by sharing real stories about the devastating impact these funding cuts have on heart disease and stroke researchers and patients.

AHA volunteer Dr. Steven Houser, a researcher at Temple University , was recently featured in a news article, sharing the difficult choice he must make between firing staff or cutting back on promising research as a result of funding cuts from the sequester.  This is happening in research labs across the country, and ultimately the impact will trickle down to patients as new treatments and possible cures are put on hold.

Why does restoring medical research funding matter to you?  Share your story now!

We will continue to keep you updated on this critical funding situation and will need your help to continue to push Congress to act to restore funding for medical research that is imperative to the fight against heart disease and stroke. 

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Many Hearts, One Voice on Capitol Hill

Against the backdrop of Washington, DC’s famous cherry blossoms, 300 You’re the Cure advocates joined together in our nation’s capital in April to deliver a strong message to Congress: Invest in our health!  Here are just a few of the highlights of You’re the Cure on the Hill 2013 activities…

 We rallied for medical research!  Thousands of advocates from the medical research community came together on April 8th to make some noise about the need for Congress to prioritize our nation’s investment in research.  And You’re the Cure advocates were in on all of the action! 

Juddson Rupp from North Carolina and Amy Edmunds from South Carolina were two of the featured survivor-speakers that joined journalist Cokie Roberts, Representative Chris Van Hollen (MD-8), Representative Rosa DeLauro (CT-3), and others on stage to deliver the message and inspire the crowd. 

And what an active crowd it was!  You’re the Cure advocates joined in the cheers of “More Progress! More Hope!  More Life!”, as they held-up big red hearts with the names of over 6,000 of their fellow advocates from across the country who pledged their support for medical research funding. 

Check out some more great pictures from the Rally for Medical Research!

We turned Capitol Hill Red!  The enthusiasm from the rally spilled over into our day on Capitol Hill on April 9th.  As heart disease and stroke survivors, caregivers, researchers, and medical professionals, each advocate had an important story and perspective to share with their Members of Congress, as we asked lawmakers to restore funding for the National Institutes of Health and support the Million Hearts initiative.   

Dressed in red, advocates met with 252 congressional offices in the course of one day!  And their visits came at a critical time, with legislators determining their funding priorities for the coming year. 

See your fellow advocates in action with our nation’s decision-makers on Capitol Hill!



We honored our 2013 Advocates of the Year!  At the local, state, and federal level, You’re the Cure advocates across the country work year after year to advance public policies that help build healthier communities and healthier lives free of heart disease and stroke.  So, we were proud to recognize four of these outstanding individuals as our 2013 Advocates of the Year!  Join us in congratulating:

Dr. William Weintraub (PA): Science-Advocate of the Year

Lee Storrow (NC): Volunteer-Advocate of the Year

Yolanda Dickerson (NC): Survivor-Advocate of the Year

Tommy Watson (VT): Youth-Advocate of the Year

Watch this great video to learn about their amazing work!

(Please visit the site to view this video)

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Mixed News in President's Budget Proposal

American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown issued the following comment today on President Obama’s proposed fiscal year 2014 federal budget:

“While President Obama’s budget moves in the right direction by restoring the National Institutes of Health funding cut by the sequester, the administration’s proposal fails to fully account for medical research inflation and puts promising new research opportunities at risk. Over the past decade, the NIH has lost 20 percent of its purchasing power.

NIH-funded research is the best chance to find a cure for heart disease, stroke and other forms of cardiovascular disease that kill more than 800,000 Americans each year. Yet, stagnant federal support is holding back hope for the millions of Americans who suffer from these diseases.

The budget also includes an increase of $5 million for Million Hearts™, a national public-private initiative developed to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes by 2017. Although we are pleased that these investments to support heart disease and stroke prevention activities were proposed for 2014, we are disappointed that the administration failed to commit additional resources from the prevention trust fund specifically targeting the 37 million adult Americans with uncontrolled high blood pressure. These people are four times more likely to die of a stroke and three times more likely to die of heart disease.  

Historically, nonprofits try to step in when government funding slows down. But the administration’s proposal to cut the charitable tax deduction could threaten the ability of these organizations to fill gaps left by cuts in prevention, research and social services programs. We urge the administration to increase, rather than reduce, incentives in the tax code that promote charitable giving – particularly when federal budgets are constrained.

The American Heart Association appreciates that this proposed budget does not undermine Medicare’s fundamental guarantee of health and financial security to millions of elderly and disabled Americans. Yet we believe more can be done to improve the health care Medicare beneficiaries receive and to further extend the program’s financial health. Moving forward, we will evaluate the savings recommended by the administration to see how they measure up to these goals, and continue to oppose any effort to shift costs to our most vulnerable beneficiaries suffering from heart disease and stroke. In the meantime, we are pleased that the budget protects Medicaid and recognizes that it is a lean and efficient program that serves as a needed safety net for millions of the most vulnerable patients.

Finally, we commend the president for recommending a tobacco tax increase. Study after study has shown that the fastest way to encourage people to quit smoking is to raise the cost of tobacco products. A federal increase will be a strong incentive for current smokers to have their last cigarette and prevent other people from ever taking up this deadly habit.”

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You're the Cure Heads to Capitol Hill

More than 300 American Heart Association volunteers came to Washington, D.C. today to urge Congress to restore federal funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and to support a Million Hearts campaign to attack the growing problem of high blood pressure – public health enemy No. 2 behind tobacco.  

Heart disease and stroke survivors, researchers, and healthcare professionals from around the country are meeting with their congressional representatives to ask them to allocate $32 billion for the NIH for 2014, to restore funding cut by the sequester and get NIH back on track.

The March 1 sequester slashed nearly $1.5 billion, or 5 percent, of the NIH budget. A cut of this magnitude will reduce the number of planned research grants by about 2,300, cost more than 20,000 jobs nationwide and shrink new economic activity by nearly $3 billion. A typical NIH grant supports about seven full-time or part-time jobs, most of them high-tech.  Every dollar that the NIH distributes through grants returns more than $2 in goods and services annually to a local community. 

“If the NIH cuts remain in place, they will damage our fragile economy and threaten our nation’s position as the global leader in medical research,” said American Heart Association President Donna Arnett, Ph.D., MSPH. “More importantly, medical research is vital to discovering new treatments and even cures for generations to come. We must not give up the fight to increase federal support for the NIH.” 

Advocates also asked Congress to fund a $35 million Million Hearts Initiative to tackle one of the nation’s most significant public health problems, high blood pressure. More than one in three adults in the United States have high blood pressure, but less than half have their condition under control. High blood pressure is one of the leading risk factors for heart attack or stroke.

Visit the You're the Cure Facebook page for some great photos and stay tuned for further updates about the amazing advocates who made their voices heard on Capitol Hill. 

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Watch the Rally for Medical Research LIVE

We’re less than a week away from the Rally for Medical Research- a unified call to our nation’s policymakers about the critical need for a sustained investment in the National Institutes of Health to improve health, drive innovation, and support jobs!  This significant event will bring together thousands of patients, researchers, government officials, and business leaders in Washington, DC- and tens of thousands of health-advocates across the country who will join the event virtually.  We want to make sure you’re part of the action too.  Here are a few easy ways to participate: 

1)      Watch the rally from your home computer!  On April 8th at 11:00 am EST, the rally will be shown LIVE on YouTube.  So, tune-in to hear from great speakers, including NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins and some of our very own You're the Cure survivor-advocates, about the importance of medical research to our nation’s health and economy.  You'll also get to see our red hearts waving in the crowd! 

2)      Speak-Up! This rally will make a strong statement to our nation’s leaders about the wide-spread support for funding for the National Institutes of Health, but it’s up to each of us to make sure our own Senators and Representative get the message loud and clear.  So after the rally, call, email, or tweet at your legislators about the importance of funding medical research. 

3)      “Like” and “Follow” the Action- We’ll be posting live updates on our Facebook and Twitter pages from the rally on 4/8 and from Capitol Hill on 4/9, as your fellow advocates meet with Members of Congress.  ‘Like’, ‘Share’, and ‘Re-tweet’ along with us!

With the recent enactment of the across-the-board cuts known as sequestration, federal funding for medical research continues to erode, threatening progress being made toward life-saving discoveries.  That’s why this strong statement to our nation’s elected officials is so critical.  Thank you for standing with us and taking action on behalf of the heart and stroke community! 

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Be Part of the Rally for Medical Research!

There’s something big about to happen in Washington, DC, that you need to be a part of!  On April 8th, thousands of patients and researchers, including hundreds of our You’re the Cure advocates, will join together in our nation’s capital to deliver a strong, unified message to Congress that our nation’s investment in medical research must be prioritized. It’s called the Rally for Medical Research- and just because you’re not in DC, doesn’t mean you can’t be there with us!  Here are a few easy ways to get involved:

  1. Add your name to our ‘Many Hearts, One Voice for Medical Research’ petition today. Your fellow advocates attending the rally will carry big hearts proudly displaying the names of supporters from across the country, like you, who want our nation’s decision makers to get the message loud and clear: We need cures, not cuts!
  2. Help us get the word out!  The more names we have on our hearts, the bigger the presence of the heart and stroke community will be at the rally, so encourage your friends and family to sign the petition too.  Post the link ( to Facebook and Twitter today. 
  3. Watch the rally from your home computer!  On April 8th at 11:00 am EST, the rally will be live-streaming on YouTube, so tune-in to hear from great speakers, including NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins and even a couple of our very own You're the Cure advocates about how critical medical research is.  You'll also get to see our red hearts waving in the crowd!  Watch here.   

Medical research saves lives, inspires hope, fosters innovation, and boosts the economy. Yet, our country’s investment in the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the world’s leading research institution, continues to decline. This threatens the fight against heart disease and stroke, our nation’s No. 1 and No. 4 killers- and the jobs of the researchers who have dedicated their careers to advancing science that saves lives.  It’s time to turn things around- and this rally makes an important statement to Congress.  Thank you for joining with us to show your support for making medical research funding a national priority!

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Call your Senators TODAY!

 As Congress considers funding proposals for federal programs, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) has offered an amendment on the Senate floor that would provide very modest increases for medical research, prevention and treatment programs of interest to us, including National Institutes of Health and the Rural and Community Access to a AEDs program, which increases survival rates for people who suffer sudden cardiac arrest. Senator Harkin’s amendment will help advance the mission of the American Heart Association.


The U.S. Senate is scheduled to vote soon, likely this evening- March 13th, on the amendment. Please take just 5 minutes to call your two United States Senators and ask them to vote in favor of Senator Harkin’s amendment. Simply dial the Capitol Hill switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask to be connected to your U.S. Senator.  After being connected, ask for the health legislative assistant.  If you reach his/her voicemail, leave a short message. After hanging up from that office, please call the Capitol Hill switchboard again to be connected to your second U.S. Senator. 

Talking Points for your calls

  • Hello.  May I please speak with the Health Legislative Assistant.
  • (please leave a message if you reach voice mail)
  • Hi, this is (name) from (city and state).  I am a volunteer for the American Heart Association.
  • Please ask Senator (name) to vote in favor of Senator Harkin’s amendment to the Continuing Resolution.
  • Passage of this amendment will help advance the fight against heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases, the No. 1 killer in our State and the most costly illness in the U.S.
  • Specifically, this amendment will help the National Institutes of Health make continued progress against heart disease and stroke.  Also, it will help save lives of people who suffer from sudden cardiac arrest, a particularly deadly form of heart disease.  Thank you.

 Please be sure to report your call in the action center.  

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Sequester Cuts Will Put America’s Heart Health at Risk

Washington, D.C., March 1, 2013 — American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown issued the following statement today on how the sequester cuts will endanger the nation’s heart health:

“The sequester cuts pose a serious threat to the extraordinary progress we have made in the fight against heart disease and stroke.  If they are allowed to remain in place, these devastating reductions will tie the hands of heart and stroke researchers to advance lifesaving treatments and cures. They will also slash support for prevention efforts that encourage healthy behaviors and ultimately drive down our nation’s rising healthcare costs.

Under the sequester, promising research funded by the National Institutes of Health will eventually be halted, and thousands of jobs will be lost from labs that can’t afford to pay researchers without federal support. For example, the NIH’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has identified nine critical priorities for stroke prevention, treatment and recovery research. But under the sequester cuts, scientists can only focus on one priority, further delaying progress in the prevention and treatment of the No. 4 cause of death in the United States.

Finally, these mandatory cuts will further reduce funding for the Prevention and Public Health Fund.  As a result, communities will be denied much-needed funds to invest in cost-effective, evidence-based prevention initiatives that address public-health concerns such as childhood obesity, tobacco use, high blood pressure and cholesterol.

By 2030, more than 40 percent of Americans are projected to have some form of cardiovascular disease, annually costing this country $818 billion in direct healthcare costs and nearly $308 billion in indirect costs.  Clearly, the nation’s health cannot afford to bear the brunt of the sequester cuts.  We urge Congress to restore funding for the NIH and the Prevention and Public Health Fund so we can keep all Americans on the path to ideal heart health.”

As the effects of the sequester become apparent, we want to hear from you.  Are you feeling the impact of NIH funding cuts?  Share your story with us today!


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“Hello! My name is ____”

It’s time to welcome the 113th Congress!  We all know the best welcomes are personal, so we’re asking You’re the Cure advocates to introduce themselves to their members of Congress by recording a video and uploading it to Facebook.

We’re calling it the “Hello, my name is ____” campaign.  We want your elected officials to know you and your heart or stroke story- and to remember it when they vote this year.  When you record your video, consider using this script (and try to keep your video to about 60 seconds!):

 “Hi my name is [your name] from [City, State].”

 “I am passionate about policy changes that can help improve cardiovascular health in this country because [tell your story].”

 “Now that I’ve shared my story with you, I have one question for you: Will you remember me when you vote this year?”

Watch an example from our National Grassroots Director, Clarissa Garcia:

(Please visit the site to view this video)

Once you’ve recorded your video on your phone, tablet, or camera, save it and upload it to Facebook. To upload your video to Facebook:

  1. Scroll to the top of your Facebook homepage where your status box is.
  2. Click Add Photos/Video.
  3. Click Upload Photos/Video.
  4. Select your video from the location you saved it to on your computer or mobile device.
  5. Write a post for your video.  Make sure to ‘tag’ your Representative and Senators and our American Heart Association: You’re the Cure page!  We recommend using this caption:

Hello, @[Enter your lawmakers names starting with an “@” symbol to tag their accounts], my name is [your name], and I’m an @[American Heart Association: You’re the Cure] advocate. Here’s why I support heart-healthy and stroke-smart public policies. Will you remember me when you vote this year?

(Note: Use our Legislator Search tool to identify your Representative and Senators.  You’ll need to “Like” their Facebook pages in order to ‘tag’ them with your video.)

If you’re unable to upload a video, there’s another easy way to introduce yourself to your legislators. Simply share your story by sending a personalized email today!

As always, if you have any questions, feel free to let us know at

We can’t wait to see your videos. Thanks for being the cure!

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Update:NIH funding cuts delayed, but not yet avoided

A financial crisis was averted by Congress this week, but the solution is temporary with regards to funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Funding cuts for NIH and other federal programs have been delayed, but are not off the table as Congress continues to seek ways to steer our nation towards economic recovery.

NIH faced devastating funding cuts under a sequester- across-the-board cuts to federally funded programs that were slated to take place as we embarked on the new year. The deal passed this week by Congress, known as the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, delayed a sequester until March 1, 2013. That means cuts to NIH funding are still looming, and we have more work to do.

Thanks to all the You're the Cure advocates who've been fighting with us to preserve our nation's investment in NIH. Just before the holidays, you helped us get the signatures of 60 Members of Congress on a bipartisan letter to House and Senate leadership asking that they protect NIH funding. You can see the final letter here! 

Stay tuned for more ways you can let the new Congress know that we can't afford cuts to NIH funding. Your continued action will be critical!

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Heart Association Officials Welcome New Key NIH Official

On December 12th, American Heart Association President Dr. Donna Arnett, Chair of the Advocacy Coordinating Committee Dr. Elliot Antman, and AHA staff welcomed the new Director of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute at the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Gary Gibbons at a reception on Capitol Hill.

Dr. Gibbons spoke about his extensive background with the NIH and the importance of medical research. Also in attendance were the U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Regina Benjamin, and Representatives Donna Christensen, Lois Capps, and Mike Crapo.  


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The Countdown is on to Save NIH Funding!

It’s almost the end of year, which means you are likely counting the days to festive holiday celebrations and the start of the New Year! But there is another countdown that needs our immediate attention. In just two weeks, medical research funding will be cut by about $2.5 billion, if Congress fails to act by the end of the year.

Will you take two minutes to let your Representative know you support our nation’s investment in research?

This year You’re the Cure advocates shared countless stories about the ways research has impacted their lives. From the stroke survivor who relied on new technology to regain movement and strength in his arm to the researcher who has dedicated his career to investigating the cause of arrhythmias, medical research is critical to the health of our nation.

In this tough economic environment, we all know Congress needs to make difficult budget decisions. However, it up to us to ensure that all legislators understand the value of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). NIH-funded research supports more than 432,000 jobs in the United States and generated $62 billion in new economic activity last year alone. But the scheduled cuts will mean the loss of 33,000 research-related jobs and many promising research discoveries will be put on hold.

Right now, a letter is circulating in the House of Representatives for lawmakers to sign to demonstrate their commitment to the NIH- and we need your Representative to get on board. This letter will be delivered to the leaders of the House and Senate as they try to negotiate a deal before the end of the year. The deadline for signatures is 12:00pm ET on December 21st- so please don’t waste another minute to make your voice heard. Act now!

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2012 You're the Cure Federal Recap

As we get ready to welcome the 113th Congress to Capitol Hill in January, we wanted to take a moment to reflect on all of the activity that took place on key heart and stroke issues this year.  In a tough economic environment, You’re the Cure advocates, like you, helped play critical defense to protect funding and programs that support our shared mission of building healthier lives.

We’re also proud to report that over 34,000 new grassroots advocates joined You’re the Cure this year, making our unified voice that much stronger in our communities, our states, and in the nation’s capital.  And what a noise we made!  Advocates took over 350,000 actions this year, from sending emails and making phone calls, to attending events and meeting with lawmakers, and more.   

Thank you for your hard work to influence Congress in 2012.  We’re excited to make even more progress in 2013!

2012 Action

What’s next?

Congress has yet to extend the Medicare Therapy Caps exceptions process, which is critical to ensuring stroke patients on Medicare are able to access and afford the physical, speech and occupational therapies they need. 

The coverage caps on rehabilitation services will kick in on January 1st, unless Congress passes an extension of the exceptions process by the end of the year.  Tell your legislators immediate action is needed for Medicare stroke patients now!

A key provision of the HEART for Women Act was signed into law earlier this year as part of a larger bill extending funding for the Food and Drug Administration! 

The new law requires the FDA to report on how new prescription drugs and medical devices work for women and minorities and to develop an action plan for improving participation in research.  Watch for the FDA’s report and action plan in the next 18 months.

The Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act and key patient-protections continued to take effect.       

As implementation continues toward 2014, when several  key provisions will take effect, the AHA will continue to work to ensure the needs of heart & stroke patients are being met.  Learn more about what the law means for you. 

The fate of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) remains undecided, with the House and Senate yet to reach an agreement  on the reauthorization of the Farm Bill.

As Congress’ work to pass a Farm Bill continues in the 113th Congress, so does our work to protect the FFVP and other nutrition programs from being cut or altered.  Take action in support of fruits and veggies in schools.  

As the Federal government works to negotiate a deal to address the current fiscal situation, funding for National Institutes of Health (NIH) research, Centers for Disease Control (CDC) prevention programs, and the Rural and Community AED program remains in jeopardy. 

If Congress and the President fail to stop automatic across-the-board funding cuts (aka: the ‘sequester’) by the end of the year, research and prevention programs will be cut by 8.2%.  Speak-up today to help prevent cuts!  The President will submit his 2014 budget to Congress in February, from which Congress will negotiate an appropriations bill.  Stay tuned for opportunities to act.

Programs that support walking amd biking in communities, like Safe Routes to School, took a big hit in the Transportation Bill passed and signed into law.  Loopholes now exist that allow states to use previously dedicated walking and biking funding for other transportation projects.   

Communities around the country are now hard at work to ensure that funding is provided for walking and biking projects as the law is implemented.  The Transportation Bill will need to be renewed in two years, presenting an opportunity to regain dedicated funding for bike and pedestrian initiatives.   

Big Tobacco’s efforts to get cigars exempted from the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) authority to regulate tobacco products bill did not succeed this year.

The bill could come up again in the 113th Congress.  We’ll need your help to continue to keep the pressure on Congress to reject efforts to exempt any tobacco products from the FDA’s regulation authority. 

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Take Action to Save Medical Research!

Congress is considering drastic measures in order to reduce the deficit, including “sequestration,” which means arbitrary, across-the-board cuts to most federal programs. Medical research funding is slated to be cut by more than 8%, about $2.5 billion, which would halt heart and stroke research projects and wipe out 33,000 jobs across the country. 

Contact Congress today. Tell them WE NEED CURES, NOT CUTS!

Deficit reduction is important, but continued cuts that stifle medical progress are the wrong way to do it. Funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), our nation’s preeminent research institution, provides thousands of jobs and drives additional economic activity. If Congress enacts these cuts, economic growth will slow while we also jeopardize our role as a world leader in medical research. 

These are cuts we simply cannot afford. 

With these cuts, we all lose valuable time in the battle against heart disease, stroke, and other diseases like Alzheimer’s  disease, diabetes, Parkinson’s Disease, muscular dystrophy, lupus…you get the picture. We can’t let that happen. 

This week, we join with many other groups in raising our voices to protect NIH funding. It’s time to tell Congress: WE NEED CURES, NOT CUTS!

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National Effort to Establish Patient-Centered Research Methods Underway

On October 27th and 28th, patient-advocates gathered in Washington, DC for a workshop hosted by the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) to begin a dialogue about the inclusion and engagement of patients at every step of the research process.  PCORI, created under the Affordable Care Act, will fund research that will provide patients, their caregivers and clinicians with the evidence-based information needed to make better-informed health care decisions.

 The American Heart Association supports PCORI’s work and was proud that two of our volunteers were selected to attend the workshop.  As the mother of a pediatric stroke survivor, Jessica Spear from Missouri knows firsthand the challenge caregivers face in determining which health care decisions are best for their loved one.  “I feel with patient and caregiver input, we can accomplish an overall better healthcare system in the United States, one that has all parties involved.  We can be the voices for our specific demographic,” she said.

 Rob Edwards, the Director of Strategic Initiatives and Regulatory Affairs at the University of Kentucky Medical Center, also sees great value in PCORI’s mission.  “In all aspects of the health care delivery system, we have struggled to identify sustainable patient-centered models of care, research and clinical education.  We know we need to do better and this is real funding to continue forward the principle of thinking ‘patient first’,” he said.

As Jessica and Rob’s participation in the workshop demonstrates, PCORI is committed to seeking input from all stakeholders.  Currently, PCORI has a survey open for the public to be able to offer research questions they’d like to see answered through the institute’s work.  And Rob shared that the workshop ended with PCORI announcing a new grant opportunity aimed at finding solutions for connecting patients and researchers.  

For more information about PCORI, please visit

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Election Season and Heart & Stroke Research

Tonight is the last Presidential debate, marking the home stretch of the campaign season.  I bet you've seen your fair share of candidate ads, news features, and campaign literature this season.  But at the end of the day, when you sift through all the information, the one thing most voters are looking for is where the candidates stand on the issues that matter most to you.  That’s why the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association is pleased to be a part of the Your Candidates, Your Health campaign, led by Research!America.

Together we are calling on Presidential and Congressional candidates to tell us what their commitment is to medical research funding. Candidates are asked to take a simple survey and their responses are shared on the Research!America website.  Take a moment to see if your candidates have responded yet- and if they haven't, send them a request to take the survey.   

Researchers and patients alike can agree that without a continued investment in research funding, many medical advances will never make it to the heart and stroke patients who need them.  So, before casting your vote on November 6th, do your research on where your candiates stand on medical research. 

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AHA Advocate Acts to Protect NIH Funding

You’re the Cure advocate Ravi Balijepalli, Ph.D , recently hosted Manny Vasquez , Regional Director for U.S. Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI), at the Cardiovascular Research Center at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine. Dr. Balijepalli, Assistant Professor of Medicine, and his colleagues showcased the research happening in their facility thanks to funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Vasquez had the opportunity to view beating heart cells under a microscope and witness electrical signals being recorded from a single beating heart cell. He also learned about the training process for graduate and medical students and how research undertaken in the lab translates to new treatments for those suffering from disease.

 “I think this is great way to inform our leaders about what health science research can do to improve our lives,” said Dr, Balijepalli.

Congressional site visits like this one are part of AHA’s ongoing efforts to demonstrate the value of NIH funding throughout the United States. NIH funds research in all 50 states and in most Congressional districts. That funding not only leads to life-saving advances in the prevention and treatment of heart disease and stroke, but supports more than 432,000 jobs across our country. Despite the potentially devastating impact to our nation’s health and economy, NIH faces significant funding cuts in January 2013.

Learn more about the impact of these cuts and join Dr. Balijepalli in speaking up to protect NIH funding.

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Survey for Patients: What Health Care Questions are You Facing?

Every day, heart disease and stroke patients and caregivers must make health care decisions. They may have to choose between two or more options for preventing, diagnosing or treating their conditions. Or, they might need to decide whether or not a treatment is right for them.  For these situations, the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) was created. PCORI funds research to help patients make the best decisions about their health care.

Right now, PCORI is seeking information from patients and caregivers about the health care questions or decisions they may be facing to help the organization shape and refine their research agenda.  Medical professionals and researchers who have questions about improving health care delivery, addressing disparities in health care, or improving the communication of research findings are also invited to participate. 

 Take a few minutes to submit your research questions and become part of PCORI's efforts to change the research process by making the patient's voice central to that work today!

 PCORI is an independent, non-profit organization authorized by Congress.  Learn more at

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A great month for You're the Cure Advocates

"Research saves lives" has been the message of the month for August.  With Members of Congress home for their recess break, advocates have been asking their legislators to make protecting National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding a priority when they return to Captiol Hill.  The NIH faces massive funding cuts, also known as the sequester, scheduled for January 2013,which would result in job losses for researchers and critical heart and stroke discoveries being put on hold. 

Dozens of advocates met with their legislators in district offices to share their story about why research matters.  And  across the country, advocates have been delivering the message virtually, with over 7,000 messages sent to Capitol Hill in support of protecting NIH funding in the last several weeks alone. 

Have you sent your message yet?  If not, there is still time!  Here is how you can get involved:

  1. Send a quick email to your lawmakers right now in support of protecting funding for the NIH!
  2. Use Facebook and Twitter to spread the word about how critical research is to preventing and treating heart disease and stroke. Share this video with friends, family, and lawmakers today!
  3. Contact your local AHA advocacy staff partner to learn about ways you can get involved offline, such as sharing your Research Saves Lives story or meeting with your elected officials. 

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Budget Cuts to NIH Will Result in Job Loss

Have you heard about the massive across-the-broad federal budget cuts, also know as the sequester, that are scheduled for January 2013 if Congress fails to reach another agreement? These cuts could have disastrous effects on medical research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and could delay many important breakthroughs in health research.

In addition to producing life-saving discoveries, NIH research also supports many jobs in our committees, including researchers, lab technicians, support staff and more. To highlight the effect the sequester would have, our friends at United for Medical Research have put together a map that shows the number of jobs each state stands to lose if the budget cuts happen.

Click the map below to see how research would be affected in your state. Don’t like what you see? Go to Research Saves Lives to urge your Members of Congress to protect NIH funding today!

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Watch Advocates In Action at the Research Saves Lives Fly-In!

Last month, over 40 heart disease and stroke survivors and researchers arrived on Capitol Hill to urge Members of Congress to protect funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH).  Hear their stories about why medical research matters!  Then help make sure Members of Congress see it by sharing the video link ( on Facebook and Twitter and tagging your legislators

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Research Saves Lives Fly-In Profile: Joe and Olivia Quigley

On June 6th, Joe Quigley and his daughter Olivia came to D.C. to urge their Massachusetts Members of Congress to protect NIH Funding from automatic budget cuts set for January 2013. When Olivia was just 6 years-old, she suffered a sudden cardiac arrest will in gym class and came to Capitol Hill to tell her story. Her and father meetings included one with Senator Scott Brown.


Read their story below.

My name is Joe Quigley. When my daughter, Olivia, was just six years old, she suffered a SCA during gym class at her school in East Boston. Two teachers who were trained in CPR immediately started to work on her. They worked on Olivia until the EMT’s arrived seven minutes later. The EMT’s then used an AED to restart her heart and Olivia was transported to Mass General Hospital Boston and admitted into the ER. Olivia suffered a second SCA that same day and once again CPR and an AED were used to save her life. Olivia was put into a drug induced coma and put on life support for a week. Prior to that day, Olivia had no preexisting heart condition that we were aware of. In fact, just two days before her event; she had been given the all clear by her pediatrician at her annual checkup. During her stay at MGH, Olivia was given numerous tests including viral and genetic testing to try and find a diagnosis. Unfortunately, every test came back negative and we still to this day have no answers. Olivia has an ICD and is on daily medication. She has a heart monitor next to her bed that reads her heart functions and relays that information back to her cardiologist.

Although it is comforting to know that she is getting the correct treatment, not having a diagnosis is still a big worry. Olivia has a 15 year old brother, Alex, and not having a diagnosis for Olivia means that he could also be carrying the same genetic problems. He could just be a time bomb waiting to go off. What would be the chances for his survival? We continue to search for answers. Olivia is currently in a gene pool research investigation being conducted at Children’s Hospital Boston. I wait every day for the phone to ring with an answer to our questions. Research is so important for us to find out these answers. To find out what happened to Olivia, to potentially have answers for Alex and for all the other kids that we don’t know have a heart condition, we need funding for research.

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You’re the Cure Advocates Urge Congress to Protect NIH Funding!

On June 6th, over 40 You’re the Cure Advocates from 17 key states came to Washington to urge their Members of Congress to protect funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) from automatic budget cuts set to occur in January 2013. If the automatic cuts (or sequester) occurs, the NIH could see cuts that total around 8 percent. 

The day started bright and early at a local DC hotel, where advocates and participating staff were welcomed by AHA CEO Nancy Brown and Vice President of Federal Advocacy Sue Nelson. After an impressive group photo, AHA President Dr. Gordon Tomaselli briefed advocates about the funding situation and the damage that the NIH could suffer if the automatic cuts occur.  Stroke survivor Barry Jackson and heart disease survivor Gail Harris-Berry, who are profiled in a complimentary advertisement campaign that is currently running in Capitol Hill newspapers, also shared their personal stories with their fellow advocates, before everyone headed to Capitol Hill for their meetings.

From saving lives to creating jobs, the survivor/researcher pair from each key district were able to give lawmakers their own perspectives on why protecting research funding is critical.   Highlights included 10 year-old Olivia Quigley, accompanied by her father Joe, who shared her story of suffering a sudden cardiac arrest while in gym class with Senator Scott Brown (MA).  And the Hodge Family, including Maddie Hodge who was born with a supraventricular tachycardia and is alive today due to medial research, who met with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid from Nevada.  In total, advocates helped deliver the "research saves lives" message to 62 congressional offices!   

Check out the You’re the Cure Facebook page for continual updates and photos of the event!

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Sen. Mark Kirk’s Recovery “Excellent” After Stroke

On January 21st, Senator Mark Kirk from Illinois had a stroke at the age of 52. Only 15 weeks later, his recovery has been described as “excellent” by his doctor in an article in the Chicago Tribune. Sen. Kirk’s ongoing recovery shows how important medical research is to stroke recovery.

Sen. Kirk also penned a letter-to-the- editor describing his stroke and recovery.

“Early detection is key to survival,” said Kirk. “My staff and I are working on a legislative package to help with early detection and prevention programs.”

Check out his amazing video below, go the full story , and read Sen. Kirk’s letter in the Chicago Tribune.

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AHA President Warns about the Danger of NIH Budget Cuts

AHA President, Dr. Gordon F. Tomaselli, recently wrote an article in Science Progressabout the dangers of the pending budget cuts to the National Institutes of Health in 2013.

“Next January, unless Congress and the White House take action, the National Institutes of Health, or NIH, and the critical medical research it supports will face an uncertain future. Under current law, most domestic spending, including every NIH institute and center, will be subject to a mandatory cut of at least 7.8 percent.

The cuts—which will go into effect January 2—are the result of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction’s failure to come up with a plan that would reduce the deficit by $1.2 trillion over the next decade. The debt limit deal, which created the committee, established a backup “sequestration” procedure as a mechanism to encourage compromise. Sequestration is a form of automatic budget cuts that are applied across the board.

Military programs are also on the chopping block, and the defense establishment has made it clear that it will fight these cuts to the bitter end. Supporters of domestic programs, however, have been silent. Thankfully, advocates for the NIH refuse to remain quiet and complacent. We believe there is simply too much at stake.” Read the full article…

Join Dr. Tomaselli in urging Congress to protect NIH research funding today!

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CEO Nancy Brown Participates in Panel Discussion on Medical Research Innovation

On March 14, American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown joined leaders in government, industry, the media and other patient advocacy organizations for Research!America’s 9th annual National Health Research Forum in Washington, D.C.

The event, “World Class to Second Class? Confronting the Risks to U.S. Science and Innovation,” generated discussions on key medical, health and scientific research topics concerning all Americans. The event was moderated by Richard Besser, M.D., chief health and medical editor for ABC News. Panelists, including Brown, engaged with audience members on the significance of health and medical research to our nation’s economy and global competitiveness, and the roles of non-profit, public and private sectors in advancing health research.

Brown emphasized the power of working together with other health groups to share messages about the common components between conditions. She also touched on the association’s effort to advocate for more research advances to improve our nation’s health.

“We need to change our mindset now, and develop a new appreciation for research. In the aggregate, research is a sure thing, because in the aggregate, research has always increased our knowledge, and thus has improved our lives,” said Brown.

You can view discussion highlights and access transcripts by visiting:

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Three You’re the Cure Advocates Go to the Media to Talk about Heart Attacks in Women

Three You’re the Cure advocates were recently highlighted in two ABC News spots talking about a recent study that showed younger women who have heart attacks do not always experience chest pain during the event and the attack can be more deadly as a result.

Gail Harris-Berry was profiled on a story that aired on ABC News with Diane Sawyer, where she was turned down by multiple hospitals because she didn’t show the “classic” heart attack symptons.

Tami Kimet told her story to, where she went to the hospital to get relief from what she thought was the flu but instead received life-saving surgery due to a heart attack. In the same article, Dr. Malissa Wood explains how younger women tend not to recognize the signs of a heart attack, but the effects of one can be devastating.

Both Gail and Dr. Wood will be attending the White House Community Leaders Briefing on Cardiovascular Health this Friday, where they will share their stories and experiences with top Obama Administration officials.

Check out Gail Harris-Berry’s story and click here to see Tami’s story and Dr. Wood’s advice on how to recognize the signs of a heart attack in younger women.

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American Heart Association Volunteers Head to the White House

On February 24th, 70 American Heart Association volunteers will be coming to Washington, DC to attend the White House Community Leaders Briefing on Cardiovascular Health. This special event brings Administration officials together with heart disease and stroke survivors and caregivers, medical professionals, researchers, and community health advocates.

In addition to sharing their own personal stories and professional expertise, attendees will have the opportunity to hear about legislation, regulations, and initiatives the Administration has supported and is implementing to help improve cardiovascular health. The range of topics includes:

You can be in the loop during this important event too! Check out the ways to engage with the American Heart Association, your fellow advocates, and the White House:

  1. Watch the event LIVE! From 9:00 am-12:00 pm EST, the White House will be live streaming the event at Tune in to hear from top administration officials about the legislation, regulations, and initiatives being pursued to help fight heart disease and stroke. White House Director of Public Engagement Jon Carson will take live questions during a Tweet-Up from 3:30-4:15 pm EST. Follow him at @JonCarson44 and use the hashtag #HeartAtTheWH to join the discussion!
  2. Follow live event highlights on Twitter and Facebook! We’ll be posting updates, pictures, and videos throughout the day. Join us by sharing, re-tweeting, commenting, and posting. Don’t forget to use the event’s official hashtag- #HeartAtTheWH- to join in the conversation.
  3. Help us deliver our message to the White House! You can ask questions about the heart disease and stroke issues above and share your story with the White House through social media. Post to the White House Facebook page or direct your tweets to @WhiteHouse.
  4. Get the scoop from those who were there! Visit the You’re the Cure blog and the White House blog in the days following the event for event recaps and observations from your fellow advocates who attended.

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Pulse Oximetry Screening: Simple Heart Test that Could Save Newborns’ Lives

Today marks the beginning of Congenital Heart Defects Awareness Week—a great time to draw attention to a non-invasive screening test that helps identify newborns at risk for heart defects and potentially saves their lives. The test, pulse oximetry, or pulse ox, consists of sensors placed on a baby’s hand and foot to check blood oxygen levels. If their levels are too low, additional tests are conducted to detect critical or possibly life-threatening heart defects that might otherwise be missed. With congenital heart defects considered to be the leading cause of birth-defect related deaths in the U.S., new research suggests wider use of pulse ox screening could help identify more than 90 percent of heart defects.

U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius has suggested that critical congenital heart defects screening be added to the “Recommended Uniform Screening Panel” for newborns before they are released from a hospital or birthing facility. To achieve this goal, association staff and volunteers are working in states across the country to enact pulse ox screening policies that will allow babies with heart defects to live longer and fuller lives. Thanks to the work of association advocates and key stakeholders, New Jersey, Maryland and Indiana have all recently passed laws requiring newborns to have pulse ox screenings prior to being discharged from the hospital. In New Jersey, just hours after their law took effect, a newborn’s life was saved.

The American Heart Association will continue its efforts to educate key decision makers and the public about the critical role pulse ox screening plays in improving early diagnosis for newborns. We will also work to increase funding for support and educational services, enhance scientific research in this area, and expand access to quality care for the nation’s children

To learn more about congenital heart defects and pulse ox screening policies in your state, visit You’re the Cure today!

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Nancy Brown Gives Keynote Address at eHI Conference

American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown gave the keynote address at the annual eHealth Initiative’s (eHI) 2012 Annual Conference, held January 11-12 in Washington, D.C. Her speech examined the positive impact of technology on cardiovascular health and stroke care and how the AHA is involved.

“I’m proud …that the American Heart Association and its scientific volunteers have played a key role in a wide range of eHealth advances…” said Brown.

Specifically, Brown spoke about the American Heart Association’s initiatives, such as Get With the Guidelines and other programs that aim and improve patient care.

“At the American Heart Association, we’ve seen how the technological component of initiatives like Get With The Guidelines is making a significant and documentable difference in the quality of care and patient outcomes. Around the world, others who’ve embraced technology are experiencing similar results. The bottom line is better patient care and better outcomes,” said Brown.

Brown also spoke about the importance of telemedicine in stroke care and the up-and-coming use of Telestroke Centers in rural and remote locations.

The eHealth Initiative is an independent, non-profit organization whose mission is to drive improvements in the quality, safety and efficiency of healthcare through information and information technology. Other notable speakers at this year’s conference included Carolyn Clancy, M.D., director of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Jack C. Lewin, M.D., chief executive officer of the American College of Cardiology and Len Lichtenfeld, M.D., M.A.C.P., chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society.

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Health and Human Services Year in Review

Check out this video below from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that recaps 2011. In this video, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius speaks about the Million Hearts Campaign, which the American Heart Association is a proud member. The Campaign aims to prevent one million heart attacks and strokes over the next five years.

Click to see the video!


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NIH Research Funding: Increases and Cuts

Despite this era of deficit reduction, thanks to your help, Congress continues to see the value of the National Institutes of Health, our best hope to prevent and even cure heart disease and stroke, by providing it with a 0.8% funding increase over its last year’s funding level. Although the increase is smaller than we had worked for, our health, economy and ability to compete globally will still benefit from this enhanced support. The AHA will continue to advocate that Congress make NIH-funded research a top priority because it is an investment that will advance our mission and improve our economy by creating jobs in every state.

The failure of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to come up with a plan to reduce $1.2 trillion from the national deficit means that automatic across-the-board spending cuts will go into effect in 2013 to achieve these savings required by the Budget Control Act of 2011. This means that nearly every federal program, including the NIH, will be cut by more than 9% in just one year. A cut of this magnitude will have a devastating effect on the NIH, reducing their budget to its 2004 funding level and jeopardizing heart and stroke research and our country’s status as the world leader in biomedical research. Under this scenario, the NIH budget would be slashed by nearly $3 billion. In addition, the budget caps imposed in the 2011 Budget Control Act for FY 2013, which freeze overall discretionary spending, could result in even deeper cuts for the NIH. The AHA has been working with our coalitions to garner support to attempt to protect the NIH from this across-the-board cut. The AHA will need your help now more now than ever as we try to exempt the NIH from these reductions. Please watch your e-mail in boxes for action alerts.

Learn more about the other programs the AHA advocated for through the appropriations process:


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Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer in the United States, taking the lives of far too many loved ones and friends each year. Medical research leads to new ways to prevent, treat and even cure heart disease and stroke. It’s our best defense.

You’re the Cure advocates are working to support research breakthroughs by protecting funding for the National Institutes of Health and its truly life-saving work.

Help Increase Funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH)

During the last ten years, the NIH has lost more than 20% of its purchasing power. This dramatic downturn has come at a time of heightened scientific opportunity in the fight against heart disease and stroke and when other countries are increasing investment in science—some by double digits. 

Today, NIH only invests 5% of its budget on heart research and a mere 1% on stroke research, with that small sum generating significant and consequential results. Funding reductions jeopardize the NIH’s ability to support promising studies that could lead to new treatments and prevention strategies for heart disease and stroke.

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Facts and Figures

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    Facts: October 2014 AHA Policy Report

    Find all of AHA's Policy Position statements on various issues with this "at-a-glance" report entitled the Policy Report.

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    Facts: Impact of Sequestration on NIH

    Get the facts about the impact of budget cuts scheduled for 2013 on the National Institutes of Health and heart and stroke research.

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    Facts: NIH Research Funding

    Get the facts about our nation’s investment in heart disease and stroke research through the National Institutes of Health.

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Campaign Resources

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    Sequester Stories: How Heart and Stroke Research Hangs in the Balance

    Learn how budgets cuts to the National Institute of Health (NIH) have affected heart and stroke medical research from You're the Cure Advocates in the medical community.

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    Photo Petition: These are the Faces of Medical Research

    Hundreds of You're the Cure advocates participated in the 'Hearts for Research' photo petition to demonstrate their support for a strong, national investment in the National Institutes of Health. 

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    Presentation: Communicating with Congress

    View the slides from the recent presentation entitled Communicating with Congress: How to turn a 10-Minute Meeting with a Legislator into a Life-Long Relationship

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    Talking Points: Restore and Protect NIH Funds

    Speak-up against funding cuts to the National Institutes of Health that occured because of the March 2013 sequester!

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Grassroots Toolkit

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    You're the Cure Federal Advocacy Tips

    Download this document for a quick one-page guide on how to effectively advocate for heart-health policies to your federal representatives.

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    You're the Cure Meeting Leave Behind

    Download this form, fill out your "why," and bring it to a meeting with your federal representatives to help convey why heart-healthy policies should be a top priority during their time in office.

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    You're the Cure LTE guide

    Tips for writing a Letter to the Editor that will get published in your local paper and noticed by your federal representative.

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    You're the Cure Sign-Up Form

    Recruit others to join you as a You’re the Cure advocate using this printable sign-up form.

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    You're the Cure Advocate Guide

    Use this guide to learn about more ways you can get involved as a You’re the Cure advocate.

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