Throughout the year, our blog will feature AHA volunteer stories of survival and hope. We know there are thousands of stories like these - thats why we want to say “Thanks” to all of you for giving your time and sharing your lives with us. You can’t spell CURE without U! Thank you for all you do to build healthier lives free of cardiovascular disease and stroke. YOU’RE THE CURE!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Online Support Program for Stroke Families

Recruitment is underway for an NIH-funded clinical trial investigation of an online psycho-educational support program for women who are caring for a husband or male significant other following stroke. This project is housed at Kent State University in Ohio and fully approved by the University’s Institutional Review Board.

Although the intervention program is directed to female caregivers, it is intended to produce positive outcomes for stroke survivors and caregivers alike. Benefits to participants include the receipt of health information and education that will help to facilitate stroke survivor’s physical and emotional recovery and to reduce caregiver’s feelings of strain or burden. The program is especially targeted to caregivers and stroke survivors who are experiencing depressive or anxiety symptoms.

All couples who participate will receive cash incentives up to $140. Couples must have their own computer and Internet service provider if they reside outside of Ohio.

Please call toll free (1-866-300-6657) if you would like any further information about this NIH – funded intervention study. Also, please encourage any clients or patients that you believe could benefit from taking part to call this number for details.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Springfield's State Journal-Register: Enforce Smoke-free Illinois!

The following editorial is from The State Journal-Register in Springfield, IL. Cudos to this newspaper for their ongoing coverage of and participation in the dialogue on this important issue!

Our Opinion: Smoking ban should be fully enforced
Posted Nov 25, 2008 @ 12:58 AM
Last update Nov 25, 2008 @ 07:12 AM

IT'S BEEN 26 months since indoor smoking bans in Springfield and unincorporated Sangamon County went into effect, and some local bar owners and patrons are intent on ignoring the ordinances.

The county has taken the right approach with bar owners who repeatedly allow smoking in their establishment and refuse to obey the law: Fine them and initiate the process of taking away their liquor license.

WE BELIEVE the county also should be getting tough on individual smokers whose blatant refusal to follow the law puts pressure on the businesses they patronize to disobey it.
Both ordinances have provisions allowing a $50 fine on individuals caught smoking. The county health department should use it. County health director Jim Stone told the county liquor committee last week that on at least one occasion a bar employee chided health inspectors, telling them, “This is communism. Next thing you know you’re going to be telling us when to go to the bathroom.”

The smoking ban isn’t communism. It isn’t totalitarianism. Smoking indoors is not a right enumerated by the U.S. Constitution. It does not deprive bar and restaurant owners of their property rights any more than requiring them to store food at a safe temperature does. The nonsmoking majority is not being tyrannical against smokers.

SORRY, BUT SMOKERS are not a protected minority. Being amongst a group that engages in a habit that kills you and that could kill those around you does not make you equivalent to those who bled for the right to vote 40 years ago. Your civil disobedience does not make you Martin Luther King.

The city, county and state did not violate anyone’s rights by passing the ban and then enforcing it. The law is simple. Smoke ’em if you got ’em. But when you’re inside a public place, go outside so that everybody else can breathe clean air inside.

Smokers who don’t like the ban have the right to complain, whine and spew hyperbole as thick as the smoke they’re inhaling. But this is a law passed by the majority of legislators at the city, county and state level. A majority of the public supports it. Laws must be followed, even by those who do not like them. That’s how laws work.

WHEN THIS was being debated at the county, Sangamon County Board Chairman Andy Van Meter, a supporter of the ban, noted instances throughout human history when facts led us to change our behavior.

“In 1840, our forefathers relinquished the right to let their hogs roam free because roaming swine threatened public health. In 1847, we required every citizen to have a fire bucket at the ready,” Van Meter wrote.

The smoking ban also was one of those instances. Legislators passed it because of irrefutable evidence that secondhand smoke is harmful to the health of those who must breathe it in. This probably will be the most important public health law passed this century. Our lawmakers did the right thing and so is the county health department by enforcing the law.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Number of kids having heart attacks grows as PE class minutes shrink....

The neck arteries of obese children and teens look more like those of 45-year-olds, according to research presented recently at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions. This fatty buildup of plaque within arteries feeding the brain can lead to heart attack and stroke. Considering that one in three kids in the U.S. is overweight or obese, this is an issue we all need to be concerned about. Regular physical activity is critical to ensuring a brighter, healthier future for our children and our country.

American children have increasingly fewer opportunities to be physically active at school because quality physical education (PE) classes have suffered from the budget axe. The American Heart Association is pursuing PE policies throughout the country. At the federal level, we are advocating for the enactment of the Fitness Integrated with Teaching (FIT) Kids Act. The FIT Kids Act would provide children’s fitness data to their parents and their communities so that they can make informed decisions on the investment they want to make in the quantity and quality of PE offered in their schools.

For more information, please visit

Monday, June 2, 2008

Time to give FDA authority to regulate tobacco!

A guest column from Illinois Advocacy Committee chair Kathy Grady ran in the State Journal-Register in Springfield over the weekend. Here it is:

Your opinion: Give FDA authority over tobacco

Posted May 31, 2008 @ 01:43 AM

Three years ago my father died after a long struggle with tobacco-related COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), so I can relate to the devastating effects tobacco use can have on individuals and their families. Additionally, through my role with the American Heart Association and extensive work with heart failure patients, I’ve witnessed the debilitating impact that tobacco can make on the body, resulting in cardiovascular disease, stroke and, unfortunately, death.

Even though tobacco use causes these and other devastating health effects, currently no government agency has oversight over the manufacturing and marketing of tobacco products. All other products such as food, drugs and even lipstick are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), but no agency has oversight over tobacco products.

A lifetime of addiction nearly always starts in the teenage years; nearly 90 percent of adult smokers began smoking as teens, so any attempt to limit the national epidemic of tobacco addiction must begin with eliminating the marketing and manufacturing of these products to target children.

A new report released by leading public health organizations shows the extent to which tobacco manufacturers take advantage of the lack of regulation over its industry to entice new users. The report shows how the tobacco industry attracts children by adding candy flavorings like strawberry, banana and grape to their products. They also know that smoking is unpleasant for new smokers, so they carefully design the product to make it less harsh by adding sugars and chemicals that numb the throat. They even address how the cigarette should be designed so that the novice smoker can light it more easily.

Now, Congress has an historic opportunity to protect children and save lives. The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (S 625/HR 1108) is bipartisan legislation that would give the FDA authority over tobacco products and their marketing. While these bills would help protect all Americans from the ravages of tobacco, it includes specific provisions to protect our children from this deadly addiction.

The FDA legislation would restrict tobacco advertising and promotions. It would ban outdoor advertising near schools, remove advertising with colorful pictures that appeal to children from stores and from magazines with high youth readership, and put larger, more effective warning labels on the cigarette packs themselves. The bill also specifically bans candy-flavored cigarettes that are used to lure our children into a lifetime of addiction.

The companies’ techniques to entice children have become increasingly sophisticated and effective. R.J. Reynolds, now Reynolds American, the same company that once marketed cigarettes to kids with Joe Camel, a cartoon character, launched a series of flavored cigarettes, including a pineapple- and coconut-flavored cigarette called “Kauai Kolada” and a citrus-flavored cigarette called “Twista Lime.”

The tobacco companies aggressively market to kids and have been extraordinarily successful. Just three heavily advertised brands — Marlboro, Camel and Newport — are the top choices of more than 80 percent of kids who smoke. Marlboro, the most heavily advertised brand, constitutes almost 50 percent of the youth market but only about 40 percent of smokers over age 25.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, the tobacco companies spend more than $13.4 billion a year to market their products in this country. That’s $36 million a day; much of their marketing is directed at kids. In fact, a recent survey released by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids found that teens are almost twice as likely as adults to remember tobacco advertising — 49 percent of teens and 26 percent of adults said they had seen advertising for cigarettes or spit tobacco in the last two weeks.

Moreover, tobacco industry documents, research on the effect of the cigarette companies’ marketing efforts on kids, and the opinions of advertising experts combine to reveal the intent and the success of the industry’s efforts to attract new smokers from the ranks of children.

A Senate majority of 57 senators are sponsoring this legislation, as are 218 members of the House. I applaud Sens. Dick Durbin and Barack Obama for being co-sponsors of the bill. I urge the rest of the Illinois delegation to support this life-saving legislation. With their help, Congress can take a major step to protect our families and save lives.

Kathleen Grady, Ph.D., is the administrative director of the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute of Northwestern Memorial Hospital’s Center for Heart Failure and associate professor in the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University. She is chair of the Illinois Advocacy Committee for the American Heart Association and lives in Arlington Heights.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Quote Worth Repeating: Health Care For All Or For None?

AHA's national CEO, Cass Wheeler recently made a presentation with this compelling title: “The Wreckonomics of Health Care.” He was the keynote speaker for the Wallace Conerly Health Policy Symposium held April 4, 2008 at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson.

Calling for major reforms in the health care system he said, “If we don’t have a health care system that works for all of us, we will soon have a system that works for none of us.”

Since most Americans -- professionals in the field or jut consumers -- agree with that statement, it is worth repeating. The uneven availability of health care is a growing burden on this country. As I've said before, leaving health care to the "free market" is nonsense because we cannot really expect someone dealing with their health or their family's health to make rational decisions. Left uncontrolled, these powerful conflicts have the potential to drain the treasury and divide the nation....

Safe Routes To School Training A Must For School and Municipal Officials

The Illinois Department of Transportation is sponsoring a series of free trainings on the Illinois Safe Routes to School Program. Trainings will introduce participants to the Safe Routes program, and will prepare them to develop a comprehensive School Travel Plan and apply for funding.

Safe Routes to School is an innovative federal program that supports programs and projects that enable and encourage students in kindergarten through eight grades to walk and bicycle to school. Over the next two years, this program will provide roughly $13 million dollars to school districts, local governments and non-profit organizations who would like to promote walking and cycling among school children.

To register for training, please visit our website:
Registration is limited -- only two representatives from each community attend. School district and municipal representatives are highly encouraged to attend.

2008 Safe Routes to School Training

18th – Aurora
19th – East Hazel Crest

24th – Quad Cities

9th – Mt. Vernon
10th – Charleston

For more information about the Illinois Safe Routes to School Program, please visit

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Stroke Bill Passes IL House Unanimously!

Our top legislative agenda item, House Bill 4699, which establishes Primary Stroke Centers in Illinois passed the state House of Representatives with a vote 0f 114-0-0 yesterday! Kudos to the bill's sponsor, Rep. Bob Biggins! While the bill is a work in progress, getting it out of the House gives us an opportunity to keep the bill alive to work on it in the Senate and pass it this session.

Below, I am pasting in a recent letter to the editor from the Daily Herald on this subject:

Legislation to help victims of stroke

Published: 5/15/2008 12:07 AM

We are stroke survivors and co-founders of Stroke Survivors Empowering Each Other, or SSEEO. SSEEO was created as an umbrella group to provide local stroke survivors with a common voice and to empower us to work to improve care for existing and future survivors.

One bill is particularly important to make sure that future stroke survivors benefit from our experiences. House Bill 4699, the Primary Stroke Center Designation Act, is currently pending before the Illinois General Assembly. This bill will improve the care and treatment for future stroke patients by ensuring that whenever possible, suspected stroke patients will be taken to the hospital best equipped to ensure rapid diagnosis and treatment. Experts agree that time is of the essence when dealing with a stroke. "Time Loss is Brain Loss," says the American Stroke Association.

Fortunately, today's medical advancements in stroke diagnosis and treatment have given doctors some exciting new stroke interventions. Unfortunately, these treatments are effective only in the first few hours after onset of symptoms. These amazing techniques, which were not even available when we got sick, can actually reverse the devastating effects of strokes!

By enacting HB 4699, our officials can ensure that future stroke patients will get better treatment, saving lives and preventing misery caused by stroke. Many people who don't even know it yet will benefit for years to come.

We urge everyone to support HB 4699!

Mickey Clancy and Yvonne Stovall
Co-founders and Co-chairs, Stroke Survivors Empowering Each Other

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Bill Designating Women's Heart Disease Awareness Month Passes Legislature!

I am happy to report that House Bill 5596, designating each February as Women's Heart Disease Awareness Month in Illinois, has passed both houses of the Illinois General Assembly and will soon be headed to the Governor’s desk for his approval!

This legislation is important because, if enacted into law, it will increase our opportunities to get the Go Red For Women message out, to encourage women to join the GRFW movement and to remind everyone to pay attention to the cardiovascular health of the women in their lives. This bill is an outgrowth of a terrific GRFW Valentine’s Day program we had at the Capitol this year and I want to thank all of the volunteers and colleagues who helped execute that event. This is a nice example of integration in action in the Midwest Affiliate!

While this is not controversial legislation, the atmosphere in Springfield is very contentious due to serious differences between key legislative players. So, we need to continue to speak out to ensure that this bill doesn’t fall through the cracks on its way to becoming law…. In the coming weeks we will be sending out a You’re The Cure! action alert asking you to thank legislators who voted for the bill and another alert asking you to urge the Governor to sign the bill into law.

As you can see, when you take action on our alerts, your legislators listen. YOUR CLICKS COUNT! Thank you everyone for your ongoing support!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

AHA conference to examine heart failure in children

Over the last few years, I've been fortunate to meet many parents whoose little ones were born with congenital heart defects. They are very passionate advocates who have worked very hard to put the need for children's heart research "on the map." I think their efforts have really made a difference. Here is one example of what the American Heart Association is doing:

Heart failure in the young has significant morbidity and mortality, yet therapy for this patient population has advanced far more slowly than for adults with heart failure.

At an upcoming AHA conference, “The Scientific Basis of Heart Failure in Children,” scientists and clinicians will discuss current research and map future strategies for addressing this challenge.

The conference, to be held May 14–16 in Estes Park, Colo., is sponsored by the Council on Cardiovascular Disease in the Young....


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Baseball Outing For Stroke Survivors: Strike Out Stroke!

We work closely with a group called Stroke Survivors Empowering Each Other (SSEEO). SSEEO is participating in this event and we encourage folks to join SSEEO as a member and to join SSEEO at the event!

Third Annual Strike Out Stroke at Alexian Field
Join us for some fun at the ballpark!
Schaumburg Flyers vs. Kansas City T-Bones
Sunday, June 1, 2008 at 1:20pm

Alexian Field
1999 Springinsguth Road
Schaumburg, IL

Ticket Options

$15 for non-SSEEO members*

Free for SSEEO members

Stroke Survivor Ticket Sponsorship $15

*(For non-SSEEO members we are selling tickets to raise stroke awareness for $15/ticket. All proceeds go to the Alexian Brothers Neuroscience Institute Stroke & Endovascular Program)
For tickets please call AlexianConnects at
1-866-ALEXIAN by Friday, May 23

Tuesday, May 13, 2008




Saturday, May 17, 9:00 am - Noon @ Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital Downers Grove, IL

*** Advance screening the film, "Critical Condition"
*** Panel discussion - Resources on health care - -

Free Event - Breakfast provided - RSVP Today! Call Lydia, (312) 913-9449

For more info visit

Monday, May 5, 2008

Success at 2008 Heart on the Hill

On April 29, nearly 700 advocates from all 50 states and Puerto Rico made their presence known in Washington, D.C. Dressed in red, and equipped with a strong message, American Heart Association volunteers, board members, survivors and more visited their elected officials asking for increases in CDC and NIH funding for heart and stroke research, and lobbying a new issue, FIT Kids, which would serve as the physical education component for No Child Left Behind.

With more than 45 advocates, the Illinois delegation proved to be one of the largest state groups, and attended Capitol Hill visits with both U.S. Senate offices and 16 (of 19) U.S. Representative offices. Members of Congress and their staff were receptive to doing all they could to increase funding for research and signing on to support FIT Kids. Survivors--including first-timers and veterans, young and old--told their stories of heart disease, stroke and caregiving, sending a clear message of the need for greater attention to the mission of the American Heart Association.

Ignoring Smoke-free Law In Illinois Is Not A Virtue!

I am reprinting a Letter To The Editor recently submitted to several newspapers in Southern Illinois by a local AHA volunteer. It speaks for itself....

Dear Editor:

(Herrin, IL) - As a doctor, I am writing to speak out in support of the Smoke-Free Illinois Act and to urge local authorities to enforce it. A majority of people throughout the state – including here in Southern Illinois -- share this position. The seductive notion of rebellion against the government not withstanding, flaunting the smoke-free law is not a virtue.

Imagine being one of my patients. Before the smoke-free law went into effect, once they got sick, many could never go back to any of the places they frequented their entire lives. They simply could not afford any exposure to secondhand smoke. This law expanded their universe and enriched their lives. These are our relatives, friends and neighbors. Do we really want to exclude them?

Unfortunately, debate on this issue has produced more heat than light. It has drowned out the voices of the majority, who are delighted to have equal access to all establishments while avoiding secondhand smoke. While I believe that going smoke-free was the right thing to do, I realize that some people disagree. I respect their right to try to overturn this law but not to ignore it. In the mean time, smoke-free opponents can be comforted by the fact that avoiding secondhand smoke reduces the chances that they’ll ever need to meet me!


Paula F. Guinnip, M.D., FACS, FCCP,
Cardiothoracic Surgeon, Cardiothoracic Surgical Associates, P.C.
Volunteer for American Heart Association

Thursday, April 24, 2008

We're looking forward to our You're The Cure on the Hill National Lobby Day!

Hundreds to urge Congress to help fight cardiovascular diseases at Lobby Day 2008

Youth advocates, heart and stroke survivors and researchers from across the country will gather in Washington, D.C. on April 28 and 29 to urge Congress to make a commitment to save lives. During the American Heart Association's Congressional Lobby Day, “You're the Cure on the Hill 2008,” they will call on lawmakers to boost funding for research and prevention programs to fight cardiovascular diseases, the nation's No. 1 killer.

AHA President Daniel Jones, M.D., President-Elect Timothy Gardner, M.D., CEO Cass Wheeler and Board Chairman Gary Ellis will also meet with House and Senate leadership.


AHA President Daniel Jones, M.D., to appear on C-SPAN

AHA President Daniel Jones, M.D., will appear on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal” on Monday, April 28 (8–8:30 a.m. ET) to discuss AHA priority initiatives at You’re the Cure on the Hill 2008. Topics will include federal funding for cardiovascular research and prevention programs and the Fitness Integrated with Teaching (FIT) Kids Act, federal legislation to make quality physical education a priority in schools. “Washington Journal” airs 7–10 a.m. EST and is based on a call-in format. Check local television listings for station information. For more information on Lobby Day, visit

Monday, April 21, 2008

Casino Smoking Exemption Goes Up in Smoke!

We wanted to share the good news that a move to exempt casinos from the Smoke-Free Illinois Act failed to pass the Illinois State Senate last week! We'd like to thank all of the legislators who voted against this proposal. Kudos! For more information, here's the article from the State Journal-Register.

Senate slams plan to OK smoking at casinos

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Illinois Senate late Wednesday rejected a proposal that would have allowed patrons at any of the state’s casinos to smoke and gamble at the same time. But the Senate subsequently approved other changes that attempt to clear up some of the questions about exactly how to implement and enforce the statewide ban on smoking in most indoor spaces.

The most recent version of Senate Bill 2707, which passed on a 35-16 vote, creates an exemption to permit universities to conduct tobacco research that involves people who smoke indoors. It also details how individuals may appeal violations of the smoking ban. At present, accused violators can either pay a fine or fight it in court. The legislation specifies that people who want to contest a citation may attend a regional hearing at one of the Illinois Department of Public Health’s nine regional offices.

To become law, the legislation still needs approval from the House, as well as Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s signature.

Earlier Wednesday, the Senate Executive Committee voted 7-6 to exempt casinos from the Smoke Free Illinois Act.

Senate Republican Leader Frank Watson of Greenville sought to lift the smoking ban for casinos, which have seen revenues dip since the ban took effect. He attached his proposal as an amendment to SB2707.

The exemption would have remained in effect for five years, unless a neighboring state also outlawed smoking in casinos.
But Watson’s proposal hit a roadblock in the full Senate, where just 15 of 59 senators voted for his amendment. The outcome meant Watson’s amendment got stripped out of the rest of the bill. Sens. Larry Bomke, R-Springfield; Deanna Demuzio, D-Carlinville; and John Sullivan, D-Rushville, all voted “no” on the smoking exemption for casinos. Sen. Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, voted “yes.”

Sen. Terry Link, a Waukegan Democrat who is the lead sponsor of SB2707, opposed Watson’s effort, saying the smoking ban isn’t the reason for the drop in casino revenues. “It’s the economy. It’s not the smoking,” Link said.

Casino operators have put much of the blame for their revenue decline on the smoking ban, which forces smokers to leave a casino’s gambling area if they want to light up.

Bob Swaim, a lobbyist for Jumer’s Casino Rock Island, said revenues there have dipped by 21 percent since the smoking ban was enacted.

East Peoria’s Par-A-Dice, which is the only casino in central Illinois, has experienced a less dramatic decline. For the first three months of 2008, adjusted gross revenues there totaled about $30.3 million, which represents almost a 7 percent drop from the $32.5 million collected in the first three months of 2007.

David Strow, spokesman for Par-A-Dice owner Boyd Gaming, said “a difficult economy” and poor weather contributed to the lagging revenue picture for Illinois casinos. But he added, “The smoking ban unquestionably played a role in that decline.”

“We would be in favor of anything lawmakers could to do improve our competitive position versus other states,” Strow said. “Casinos in states surrounding Illinois do not have to contend with the smoking ban.”

Improving reponse times, treatment for STEMI: If they can do it there....what about us?

Here's what's going on in the Boston area:

Boston hospital rescues STEMI patient in record time

On Dec. 21, 2007, Mark Rosen of Boston began to feel chest pains after shoveling snow. He called 9-1-1, and paramedics suspected he’d suffered ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI), a very serious type of heart attack. They called ahead to Brigham and Women’s Hospital, which has been working to shorten its emergency response time according to recommendations of the AHA’s Mission: Lifeline initiative. The hospital activated its “Code STEMI” response system, and when the ambulance arrived, several members of Brigham’s catheterization lab were waiting.Just 14 minutes later, Rosen received lifesaving balloon catheter therapy, a hospital record for “door-to-balloon” time.

“Once at the hospital, victims may sit in busy emergency rooms while doctors sort out symptoms or await a cardiologist's opinion. (But at Brigham and Women’s), once a heart attack is diagnosed by an emergency room doctor, or called in by paramedics, the catheterization lab is activated,” writes David Talbot in the Boston Globe.

Here in Illinois, a few EMS systems have done an excellent job speeding up response for suspected STEMI incidents. However, most EMS systems, including the City of Chicago are just starting to talk about it. So, if you have a STEMI, you better hope you're in the right place!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Kudos to the Chicago Department of Public Health

In a previous post I suggested that the City of Chicago could do more on public health policies. Well, here's something to celebrate! Kudos CDPH! A statement from our Chicago Metro Board President follows:

We commend Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) Commissioner Terry Mason, M.D., for recently spearheading a bold initiative to save lives. Dr. Mason led a training where over 1,000 CDPH workers learned CPR. The training utilized the American Heart Association’s Family and Friends CPR Anytime™, a cutting-edge 22-minute training program that provides an instructional video and an inflatable mannequin.

This mass training sets a healthy example not only for other officials across the country, it also makes Chicago a safer and healthier city. Because almost 80 percent of cardiac arrests occur at home and are witnessed by a family member, teaching CPR is extremely important. CPR can double a loved one’s chance of survival by maintaining vital blood flow to the heart and brain until more advanced care can be given. Approximately 166,000 out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrest deaths occur annually in the United States. This number could be reduced dramatically if more people knew CPR and acted while waiting for 911 to respond.

Recently, the American Heart Association published a statement about the use of Hands-Only CPR, which is a potentially lifesaving option to be used by people not trained in conventional CPR or those who are unable to give the combination of chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth breathing. Whether it's giving chest compressions only or giving a combination of compressions and breaths, doing something is always better than doing nothing!
Encouraging use of CPR and AEDs has been a personal passion of mine for many years. As a cardiologist, I have seen first-hand the impact these life-saving developments have made on heart attack survival rates. We are grateful that Commissioner Mason has made learning CPR a priority in Chicago. Officials elsewhere should do the same.

Andrew Rauh, M.D.

President, Metro Chicago Board of Directors
American Heart Association
Interventional Cardiologist, Midwest Heart Specialists

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Where's the City?

Below are a couple of recent news items about innovative health measures from other major cities. Can anyone name a major health initiative advanced by City Hall? Gun measures are a priority. The Olympics are a priority. The CTA is a priority. Good things are happening all around the city. However, prevention-focused public health measures, are generally met with sneers or yawns. Why?

Trans fats banned in Boston

The Boston Public Health Commission has approved a measure to ban artificial trans fat in food served at restaurants, cafeterias, sandwich shops, coffee shops, nursing homes and vending machines, or by mobile food vendors.
The ban takes effect in two phases: starting Sept. 13, businesses that serve food must stop using oils, shortenings and spreads that contain trans fats. Six months later, the ban will apply to baked goods and other goods. Failure to comply could result in fines of up to $1,000 per violation.
"This is a significant step forward in making Boston one of the healthiest cities in America," Boston Mayor Thomas Menino said in a news release.

Legislation promotes healthy eating in New York City

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has signed legislation that will increase the supply of healthy fruits and vegetables to low-income neighborhoods. The “green carts” measure allows for an additional 1,000 permits to be issued for street vendor carts, provided that they only offer approved fresh fruits and vegetables. "When fully implemented, our best estimate is that this initiative will result in at least 75,000 New Yorkers eating more fruits and vegetables, which could save at least 50 lives a year in the long term," Mayor Bloomberg said in a statement.

Just saying....

Monday, March 24, 2008

Smoke-Free Laws Hurt Casino Business? (Not likely when you look at the facts.)

Some folks had been concerned that Illinois' casinos would loose business after the state went smoke free at the beginning of this year. Indeed, the casino lobbyists seized on this January's casino earnings numbers (lower across the board), to make that very argument. They claimed that the numbers fell between ten and twenty percent when compared to the same period last year. As always, smoking proponents claimed this as proof that Illinois' smoke-free casinos were loosing business to neighboring states' casinos which were not similarly burdened.

At the time many of us pointed out that this January both the economy and the weather continued to tank. As a casino patron myself, I pointed out that I wasn't going to drive to the boats in a blizzard. As a general rule, if weather is so rotten that people can't make it to work, few will leave the warmth of their homes on a gaming excursion.... It sure looked like casinos were more affected by an act of nature rather than by the Smoke-Free Illinois Act!

Sure enough, updated numbers show that business fell everywhere, not just smoke-free Illinois. In fact, some casinos in neighboring states fared even worse. Below I am attaching links to a couple of articles that provide some of the numbers. While I'll wait to see more before doing the full "I told you so," the information from these articles makes me comfortable enough to "double down" on my initial assertion that when it comes to Smoke-Free Illinois, gambling lobbyists are just blowing smoke....

Check out the articles I mentioned:

Friday, March 21, 2008

Legislation To Establish Primary Stroke Centers in Illinois

“Why do people with heart attacks get treated immediately while someone with symptoms of a stroke can wait in the Emergency Room for hours?”
a frequent question asked by stroke survivors and their families….

For the last several years the American Stroke Association, a division of the American Heart Association, has been working to answer this question. Stroke is a significant cause of death in the United States and in Illinois. Over 700,000 Americans experience a new or recurrent stroke each year, and stroke remains the third leading cause of death in the United States when considered independently from other cardiovascular diseases. Stroke also remains a leading cause of serious, long-term disability in the United States.

Despite significant efforts in recent years by various stakeholders in the stroke community to improve clinical outcomes for stroke patients, it is clear that the current fragmented approach to stroke care fails to provide a comprehensive, effective and efficient system. Studies have found that stroke patients are less likely to die or require long-term institutional care when an integrated systems approach to stroke care is used. The deficiencies of the current approach to stroke care are attributable in large part to inadequate linkages and coordination among the fundamental components of a stroke system. These components include public education and primary prevention; notification and response of emergency medical services; acute stroke treatment, including hyper-acute and emergency department treatment; sub-acute stroke treatment and secondary prevention; and rehabilitation.

The first step to addressing these issues should be the passage of House Bill 4699. Here is a link to the test of the bill (currently listed as Amendment 1):

This bill is sponsored by State Rep. Bob Biggins who happens to be a stroke survivor. He deserves lots of kudos for being the legislative champion on this key issue. Please let me know ( if you want his contact info.

As currently drafted the bill does the following:

A hospital shall be recognized by the state of Illinois as a Primary Stroke Center if it has been certified as a Primary Stroke Center by the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Hospital Organizations or any national accrediting body whose standards, at a minimum, are those of the Brain Attack Coalition, a group of professional, voluntary and governmental entities dedicated to reducing the occurrence, disabilities and death associated with stroke.

· IDPH shall adopt a Stroke care assessment tool that shall be implemented by each licensed Emergency Medical Services Provider. The tool shall include regional transport plans for the triage and transport of stroke patients to the closest, most appropriate facility, including the bypass of health care facilities not designated as Primary Stroke Centers when it is safe to do so.

· In addition to being posted on IDPH’s website, each Primary Stroke Center is mandated to report to IDPH data concerning the number of patients evaluated, those receiving acute interventional therapy, the amount of time from patient presentation to delivery of therapy, and other quality and outcome indicators.

· IDPH is authorized to award grants, subject to appropriation, not to exceed $250,000 or 50% of the cost, whichever is less, to hospitals seeking designation as a Primary Stroke Center.

· IDPH shall prepare a report to the Governor and General Assembly a listing the Primary Stroke Centers and those applying for grants.

We are still working with a number of groups to address their suggested changes to legislation, including EMS officials, the Illinois Hospital Association, the Metropolitan Chicago Healthcare Council, the City of Chicago and others. However, we are optimistic that we can resolve these issues becuase Rep. Biggin's bill (HB 4699) already provides for a great deal of flexibility.

Please look for our alert and take action through your You're The Cure! Network (sign up for the network at ) to urge your legislators to support House Bill 4699!

Special Partnership with Chicago Park District

Here's something worth doing....

Please save the date for National Start! Walking Day on April 16th!

Through Aetna, one of AHA's local Chicago Start! sponsors, we have been able to form a partnership with the Chicago Park District for this year's event. On National Start! Walking Day, they will be encouraging their park patrons to join the Start! movement and walk on their Start! designated walking paths.

We are looking for AHA volunteers to stop by one of the parks listed below to thank the park managers and let them know that we are glad they are partnering with us for this day. Please reply back to this email if you are able to stop by one park location on April 16th.

Harrison Park - 3:30pm - 4:30pm
1824 S. Wood St.
Wood St. & 18th St.

Brainerd Park - 10:00am - noon
1246 W. 92nd St.
92nd St. & Elizabeth St.

Humboldt Park - 3:30pm - 4:30pm
1400 N. Sacramento Ave.
Division St. & Humboldt Dr.

Lake Shore Park - 3:30pm - 4:30pm
808 N. Lake Shore Dr.
Lake Shore Dr. & Chicago Ave.

Palmer Park - 10am-noon
201 E. 111th St.
111th St. & Indiana Ave.

Portage Park - 3:30 - 4:30pm
4100 N. Long Ave.
Irving Park Rd. & Central Ave.

River Park - 3:30pm - 4:30pm
5100 N. Francisco Ave.
Francisco Ave. & Foster Ave.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Quad-City Times Article: Smoke-Free Illinois Good For Business

Smoking ban helping some Illinois Q-C businesses

By Dustin Lemmon Tuesday, February 05, 2008

After one month of not being able to smoke in his restaurant, Doug Perkins has given up his smoking habit and witnessed an unexpected increase in customers from Iowa.

Perkins, who owns Moon River Supper Club in Andalusia, Ill., said he thought his business would suffer when the no-smoking law in Illinois went into effect Jan. 1, but he was wrong.

Read more:

Bush budget shortchanges life-saving research

AHA President Daniel Jones, M.D., said in a recent statement that President Bush’s $3.1 trillion budget proposal would cut resources for cardiovascular research and could reverse recent advances in the fight against heart disease and stroke.“We’re making steady progress in combating heart disease and stroke, but that momentum will be lost if research and prevention programs fall victim to heartless budget cuts. We are deeply troubled that funding for heart and stroke research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is below medical research inflation for the sixth year in a row,” Jones said.
Jones added that as the U.S. population ages, the need for cardiovascular research will only become greater.

“Cardiovascular disease deaths are expected to skyrocket as baby boomers age. Shortsighted budget cuts will not only roll back the progress we’ve made to reduce death and disability from cardiovascular diseases, it will escalate a public health crisis that could be avoided with commonsense solutions,” Jones said.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Big Tobacco Makes Strategic Campaign Investments in Illinois Primaries

As health advocates know, you can never count out the tobacco companies when it comes to issues pending in Springfield. That's why this item from today's Capitol Fax Blog by Rich Miller was particularly interesting.... Read more at

BIG TOBACCO POWERS UP The parent company of American cigarette maker RJ Reynolds has dumped over $61,000 into legislative primaries in the past few weeks. And it appears the company is focusing on helping a few House members who are getting lots of attention from Speaker Michael Madigan's operation.The company, Reynolds American, has spent more in the last two weeks than it spent on the last two elections combined. But where it is spending money is almost as interesting as how much it is spending. The "why" is pretty easy to figure out. The Senate has already approved a cigarette tax hike and House Speaker Michael Madigan has said he's open to the idea of boosting the cigarette tax by as much as a dollar a pack to subsidize a health insurance expansion plan. Such a tax would raise hundreds of millions of dollars, and cigarette companies are naturally worried that the impact of the tax hike coupled with the new statewide public smoking ban would be really bad for business. So, a bit of cash now invested in a few strategically placed House races might be worth the company's while.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Don't Blame Me, I Voted....

"Don't Blame Me, I Voted For The (Other Guy)"

Have you seen that bumper sticker? I always thought it was cute.... I recently saw a new one, the one in the title of this post. I like it even better! Just a reminder that February 5th is Election Day. Please VOTE!

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Super Bowl XLII: unhealthy for the heart? Chicagoans must be immune since the Bears are unlikely to ever be in the Super Bowl!

Researchers in Munich, Germany warn that the emotional stress of rooting for your favorite team can be hazardous for your health – and even trigger a heart attack.

The study followed 4,279 adults in Munich in the summer of 2006; on the seven days when the German national soccer team played in international competitions, cardiac emergencies more than doubled. For men, it tripled.

Dr. Dr. Gerhard Steinbeck, the study’s lead author, warns that the Super Bowl could have the same effect on U.S. fans. "I know a little bit about the Super Bowl. It's reasonable to think that something quite similar might happen," Steinbeck told the Associated Press.

Dr. Lori Mosca, director of preventive cardiology at New York–Presbyterian Hospital and an American Heart Association spokesperson (Mosca was not a study co-author), told Associated Press reporters that fans with heart disease should take precautions on Super Bowl Sunday and call emergency services immediately if symptoms appear. See Associated Press coverage.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Another high-profile stroke survivor recovering....

Unfortunately, one of the most effective ways to remind all of us about the wide-spread and constant threat of stroke is to refer to people we know who've recently had a stroke. For some reason, it helps the mind to assign greater priority to the information realated to our fight against stroke and CVD. Even more importantly, many of these stories are about survival and perseverence, capable of inspiring hope in fellow survivors. With that said, here is a link from a story in todays Chicago Sun-Times. Needless to say, we wish the story's subject a speedy and full recovery....

Battling back:
WGN anchor Allison Payne considers ministrokes a 'wake-up call' to health

January 30, 2008
BY ROBERT FEDER Sun-Times Columnist

Allison Payne, the veteran news anchor at WGN-Channel 9, is battling back from a series of ministrokes that has kept her off the air for more than three weeks.,CST-FIN-feder30.article

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Fable of Health Care and the Free Market

This elections season (Is there any other season any more?) the issue of health care is on every one's lips. Different folks offer different solutions. Many talk with disdain about interference from Washington. They just want the government to stay out of health care and let the free market work. Indeed, mention the "Free Market" and some people will buy almost any argument for doing nothing. This is especially true with health care -- or the lack of it -- for millions of Americans. Here's the way I see it: Free Market = Rational Choice, right? Now, you tell me how rational you are when you or a loved one is sick. Are you going to want to hope, to fight for the latest, most expensive treatment or are you just going to say your goodbyes? What do you think?

Monday, January 28, 2008

The State of the Union Address

Did you happen to hear President Bush's State of the Union address? The President focused on a number of very important initiatives that deserve the nation's support. Unfortunately, biomedical research was basically ignored (as usual).

Among the various challenges the President discussed, few can compare to the millions of people who are killed and disabled every year by heart disease, stroke, cancer, etc. Why is so little federal attention devoted to the biggest causes of death, disability and misery? Why is President Bush not directing more taxpayer dollars to research that benefits the most taxpayers?

The federal government is the top funder of biomedical research. Many of today's groundbreaking medical treatments would not have been possible without federal research grants made decades ago. However, three quarters of a million people still die every year from cardiovascular disease alone. Much more can and should be done. With so many lives at stake, this issue touches virtually every family in the country. Does it not deserve 30 seconds in the State of the Union?

Friday, January 25, 2008

Illinois House of Representatives Honors American Heart Association Volunteer CPR Trainers!

Folks at the Statehouse know that by custom the Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives rarely presonally acts as the lead sponsor of bills and resolutions. Most of the time the top House leader works in the background, quietly wielding the ultimate power to decide which bills will see the light of day and which will wither on the legislative vine. That's why we were especially pleased to learn that the Illinois House recently adopted a resolution sponsored by the Speaker and co-sponsored by Rep. Tom Cross, the House Republican Leader and Representatives Joann Osmond and Dan Burke who are champions on issues such as AEDs and improving emergency medical response.

House Resolution 908, recognizes the Association and a special group of AHA volunteers who generously gave of their knowledge and time to teach life-saving skills to House staff. Please take a minute to read the resolution. You may even recognize some of the names it mentions.... Here's the link:

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Young rapper suffered stroke

It is unfortunate when anyone has a stroke but it is especially tragic when the victim is a seemingly healthy, 39 year old music star. Sources close to Nate Dogg, a prominent rapper and MC are confirming that he suffered a stroke in December of 2007 and is still recovering. A link to the full story is below. This is an unfortunate reminder that young people are not immune. Stroke does not discriminate by race or age, making it an issue for all of us. We wish him a speedy recovery.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Major progress in AHA/AHA's mission, more work ahead!

Late last week, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released new mortality data which shows that, since 1999, coronary heart disease and stroke age-adjusted death rates are down by 25.8 percent and 24.4 percent, respectively. This is amazing news! Although much remains to be done in areas such as stroke, obesity, smoking, high blood pressure, etc., I wanted to convey our thanks to every one involved in this effort. Thank you!

You are the Cure!

Not your parents' PE for today's kids....

I am proud to say that the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association have been leading defenders of physical education in our schools in Illinois. Our experiences taught us that there is a huge disconnect between the adults, many of whom have anything but fond memories of their own time in PE class, and the reality of today's "New PE."

Good PE today resembles a health club, focusing more on individual fitness and learning healthy lifestyle skills. (Below is a link to an interesting article making this point.) Unfortunately, parents are still remembering embarassing moments being "nailed" during dodgeball or being the last one picked for a basketball game. Until the parents, taxpayers and other investors see the return on investment from the New PE, it'll be an uphill battle....

PE: Focus on Exercise, Not Team Sports
Jan 15, 2008

RICHARDSON, Texas (AP) - With music pumping in the background, the kids in Terry Wade's physical education class are in constant motion, going from sit-ups to jumping jacks to curls with light weights. After their 45-minute session, the sixth-graders who are sweating the most, or as Wade calls it, "burning butter," get stickers."My main goal and emphasis is getting these kids up and moving," said Wade, who teaches at Northrich Elementary in the Richardson school district in suburban Dallas. "It's 'Can this kid do this for a lifetime?' I don't care how good they are. I care if they're having fun." Instead of team sports, Wade and other physical education teachers across the country
are focusing more on individual activities that students can incorporate into their lives long after their school days are over.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Please don't forget....

....if you are not yet a member of the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association's You're The Cure! Grassroots Advocacy Network, please sign up at the following link:

Thank you for your support!!!