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, 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.