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!

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