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!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Local hospitals developing new procedures for strokes

From The News Gazette
By Debra Pressey
Sunday, June 28, 2009 8:33 AM CDT

SPRINGFIELD – Doctors know how important it is for someone who's suffered a stroke to get speedy treatment.

Now Illinois hospitals that are prepared to offer the best and fastest care to stroke patients are being joined in a new network of primary stroke centers, and other hospitals throughout the state are being encouraged to join them.

Under recently-approved legislation (HB 2244) awaiting signature by Gov. Pat Quinn, hospitals and ambulance services in each emergency medical region throughout the state will develop their own triage and transport plans for stroke patients – which can include the option of ambulances bypassing the nearest hospital to take a stroke patient directly to a certified stroke center.

Both Carle Foundation Hospital and Provena Covenant Medical Center in Urbana are already working on stroke-center certification.

Provena United Samaritans Medical Center in Danville will operate under another designation recognized in the new law, an emergent stroke ready hospital, that can offer emergency treatment to stroke patients and then transfer them to a stroke center, according to Cindy Magsamen, HealthAware coordinator at Covenant Medical Center.

Stroke is a leading cause of long-term disability and the third leading cause of death in the U.S.

The emergency department at Provena Covenant Medical Center in Urbana. By Robin Scholz
Strokes are caused by either a blockage or rupture that disrupts blood flow to brain tissue. Fast treatment is critical, because nerve cells in the brain begin to die within three to four minutes, according to the American Stroke Association.

Sometimes it's already too late to treat the most common type of stroke – an ischemic stroke, caused by a clot – because common warning signs were overlooked and the patient wasn't brought to a hospital fast enough, medical experts say.

To administer a clot-busting treatment called tissue plasminogen activator, or tPA, a patient must be at an emergency room as quickly as possible after the onset of a stroke.

Most hospitals consider up to three hours after the onset of a stroke to be an effective window to administer tPA, but research is now showing tPA can be given up to four-and-a-half hours after the first sign of a stroke, according to Magsamen.

Delay beyond that, and "they've missed the opportunity," she said.

"Part of the real push is community education, so people can identify themselves as having a stroke and get someplace," said Ruth Madawick, director of regional outreach at Carle. "If they wait for symptoms to subside and go away, we've lost that ability to intervene."

State Rep. Bob Biggins, R-Elmhurst, knows firsthand how important it is to get prompt treatment. The sponsor of the stroke center bill, he suffered a stroke himself in downtown Chicago about five years ago, and got excellent care fast, he said. Two Legislature colleagues who suffered strokes and didn't get such prompt treatment weren't so lucky, he said.

Mark Peysakhovich, senior director of advocacy for the American Stroke Association's Midwest Affiliate, said tradition has always dictated that people in need of emergency medical care go to the nearest hospital.

"But as medical treatment advances, it's much more important to take the stroke patient not necessarily to the closest hospital but to the hospital that is reasonably close which would give them the best treatment," he said.

Studies have found stroke patients are less likely to die or need institutional care if an integrated system of stroke care was used, his organization says.

Currently 28 Illinois hospitals are certified stroke centers, according to The Joint Commission, a national organization that accredits and certifies health care businesses. The state plans to recognize Joint Commission certification for its own network of stroke centers.

Howard Peters, senior vice president of the Illinois Hospital Association, said the legislation establishes the basic infrastructure for stroke care and leaves it up to each region to work out the details based on its medical resources.

"The goal is that more primary stroke centers will be adopted," he said. "More will become emergent stroke ready and other hospitals will join in stroke networks and strengthen whole networks, to make sure people get to the right place and right care.

Madawick and Magsamen said Carle and Covenant are on track to apply for stroke center certification by the end of the year. Both hospitals are already meeting a lot of the requirements, they said.

The bill allows for planning time and more hospitals to become certified stroke centers. It establishes July 1, 2010, as the date for sending lists of all primary stroke centers and emergent stroke ready hospitals to emergency medical service medical directors in the state and posting the lists on-line.

"This will be a significant process. We don't expect it to take shape overnight," Peysakhovich said. "This is really the beginning of a fundamental shift in the way stroke is treated in this state."

Know the warning signs of a stroke

If you experience any of these signs, get to a hospital immediately:

— Sudden numbness or weakness in your face, arm or leg, especially on one side of your body.

— Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding.

— Sudden trouble seeing out of one or both eyes.

— Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.

— Sudden, severe headache without a known cause.

Source: American Stroke Association

Primary stroke centers

Hospitals in Illinois that have been certified by The Joint Commission as primary stroke centers:

— Advocate Christ Medical Center, Oak Lawn

— Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital, Downers Grove

— Advocate Lutheran General Hospital, Park Ridge

— Alexian Brothers Medical Center, Elk Grove Village

— BroMenn Regional Medical Center, Normal

— Central DuPage Hospital, Winfield

— Decatur Memorial Hospital, Decatur

— Edward Hospital, Naperville

— Hinsdale Hospital, Hinsdale

— Ingalls Memorial Hospital, Harvey

— Loyola University Medical Center, Maywood

— MacNeal Hospital, Berwyn

— NorthShore University HealthSystem Evanston Hospital, Evanston.

— Northwest Community Hospital, Arlington Heights

— Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Chicago

— OSF St. Anthony Medical Center, Rockford

— OSF St. Joseph Medical Center, Bloomington

— Rockford Memorial Hospital, Rockford

— Rush University Medical Center, Chicago

— Rush-Copley Medical Center, Aurora

— St. Frances Medical Center, Peoria

— St. Alexius Medical Center, Hoffman Estates

— St. John's Hospital, Springfield

— SwedishAmerican Hospital, Rockford

— Methodist Medical Center of Illinois, Peoria

— University of Chicago Hospitals, Chicago

— University of Illinois Medical Center at Chicago

— Westlake Community Hospital, Melrose Park

Source: The Joint Commission

Monday, June 22, 2009

President Obama Signs FDA Regulation of Tobacco into Law!

Today, we’re celebrating a monumental victory in the fight against heart disease and stroke. Representing the American Heart Association’s 22 million volunteers, supporters and dedicated staff, AHA President Dr. Timothy Gardner and I were thrilled to stand with President Obama at the White House as he signed the bipartisan Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. This legislation represents another huge step toward breaking the deadly cycle of tobacco addiction that leads to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke for millions of Americans.

This bill, which had tremendous support from Republicans and Democrats alike, will give the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the clear authority to regulate the manufacturing, advertising and promotion of tobacco products in order to protect public health. The bill also focuses on limiting advertising that targets our kids. It is estimated that the legislation will result in an eleven percent decline in underage smoking over the next decade and will significantly reduce the annual $100 billion cost for tobacco-related illnesses in the U.S.

Why is this legislative victory so important? Nearly one-third of cardiovascular disease deaths are linked to smoking, and tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of heart disease and stroke. For generations, tobacco companies lied to the public about the deadly dangers of tobacco use. They lied about the addictiveness of nicotine. They made misleading health claims about light and low-tar products. And they shamelessly and aggressively marketed to children to attract new smokers. These unconscionable practices will finally be reined in with effective government oversight of an industry that has placed profits above the health of the American people.

American Heart Association volunteers and staff, along with our public health partners, have been working for over a decade to see this legislation become law. We are extremely proud to have played a major role in moving this legislation through Congress and to have had the opportunity to join our Congressional champions today in witnessing the bill signing.
This measure, along with many other policy initiatives the association supports on the local, state and national level, directly impacts our mission to build healthier lives free of cardiovascular disease and stroke. This historic public health victory would not have been possible without the tenacious efforts and unwavering support of our You’re the Cure advocates — the volunteers and staff who worked to generate Congressional and public support for the measure.

If you are not already involved, you too can play a vital role in American Heart Association legislative advocacy efforts. Start today by thanking Members of Congress and the President for making this legislation a reality. Visit to send your email.

I would also like to extend a personal and very special thank you to former CEOs Cass Wheeler and Dudley Hafner, who devoted much of their AHA careers to advancing this issue by meeting with members of Congress and speaking out loudly about the deadly effects of tobacco on our nation’s youth.

And finally, while the FDA bill represents an important victory, the fight against tobacco is not over. We must continue to push for smoke-free workplace laws, higher tobacco excise taxes and funding for comprehensive smoking prevention and cessation programs to help break the cycle of addiction and create a healthier environment for our families. We’re counting on your continued support to help us achieve these important goals.


Nancy Brown
Chief Executive Officer

P.S. You can learn more about this bill and our other legislative issues and share your comments on our You’re the Cure blog. You may also want to join Cass Wheeler, our former CEO, on Twitter as he shares his thoughts on this historic win. Follow him @casswheeler.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Health IT

For those interested in the health information technology field, here is an update from the Metropolitan Chicago Healthcare Council:

HIT Adoption Moves Forward
The Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for Health Information Technology (HIT) this week released for comment a preliminary definition of the "meaningful use" of HIT. By way of background, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) included $19 billion in funding for incentive payments to Medicare and Medicaid providers who adopt "meaningful" HIT systems, including electronic health records (EHRs); and providers who do not implement EHR systems by 2015 will have their payments reduced. Under the draft definition, HIT will be considered "meaningful" if its use: (1) improves quality, safety, efficiency and reduces health disparities; (2) provides patients and families with access to data to make informed decisions about their care; (3) improves care coordination by allowing for the exchange of clinical information among health care providers; (4) allows for communication with public health agencies; and (5) ensures adequate privacy and security protections for personal health information.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Senator Durbin Highlights Recent Win Against Tobacco in Illinois and Nationwide!

Illinois U.S. Senator Durbin held a press conference at Federal Plaza earlier today to highlight the recent successes of a bill that will change history as we know it when it comes to marketing and selling tobacco products.

The event is timed perfectly with the US House just moments ago passing the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act as amended by a vote of 307-97!

American Heart Association advocate and known Chicago area cardiologist and researcher, Hossein Ardehali, spoke at the conference highlighting the importance of this life-saving legislation.

On the heels of yesterday’s Senate passage, this move means the bill is ready to go onto President Obama for his signature. Though no date has been set for that signing, the President has indicated he will indeed sign the bill. Speaker Pelosi suggested on the floor that it would hopefully occur next week.

Congratulations and thanks to all of you on this monumental accomplishment!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

U.S. Senate Passes FDA Regulation of Tobacco

Statement by American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown on
Senate Passage of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act
June 11, 2009

The U.S. Senate has taken a bold and courageous step to ensure a healthier future for our children with passage of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. The legislation will allow us to protect them from a dirty business that has infiltrated school grounds and homes for many generations. For far too long, the industry has misled consumers and manipulated children with false claims about its deadly products. Too many graveyards are marked by the consequences of the industry’s actions. With each puff of a cigarette, smokers increase their risk for heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases and Big Tobacco’s irresponsible marketing campaigns have made it increasingly difficult to break the cycle of addiction and save lives. This legislation provides a tremendous opportunity to finally hold tobacco companies accountable and restrict efforts to addict more children and adults. It has been a long and challenging process to move the bill through Congress but the determination of many concerned parents and supporters has never wavered. The Senate vote is a significant victory for all Americans as we try to reduce the devastating toll tobacco use has inflicted on our communities.

We commend Senators Ted Kennedy, Christopher Dodd and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for their leadership and commitment in passing strong tobacco control legislation that will improve the health of our nation.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Senate to Take Up FDA Regulation of Tobacco

Committed public health advocates have been working for more than a decade to secure FDA authority to regulate tobacco products and marketing. With the US Senate slated to consider legislation this week that would grant the FDA that authority , we're closer than ever before to seeing this become a reality!

Did you know that more than 3,500 kids smoke their first cigarette EVERY DAY?

It's time for Senators to act on behalf of America's children, protecting them from tobacco use and the increased risk of heart disease and stroke that comes with it.

With your help, this bill has already passed the House of Representatives this year by a huge majority. If we can persuade the Senate to pass it- Congress will be very close to sending the bill to the President for his signature. Support from advocates like you has gotten us this far. Now, help us cross the finish line!

Contact your Senators today and ask them to vote YES for our kids!

Monday, June 1, 2009

2009 Empower Me Poster Contest!

2009 empowerME Poster Contest -

Many kids and teens in America (nearly 1 in 3) don’t take good care of their bodies.

Being unhealthy isn’t just about the way you look.

Over time, it can lead to serious problems you definitely don’t want, like high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol and diabetes.

As this poster shows, you can choose to eat right and be active to stay healthy and strong. Start today... It’s your health. You are the solution!

Just print out the following sheets and draw a picture on the back of yourself making healthy choices and send them to Katie Green at or mail entries to:

American Heart Association Attn: Katie Green
208 S LaSalle Ste 1500
Chicago, IL 60604
You may use crayons, markers or pencils,but please, no computer graphics.
Entries will be judged oncreativity, originality and effectiveness.The contest runs from May 9 – July 15, 2009.
The Grand Prize Winner’s drawing will be featured in a Daily Herald adand on a greeting card created by Paper Affairs.
Visit for more information.