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, December 22, 2009

Send a Message from Your Heart for the Holidays...

You may have sent your holiday cards to friends and family, but have you shared the gift of heart health this year?

Our advocacy efforts can make a greater impact with legislators when the message comes from the heart -- from people whose families have been touched by heart disease or stroke, or have a personal stake in this fight to save lives. Do you know someone who is passionate about heart and stroke issues? Have you invited them to join our You're the Cure Network?

This holiday season, we're asking you to take a couple of minutes to recruit your friends and family to join our You're the Cure Network.
Follow the link below to log in to You're the Cure and click on the Tell a Friend Link to personalize your message to friends and family today:

From the bottom of our hearts, thank you for supporting our You're the Cure Network and for all you've done to help the American Heart Association save lives.

We can't spell CURE, without "U".
Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Thank you, Kate Steigerwald, for Giving Your Time and Advocating for a Healthier Tomorrow!

Throughout the holidays, 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.

Read Kate Steigerwald's story below:

Originally from Bellville, Illinois I have lived in Springfield since 1977. I have been fortunate to have had several professions while here, including; professional ASL sign language interpreter; television talk show host; and legislative liaison (lobbyist) for a commission with the state of Illinois. I have learned a lot over my years in Springfield and enjoyed every new venture tremendously.

I have one daughter, Julie, who lives in Long Beach, California, and four step-children with seven grandchildren all living in Bloomington, Illinois. I have been married to my husband and caregiver, Clarke, since 1985, and we are both very active in stroke support groups such as the statewide organization, Stroke Survivors Empowering Each Other (SSEEO), and the Lincolnland Stroke Support Network serving central Illinois.
After my stroke in October of 2004, I have learned how to paint with both acrylics and pastels and how to knit with one hand. Now I feel that I have it all---the smart stuff and the art stuff!

As a former lobbyist I was naturally attracted to SSEEO and all of the important legislative work they are doing on behalf of the stroke community and in partnership with the American Heart Association. I joined You're the Cure, the American Heart Association's network of advocates, to make sure my story as a stroke survivor was heard.
As a You're the Cure member, I am committed to helping in any way that I can to promote and pass any legislation that will improve the awareness, treatment, and prevention of stroke related issues. I am now retired from the state and after five years on disability leave I am once again seeking to return to the professional working world as a contractual lobbyist serving medical and social policies.
You may be like me, a survivor of stroke or heart disease, trying to find something you can do to get your life back. I encourage you to get involved, join SSEEO at or You're the Cure at and share your story!
-Kate Steigerwald

Friday, December 18, 2009

ABC 7 News Healthbeat Report Features Advocate, Dr.Stephen Archer, on CPR

From ABC 7 News Healthbeat Report:

December 17, 2009 (CHICAGO) (WLS) -- Cardiopulmonary resuscitation can more than double the chances of survival for someone who has a heart attack.

It is not the CPR you remember from Girls Scouts and it's certainly not a joke. The classic 1970's disco hit 'Staying Alive' has a purpose. It's all about demystifying cardiopulmonary resuscitation or CPR. It's a pace that matches the beat of many songs and it's something a nervous lay person can sing in their head as they pump away.

"If we have a song to relate to that's going to make the person feel more comfortable, okay I do know what 100 beats a minute is and I do know how fast," said Leonard.

And here's something else to help a skittish bystander choose to do something rather than nothing. In a major change to traditional CPR, the American Heart Association says mouth to mouth breathing which makes some people uneasy in many cases is not needed.

"It's pretty radical and yet it's something we now know is very effective," said Dr. Stephen Archer, cardiologist, University of Chicago Medical Center.

That means if a person collapses in front of you chest compressions alone may be enough until professionals arrive. During a recent CPR class at the State Bank of Countryside that news was a relief to many participants.

"I would definitely be more willing to do this," said Vicki Borsilli, CPR training participant.

"The chest compressions definitely just doing that makes it a lot easier," said Anne Ronstadt, CPR training participant.

Why the change? It's not just about making bystanders less uneasy.

Newer research is showing hands-only CPR is just as good and possibly better than traditional CPR.

One reason is that some doctors say is that stopping hand compressions to do mouth to mouth tends takes much longer than recommended.

"While the breathing might be nice in principle and you are in a hospital that's different. But in the community it's just the compression of the chest that's actually giving you the pressure and blood supply to the brain," said Dr. Archer.

Pushing hard and fast on a person's chest helps move blood still rich with oxygen through the body helping sustain life and prevent brain damage which can happen in a matter of minutes.

"They called the priest and he gave me last rites," said Cheri Kalas. But 52-year-old Oswego High School teacher Cheri Kalas was one of the lucky ones. Two years ago when she was about to begin a 5K charity run she collapsed.

A married couple also running the race performed CPR. Another bystander got hold of a defibrillator and they kept Kalas' heart going until an ambulance arrived. Kalas says despite the odds she suffered no permanent damage. She credits the brave bystanders who were willing to try CPR.

"You are saving somebody's mother somebody's father, brother, sister, somebody's somebody," said Kalas.

Traditional CPR is still recommended in other cases, especially for children and adults who may have been involved in a near drowning or drug overdose. Not everyone in the medical community is convinced compression-only CPR is better and some would like more research before endorsing it.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

You're Invited: Participate in a Health Care Reform Discussion Tomorrow!

Tomorrow, our National You're the Cure Network will be hosting a call entitled: Health Care Reform in the Senate and Beyond.

The call is tomorrow from 1-2pm CST.

You're invited to join the AHA's CEO Nancy Brown, and Chairman of the Board Neil Meltzer for this important call!

RSVP Today by Following this Link: RSVP for HealthCare Reform Call!

Please make sure to dial in a few minutes early -- an operator will ask for your name before connecting you to the call.

During the call, you will hear directly from volunteer and staff leaders about the progress being made in the Senate, the work left ahead, and how you can continue to work with the AHA to ensure affordable, accessible, and adequate health care is achieved. There will also be time for you to pose questions to the speakers and share your own story that illustrates the need for reform.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Clearing the Air on the IL Smoke-Free Law...

An article posted today reports that the Illinois Appellate Court reversed the conviction of someone who violated the Smoke-free Illinois Act. However, the article fails to mention that this is one of the issues that was corrected in a subsequent law which addressed procedural questions raised by original smoke-free statute. We hope that this “old news” does not cause confusion or encourage people to ignore the law.

The bottom line: This decision is based on an outdated legal case. The law has already been changed to address the issue raised by the appellate court. The Smoke-free Illinois Act is still the law of the land and should be followed and enforced accordingly.

Here is the article posted today from the Sun-Times Media Wire:

Joliet smoking conviction reversed by higher court

JOLIET, Ill. (STNG) -- Late last year, a Will County jury found a southwest suburban Joliet woman guilty of violating the state's smoking ban.

Now a higher court has reversed that decision.

Daniel O'Day, the Peoria lawyer who has represented several local residents and others around the state who have been charged with violating the 2008 law, heard the news Tuesday morning. And he certainly was pleased.

"For a year and a half or more, smokers in Illinois were terrorized by threats of arrest for misdemeanors or petty offenses," O'Day said Tuesday afternoon. "That turned out to be bogus, according to the Illinois Appellate Court."

His client is Kathleen Kane, 56, of 702 Ingalls Ave. in Joliet.

One day in March 2008, she was at Woody's at 1008 W. Washington St. in Joliet. At the time, Kane worked tending bar there, but she wasn't on the clock when the arrest happened, O'Day said. A Joliet police officer and a representative from the Will County Health Department stopped at the bar and ticketed Kane and others for smoking inside the building, O'Day said.

After Kane was convicted, O'Day filed an appeal.

The higher court ruled Monday that Kane's case should have been handled administratively, not as a criminal matter in the court system.

The fine and court costs totaling $231 will be refunded, O'Day said.

With local co-counsel Ted Hammel, the Peoria lawyer has several similar cases pending in Will County. They'll be in court Dec. 16, he said.

"Now they will have to be dismissed," O'Day predicted.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

HAPI Ordinance?

According to the Metropolitan Chicago Healthcare Council (MCHC), hospital access in Cook County is threatened by a proposed Cook County ordinance, the Healthcare Access Protection Initiative (HAPI).

TAKE ACTION: Take our survey about this ordinance (located on the right side of this blog page) and tell us what you think! Should the Cook County Board move forward with the HAPI ordinance or should they hold off while national health care reform is being debated?

Here is the action alert from the MCHC:

Despite its name, the HAPI ordinance would actually force hospitals to cut services by imposing an arbitrary new standard for charity care and taxing hospitals that do not meet this predetermined threshold. The proposal does not take into consideration any of the community benefits provided by hospitals, including support for research, screenings and community health education, and money losing programs and services such as emergency and trauma care. In fact, non-for-profit hospitals in Cook County provide over $2.5 billion in charitable community benefits to the communities they serve. They also provide over $877 million in free care, roughly the operating budget of the Cook County Health and Hospital System.

If implemented, hospitals in Cook County would face about $340 million in new taxes, in turn forcing hospitals to make service cuts or quite possibly shutter their doors, negatively impacting access to care and potentially affecting 5,000.

While we certainly understand the intent of the HAPI ordinance – to ensure access to care for the uninsured – the proposal would have the opposite effect as it attempts to solve the problem of the uninsured on the backs of our local hospitals at the cost of reduced access to care.

Please urge your Cook County commissioner (click here) to oppose an ordinance that would severely limit access vital care services.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Advocate Addresses Smoke-Free Laws in Chicago Tribune

Chicago Tribune: December 5, 2009

Ignoring Smoke-Free Laws
I was extremely disappointed to read that some bar owners are ignoring the Smoke-free Illinois Act ("Despite smoke ban, defiance smolders; Some bars have become havens for lighting up, and smokers pitch in to help owners pay fines," Page 1, Nov. 25).

As a cardiologist, I support this law and urge authorities to enforce it.

A majority of people throughout our state share this position. The numbers have spoken: Smoke-free laws reduce heart attacks; this has been proven many times. The seductive notion of rebellion against the government notwithstanding, flaunting the smoke-free law is not a virtue.

Imagine being one of my patients. Before the smoke-free law went into effect, once patients got sick, many could never return to the places they had frequented their entire lives -- their favorite restaurants, bars or clubs. As cardiac patients, they simply could not afford any exposure to secondhand smoke.

This law expanded their universe and enriched their lives. We're talking about 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 meantime, smoke-free opponents can be comforted by the fact that avoiding secondhand smoke reduces the chances that they'll ever need to meet me in the emergency room with a heart attack!

-- Annabelle Volgman, MD, American Heart Association, Chicago