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, September 30, 2010

American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown Says House Passage of the HEART for Women Act is an Important Stand in Support of Women's Health

Washington, DC (September 30, 2010) - The U. S. House of Representatives has taken an important stand in support of women’s health with the passage of the Heart Disease Education, Analysis and Research and Treatment (HEART) for Women Act. This legislative win will help make meaningful advancements in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases (CVD)—the leading killer of American women. Provisions include greater oversight of Food and Drug Administration requirements for reporting sex and race-based data about new medicines and devices and the expansion of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s WISEWOMAN screening program for low-income, uninsured and underinsured women.

Although we still have more work to do to achieve equity in health care and health status for women, this effort sets the stage to better identify and address women’s unique cardiovascular health needs. With more than one in three deaths among American women caused by CVD, we must continue to make strong efforts to ensure this measure is passed into law.

We commend the House for addressing women’s health needs and Representatives Lois Capps (D-CA) and Mary Bono Mack (R-CA) for their leadership and efforts to move the HEART for Women Act forward.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

FYI: Cook Co.'s Alliance for Healthy and Active Communities!

Information from the Cook County Department of Public Health:

Many of the places we live, work and play promote increased food intake, unhealthy foods or physical inactivity. Here’s how you can change that and get involved.

Join the Alliance for Healthy and Active Communities to receive up-to-date information. As an Alliance member, you’ll have the opportunity to meet and work with a vast array of organizations, including healthcare, community-based, governmental, school and faith groups to ‘make the healthy choice the easy choice.’ Visit and click Join the Network.

The next quarterly meeting is scheduled for Thursday, September 23rd from 9:30 AM – 11:30 AM at the Oak Park Library (834 Lake St., Oak Park). Linda Shak of the Prevention Institute is the guest speaker and will present on how community health can be transformed through environmental and policy change. Click here to register.

Attend a regional forum and help shape a healthier future for Illinois. Express your ideas for what should be included in a state-wide plan for tackling obesity. Also, learn more about available funding. Regional meetings will be held October 1, 8 and 15 (9 a.m. –12:30 p.m.) in the West, North and South suburban Cook County regions, respectively. Click here to register.

Begin preparing now to apply for the Model Communities Grant. The Request for Proposals (RFP) will be released in early November. Up to $4 million will be awarded to applicants who demonstrate readiness to make changes in their communities that support residents in efforts to live healthy, active lives. To learn more about trainings and other actions you can take now, contact the CPPW office and ask for a regional manager at 708-524-5156 or via e-mail at

Thank Your Legislators for Protecting Public Health Funding

This week, by a vote or 46 to 52, an amendment that proposed cutting billions of dollars in critical disease prevention and public health funding was defeated in the U.S. Senate!

Please send a quick note of thanks to your Senator(s) by following the link below:

Thank Your Legislators for Protecting Public Health Funding

By defeating the amendment and preserving this funding, the Prevention and Public Health Fund will continue to be used for meaningful public health efforts in communities across the country. Currently, the Fund supports efforts to increase tobacco control, implement tobacco cessation services, combat obesity, and promote better nutrition and physical activity. Prevention is paramount in our fight against heart disease and stroke- and we should be proud of our Senators who stood up to protect this vital funding.

Thank Your Legislators for Protecting Public Health Funding

Thank you for joining us in thanking your U.S. Senators for their efforts. We can't spell CURE, without "U".

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

No tobacco product is safe to consume

From the Chicago Sun Times:,CST-NWS-smoke15.article

September 15, 2010
Smokeless tobacco products, such as chewing tobacco and snuff, are not safe or effective alternatives for people who want to quit smoking, says a new policy statement issued by the American Heart Association.

"No tobacco product is safe to consume," said Mariann Piano, a professor in the biobehavioral health science department at the University of Illinois at Chicago and lead writer of the statement.

Smokeless tobacco products are addictive and may also increase the risk of fatal heart attack, fatal stroke and certain cancers, according to the statement published online in the journal Circulation.

Gannett News Service

Social media account holders –The American Heart Association just released a policy statement on smokeless tobacco.

Learn more about AHA resources to help you quit:

Here are some social media messages you can use on your accounts online to help us spread the word about these products as well as links to learn more about resources to help you quit:


Smokeless tobacco products not a safe option, won’t help smokers quit·

An est. 7% of adults uses smokeless tobacco. AHA advises against smokeless tobacco products to quit smoking.·
To help Americans quit smoking, AHA supports tobacco excise taxes to fund prevention & cessation programs


1. AHA Policy Statement: Smokeless tobacco products should not be used as an alternative to cigarettes or for smoking cessation due to the risk of addiction and return to smoking.LINK:

2. Smokeless tobacco products such as dry and moist snuff as well as chewing tobacco may also increase the risk of fatal heart attack, fatal stroke and certain cancers, according to a new study.LINK:

3. An estimated 7 percent of adults use smokeless tobacco. Smokeless tobacco should not be used for smoking cessation because long-term use moderately increases the risk of a fatal heart attack, fatal stroke and certain cancers. Check out the American Heart Associations’ resources to help you kick the habit!LINK:

4. To help Americans quit smoking, AHA supports substantially increasing excise taxes on all tobacco products, including smokeless tobacco to help fund tobacco prevention and cessation programs.LINK:

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Youth heart screenings offer reassurance for parents

This article is from Chicago Tribune: September 10, 2010:,0,3315955.story

Youth heart screenings offer reassurance for parents
By Karen Ann Cullotta, Special to the Tribune

Clutching her security blanket and whimpering softly, 5-year-old Erika Roemisch was clearly skeptical of the doctor's promises that the heart screening she was about to get would be perfectly painless.

Within seconds, fuzzy, monochromatic images from an ultrasound of Erika's healthy heart were beamed up to the echocardiogram monitor, and the cardiologist had good news for Erika's pediatrician father, Dr. Frank Roemisch.

"Screenings make sense when they're done by someone like a cardiologist, who knows how to interpret the results," said Roemisch, a Gurnee resident.

Roemisch was among dozens of parents who brought their children to the Advocate Condell Centre Club in Libertyville recently for a pair of noninvasive tests aimed at detecting hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

As the leading cause of sudden cardiac death, HCM captured the nation's attention in January when the condition was linked to the deaths of both Chicago Bears defensive end Gaines Adams, 26, and University of Southern Indiana basketball player Jeron Lewis, 21.

Dr. Joel Okner, a Vernon Hills-based cardiologist who conducted the Condell screening with his colleague, psychologist Jeremy Clorfene, said many such deaths can be prevented by providing cardiac screenings for all children — athletes, and nonathletes alike — aimed at detecting what he calls a "ticking time bomb."

A genetic condition in which the heart muscle becomes severely thickened, HCM can cause a rapid rhythm called ventricular tachycardia, which, if the heart is not defibrillated within minutes, can be fatal.

Despite some critics' claims that rising health care costs and the potential for false-positive tests make universal cardiac screenings an unrealistic goal, Okner remains undeterred in his mission.

While the recent screening of 150 children in Libertyville did not detect any potential cases of HCM, Okner said out of every 500 screenings his team performs, they typically find one person who needs further evaluation for HCM.

"But if in two years we can save the lives of two children, it's worth it," Okner said. "It makes you ask, 'How do you not test children for this?'"

Dr. Robert Bonow, past president of the American Heart Association and the chief of cardiology at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine, said the universal cardiac screenings conducted in European nations like France and Italy would be nearly impossible to replicate in the U.S., however.

"We have to consider the implications of these screenings, when we already have a health care system overburdened by costs," Bonow said. "There's nothing wrong with voluntary efforts like this. If you're the family that experiences the tragedy, it's worth it. But I think we need to ask ourselves, 'Can our system afford this right now?'"

A study by Stanford University School of Medicine researchers, whose results were released this year, found that giving young athletes electrocardiogram tests could be a cost-effective way to identify those who are at-risk. Okner said his method, of using both an EKG and an ultrasound test, is more effective in detecting HCM — but also more expensive.

Though the screenings using both methods were offered the Libertyville event for a discounted $55, such tests can cost hundreds of dollars and are not typically covered by insurance. And, as Roemisch, the Gurnee pediatrician, noted: "The problem is, there are still a lot of parents out there who can't afford to pay even $55."

Kurt Gibson, associate executive director of the Illinois High School Association, said officials recommend that all student athletes have a record of a pre-participation sports physical exam on file at their school. But the association has no specific policy regarding heart screenings.

"We would never discourage any parent from getting their student athlete an EKG or echocardiogram, but it is clearly not a requirement," Gibson said.

At John Hersey High School in Arlington Heights, head athletic trainer Hal Hilmer said that while he is aware of other school districts across the U.S. offering athletes free cardiac screenings, he has not heard concerns about the issue from any local parents.

"There are booster clubs in the U.S. raising money for these screenings, but I've also heard that sometimes the tests are problematic, with false-positives that cause a lot of worry," Hilmer said. "Heart conditions in athletes are something you don't want to miss. But, right now, the funding is not out there, and the onus is back on the parents."

Waukegan parent Judy Holmes said she did not hesitate to bring her son Andrew, 15, a football and basketball player at Mundelein's Carmel Catholic High School, to the recent screenings at Condell.

"His athletic trainer told us about the screenings, and he highly recommended it," Holmes said. "Andrew just had a sports physical, but I still felt like, 'What if I don't do it, and something happens?' It was the safe thing to do, but I am surprised and disappointed to know this is not covered by insurance like other preventive tests, like my annual mammogram."

Okner and Clorfene will conduct cardiac screenings 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Oct. 10 at the Gurnee Centre Club, 1405 Hunt Club Road, Gurnee. For details, call 847-775-0015.