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!

Friday, October 29, 2010

In My View: Milk change only part of obesity fight

Posted Oct 09, 2010 @ 12:04 AM

It is amazing, this furor over a little spilt (chocolate) milk!
Hazel Dell Elementary School, its principal, Mike Grossen, and its staff are to be applauded for the many, many steps they are taking to improve the health, and ultimately the lives, of their students. The CATCH program (Coordinated Approach To Child Health) is, with the help of the genH (generation Healthy!) Coalition, well implemented at this school. Hazel Dell Elementary has instituted a number of measures designed to improve the nourishment their students receive during school hours, increase the quantity and quality of physical activity in which students participate, and to educate and empower students to make their own best, lifelong choices regarding their health.

These measures are to be commended. We are in the midst of a health crisis — a “national catastrophe,” former Surgeon General Steven Galson proclaimed. Our children are consuming massive quantities of empty, unnecessary calories. The American Dietetic Association, just this week, released its findings: Almost 40 percent of a typical child’s calorie consumption comes from solid fat and added sugars. These added sugars are particularly damaging, accelerating atherosclerosis and early cardiovascular disease. Reducing the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages is one critical step in reducing cardiovascular risk, decreasing the incidence of childhood obesity, and improving the overall health of this nation’s children.

Although removal of chocolate milk from the daily menu is a small piece of the overall “solution puzzle,” it is an important piece, as is Hazel Dell’s change to whole-grain breads and pastas, and the increase in daily physical activity the school has implemented. And these changes are good not only for the children’s health, but also for the school’s academic bottom line. Numerous studies show that students who are physically active and well-nourished with a diet rich in complex carbohydrates, such as those found in fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and lean protein perform better in school, both socially and academically.

Unfortunately, despite the massive media attention the topic of childhood obesity has received in the last year, most Americans do not yet fully grasp or appreciate the gravity of the situation. Obesity is the gateway to a host of health problems — diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, stroke, and cancer, to name a few — and adds hundreds of billions of dollars annually to America’s health care bill. Additionally, this generation will be the first to live less long than their parents. They will face the crippling consequences of their obesity in their 20s, 30s and 40s — what should otherwise be the most productive years of their lives. The potential impact on our labor force alone should prompt immediate action on the part of our communities and businesses.

It is incumbent upon us all — physicians, educators, parents, business and government — to take immediate and definitive steps, no matter how small, to curb this epidemic. Removal of chocolate milk, a source of non-nutritive and unnecessary calories (four to five teaspoons of added sugar, generally) from a school’s breakfast and lunch menu is one such small, definitive step. Add this to the other small, definitive steps Hazel Dell Elementary has made, we will find that the children suddenly are making great strides in the right direction.

Dr. Jeff Goldstein is a cardiologist at Prairie Heart Institute and a volunteer with the American Heart Association.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Vote for Heart Health in Illinois

In less than two weeks, Americans will go to the polls and make important decisions for the future of Illinois and our country. Follow the link below to take action and tell legislators to vote for heart health year round: Vote for Heart Health in Illinois

As a You're the Cure advocate, you already know the power of your voice when it comes to communicating with decision-makers about important policy issues that help us build healthier lives free from cardiovascular disease and stroke. Be sure to turn out to the polls this November and remember to mark your own ballot for heart health by taking the My Life Check assessment at

The fact is that heart disease is the top killer in our state and doesn't matter your gender, race, or what party you vote for. That's why we continue to promote healthy eating and exercise in our schools and communities, reduce tobacco use and youth access, and improve healthcare services so they are accessible and affordable. Thank you again for all you continue to do to advocate for a heart healthy policies in Illinois.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

All hands - - only hands - - on deck

Chicago Sun-Times: October 13, 2010,FIT-News-FAid13a.article

All hands -- only hands -- on deck
AHA recommends chest compressions without mouth-to-mouth

By Carol Slezak

Imagine that you have watched someone collapse, and you want to administer CPR. Should you perform chest compression alone, or chest compression plus mouth-to-mouth resuscitation?

This topic has generated a fair amount of debate in recent years. The American Heart Association, which will release new CPR guidelines Monday, addressed it in a 2008 advisory statement, indicating that chest compression, also called hands-only CPR, was on par with chest compression plus mouth-to-mouth. The new guidelines will reinforce this position.

"Hands-only CPR is basically what the AHA teaches now," said Dr. Stephen Archer, chief of cardiology at the University of Chicago Medical Center and president of the AHA's Metro Chicago board of directors.

The AHA sums up its position on its website (
When an adult suddenly collapses, trained or untrained bystanders should:
1. Call 911
2. Push hard and fast in the center of the chest

There are two primary reasons for the change: First, the AHA believes that CPR is more likely to be performed if hands-only is an option, because people don't like performing mouth-to-mouth on strangers. Second, multiple studies, including one published last week in the Journal of the American Medical Association, have shown hands-only CPR to be equally or more effective than compression plus mouth-to-mouth.

"Why is hands-only more effective?" Archer said. "It could be because when you stop pressing on the chest to give mouth-to-mouth, you actually stop pressing a lot longer than you would expect. And chest compression is more important [than getting oxygen into the lungs]. You have to keep the blood flowing to the brain. It's the relative value of oxygen to the lungs versus the relative value of keeping the blood moving."
Archer noted that the hands-only guidelines are meant for adults.

"When children need resuscitation, it often is respiratory -- drowning or swallowing," he said. "For children, rescue breathing [mouth-to-mouth] can have some value."

Not everyone has completely embraced the hands-only guidelines. The American Red Cross, for instance, believes that oxygen is an important component of CPR. But the Red Cross recognizes that hands-only CPR has its place.

"We lean toward the fact that you need to put oxygen into your system to help keep your body and organs alive," said Theresa Rees, manager of instruction and development for the Red Cross of Greater Chicago. "However, if you have never been trained to do this, hands-only CPR is better than nothing."

The AHA cautions that CPR is not intended to take the place of professional medical care.

"It's an important breakthrough," Archer said. "But it's important to note that this does not mean that paramedics, etc., would stop delivering advanced cardiac life support. This is for when you come across someone who is down on the ground. This is what we teach. If you see a person fall, call 911 and push hard and fast in the middle of the chest."

Friday, October 8, 2010

A little heart makes a big impact

A story on a Heart Walk family from Medill Reports:

by Anna Lempereur
Oct 07, 2010

Colton Sullivan is a typical 6 year old who enjoys splashing through puddles, rolling in mud and digging for worms. As he ran around the field and wrestled with his brothers, Sam, 7, and Max, 3, you would never guess he had five heart surgeries and has his very own pacemaker.

Because of other birth defects, he has had four lung surgeries, two brain surgeries and two stomach surgeries. He has been admitted to the hospital more than 100 times and spent a total of two years of his life in the hospital.

Colton, of Shorewood, a small town just west of Joliet, was born seven weeks early with three different congenital heart defects: ventricular septal defect, patent ductus arteriosus and transposition of the great arteries, according to his mother Andrea Sullivan, 31.

Cardiac pediatric nurse practitioner Patricia Stapleton at Children’s Memorial Hospital, Chicago said ventricular septal defect and patent ductus arteriosus are among the most common congenital heart defects.

She said a child has a less than one percent chance of being born with congenital heart disease.

Stapleton said the cause of the disease is unknown, but it could sometimes be associated with genetic disorders such as Down syndrome, Edwards syndrome, Di George syndrome and Marfan syndrome.

“Children with some genetic defects have a higher incidence of congenital heart disease than the general population,” she said.

Stapleton said screening could sometimes be done before the baby is born to detect congenital heart disease, allowing time to know that surgery and intensive care may be needed.

Sullivan said there was no determination in the cause of Colton’s heart disease. She said he had no risk factors, no family history and no exposures.

“Advances in medicine and support from the heart association has really gotten Colton to where he is today. He’s a thriving, active, very healthy 6-year-old,” Sullivan said.

Colton and his family are members of Mended Little Hearts, an organization that unites families who have been impacted by congenital heart defects.

Mended Little Hearts Group Coordinator Jaime Olsen said she started the Chicago group in 2007 after her son, Tyler, was born with congenital heart defects and had open-heart surgery at 2 months old.

“The fear that you have as a mother, that your child has to have open-heart surgery to fix his heart is devastating…the emotions of just giving birth to a child and being just completely blind-sided by this,” Olsen said.

She said the Sullivans have been very active in the congenital hearts defects world.

“If you know Colton, you are a blessed person. He’s an amazing little boy and his family has such great strength. Colton is lucky to have the parents that he has,” Olsen said.

Sullivan said Colton’s most recent surgery was 11 weeks ago.

She said her son has been walking around showing everyone his scar from his recent surgery and his new pacemaker.“He’s as proud of it as can be. He’s not afraid to tell everybody, ‘This is my battle wound!’ One of these days I’m waiting to hear him telling his friends it’s a shark bite or something like that.”