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, December 16, 2010

Thanks from the Bottom of Our Hearts!

Thanks for all YOU Give

Hello! I'm Anne Simaytis, your new Regional Grassroots Advocacy Director for the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association. Thank you for your continued involvement in the You're the Cure Network! It's my job to make it easy for you to communicate with your legislators and keep you up to speed on our heart-healthy legislative priorities. Together we can make Illinois a healthier place to live!

This holiday season, I'd like to thank YOU on behalf of all of us who work here at the American Heart Association, for all you do as a You're the Cure advocate to support policies to build healthier lives free of cardiovascular disease and stroke. We can't spell CURE, without "U"!

This year we've fought together to keep all Illinois workers protected from secondhand smoke. We worked with partners throughout the state to improve emergency medical response and treatment of deadly heart attacks and strokes. We advocated for quality physical education in Illinois' schools and we supported innovative proposals enabling recipients to use their food stamp cards to purchase food at farmers markets and other non-traditional retailers of fresh produce. We worked with the Illinois Department of Public Health to enact a law which will allow them to participate in research studies by sharing data they collect with researchers, while at the same time protecting individuals' private health information. And we led an effort to clarify a previously enacted law requiring AEDs in athletic facilities.

We know that we could not have accomplished this without you! Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your hard work to let policymakers know that you care about making Illinois a Heart-Healthy state.

I look forward to meeting and working with some of you during the upcoming 2011 legislative session. We'll have many opportunities for you to make healthy hearts a priority by taking action. Stay tuned for upcoming action alerts from the You're the Cure network!

Thank you for your continued support of the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association! You do make a difference. You're The Cure!

Friday, December 10, 2010

AHA Statement on Surgeon General's tobacco report

American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown says U.S. Surgeon General Report Stresses Importance of Cessation Strategies to Reduce Tobacco’s Deadly Toll

The U.S. Surgeon General’s report, “How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease,” sheds new light on the damaging effects of tobacco use on the health of all Americans. This comprehensive scientific report shows that even brief exposure to tobacco smoke can trigger acute cardiac events and potential sudden death. The evidence clearly states that tobacco products are lethal weapons capable of shortening the lifespan of smokers and nonsmokers alike. However, tobacco companies will stop at nothing to addict a new generation of smokers. They are ramping up efforts to fight regulations that restrict marketing campaigns and the sale of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products and designing new cigarettes to make them more addictive. This report provides more ammunition to fight their deceptive and deadly campaign.

We strongly believe the findings will support implementation of new federal tobacco regulations, including the development of graphic warning labels for cigarette packages. We also urge state officials to fund smoking prevention and cessation programs at CDC recommended levels, enact strong smoke-free policies and boost tobacco excise taxes. Policymakers must not allow complacency to rule in the fight against tobacco. Bold, aggressive measures are needed to save lives, reduce the burden of disease and improve quality of life.

For more information, visit

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

29 and holding: Illinois' health ranking no better, no worse

This article appeared in The News-Gazette on 12/8/2010 reported by Deb Pressey.

In a new report evaluating each state’s healthiness, Illinois lands right about in the middle as the 29th healthiest state in the union.

That’s the same ranking the state held last year, so we didn't get any worse but we didn't improve, either.

The report, entitled America’s Health Rankings, is done annually by United Health Foundation. It identifies national trends and also some state-specific strengths and challenges.

For 2010, Vermont was ranked the healthiest state, followed by Massachusetts, and Mississippi came in last.

Among the encouraging notes in this year's report: America’s violent crime, infectious disease, cardiovascular deaths and preventable hospitalizations all declined.

Some alarming national trends pointing to not enough people getting the message about quitting smoking, eating healthier and exercising:

— Obesity has risen 132 percent from 11.6 percent of the population in 1990 to 26.9 percent this year.
— Tobacco use is at a 21-year low, but it’s still unacceptably high.
— The number of adults with diabetes is up 19 percent over 2005.
— Last year’s one percent improvement in health nationally is better than the previous decade, but it’s still falling short of the gains in better health that were occurring in the 1990s.
— There has been a steady increase in the number of children living in poverty since 2007, to 20.7 percent this year, hindering the ability to maintain a healthy population.

Here is some information from the Illinois state report:
Illinois’ health strengths include a low occupational fatalities rate at 3.5 deaths per 100,000 workers, ready access to early prenatal care with 86.0 percent of pregnant women receiving prenatal care during the first trimester, ready availability of primary care physicians with 129.5 primary care physicians per 100,000 population and a high rate of high school graduation with 79.5 percent of incoming ninth graders who graduate within four years.

Illinois’ challenges include a high prevalence of binge drinking at 18.5 percent of the population, a high rate of preventable hospitalizations with 81.1 discharges per 1,000 Medicare enrollees, high levels of air pollution at 12.5 micrograms of fine particulate per cubic meter and a high violent crime rate at 497 offenses per 100,000 population.

Illinois' significant changes in the past year:
— In the past year, the prevalence of smoking decreased from 21.3 percent to 18.5 percent of the population.
— In the past year, public health funding increased from $55 to $62 per person.
— In the past 10 years, the prevalence of obesity increased from 20.9 percent to 27.3 percent of the population.
— Since 1990, the rate of deaths from cardiovascular disease decreased from 431.7 to 284.7 deaths per 100,000 population.

To read the complete report for Illinois, click here.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Child Nutrition Act Passes

Great news! The House of Representatives just passed the Child Nutrition Act, by a vote of 264 to 157! This action by the House completes Congress' work on the bill and sends it to the President's desk to be signed into law.

The American Heart Association owes you a big THANK YOU. Thanks to the support of you and your fellow advocates, over 25,000 emails, phone calls, and petitions, were sent to Members of Congress to push for action on the Child Nutrition Act. We can all be proud that the final bill contains provisions that will help ensure a healthier school environment for our kids, including removing junk foods from schools, strengthening school wellness policies and increasing funding for more nutritious school lunches.

Together, we will build on this progress as we continue our fight for healthy hearts for our kids.

To see how your Representative voted, click here.