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!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

CDC- Family Health- The 12 ways to health holiday song

The first way to health, said the CDC to me…

To listen and sing along:

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

America’s Health Rankings

Recently, the Partnership for Prevention, of which American Heart Association is an active member, and United Health Foundation released its annual report: America’s Health Rankings. The report, which includes a “one pager” on the health status of each state, calls out an alarming increase in the rate of obesity and also provides important information on tobacco use, high blood pressure prevalence, etc. Follow this link to view the report on Illinois.

Key findings of the report include:

  • Obesity has increased 137 percent from 11.6 percent of the adult population in the 1990 Edition to 27.5 percent in the 2011 Edition; meaning today, more than one in four Americans are considered obese. Obesity continues to be one of the fastest growing health issues in our nation and America is spending billions in direct health care costs associated with poor diet and physical inactivity.

  • Smoking has been one of the biggest health battles for decades. In the past year, the prevalence of smoking decreased from 17.9 percent to 17.3 percent of the adult population, the lowest in 22 years (from a high of 29.5 percent in the 1990 Edition). But tobacco use is still estimated to be responsible for one out of five deaths annually (approximately 443,000 deaths per year).

  • Children living in poverty are challenged by lack of access to health care, limited availability of healthy foods, constrained choices for physical activity, limited access to appropriate educational opportunities and stressful living conditions. The number of children in poverty has increased for the last five years. A steady increase has occurred, from 17.4 percent of children reported in the 2007 Edition to 21.5 percent of children in the 2011 Edition.

  • Lack of health insurance coverage increased from 16.0 percent in the 2010 Edition to 16.2 percent in the 2011 Edition, and has increased more than two full percentage points since the 2001 Edition (13.9 percent to 16.2 percent).

  • Diabetes diagnosis is significantly higher than it was five years ago. According to the report, 8.7 percent of American adults have been told by a physician that they have diabetes. A recent report from the CDC estimates that the number of Americans with diabetes will range from 1 in 5 to 1 in 3 by 2050. This means a large number of people are either at risk for diabetes or are unaware they have the disease and are not being medically managed.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Turn the White House Red!

25,000 signatures. That's what we need in the next 30 days (ends Jan. 4, 2012) for the White House to consider our petition to illuminate the building in red to honor National Wear Red Day® and American Heart Month.

The truth is we need you, our supporters, to show the White House how important it is to remember women who died from heart disease, celebrate women who have survived, and educate everyone on our No. 1 killer of women.

Every signature makes a difference, so sign up and share with colleagues, friends and family today! There are a few steps, but with your help we can get there!

1. Visit our special petition page.
2. Create an account (we know, what a pain!)
3. Watch for a verification email.
4. Sign the petition.
5. Share with family, friends, and colleagues to encourage their support too!

Make a Difference Now.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

U.S. Rep. Lois Capps Reintroduces The HEART For Women Act

November 30, 2011

U.S. Rep. Lois Capps, D-Calif., today reintroduced vital legislation aimed at improving the cardiovascular health of millions of women nationwide.

The HEART for Women Act would require the U.S. Health and Human Services secretary to submit an annual report to Congress on the quality of and access to care for women with cardiovascular disease. It would also ensure that new and experimental drug and medical device safety and efficacy data reported to the federal government is classified by gender, race and ethnicity. Additionally, the legislation would expand eligibility for funding to all 50 states for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s WISEWOMAN screening program for low-income, underinsured and uninsured women.

“While we have made great progress in the fight against heart disease it remains the number one killer of American women, needlessly claiming the lives of far too many of our mothers, wives, sisters and daughters,” Capps said. “Unfortunately not enough people — including health professionals — recognize that heart disease poses such a serious and unique threat to women, and far too many women pay a terrible price for that lack of knowledge. My legislation addresses this critical health issue by ensuring more women have access to screening for heart disease, filling the critical knowledge gaps by ensuring that healthcare professionals are informed about the risks of cardiovascular disease in women, and supporting increased data collection to identify new treatments for women.”

American Heart Association President Gordon Tomaselli, M.D., said the measure would make a major impact. “With nearly 422,000 women’s lives lost each year from heart disease and stroke, we applaud U.S. Representative Lois Capps for introducing legislation that will help improve the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of the number one killer of women. The HEART for Women Act seeks to eliminate cardiovascular inequities and reduce death rates from this largely preventable disease,” Tomaselli said.

“Women have a greater risk of heart disease than men. It is imperative to provide access to proper cardiovascular disease care for all women through passage of the HEART for Women Act. The HEART for Women Act is vital to the health of all women and is must-pass legislation,” said Phyllis Greenberger, M.S.W., president and chief executive officer of the Society for Women’s Health Research.

“We need to know how drugs, treatments and devices affect women living with heart disease if we are going to decrease morbidity and mortality caused by heart disease, the number one killer of women. This bill will shine a light on how well the FDA reports research results stratified by sex, race and ethnicity,” said Lisa M. Tate, chief executive officer of WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease.

Every minute, someone’s wife, mother, daughter or sister dies from heart disease, stroke or other forms of cardiovascular disease in the U.S. More than one in three women has some form of cardiovascular disease, including nearly half of all African-American women and 34 percent of white women. More than 90 percent of primary care physicians do not know that more women die each year from these diseases than men, according to an American Heart Association survey.

The HEART for Women Act was introduced in the U.S. Senate earlier this year by Senators Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and has received strong bipartisan support. In addition to the American Heart Association, Society for Women’s Health Research and WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease, the bill is also supported by more than 40 other organizations. For more information, visit .

# # #

Contact:Kanika M. Lewis
Communications Manager, Media Advocacy

Friday, December 2, 2011


December 2011

Dear Friend of Heart:

Our Scientific Sessions was held last month in Orlando, Fla. This international conference showcases ground-breaking research and clinical trials with 22,000 medical professionals. The news is then fed to the media where it will reach millions more. A huge undertaking, Scientific Sessions is critical to learning more about the causes of cardiovascular diseases and how to better diagnose, treat and prevent them.

The conference will lead to developments in science that will touch every community across the country and abroad. Such outcomes would not be possible without volunteers and partners who share our vision of what an investment in research, science and education can mean to everyone.
Can you imagine a world free of heart disease and stroke? Erica Chapman can. She is a survivor who works in our West Michigan office. As a congenital valve replacement patient, she had her first surgery at four days old. Now in her 30s, she’s had another operation to update her current aortic valve, and will require further surgery in the next 15-20 years. Erica knows from the research we fund today that the next surgery will probably use mainly non-invasive techniques, for which she is grateful. She is amazed at the vision researchers have for her procedures.

With your help, we can make those visions a reality. Consider making a personal gift or including the American Heart Association in your will or estate plan. You will leave a legacy that will fund research and education, benefiting patients like Erica long after you’re gone. To learn more, visit

I also want to take a moment to reflect on how the gifts and efforts of so many have improved and saved lives in 2011. We were able to fund research that may someday save the life of someone you know. We educated hundreds of thousands of people about their health and risk factors. And we worked hard to teach millions of Midwesterners critical CPR skills, educate legislators in our 11 states on our policy priorities, and improve hospital patient care processes so that a supportive and effective system will be in place when you or your loved one is in need.

None of this vision would be possible without you and your support. In short, you are helping to save lives. At this season of giving, I want to thank you for your involvement from the bottom of my heart.

Warm regards,

Kevin Harker
Executive Vice President, Midwest Affiliate

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

LTE - Congress and School Lunches

Congress is ordering the U.S. Department of Agriculture to consider pizza as a vegetable for school lunches. Pizza a vegetable? Yes! Pizza contains some tomato paste, and Congress says that a couple of tablespoons of the stuff should count as a serving of vegetables for schoolchildren.

Even if we ignore the technicality that a tomato is a fruit rather than a vegetable, this is a sad example of lawmakers putting the financial interests of the food lobby ahead of the well-being of kids. Currently not one person ages 12-19 in this country meets the American Heart Association's criteria for ideal cardiovascular health. Some experts predict that today's children are not expected to live as long as their parents. At a time when trends show our nation's health getting worse, our government has put special interests ahead of efforts to address the childhood obesity pandemic.

Children receive around 40 percent of their daily calories from school lunches. That means we must ensure healthier options are available in school cafeterias, not practice an ignorance that allows a heap of french fries to be considered a legitimate nutritional element.

The American Heart Association urges Congress to fight for an interest more important than the food industry's profit margins: the wellness of our nation's children. Upgrade federal school lunch programs with proper nutrition, not money, in mind.

Kathleen L. Grady, PhD, APN, FAAN
American Heart Association Illinois Advocacy Committee

Chicago Tribune:,0,5925071.story

Monday, November 21, 2011

Celebrating 30 years of AHA advocacy success

The AHA Advocacy Department celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, which makes it the perfect time to look back on our many accomplishments. Thanks to the hard work of staff, volunteers and public officials, the AHA and a dedicated network of You're the Cure advocates has brought about lasting change in local, state and federal policy.

We've accomplished great things in tobacco control, research and public health funding, childhood obesity prevention, nutrition promotion, systems of care, CPR training and AED placement, and quality healthcare access. And we're just getting started!

We invite you to watch our new video below and share it with friends, family, and colleagues and ask them to be a part of the cure! Here's to the next 30 years!

Friday, November 11, 2011

P. E. Should Take A Hike

By M. J. White, November 8, 2011, Living On WELL Street Blog

A couple years ago I contacted a few high profile people with a plan to improve the health and wellbeing of Chicago’s, and the country’s, youth. Very simply, I suggested that kids of all ages do the equivalent of a mile’s worth of aerobic activity every day. Twenty-five different heart-healthy activities were offered as choices - everything from hiking to biking to ping pong. Virtually any form of aerobic exercise qualified.

Letters went to the First Lady, Michelle Obama, Oprah, Mayor Daley and the head of Chicago Schools at the time, Ron Huberman. I received one response. A Chicago Public School Administrator contacted me and asked me for “evidence-based” information that aerobic activity was good for children. I know, you're thinking, “You’ve got to be kidding!” That was my reaction too. However, I decided to thoroughly research the subject and provide a persuasive response.

A review of the literature from leading health organizations showed that aerobic exercise contributes to the following benefits in school-aged children:
- Increases energy level
- Provides a more restful sleep
- Reduces health risks
- Assists in maintaining a healthy weight
- Improves mood
- Lessens stress and anxiety
- Boosts self-acceptance
- Enhances self-esteem
- Provides for a quicker recovery from psychosocial stressors
- Fosters increased attention span
- Strengthens learning potential
- Leads to better behavior

I presented a five-page white paper, "Kids in Motion" to the Chicago Public School’s official and was told that the school district had no funds available for any new programs. The fact that I offered to implement the program for FREE, did not matter.

I am now appealing to educators everywhere to simply get kids moving with a “Mile-Per-Day”. What if schools required students to walk a mile during the lunch period, or at the beginning or end of the school day? Many Illinois schools do not offer physical education. A 20-minute hike would not require funding and would provide kids with all of the benefits described above.
This could this be part of a larger strategy to address the serious obesity epidemic, which is described now as a threat to national security, since the physical condition of so many of our young people disqualifies them for military service (see “Too Fat to Fight”). What if we appeal to people’s sense of “patriotism” to get in shape? Businesses could form walking teams. Communities could promote walking clubs. Families could make a mile hike an after-dinner ritual (the equivalent to a “victory garden”). “Let’s Move!” needs to become the war cry of an “Occupy WELL Street” movement!

Until we, as a nation, grow sick, tired and broke from our declining physical wellbeing, and have a healthy lifestyle forced upon us, let’s at least encourage our children to get a mile’s worth of aerobic exercise every day. Let’s give them the hope that they can live as long as their parent’s generation. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single . . . aerobic mile!

Live WELL!
M. J.


Michael White's passion is to help businesses become more successful by helping people in the workplace become happier, healthier and more productive. Michael founded WELL Street in 2008 after implementing and studying successful worksite wellness initiatives. Advanced degrees in Education and Business, experience in launching innovative change strategies, and his creation of over fifty wellness activities make him a valuable resource to employers seeking to implement or improve a wellness program. Michael's blog, "Living on WELL Street" and recently authored book, "Top 40 Ways to Improve Employee Morale, Health and Productivity", provide employers and employees with information and programs that encourage healthy lifestyles and work environments.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

High sodium: It's not just a food problem. It's a heart problem.

High blood pressure? Isn’t that something only old people have to worry about?

Not anymore. Nowadays, high blood pressure affects people of all ages. In fact, it is estimated that 9 out of 10 Americans will develop high blood pressure during their lifetimes, beginning as early as childhood for some.

So what’s contributing to the problem? Sodium levels. While we can control the salt we put on our food, we can’t control the salt that’s already in it. When over 75 percent of the sodium in our diet comes from processed and packaged foods sold in grocery stores and served at restaurants and schools, it’s hard for even the most health-conscious among us to stay within the recommended daily sodium intake.

But you can help do something about it. From now until November 29, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is asking the public for feedback on whether it should take measures to reduce sodium levels in our food- and we need you to speak up! Share your thoughts today about the need to address excess sodium in the packaged and prepared foods that we eat.

Of course, it’s not just about healthy food. It’s about healthy hearts. Lowering the sodium we consume can have significant cardiovascular benefits, so it is critical for consumers and health advocates alike to stress the importance of sodium reduction to the FDA. Send your message today!

Thank you for your help,

Clarissa Garcia
American Heart Association

PS- Don’t forget to personalize your message! Whether you are a parent, medical professional, survivor, or someone with heart disease or stroke risk factors, your personal concern is important to share with the FDA.

Monday, October 31, 2011

One in Six

Did you know?

Saturday, Oct. 29, is World Stroke Day. The American Stroke Association has joined other international organizations to urge people globally to “Act Now” to reduce the threat of stroke.

The day’s theme —One in Six: Act Now! — highlights the reality that one of every six people worldwide has a stroke. Stroke is the second-leading cause of death in the world behind heart disease. In the United States, someone suffers a stroke every 40 seconds, and someone dies of one every three to four minutes. Here’s how you can Act Now on World Stroke Day:

Send a message to your legislators to make sure they are supporting policies that reduce the threat of stroke.

Then take the World Stroke Organization’s six challenges to lower stroke risk:

1. Know the risk factors for stroke— high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and high blood cholesterol — and keep them in a healthy range.
2. Be physically active.
3. Eat a healthy diet.
4. Limit alcohol consumption.
5. Avoid cigarette smoke. If you smoke, seek help to stop now.
6. Learn to recognize the warning signs of a stroke and how to take action.

Explore other ways you can Act Now by using American Heart Association and American Stroke Association tools and resources:

- Learn your stroke risk
- Learn the warning signs of stroke and TIA
- Track and control your No. 1 modifiable stroke risk factor: High Blood Pressure
Online tracker
Printable tracker
High Blood Pressure Risk Calculator
- Take your medicine
- Live a healthy lifestyle
- Make a new life resolution
- Join or start a stroke support group

Make sure you share these resources with your legislators on celebration of World Stroke Day!

Thank you for building healthier lives, free of cardiovascular disease and stroke.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Save Lives by Protecting the Smoke Free Illinois Act

As you may have heard in the news recently, Illinois legislators are in Springfield this week for the start of the Fall Veto Session and one key issue on the legislative agenda is casino and race track gaming. We are concerned that casino interests will use this as an opportunity to weaken the Smoke Free Illinois Act by allowing smoking in casinos and other gambling venues.

Thanks to thousands of advocates like you, we were able to defend this law from credible threats during the last legislative session. Now is a good time to remind your state elected officials that we must keep this important health law in place without exemption, protecting the health of all Illinoisans, including all Illinois workers, from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke.

Take a moment to reminder your legislators to protect the Smoke Free Illinois Act

The Smoke Free Illinois Act is one of the most popular laws ever passed in Illinois, with more than 84% of registered voters supporting a smoke free Illinois in previous polls. It is also one of the most important public health laws in the state. People who are exposed to secondhand smoke have 25 to 35 percent higher coronary death rates and an increased chance of developing lung cancer. After four years, we have come to enjoy and expect smoke-free offices, restaurants, bars, clubs and gaming facilities.

Take a moment to reminder your legislators to continue to protect all Illinois workers from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke.

Thank you for your continued dedication and support of a smoke free Illinois!

Monday, October 24, 2011

American Heart Association Letter Regarding Chicago Public Schools PE Waiver

October 19, 2011

Jean-Claude Brizard
Chief Executive Officer
Chicago Public Schools
125 South Clark St., 5th Floor
Chicago, IL 60603

Dear Mr. Brizard,

I am writing on behalf of the American heart Association and the American Stroke Association to respectfully urge you not to apply to the Illinois State Board of Education for a renewal of CPS’ waiver from state physical education requirements. Although you have the unenviable task of prioritizing the allocation of limited resources in the face of limitless needs, we hope that under your leadership, CPS will make a renewed commitment to quality daily PE for all students.

While it would be customary to include reams of pertinent statistics and health information with this type of request, I believe that is unnecessary in this instance. Surely, having been around kids most of your professional life, you have seen the devastating impact childhood obesity and related health problems are having on children and communities everywhere. Likewise, I am certain that you are already aware of the growing body of evidence linking children’s behavior and their ability to learn with their overall fitness and their levels of physical activity.

Simply put, efforts to cut PE in the face of tight budgets may seem penny-wise, but they are most certainly pound-foolish. Clearly there is an inversely proportional relationship between public education and healthcare spending and as our obesity related health care costs go up, fewer resources will be available to fund education. Investing in quality PE is ultimately important not only as a public health strategy, but also as a way to preserve and strengthen our public education system.

We sincerely hope that under new management, the Chicago Public Schools choose to embrace quality daily PE for all students, rather than taking the backward step of applying for further PE waivers. We are ready to stand with you and to help CPS however we can should you decide to lead our schools in this direction.

Please contact me at your convenience should you have any questions or requests. Thank you very much for your consideration in this mater.


Mark E. Peysakhovich
Senior Director of Government Relations
American Heart Association and American Stroke Association
208 S. LaSalle Street, Suite 1500
Chicago, IL 60604
Direct: 312-476-6644

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Action Alert! Don't Let Congress Cut Research Funding

Funding for medical research is critical to our fight against heart disease and stroke, yet the budget for research conducted through the National Institutes of Health (NIH) could be cut if Members of Congress don’t act soon.

We need you to help by telling lawmakers that funding for research saves lives!

So many of the prevention and treatment techniques you know today are a result of NIH-funded research. The development of cholesterol-lowering drugs that help significantly reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke for many Americans, bypass surgery to assist those suffering from a blocked artery, the use of Aspirin to prevent blood clots that could cause a stroke… all of these were discoveries that resulted from NIH funds, and all of them are currently saving lives!

Tell your legislators that we can’t afford cuts to NIH funding, halting discoveries of new treatments for those affected by heart disease and stroke. We must continue to make progress in the fight against these devastating diseases that threaten the lives of far too many of our loved ones.

Send a message today- let lawmakers know that "Research Saves Lives"!

Heart Disease and Stroke. You’re the Cure.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Go Red Premiere Event, Oct. 20th at James Thompson Center from 11:00 am- 1:00 p.m.

Please join us for the Go Red For Women Premiere Event featuring, “Just a Little Heart Attack," a short film inspired by the stories of real women whose lives have been forever changed by heart disease, the No. 1 killer of women. You’ll have an opportunity to also hear the personal stories of real women impacted by heart disease and stroke. Additional features include:
· Fun giveaways
· A chance to try some new treats from Skinny Cow
· Materials on women and heart disease

A "little" film by Elizabeth Banks

October 20th
James R. Thompson Center, Chicago –
Ground Level
11:00 am until 1:00 p.m.

Take a walk over to the Thompson Center and enjoy a treat!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Illinois Women’s Health Conference

Illinois Women’s Health Conference
November 2-3, 2011
Springfield Hilton
Early bird registration rate until October 21

The conference will be packed with great information, great speakers and lots of CEU’s! Here are a few highlights:

10.5 CEUs for RNs, Social Workers, Counselors and Dieticians. And 10 Universal CEs for CHES and other professionals!

New for 2011! Join other participants and sign up for the “Conference Walk Your Way to Health Challenge.” Participants are encouraged to sign up and receive a pedometer to track their steps while in attendance at the conference. There will be a “one-day challenge” and a “two-day challenge.” Prizes will be awarded at the end of each day! A wonderful grand prize will be awarded at the conclusion of the conference! Please visit the Walking Challenge Registration table to sign-up and receive additional information. You won’t want to miss participating in this healthy opportunity!!

There will be a book signings each day featuring New York Times bestselling author Kris Carr with her book Crazy Sexy Diet and Eliz Greene’s The Busy Women’s Guide to a Healthy Heart.

The first day will come to an end with a networking opportunity that is not to be missed! Conference attendees will be invited to a reception and tour of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum! Make sure and RSVP on your conference registration to be there!

And on Day 2, Dr. Toni Yancey, UCLA School of Public Health, will have, what I’m sure will be an enlightening discussion, on obesity entitled Instant Recess® meets Let's Move: Women Hold the Key to Getting our Communities Moving Again!

Please go to to check out the full agenda and to register online!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Big Problem of Little Heart Attacks

The World Heart Federation announced last month that beginning this year, World Heart Day will be held each year on September 29.

According to the World Health Organization 17.1 million people around the globe die from cardiovascular disease every year – an estimated 1.4 million are Americans and more 32,000 are Illinoisans. More women die of cardiovascular disease than from the next four causes of death combined, including all forms of cancer.

Heart disease is still the No. 1 killer of women, causing 1 in 3 deaths each year. This means women - mothers, sisters, spouses, friends - are dying at the rate of one per minute because they don't know what you know: heart disease kills.

Send a message to your legislators to make sure they are supporting policies that improve heart health. Then mark World Heart Day by forwarding this eye-opening short video Just a Little Heart Attack to at least 5 women in your life, or even posting it on Facebook. Ask your friends to become part of the Cure by joining our fight against cardiovascular diseases.

Learn the signs and don't hesitate to call 9-1-1 if you see them.

Send your legislator letter now, and feel free to customize it to share why this is so important to you!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Letter to the Editor – City’s Wellness Plan A Must For Police

Did I read the statement from Fraternal Order of Police president Mark Shields correctly? Did he say he opposes his membership participating in the city’s wellness program because police officers are “not the healthiest?”

If that’s the case, denying officers the opportunity to access resources that would help them get healthier is the wrong way to address that problem.

Shields may think he is standing up for his membership by protecting them from paying higher premiums, but he is doing far worse by putting pocketbooks over potbellies. Being more concerned about financial costs than the subsequent toll that major health risks, such as high cholesterol and hypertension, have on an officer’s health, family well-being and community is doing a disservice to the FOP members.

By failing to endorse the city’s wellness initiative, the union representing Chicago’s police officers is also failing to serve and protect the health of officers who do the same for our citizens.

Kathleen L. Grady, PhD, APN, FAAN
Chair, American Heart Association Illinois Advocacy Committee

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Upcoming Training on Oct. 12th focused on Building Healthier Communities

Organizations serving suburban Cook County that are working to build healthier communities are encouraged to come learn from experts in food policy and community planning on how to take actionable steps to make healthy, sustainable environments a reality at the Greentown Conference!

· Hear keynote speaker, Mark Fenton, host of "America's Walking" on PBS.
· Participate in breakout sessions organized by CPPW as part of Healthy Eating Across the Lifespan:
· Making the Shift to Local Food. Other sessions include Complete Streets and Safe Routes to Schools; Community Water Conservation, Waste Reduction, and Green Business Strategies.
· Share ideas with Pioneering Healthy Communities teams from across Illinois and the Midwest.
· Discover PlanItGreen – Oak Park and River Forest's Community Sustainability Plan.
· Network with over 300 like-minded community members at the reception following the event.

Registration closes Sept 30th and there are only 150 slots available so please make sure to relay the urgency. There is no cost for agencies that serve suburban Cook County! For a full agenda and to register online, visit:

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Congressman Davis doing hands-only CPR

Rep. Davis learning hands-only CPR from Doug Miller to the Stayin’ Alive beat to promote his health summit back in July 2011.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Promote healthy police

Chicago Tribune * 5:09 p.m. CDT, September 19, 2011

We care about our police officers. Their courageous service keeps our community safe and protects us from crime. Police officers are key to the health of Chicago. While they are busy looking after us, the stresses of their profession often put their personal health at risk. There is now an opportunity to change that.

That is why we urge the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) to support and participate in Mayor Emanuel’s Wellness Plan for city employees.

We understand that police officers perform a stressful job that contributes to a higher than average risk of a health problems, including premature heart disease and stroke. It is this increased risk that makes police participation in a wellness plan so essential.

Mayor Emanuel's Wellness Plan for city employees addresses two problems: the poor health of Chicagoans (evidenced by high rates of heart disease, stroke and obesity) and spiraling health care costs. The Plan would offer city employees and their families health screening and wellness training, the tools needed to lose weight and manage conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes. The Wellness Plan also encourages and rewards increasing exercise and smoking cessation. There is no downside to these benefits unless one opts out of the opportunity to improve one's health.

At the American Heart Association, we support the goals outlined in the Wellness Plan. Knowing your risk factors makes a difference!

In a September 15th Sun-Times article, Mark Shields, FOP President, admitted that while his membership is not the healthiest, with officers that are overweight, have high blood pressure and more diabetes than the average citizen, he is reluctant to support the Plan. Apparently, his position is that the plan exposes his members to potential financial burden (possibly because of disease detection or perhaps because of surcharges for nonparticipation).

That logic seems flawed. The health risk of being a police officer should be a reason for the police union to endorse this plan. Mr. Shields is focusing on the "stick" in the Emanuel plan, not the carrot. The carrot is good health and longer life; the stick only applies to non-participating employees, who would be subject to a monthly surcharge ($50-$100/family). Rather than focusing on the hypothetical risk of increased health insurance premiums because diseases have been detected, Mr. Shields should boldly embrace this opportunity to improve the health of Chicago's finest.

-- Stephen L. Archer, President of the Board of the American Heart Association, Chicago

To read article,0,3619748.story

Friday, September 16, 2011

CDC New Website About Congenital Heart Defects

This week, the CDC shared a new website to help educate the public about congenital heart defects (CHD), the most common type of birth defect. Check it out here:

Are you a CHD survivor, or a caregiver for a CHD survivor? Share your story with us! (link for the share your story with us text:

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

New public-private sector initiative aims to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes in five years

September 13, 2011

Million Hearts focuses on improving aspirin use, blood pressure, cholesterol control and tobacco prevention

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), with several key initial partners, today launched Million Hearts, an initiative that aims to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes over the next five years. Currently, cardiovascular disease costs $444 billion every year in medical costs and lost productivity in Americans. Building on work already underway thanks to the Affordable Care Act, Million Hearts will help improve Americans’ health and increase productivity.

Million Hearts is focused on two goals:

·Empowering Americans to make healthy choices such as preventing tobacco use and reducing sodium and trans fat consumption. This can reduce the number of people who need medical treatment such as blood pressure or cholesterol medications to prevent heart attacks and strokes.

·Improving care for people who do need treatment by encouraging a targeted focus on the “ABCS” – Aspirin for people at risk, Blood pressure control, Cholesterol management and Smoking cessation – which address the major risk factors for cardiovascular disease and can help to prevent heart attacks and strokes.

“Heart disease causes 1 of every 3 American deaths and constitutes 17-percent of overall national health spending,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “By enlisting partners from across the health sector, Million Hearts will create a national focus on combating heart disease.”

By empowering Americans to make healthy choices and improving care, Million Hearts strives to achieve the following specific goals:

Indicator/Baseline/ 2017 goal:

Aspirin use for people at high risk- baseline 47%; 2017 goal 65%
Blood pressure control- baseline 46%; 2017 goal 65%
Effective treatment of high cholesterol (LDL-C)- baseline 33%; 2017 goal 65%
Smoking prevalence- baseline 19%; 2017 goal 17%
Sodium intake (average)- baseline 3.5g/day; 2017 goal 20% reduction
Artificial trans fat consumption (average)- baseline 1% of calories/day; 2017 goal 50% reduction

from our existing health investments,” said Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Thomas R. Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “If we succeed in achieving our Million Hearts goals, 10 million more Americans with high blood pressure will have it under control, 20 million more Americans with high cholesterol will have it under control, and 4 million fewer Americans will smoke by 2017.”

“The treatment of heart disease and stroke account for about $1 of every $6 spent on health care in this country,” said Donald Berwick, M.D., M.P.P., Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). “By shifting our focus from paying for how much care is provided to how to get the best health for Americans and putting more tools into the hands of health care providers and patients, CMS can help prevent strokes, heart attacks and avoidable human suffering.”

Several partners from the private sector will work to achieve the Million Hearts goals by:

·Improving Americans’ diets, reducing tobacco use, and improving medication adherence through community innovations.

Specifically, these private sector initiatives include:

o The American Heart Association will help monitor progress of the initiative’s goals and provide consumers with access to their heart health management tools, including Heart 360, My Life Check, and the Heart Attack Risk Calculator.

o Walgreens will engage its more than 26,000 health care providers to support the Million Hearts initiative’s prevention goal by providing blood pressure testing at no charge in consultation with a Walgreens pharmacist or Take Care Clinic Nurse Practitioner.

o The Y is aiming to expand coverage of the Y’s Diabetes Prevention Program as well as the successful National Diabetes Prevention Program and CDC’s Healthy Communities Program to better address risks for diabetes, heart attacks, and stroke.

o America’s Health Insurance Plans and its members will amplify their ongoing commitment to reduce cardiovascular disease, which includes community-based collaborations to reduce the burden of obesity and other risk factors for heart disease (UnitedHealthcare), beneficiary fitness programs (WellPoint), initiatives to reduce ethnic and racial disparities in cardiovascular health (Aetna) and programs to better manage chronic disease (Cigna).

o The American Pharmacists’ Association and the American Pharmacists’ Association Foundation will encourage its more than 62,000 members to engage in the Million Hearts Campaign by raising awareness with their patients and their communities.

o The National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations and the Alliance for Patient Medication Safety will encourage state pharmacy associations and their members to engage in the Million Hearts Campaign throughout the year with many activities planned for American Pharmacists Month in October and beyond.

o The National Community Pharmacists Association will encourage all 23,000 independent community pharmacies to become involved in the Initiative and continue to raise awareness through their publications and social media outlets.

Participation and commitment from private partners are expected to grow in the coming months; major national associations like the American Medical Association and American Nurses Association have already committed their constituencies to this important work.

In addition, HHS will target more than $200 million in new and refocused investments to achieve the goals of Million Hearts:

o Today, CDC is announcing $40 million for chronic disease prevention programs to health departments across the country.

o The Food and Drug Administration and the Food Safety and Inspection Service are launching efforts to identify opportunities to reduce sodium in food in order to put more control into consumers’ hands.

o CDC is announcing a $2 million Pharmacy Outreach Project to team up with pharmacists to provide additional advice and support to patients diagnosed with high blood pressure.

o CMS is announcing $85 million in Medicaid Incentives for Prevention of Chronic Diseases grants awarded to 10 states. These awards support prevention programs for Medicaid beneficiaries of all ages.

o CDC is announcing $4.2 million in funds to seven national networks of community-based organizations to support, disseminate and amplify the reach of the Community Transformation Grant program. Later this month, CDC will announce another $100 million in grants to communities across the country focused on reducing smoking, improving nutrition, and promoting blood pressure control.

o The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration will align all available resources to support improved outreach and provision of comprehensive health care to people with mental and substance use disorders.

HHS will also achieve the goals of Million Hearts by:

·Enhancing focus on cardiovascular disease prevention

o Federal agencies and private sector partners will focus and align measurement strategies which will both improve ABCS care and simplifying reporting for providers. For example, the Physician Quality Reporting System, which provides bonus payments, and in the future, payment reductions, based on the reporting of quality information by eligible professionals, CMS plans to enhance its focus on the ABCS.

o Beginning in 2012, HRSA will require all community health centers to report annually on the ABCS measures to track and improve performance, including new measures for 2012 for aspirin use and cholesterol screening. These efforts will help to improve ABCS care for more than 20 million patients.

· Focusing HIT efforts to prevent heart attacks and strokes

o Ongoing HIT improvements will increase focus on cardiovascular prevention and give providers improved tools for their delivery of lifesaving ABCS care. Regional extension centers, which reach nearly 100,000 primary care doctors, and Beacon Communities will reach more than 100 million patients within the next few years.

· Improving the delivery of ABCS care through clinical innovations, including:

o Quality Improvement Organizations (QIOs). A network of 53 Medicare-funded organizations nationwide to improve healthcare quality at the community level, QIOs will work with physician offices, clinics and other providers to create Learning & Action Networks focused on achieving the elements of ABCS as part of each QIO’s tasks and goals.

o Learning from Local Innovators (Healthcare Innovations Exchange). The HHS Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s Healthcare Innovations Exchange supports efforts to identify and disseminate innovative efforts to improve health care led by local communities and leaders.

For further information on the public and private support of the Million Hearts initiative, please visit:

For more information about the Million Hearts initiative and to access cardiovascular disease risk assessment tools visit Million Hearts is a trademark of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Contact: HHS Press Office (202) 690-6343


Monday, September 12, 2011

Illinois names to American Heart Association 2011-2012 Affiliate Board of Directors

One of the greatest assets the American Heart Association has is outstanding volunteer leadership. We are pleased to announce Irene Thompson, resident of Illinois will serve as a new AHA affiliate board member.

Chairperson - Irene Thompson, president and chief executive officer of the University HealthSystem Consortium (UHC) in Chicago. Irene joined UHC in 2007 after serving as president and CEO of the University of Kansas Hospital Authority for 11 years, where she was instrumental in establishing the hospital as an independent entity. Previously, she served as board chairperson of UHC as well as the Association of American Medical Colleges' Council of Teaching Hospitals and Health Systems. She was president of the Kansas City Chamber of Commerce and has also participated on numerous other community not-for-profit boards.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Weight-loss programs might save Medicare billions

By Jeannine Stein, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
4:05 p.m. CDT, September 8, 2011, Appeared in Chicago Tribune

Medicare could save billions of dollars if people who were pre-diabetic or at risk for cardiovascular disease took part in community-based weight-loss programs, a study finds.

Researchers projected cost savings for the government healthcare program if millions of people in the U.S. age 60 to 64 participated in a program that helped them lose weight and gain more healthful lifestyle habits. They based their findings on an existing YMCA diabetes prevention program that is, as of this year, at 50 facilities in 24 states. In a study of a similar program, participants lost an average 7% of their body weight and maintained that over 2.8 years. The prevalence of diabetes went down 71% among people age 60 and older.

Their projection was based on a scenario in which the program would roll out across the country and target adults age 60 to 64--those not eligible for Medicare yet--who are pre-diabetic, with a body mass index greater than 24 (considered overweight or obese), and who show risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Under the proposal, funding would come from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Diabetes Prevention Program and the Prevention and Public Health Trust Fund. Both were established by the Affordable Care Act.

The study authors estimated Medicare savings over a 10-year period as well as for a person's lifetime, and based them on two participation rates from results of a pilot study: one in which 70% of people took part, and one in which 55% of people took part.

If 70% of eligible people age 60 to 64 with a BMI of 24 or higher enrolled, the program would cost $590 million. But that would also mean a net savings of $2.3 billion to Medicare over 10 years and a net lifetime savings of $9.3 billion. At the 55% participation rate, the net savings would be $1.8 billion over 10 years and $7.3 billion over participants' lifetime.

Include overweight and obese people who also have the cardiovascular disease markers of high blood pressure and high cholesterol (even if they're not pre-diabetic) and that would add an additional $1.4 billion in savings over 10 years and an extra $5.8 billion in lifetime savings, with 70% enrollment. With 55% participation there would be a net savings of $1.2 billion over 10 years and $4.6 billion in lifetime savings.

"Diabetes is expensive to treat," says Kenneth Thorpe, a professor at Emory University, in a news release. Thorpe, lead author of the study that was released Thursday in the journal Health Affairs, added, "Most of the growth in health care spending is linked to rising rates of diabetes, cholesterol, and high blood pressure--all conditions that weight loss can help reduce. Why not shift the focus to keeping people healthy?"

Copyright © 2011, Los Angeles Times

Thursday, September 8, 2011

SSEEO Annual Stroke Conference: Emotional Recovery After a Stroke

You are cordially invited to attend

Emotional Recovery after a Stroke*

Saturday October 8th, 2011
8:30am - 12:00pm
Advocate Christ Medical Center, Auditorium, Conference Center
4440 West 95th Street - Oak Lawn, IL 60453

*There is no charge for this event but registration is required


8:30 - 9:30am - Registration - Breakfast, Networking and Conversation

9:30 - 10:15am - Life is Tough but People are Tougher - Emotional Resilience; How Survivors and Caregivers Can Gain a Sense of Control in the Face of an Uncertain Future - Dawn Horn, RN, MS, CNS, APRN, CRRN, Clinical Specialist, Advocate Christ Medical Center

10:15 - 10:30am - Break and Stretching

10:30 - 11:15am - It’s a Family Affair - How Children or Grandchildren are Affected by a Loved One’s Stroke - Kathleen Wians, RN, BS, MS Stroke Coordinator and Sandy Hoelzel, RN, MSN, CRRN, Stroke Coordinator, Resurrection Health Care

11:15 - 12:00pm - The Way We Were - Investigating the Importance of Grieving and Acceptance of your “New Normal” - Mickey Clancy, Phyllis Weiss, Frankie Janisch, Cari Biamonte and Bob Biggins, Stroke Survivors and SSEEO Board of Directors

12:00 - 12:30pm - Tour of the Ronald McDonald House (optional)

For more information and registration, please call 1-888-988-8047 or visit our website at, giving the number of attendees, names and contact information.

Deadline for registration is September 30, 2011

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Top 10 myths about cardiovascular disease

How much do you know about your heart's health? It's easy to be fooled by misconceptions. After all, heart disease only happens to your elderly neighbor or to your fried food-loving uncle, right? Or do you know the real truth - that heart disease affects people of all ages, even those who eat right? Relying on false assumptions can be dangerous to your heart. Cardiovascular disease kills more Americans each year than any other disease. So let's set the record straight on common myths.

  1. "I'm too young to worry about heart disease." How you live now affects your risk for cardiovascular diseases later in life. As early as childhood and adolescence, plaque can start accumulating in the arteries and later lead to clogged arteries.

  2. "I'd know if I had high blood pressure because there would be warning signs." High blood pressure is called the "silent killer" because you don't usually know you have it. You may never experience symptoms, so don't wait for your body to alert you that there's a problem. Check you numbers with a simple blood pressure test.

  3. "I'll know when I'm having a heart attack because I'll have chest pain." Not necessarily. Although it's common to have chest pain or discomfort, a heart attack may cause subtle symptoms. These include shortness of breath, nausea, feeling lightheaded, and pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the jaw, neck or back. Even if you're not sure it's a heart attack, call 9-1-1 immediately. Learn your risk of heart attack!

  4. "Diabetes won't threaten my heart as long as I take my medication." Treating diabetes can help reduce your risk for or delay the development of cardiovascular diseases. But even when blood sugar levels are under control, you're still at increased risk for heart disease and stroke. That's because the risk factors that contribute to diabetes onset also make you more likely to develop cardiovascular disease.

  5. "Heart disease runs in my family, so there's nothing I can do to prevent it." Although people with a family history of heart disease are at higher risk, you can take steps to dramatically reduce your risk. Create an action plan to keep your heart healthy by tackling these to-dos: get active; control cholesterol; eat better; manage blood pressure; maintain a healthy weight; control blood sugar; and stop smoking.

  6. "I don't need to have my cholesterol checked until I'm middle-aged." You should start getting your cholesterol checked at age 20, even earlier if your family has a history of heart disease. Children in these families can have high cholesterol levels, putting them at increased risk for developing heart disease as adults.

  7. "Heart failure means the heart stops beating." The heart suddenly stops beating during cardiac arrest, not heart failure. With heart failure, the heart keeps working, but it doesn't pump blood as well as it should. It can cause shortness of breath, swelling in the feet and ankles or persistent coughing and wheezing. During cardiac arrest, a person loses consciousness and stops normal breathing.

  8. "This pain in my legs must be a sign of aging. I'm sure it has nothing to do with my heart." Leg pain felt in the muscles could be a sign of peripheral artery disease, which results from blocked arteries in the legs caused by plaque build-up. The risk for heart attack or stroke increases five-fold for people with PAD.

  9. "My heart is beating really fast. I must be having a heart attack." Your heart rate speeds up during exercise or when you get excited, and slows down when you're sleeping. Most of the time, a change in your heartbeat is nothing to worry about. But sometimes, it can be a sign of arrhythmia, an abnormal or irregular heartbeat. Most arrhythmias are harmless, but some can last long enough to impact how well the heart works and require treatment.

  10. "I should avoid exercise after having a heart attack." No! As soon as possible, get the help you need by joining a cardiac rehabilitation program or consulting your healthcare provider for advice on developing a physical activity plan for you.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

'The Last Heart Attack' airs on CNN

In a new CNN documentary, Sanjay Gupta investigates whether diet and the latest diagnostic tests are enough to prevent every heart attack. In this medical journey of discovery, Dr. Gupta talks to former President Clinton, cutting-edge doctors, AHA CEO Nancy Brown and additional guests. Gupta also puts his own heart under the microscope as he offers practical advice and hard science to show how heart disease and heart attacks could be prevented.

Watch The Last Heart Attack.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

AHA Volunteer and Advocate Laura Schwartz is featured on the cover Connect Magazine September/October Issue 2011

Read all about AHA advocate and volunteer Laura Schwartz!

Laura Schwartz's cover and cover story HERE from Connect Magazine's September/October 2011 issue just released online and on stands today. Laura will be emceeing and keynoting their Connect Marketplace this weekend at Navy Pier.

Laura Schwartz, speaker and author of
Eat, Drink and Succeed! Climb Your Way to the Top Using the Networking Power of Social Events

Thursday, August 11, 2011

New provisions will enhance school wellness policies

This week the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced improvements included in the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 that will enhance local wellness policies in schools beginning in the 2011-12 academic year. The American Heart Association was a leader in successfully advocating for the inclusion of this measure to promote student wellness, prevent and reduce childhood obesity and provide assurance that schools meet the minimum federal school meal standards. The new provisions supersede previous requirements and expand the scope of wellness policies. Schools are now required to inform and update the public (including parents, students and others in the community) about the content and implementation of the local wellness policies. This victory is due in large part to the work and dedication of our advocacy staff, volunteers and You're the Cure advocates who met with their lawmakers and sent nearly 25,000 messages to Congress.

To view the updated local wellness policy materials, visit

Monday, August 8, 2011

Illinois Network News, August 2011

Legislative Updates:

After months of advocacy aimed at passing a new CPR bill, Governor Pat Quinn has strengthened Illinois’ Good Samaritan Law by signing HB 1549 at a special ceremony designed to bring attention to the importance of hands-only CPR. This new law was written to aid the spread of hands-only CPR training by ensuring that the legal framework protecting folks with the courage and presence of mind to perform CPR keeps pace with recent advances in CPR training.

As you may know, less than 30% of individuals experiencing sudden cardiac arrest receive bystander CPR before the paramedics arrive. Those lucky few who do receive CPR are up to 3 times more likely to survive. You may also know that the American Heart Association updated its CPR guidelines last fall, emphasizing Hands-Only CPR as an easier to learn alternative to conventional CPR. Thanks to these new guidelines and this new law that protects them, yesterday’s 4-hour certification course has given way to today’s 20-minute training video, making CPR easier for individuals to learn and less time-consuming for public institutions and private businesses to teach than ever before.

As a result, the door to quick and affordable CPR training has opened throughout the state. In fact, we are already seeing results thanks to the hard work of our volunteers, partners like CCARES and the Chicago Medical Society, and the enthusiasm for additional training from large organizations such as the Chicago Police Department. With prohibitive time commitment and liability issues behind us, there is no reason why a majority of Illinoisans can’t learn CPR at their job, with a local community organization, or in their living room in the months and years to come. None of this would have been possible without our national medical volunteers who crafted the new guidelines, and our local volunteers who helped pass this important law. Thanks in part to all of your help, more lives will be saved with hands-only CPR in Illinois!

Working with fellow members of the Illinois Coalition Against Tobacco, we scored a huge victory for public health by stopping several bills which would have amended the Smokefree Illinois Act to allow smoking in casinos! Although we won the battle, the fight continues as we expect casino smoking bills to resurface as soon as the Illinois General Assembly comes back into session. We will need your voice and your help again, so please stay tuned! If you would like more information on this issue, please visit: Additionally, please don’t hesitate to contact AHA staff with any questions or feedback.

Unfortunately, the General Assembly adjourned without taking action of a cigarette tax increase. Polls show that a tobacco tax remains the most popular revenue option for state government because in addition to reducing smoking rates and saving lives, this policy would benefit our cash-strapped state financially by bringing in roughly $300 million in new state revenues. We will continue to push this option as state officials consider options to address Illinois’ precarious financial condition. We are grateful to State Senate President John Cullerton and to Gov. Pat Quinn for their support of this initiative!

Protecting kids’ health by phasing out trans fats in school foods also remains on legislators’ “to do” list. Several legislative proposals to eliminate trans fats in schools and/or restaurants were introduced last legislative session. We supported some of the bills but were less enthusiastic about some other, weaker bills. However, none of the legislation – strong or weak – managed to pass because of strong opposition from school district superintendents and administrators as well some restaurants and most bakeries due to their concerns over the costs associated with replacing trans fats with healthier alternatives. Over the next several months we will be talking with all stakeholders to provide accurate information and to identify solutions everyone can support.

What a difference a year (and YOUR voices) make! As some of you will recall, during the 2010 Spring Legislative Session we found ourselves fighting repeated attempts to cut PE in Illinois’ schools. Opponents attempted to diminish the importance of quality PE by labeling it an “unfunded mandate” and targeting it for elimination. While we stood our ground and defeated the attacks on PE, we fully expected to see more such activity during the 2011 Spring Legislative Session. And we were delighted to be wrong!!! Apparently our message about protecting, improving and expanding PE as a critically important weapon in our anti-obesity arsenal was received! We did not see any serious attempts to cut PE in 2011. Hopefully the school administrators looking to cut their budgets have realized that cutting PE will not be as easy as they may have expected and have permanently moved on to other “lower hanging” budget solutions. We will continue to educate policy makers on the importance of PE and will continue to “play defense” as needed. However, legislation in Springfield tends to favor the path of least resistance, and we hope that people’s emphatic support for physical education will act as a deterrent for future proposals to cut or eliminate the PE requirement.

Our efforts to create more efficient and effective systems of emergency care for the very worst heart attacks (called STEMIs) are starting to pick up some steam. Why is this important? Imagine you or a loved one had a massive STEMI heart attack. You would of course call 911 and expect to be quickly taken to a hospital fully equipped and staffed to handle your case. Unfortunately, the reality is that not every hospital has the in-house resources and expertise to handle STEMI patients, which means that if your closest hospital (which is where the ambulance will take you under current rules) isn’t a STEMI center, you’ll have to wait for a transfer to another hospital before you can be treated. Tragically, time is crucial with STEMIs and many patients do not survive the delay.

To fix this problem and ensure that STEMI patients are taken to the right hospital, right away, we have been working with partners and volunteers throughout the state, and can happily report some real progress. In Illinois’ 11th Emergency Medical Service (EMS) region comprising the city of Chicago, the EMS Medical Directors have recently formed a STEMI Advisory Committee – supported and hosted by the AHA – to bring together all relevant stakeholders in an effort to update the rules for paramedics and hospitals treating a STEMI patient. While the formation of yet another committee isn’t always a proof of progress, in this case AHA has been working closely with the Region 11 EMS Medical Directors and we hope to see an initial draft of new STEMI transportation rules soon. Without getting too far into the technical weeds, the adoption of new transportation rules within Region 11 would be a huge step forward for STEMI care in Illinois’ most populous EMS region. Elsewhere in the state, Region 8 (comprising Chicago’s western suburbs) continues to lead the way after completing its STEMI protocol process this past winter, while the state’s 9 other EMS regions are in various stages of preparation for similar efforts. It will take a lot of time and effort for all 11 of Illinois’ EMS regions to adopt new STEMI transportation rules and procure the equipment they’ll need to put those rules into practice, but things are moving in the right direction, and with your help we can improve STEMI care and survival rates throughout the state.

Upcoming Events:

9/17 McHenry County Heart Walk
9/17 McLean County Heart Walk
9/23 Downtown Chicago Heart Walk
9/24 West/DuPage Chicago Heart Walk
9/25 North/Northwest Chicago Heart Walk
10/1 South Cook County Heart Walk
10/1 Southern Illinois Heart Walk
10/8 East Central Illinois Heart Walk
10/8 Tri-County Peoria Area Heart Walk

Volunteer with us:
Are you looking for more ways to get involved with Illinois Advocacy? Then think about volunteering with us! We are looking for a few volunteers to join us at upcoming heart walks to help get petition cards signed and recruit new members for You're the Cure. Send us a note to let us know you can help at one of the above heart walks this fall.

Advocacy 101
Learn more about your state elected officials and where they stand on important issues! Don't know who your representatives are? Follow this LINK to find out!

Become a Volnteer Leader
Are you passionate about making heart-healthy changes in Illinois and across the country? Consider becoming one of our volunteer leaders! Help us recruit and train new advocates, continue to build relationships with your legislators and be our go-to volunteer for your area of the state.Sound great? Send Anne Simaytis an email today to find out more. Or call her at 414-227-1410.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

State’s 'No smoking' law should be obeyed and strictly enforced

The Southern Illinoisan
Posted: Thursday, July 28, 2011

It's one of the worst-kept secrets in Southern Illinois: In bars across the region, smokers are still lighting up their cigarettes indoors.

It's also one of the most poorly-enforced laws in Southern Illinois, and that needs to change.

In Saturday's issue of The Southern, the issue of smoking in Williamson and Franklin County bars has irked some, and for good reason. No matter how unpopular it may be with some bar owners and patrons, the smoking ban is statewide law, and needs to be enforced as such.

First and foremost, the responsibility falls on those who smoke. This should be simple enough - once you set foot in a public building, which includes bars, the cigarette needs to be put out. Otherwise, smokers are violating the law and unnecessarily exposing other patrons and employees to secondhand smoke. Good citizens abide by the laws.

Next, bar owners need to enforce the law in their facilities. Sure, it may result in a brief downturn in business, but it will be short-lived. You can't smoke in a Chicago nightclub and people stand in line for entry - many enjoying a smoke. Smokers everywhere else in the state find their way outdoors before lighting up. And for those bar owners who are obeying the law and not allowing smoking, it's horribly unfair that they are losing business to other bars that decide they don't need to play by the same rule.

Finally, local health departments need to take it upon themselves to make sure the law gets enforced. With a few weekends of stern enforcement, the message will get out and bars will start cracking down on their own.

Laws are enacted for a reason, and this one is designed to benefit the public's health. They're also enacted with the purpose of being enforced, and some in Southern Illinois are dropping the ball in that regard. It's time to put out those cigarettes and truly go smoke-free.

Read more:

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Our Fight for Healthier School Meals Continues…

Last Year: You’re the Cure advocates took as strong stand for healthier school meals for our kids by sending over 25,000 messages to Congress in support of the Child Nutrition Act. Our voices helped ensure the bill, which establishes the framework for the National School Lunch and National School Breakfast programs, was passed and signed into law by the President before the end of the 111th Congress.

This Year: Under the Child Nutrition Act, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) proposed updated national school meal standards for the first time since 1994 and asked for the public to weigh in. You’re the Cure advocates sent over 30,000 comments to the USDA in April in support of the proposed standards, which ensure school meals include more fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and limit the sodium and unhealthy fats served to our kids at school.

Today: As the USDA works to review all of the public comments and finalize the standards, some Members of Congress are now trying to stop USDA’s efforts to improve school meals. That’s why we need your help once again. Please send a quick message to your Representative today to ask him/her to support the USDA’s efforts to finalize strong nutrition standards for school meals. With your help, millions of kids will be enjoying nutritious school meals in 2012.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Thank you for your support of the Smoke Free Illinois Act

Four years ago the Smoke Free Illinois Act was signed into law, protecting all Illinois workers and patrons from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke. This outstanding victory for the health of all Illinoisans was made possible because of the hard work and dedication of thousands of advocates and volunteers like you!

On its 4th anniversary, take a moment to reminder you legislators how much you enjoy a smoke free Illinois

The Smoke Free Illinois Act is one of the most popular laws ever passed in Illinois, with 84% of registered voters supporting a smoke free Illinois. It’s also one of the most important public health bills in decades – people who are exposed to secondhand smoke have 25 to 35 percent higher coronary death rates and an increased chance of developing lung cancer. After four years, we have come to enjoy and expect smoke-free offices, restaurants, bars, clubs and gaming facilities.

As you know, despite the law’s popularity there have been several major attempts this year to weaken the Smoke Free Illinois Act and put all of our health at risk again. With your help time and again, we’ve defeated them all!

Please join us once again on the 4th anniversary of the Smoke Free Illinois Act by taking a moment to remind your legislators how much you enjoy a smoke free Illinois!

Thank you for your continued dedication and support!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Braun Named National Healthcare Volunteer of the Year

Lynne Braun, RN, PhD, received the American Heart Association's National Healthcare Volunteer of the Year award at the Gold Heart Awards Banquet held at the end of June. For the past 25 years, Dr. Braun has been front and center in the planning and execution of practically every professional and public education activity developed by the American Heart Association in Chicago.

“Lynne is incredibly dedicated to increasing heart health, particularly in women at risk, and I’m thrilled for her that she’s receiving well-deserved national recognition for her tireless efforts,” says Annabelle Volgman, MD, medical director of the Rush Heart Center for Women, and Midwest Affiliate board member.

Congratulations on your tremendous efforts, Lynne!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Be Part of the Chicago Pedestrian Plan

Chicago's pedestrian experience is one of the reasons that the city is such a great place to live, work, and play. To help ensure that Chicago continues to be a great city for pedestrians, the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT), in coordination with the Mayor's Pedestrian Advisory Council (MPAC), is currently working on the Chicago Pedestrian Plan. The Pedestrian Plan will identify new opportunities and ongoing initiatives that will strengthen Chicago's already robust pedestrian environment.

Public meetings will be held across Chicago this summer for the Pedestrian Plan. Each meeting will feature a short presentation from CDOT and an open house with representatives from CDOT and other agencies and groups that work on pedestrian issues. The open house will provide participants with the opportunity to learn about much of the pedestrian-related work that is taking place in Chicago and provide input on how the pedestrian experience in Chicago could be improved.

Come share your ideas on how to make Chicago a great city for pedestrians at one of the following meetings:

June 29
Kennedy-King College
The Great Hall, 740 W. 63rd St., Chicago
6 - 8 p.m.

July 13
Austin Town Hall
Auditorium, 5610 W. Lake St., Chicago
6 - 8 p.m.

July 27
Rainbow Beach Field House
Gymnasium, Enter from 75th St. or 79th St., 3111 E. 77th St., Chicago
6 - 8 p.m.

August 10
Truman College
Cafeteria, 1145 W. Wilson Ave., Chicago
6 - 8 p.m.

For more information, visit

Thursday, June 23, 2011

FDA Announces Final Cigarette Health Warnings

From the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Food and Drug Administration:
This morning, the FDA announced the nine cigarette health warnings required to appear on every pack of cigarettes sold in the United States and in every cigarette advertisement. This bold measure is aimed at making sure that every American understands the dangers of smoking.
The warnings represent the most significant changes to cigarette labels in more than 25 years and will affect everything from packaging to advertisements. Manufacturers are required to place them on all cigarette packs, cartons and ads by no later than September 2012.

Each warning is accompanied by the phone number 1-800-QUIT-NOW, a smoking cessation resource, so it will be seen at the time it is most relevant to smokers, increasing the likelihood that smokers who want to quit will be successful. Tobacco use is the leading cause of premature and preventable death in the United States, responsible for 443,000 deaths each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It costs our economy nearly $200 billion every year in medical care and lost productivity.

The introduction of these warnings is expected to have a significant public health impact by decreasing the number of smokers - resulting in lives saved, increased life expectancy and improved health status.

» Watch the event live at 11:30pm CT and 12:30pm CT at
» Tweet at the Twitter Town Hall with Dr. Howard Koh, the Assistant Secretary for Health at HHS, and Dr. Lawrence Deyton, Director of the Center for Tobacco Products @FDATobacco at 2:30 PM
To participate and ask questions, simply follow along at the hashtag
#cigwarnings and make sure to tag your Twitter questions with

For More Information
» Visit FDA's Cigarette Health Warning Webpage
» Read the Press Release
» Read the Frequently Asked Questions
» Read the Consumer Update

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown Praises New Graphic Warning Labels

June 21, 2011

New cigarette warning labels unveiled today by the Food and Drug Administration will help give us the momentum needed to eradicate tobacco use in our nation. For the first time in 25 years, cigarette warning labels have been dramatically altered to graphically demonstrate the specific, serious health risks associated with smoking and these warnings will not only tell smokers how bad tobacco use is, but also direct them to smoking cessation resources that can help them quit.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 45 million Americans smoke cigarettes, about 20 percent of the population, and one in five high school students still smoke. The new health warnings represent an aggressive and welcome approach to reducing smoking rates that have leveled off in recent years as tobacco companies continue to launch campaigns to entice new smokers and maintain current customers.

The American Heart Association strongly believes that the graphic depictions of smoking-related diseases on cigarette packages will drive home the message that tobacco use is an equal opportunity killer, affecting smokers and nonsmokers alike. In the U.S., about one-third of smoking-related deaths are linked to heart disease and stroke. Cigarette smoking causes about 443, 000 premature deaths each year and about 49, 000 of these deaths are due to secondhand smoke. Undoubtedly, the new graphic health warnings will heighten awareness about the dangers of smoking and more importantly, encourage smokers to quit and discourage smoking initiation. We’re confident that the new labels will move us closer to our goal of making the nation 100 percent smoke-free.

For more information, visit

Friday, June 17, 2011

Joint Commission - Smokefree Hospital Toolkit

The Joint Commission has released a Smokefree Hospital Toolkit which could be a useful resource for hospitals in your area.

Please click here to download the kit or

Monday, May 23, 2011

All state workplaces must remain smoke free

The following is a published letter to the editor which appeared in The Southern on May 20 and was written by Illinois advocate and survivor David Melby.

When the Smoke Free Illinois Act went into effect in 2008, Illinois became the 22nd state to protect workers, patrons and visitors in all its businesses and public places from the health risks of secondhand smoke. According to the Centers for Disease Control, Illinois is now one of 25 states and the District of Columbia to have comprehensive, statewide smoking bans which prohibit smoking in public places, establishments such as bars and restaurants, as well as all other workplaces, including casinos. Eighteen more states have implemented statewide smoking restrictions with some exemptions.

The Illinois House of Representatives recently passed HB 1965, which would permit smoking in Illinois casinos if the nearest state allows it. The CDC said that the proposed law would make Illinois first nationwide to weaken a recently enacted, comprehensive, statewide smoke-free law by exempting casinos. Once again, the eyes of the country are watching Illinois government at work. Illinois has received a high level of visibility in recent years. Most of that visibility has not reflected well on our state. If this legislation is enacted into law, Illinois will once again be in the national spotlight for all of the wrong reasons, while polls show that an overwhelming majority of Illinoisans do not want their smoke-free protections weakened.

Maintaining a commitment to a comprehensive, Smoke Free Illinois is good for Illinois and all of its citizens for a variety of reasons, including the following:

Smoke Free Illinois results in tremendous public health benefits. In the first two years after implementation, the Illinois Department of Public Health estimates that over 30,000 hospitalizations for heart disease alone were prevented. When combined with similar statistics for cancer and other lung diseases, the public health benefits are staggering. According to the American Heart Association, cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death in America, and even second-hand smoke increases the risk of heart attack by 30 percent.

Smoke Free Illinois makes good financial sense. According to IDPH, because the average cost of heart disease hospital admissions is so high ($39,000), the admissions prevented in the first two years follow-ing implementation of Smoke Free Illinois resulted in a healthcare cost savings of almost $1.2 Billion!

Smoke Free Illinois is good for business. An independent, random sample survey of Illinois casino gamblers, commissioned by the American Lung Association, was conducted between April 27 and May 9. It found that 85 percent of the 401 respondents who had visited an Illinois casino at least once during the last 12 months reported that they either preferred to visit a smoke-free casino or said it did not matter. Survey results indicate that the top six reasons for reducing the number of casino visits in Illinois were all economic, with the top two by a large margin being the increased cost of gasoline and the increased cost of living. Quality of the out-of-state competition and the Illinois tax rate on casino revenue were offered as additional reasons for declining Illinois casino revenues.

Another important business benefit of Smoke Free Illinois is reduced health care costs. The U.S. De-partment of Health and Human Services reports that businesses face additional costs of about $1,300 per year for each employee who smokes, because of higher health insurance claims and costs, plus main-tenance and cleaning costs for carpet, furniture and drapes. This business cost analysis does not appear to even include the additional costs for non-smoking employees as the result of exposure to second-hand smoke.

Smoke Free Illinois is good for Illinois because all workers deserve to be protected from second-hand smoke, including those working in casinos. In a recent open letter to legislators and the media, Buffy McKinney of Cahokia, Illinois wrote about her mother, Cheryl Rose, who worked in a casino for more than 20 years. Although she never smoked and took care of her health, in 2008, she was diagnosed with inoperable Stage 4 Lung Cancer, in all probability the result of years of exposure to secondhand smoke. Buffy asks in her letter, "Have you ever had to hold a parent in your arms as they take their last breath at the young age of 62? - And all of this could have been prevented through a comprehensive clean air law!"

Let's not backtrack on our commitment to provide a smoke-free work environment for everyone in Illinois. Please call your state senator's office to register your sentiments regarding this unpopular and potentially harmful legislation. Urge your Senator to vote No on HB 1965 and any similar legislation that might be sponsored in the foreseeable future.

DAVID J. MELBY of Carterville is a member of the American Heart Association's Illinois Advocacy Committee.