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, January 28, 2011

Nancy Brown: CVD cost will triple in next 20 years

The cost to treat heart disease in the United States will triple by 2030, according to an American Heart Association policy statement presented by Nancy Brown on Jan. 24 in Washington, D.C. The statement calls for effective prevention strategies to limit the growing cost burden, which accounts for 17 percent of national health expenditures.

The projected $545 billion increase is due in part to an aging population, according to the report. Cardiovascular disease is more prevalent in people older than 65. Another cost factor is an increase in risk factors such as obesity.

"If there's a silver lining in these figures, it is that they are projections," Brown said. "Unhealthy behaviors and unhealthy environments have contributed to a tidal wave of risk factors among many Americans. Early intervention and evidence-based public policies are absolute musts to significantly reduce alarming rates of obesity, hypertension, tobacco use and cholesterol levels."
According to the statement, 36.9 percent of Americans already have some form of cardiovascular disease, including high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, heart failure, stroke and other conditions. By 2030 this is expected to reach 40.5 percent.

Paul Heidenreich, M.D., chair of the AHA expert panel issuing the statement, said the study didn't double count costs for patients with multiple cardiovascular conditions. Heidenreich added that the study "didn't assume that we will continue to make new discoveries to reduce heart disease." If our ability to prevent and treat heart disease stays where we are right now, he said, the projected cost increase will occur just through demographic changes in the population.

Watch video clips from Nancy Brown's Natl. Press Club presentation.

Friday, January 21, 2011

American Heart Association Welcomes Sen. Richard Durbin as Co-Chair of Congressional Heart and Stroke Coalition

(Washington, January 20, 2011) — Illinois Senator Richard Durbin, Assistant Majority Leader in the Senate, has been named Senate Democratic co-chair of the Congressional Heart and Stroke Coalition. The American Heart Association congratulates him for taking on this important role and driving efforts to fight heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases—the nation’s leading health threats.

Sen. Durbin will fill the vacancy left by retired Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and join Senator Michael Crapo (R-ID) and Representatives Lois Capps (D-CA) and Todd Platts (R-PA) as leaders of the coalition.

The Congressional Heart and Stroke Coalition works to raise awareness of the seriousness of cardiovascular diseases and acts as a resource center for issues including biomedical research, quality and availability of care and health promotion and disease prevention. The coalition and its more than 150 members also help advance public policies aimed at fighting cardiovascular diseases.

“I am honored to join my colleagues as co-chair of the Congressional Heart and Stroke Coalition. I look forward to working with them and the American Heart Association to raise awareness and secure resources in the fight against heart disease and stroke,” said Durbin.

“Sen. Durbin has been a staunch supporter of the association’s goals to reduce American death and disability rates from heart disease and stroke,” said Ralph Sacco, MD, American Heart Association President. “We look forward to continuing our work with the Senator to educate congressional Members and staff, improve research, treatment and awareness and advance lifesaving policies.”

Sen. Durbin’s record as a heart and stroke champion in Congress includes his leadership role in ensuring passage of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act and as the lead sponsor of the Congenital Heart Futures Act, both of which were enacted into law in the last Congress. He also was the lead author of the law that banned smoking on airplanes more than 20 years ago. He has been a strong advocate for increased heart and stroke research funding for the National Institutes for Health and has co-sponsored numerous bills supported by the association, including the HEART for Women Act and the Genetic Information Non-discrimination Act.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Secondary students should be required to receive CPR training

DALLAS, Jan. 10, 2011 — All secondary school students should be required to be trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and receive an overview of automated external defibrillators (AEDs), according to an American Heart Association science advisory.

The advisory, published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, calls for state legislatures to mandate that CPR and AED training be required for graduation, and to provide funding and other support to ensure the educational standard is met.

Last school year, 36 states had a law or curriculum standard encouraging CPR training in schools, according to the advisory. School districts have developed various models for providing and paying for the training and equipment, including using volunteer instructors or video-based programs, and drawing support from businesses, foundations, civic organizations and public agencies.

Challenges include finding time in the curriculum to teach the courses and providing and maintaining CPR manikins, which are vital for training. Schools can keep reusable manikins, replacing key parts for sanitary reasons, or can work with a local agency that provides manikins and training. Some schools provide personal training kits that include DVD-based instructions and an inflatable, reusable manikin.

The statement authors report that the benefits far outweigh the costs. “Training of all secondary education students will add a million trained rescuers to the population every few years,” said Mary Fran Hazinski, R.N., M.S.N., co-author of the advisory and professor at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing in Nashville, Tenn. “Those students will be ready, willing and able to act for many years to come, whenever they witness an emergency within the community.”

Students trained as rescuers might help save lives at home, where most sudden cardiac arrests occur. Trained students could also respond to cardiac arrests at school and at public places such as malls, health clubs, or swimming pools, or at events such as family reunions.

Cardiac arrest is a leading cause of death in the United States. The American Heart Association reports that emergency medical personnel respond to nearly 300,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests in the United States annually, so CPR can help save many of these victims’ lives, the authors said.

Effective CPR circulates a small but vital amount of oxygen-rich blood to the heart and brain, which can help keep a victim alive until an AED is available. The AED can give an electric shock to the heart to stop the abnormal heart rhythm and allow a normal heart rhythm to return. AEDs are portable medical devices that can be used with minimal training and are often available in public places.

“Bystander CPR can double or triple survival from cardiac arrest. Currently, only about 30 percent of victims of out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrest receive any type of CPR,” Hazinski said.

According to the statement, most untrained bystanders hesitate to help a cardiac arrest victim. Research has shown that when bystanders have CPR training, they are much more likely to take action.

Bystanders who phone 911 and begin CPR provide the first essential links in a strong, interdependent “chain of survival,” Hazinski said. “With activation of 911, early bystander CPR, rapid defibrillation, effective advanced life support and integrated post-resuscitation care, survival rates following sudden cardiac arrest can exceed 50 percent. That’s dramatically higher than the 7 percent to 9 percent average survival rate in the U.S. However, nothing is going to happen unless there’s a bystander who recognizes the arrest, phones 911 and begins CPR to start that chain of survival. Research has shown that any attempt at CPR can improve the odds of survival for someone who has a cardiac arrest,” she said.

CPR training in schools should cover several key areas, including how to recognize an emergency, an emphasis on high-quality chest compressions and skills practice, according to the advisory. At a minimum, AED training should cover the purpose, simplicity and safety of the devices.

“Many schools have overcome barriers to training and begun teaching CPR,” Hazinski said. “But I think a legislative mandate and support for training in schools would go a long way.”

Co-authors are: Diana Cave, R.N., M.S.N.; Tom P. Aufderheide, M.D.; Jeff Beeson, M.D.; Alison Ellison, B.S.N.; Andrew Gregory, M.D.; Loren F. Hiratzka, M.D.; Keith Lurie, M.D.; Laurie J. Morrison, M.D., M.Sc.; Vincent N. Mosesso, Jr., M.D.; Vinay Nadkarni, M.D.; Jerry Potts, Ph.D.; Ricardo A. Samson, M.D.; Michael Sayre, M.D.; and Stephen M. Schexnayder, M.D. Author disclosures and sources of funding are on the manuscript.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

You're Invited! Save the Date

Please save the date for this upcoming Heart Month event. Click here for more information on this event.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Watch the Tobacco Tax Debate LIVE

You can watch live video of the State House of Representatives debate on the tobacco tax NOW!

Click here to access:

Monday, January 10, 2011

Please help us save lives, save health care tax dollars and help education! A win-win-win for Illinois!

The legislative leaders in Illinois are currently working on a revenue enhancement proposal to address the state’s budget crisis. Smoking is a leading risk factor for heart disease, and the American Heart Association urges Illinois lawmakers to increase the state's cigarette tax by $1 per pack as part of any revenue enhancement package. Not only will this increase bring in $377 million per year in much needed revenue for Illinois’ schools, it will also help save lives by preventing kids from ever starting to smoke and help encourage adult smokers to quit. And every smoker who quits, has the potential to save hundreds of thousands of YOUR tax dollars in Medicaid expenses.

Tell your legislators to support the $1 cigarette tax increase

Increasing the cigarette tax by $1 a pack would:

  • Prevent more than 75,000 kids from becoming addicted smokers and help more than 59,000 current smokers quit. Experience has shown young smokers are the most sensitive to price increases resulting from a cigarette tax increase.
  • Generate an estimated $377 million for elementary and secondary education. (This is a double bonus because smoking rates in the population fall as education and income levels rise!)
  • Save an estimated $2 billion in long term health care costs associated with the lower smoking rates.
Tell your legislators to support the $1 cigarette tax increase

According to the U.S. Surgeon General, the single most effective measure to prevent kids from starting to smoke is to significantly increase the cost of a pack of cigarettes. Higher costs are often the “straw that broke the camel’s back,” compelling current smokers to quit. This action will save more than 50,000 Illinois residents from premature smoking-related death and ultimately reduce our state's health care costs.

While no one likes taxes in general, this option is popular with the people of Illinois. An April 2010 statewide poll showed that 74% of Illinois voters support a $1 per pack tobacco tax increase. Currently, Illinois' state cigarette tax of $.98 ranks No. 32 in the US, behind Wisconsin, Iowa, and Indiana.

Please urge your state legislators to vote “YES” for the only revenue option which will save lives and heath care dollars and will generate money for education. It’s a win-win-win for all of us!

Thank you for your continued support!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Resolve to Make Heart Health a Priority in 2011

Love them or hate them, most of us make resolutions during this time of year. We resolve to eat better, to get more exercise and/or to stop smoking to name a few; all of which are wonderful for our hearts. During this time of resolutions, will you make one more promise for a heart-healthy 2011? Resolve to make your voice heard in the fight against heart disease and stroke:

Healthy hearts is not just about eating well and exercising. It is also important that the residents of Illinois have access to healthy foods and safe places to exercise, clean air to breathe and resources to help smokers quit and that all residents have access to medical care when they need it most. That is why our elected officials need to make heart health a priority this year!

We can’t spell CURE without “U”!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

New push starts for cigarette tax increase


Anti-smoking groups renewed their push for a $1-a-pack increase in the state’s cigarette tax on Monday, pointing to research showing that the state would see $377 million in new revenue the first year of the tax increase.

Senate Bill 44, which would increase the state’s cigarette tax from 98 cents to $1.98 a pack in two 50-cent stages, passed the Senate in 2009, but has been stalled in the House ever since.
In a statement, Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, threw his support behind the tax and pledged to introduce it again in the Senate if it fails to pass the House before the 96th General Assembly completes its work on Jan. 12.

“A cigarette tax increase is one of the most important agenda items for the coming year,” Cullerton said. “It will generate new revenue, reduce Medicaid costs attributed to smoking-related health concerns, and most importantly, it will dramatically reduce people’s desire to smoke.”

Kevin O’Flaherty, director of advocacy for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said a cigarette tax increase would offset the costs to the state of tobacco-related disease.

“When you look at the amount of revenue that comes in from tobacco, it is a drop in the bucket compared to what the state spends on tobacco-related health care costs across the board,” he said.

The state could double the money it would receive if it used the revenue for its health care provider relief fund and access matching funds from the federal government, O’Flaherty said.

“That’s money on the table that’s being left behind,” he said.

Illinois spends $5 billion to treat diseases caused by tobacco use, according to a study by Frank Chaloupka, an economist at the University of Illinois at Chicago. The state received roughly $560 million in cigarette tax revenue in fiscal year 2010.

Since 2002, the last time Illinois raised its cigarette tax, most states have raised their cigarette taxes at least once, Chaloupka said. Illinois is now 32nd in the nation in taxing cigarettes. If the state increased its tax to $1.98, it would rank 15th.

Raising the tax would increase revenue to the state, cause adults to quit smoking and children to never start, Chaloupka said.

“Every time that states raise their cigarette tax, we see significant increases in the revenues that are generated from those taxes,” he said.

Asked why his group and other anti-smoking organizations don’t just seek to ban cigarettes, O’Flaherty said, “I don’t think any of our organizations want to see that tobacco just doesn’t exist. But what is very important to all of us … is that tobacco is no longer the serious public health problem that it is today.

“In order to get to that point, we have to go quite a bit further … that the price for the product comes close to reflecting the true cost of the use of the product in our country.”

State Sen. Larry Bomke, R-Springfield, opposed the cigarette tax increase when it passed the Senate.

“Although I’ve never been a smoker, it seems like we’re taking advantage of a group we’ve taken too much advantage of in the past,” Bomke said. “I think at some point, enough is enough.

“I realize it’s by choice to smoke cigarettes, but some people have an addiction and a difficult time getting off them.”

Cigarette taxes in border states
Iowa $1.36 per pack
Wisconsin $2.52
Missouri 17 cents
Indiana 99.5 cents
Kentucky 60 cents

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