Throughout the year, our blog will feature AHA volunteer stories of survival and hope. We know there are thousands of stories like these - thats why we want to say “Thanks” to all of you for giving your time and sharing your lives with us. You can’t spell CURE without U! Thank you for all you do to build healthier lives free of cardiovascular disease and stroke. YOU’RE THE CURE!

Thursday, September 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.