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, 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.