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, December 19, 2008

Give the Gift of Physical Education!

Happy Holidays!

Wouldn't you love the gift of stronger physical education in our schools this holiday season? Give our kids this present by contacting your legislators and tell them this issue is a priority for you.

Take action today: Give Minnesota Kids the Gift of a Healthy Future! Let your Legislators and Gov. Pawlenty know that you want to see physical education be made a priority as they look for solutions to halt the childhood obesity epidemic in Minnesota and cut rising health care expenses.

Advocates like you have helped save thousands of lives through the equipping state patrol cars with AEDs (automatic external defibrillators), reducing smoking rates through a tobacco tax, reducing exposure to secondhand smoke with the Freedom to Breathe Act and educating your elected officials about other policies that will make our state heart-healthy.
We can do this too! To ensure we are successful in 2009, we need you to contact your legislators to let them know how important this issue is to you.
Do you know of other folks interested in stronger phy ed programs? Be sure to tell them about our campaign!
Have a safe and happy holiday season,

P.S. Have you reserved your spot at the 2009 Heart on the Hill? Click here to register today!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

You're Invited: Wear Red Day Rally at the Capitol

Twin Cities Wear Red Day Rally at the Capitol
Join us for a Rally at the Capitol to show your support for Go Red For Women and the Women's Heart Health Promotion Act!

National Wear Red Day - Rally at the Capitol
Friday, February 6, 2009
11a.m. -- Noon
Minnesota State Capitol, Rotunda
St. Paul, MN

Register Here to Attend

The American Heart Association is launching a new campaign to promote women's heart health across Minnesota: The Women's Heart Health Promotion Act! You know the facts: heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases are the number one killer of women in Minnesota. We can change this by investing in early detection and management of risk factors by increasing funding to the state program that provides screenings for low-income and uninsured women. The program currently screens about 1,800 women. We need to increase this to at least 15,000 to truly make an impact and save lives.

Support this campaign by joining "You're The Cure" at or contact Bethany Snyder at the American Heart Association at

Learn more about the Go Red For Women movement at

Click here for more Go Red Events in the Twin Cities

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Go Red Casting Call Feb. 6-- Share Your Story!

Your Heart. Your Choice. Your Story.
Share your Heart-Health Story at the Go Red Casting Call Feb. 6

Choices. We face them every day. Some choices are un-important, some are life-changing. But what if the choices you thought were small were actually the ones that mattered?

The stairs or the elevator? Baked or fried? What if these choices meant you were the one woman in every three to die of heart disease this year?

Choose to Take Action for Better Health
I choose to walk, not sit. Visit Go Red for Women and sign up for a FREE 12-week physical activity and nutrition program you can customize to fit your lifestyle.
I choose to eat baked, not fried. Find cooking tips and flavorful recipes that are good for your heart in the Go Red “Love Your Heart” 5th anniversary cookbook at Go Red for Women .
I choose to breathe, not smoke. Find out how to quit for good at Go Red for Women .
I choose to live, not be the 1 woman in 3 that dies of heart disease: Visit Go Red for Women and post your own story of the choices you have made and results achieved.

Choose to Share Your Heart Health Story
National Wear Red Day
Friday, February 6, 2009
Mall of America, Rotunda
5 – 8 p.m.

Bring friends and family, share your story together, and vie for the chance to be a local and even national spokesperson for Go Red For Women.

Can’t Make it to the Casting Call?
Become your own movie producer. Submit your story with a homemade YouTube video and you might see your movie featured on Fox 9 News. Email your YouTube video link to

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Senator Wiger Committed to Strengthening Physical Education!

The American Heart Association had another successful meeting with legislators and advocates last night! A strong group of ten advocates met with Senator Chuck Wiger (SD 55) at the Maplewood Library to share their concerns about the decline in physical education programs across the state and its impact on our kids’ health. A group of teachers, parents, doctors and concerned community members shared why phy ed is important to the future of kids’ health—and the health of the state!

Childhood obesity is a growing problem in Minnesota and one surefire way to curb obesity in our kids is to get them more active and teach them the lifelong skills that will keep them active as adults. The American Heart Association is asking the state to enact the statewide standards and graduation requirement for physical education during the 2009 legislative session. Click here to view our fact sheet on this bill.

Senator Wiger echoed his constituents’ concerns and vowed to support the American Heart Association’s legislation as a co-sponsor! Special guest, Representative Leon Lillie (55A), also attended this meeting and shared his support for instilling life-long healthy habits in our children. This meeting demonstrates how influential advocates are when they connect with their legislators. Huge thanks to these wonderful advocates and to Senator Wiger and Rep. Lillie!

Thank Senator Wiger for meeting with AHA advocates and hearing their concerns.

AHA volunteer's letter published in Star Tribune!

State Advocacy Committee member and great AHA advocate submitted a letter to the editor to the Star Tribune regarding the report of Minnesota's dropping heath rating. Thanks, Courtney!

Minnesotans' health: Make it a priority, and state will save money

That Minnesota's health ranking dropped from No. 2 to No. 4 according to United Health Foundation's report (Star Tribune, Dec. 4) is sobering, especially because this does not need to be the case.

The Minnesota Health Department has a Heart Disease Prevention Unit that has spent several years creating a comprehensive plan to prevent costly heart disease and stroke by reducing obesity, diabetes, smoking and health disparities. Unfortunately, the funding has yet to be approved to enact this prevention plan. The $250,000 per year it would take is far less than the billions of dollars the state spends each year on treating heart disease, obesity and diabetes.

Furthermore, the state would have to spend little money to simply bring back physical education standards in our schools ensuring that preventative health starts with our children before bad habits are formed -- especially since a recent American Heart Association study showed that obese children have the arteries of middle-aged adults!

And finally, while the state made great strides last year in approving $47 million for public health programs, we will all need to ensure that funding is protected during the upcoming legislative session. Investing in prevention today is necessary to secure our financial and physical well-being in the future.


Click here to view

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Advocates' Meeting with Senator Torres-Ray Successful!

Over ten advocates trekked through the snow on Monday night, December 8, to share their passion and commitment to helping our kids live healthy lives through strengthening physical education programs in our schools. These dedicated advocates met with Senator Patricia Torres-Ray (SD 62) in South Minneapolis to share why they want to see statewide physical education standards adopted in Minnesota and a phy ed graduation requirement reinstated.

Childhood obesity is a growing problem in Minnesota and one surefire way to curb obesity in our kids is to get them more active and teach them the lifelong skills that will keep them active as adults. The American Heart Association is asking the state to enact the statewide standards and graduation requirement for physical education during the 2009 legislative session. Click here to view our fact sheet on this bill.

Senator Torres-Ray listened closely as these advocates-- parents, teachers, concerned community members and even students-- shared why improving our state’s physical education programs should be a priority as the state faces higher health care costs, in part due to an increase in obesity rates. Showing her support, she agreed to co-sponsor the bill and help get it passed.

Thank Senator Torres-Ray for meeting with AHA advocates and hearing their concerns.

Also, a huge thanks to the adovcates who made this possible!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Minnesota slips in healthiest state rankings; Obesity rates to blame

Minnesota slips in healthiest state rankings

Minnesota, long one of the healthiest states in the nation, isn't as robust as it was.

With an increase in child poverty and a decrease in public health spending, the state slipped to No. 4 this year from No. 2 last year, according to annual rankings released Wednesday by the United Health Foundation. Before 2007, Minnesota ranked No. 1 for four consecutive years.

"First, second or fourth, Minnesota is still a leader," said state Health Commissioner Sanne Magnan. "But this is a change."

Vermont was the healthiest state for the second year, and Louisiana replaced Mississippi as the least healthy.

Each year since 1990 the nonprofit United Health Foundation, created by insurance giant UnitedHealth Group, has compared states on a variety of health measures to determine whether the nation's health is getting better or worse. This year, the report rated states on 23 measures, including immunization rates, obesity, premature death and violent crime.

For the fourth consecutive year, the health of the nation as a whole declined. Contributing factors included rising obesity rates, more people without health insurance and the persistence of unhealthy behavior such as tobacco use.

"The health of the nation is stagnant," said Dr. Reed Tuckson, senior vice president of the Minnetonka-based foundation. The United States also continues to fare worse than other comparable countries, he added. For example, a baby girl born today in the United States can expect to live 71 years, compared to 78 years in Japan.

"That gap is extraordinary," Tuckson said.

Minnesota dropped in part because per person public health spending fell from $62 to $45, or 43rd in the nation. Public health spending is included because research has shown it has a signficant effect on overall health. An investment of $10 per person per year in programs to increase physical activity, improve nutrition, and prevent smoking would cut national health care costs by $16 billion annually within five years, according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. That is a return of $5.60 for each dollar spent.

But the data used in the report may have put Minnesota at an unfair disadvantage. Magnan said this year the Legislature approved $47 million for public health programs to reduce smoking and obesity, money that was not included in the latest analysis, but which could improve Minnesota's ranking next year.

Sen. John Marty, the DFL chair of the state Senate Health, Housing and Family Security Committee, questioned if that would be enough to reverse the trend. "It will help correct some of this decline but is not sufficient to truly address health needs," he said.

Public health funding in the state also declined because of a 21 percent decrease in federal money for pandemic flu preparedness.

Minnesota is also unusual because about $100 million in public health money comes from county and city taxes, which are not included in the tally, Magnan said.

But Minnesota fared badly in other areas as well. The share of children living in poverty surged from 11 percent to nearly 14 percent, and that is expected to get worse with the current recession.

"I see the effects of the economy all the time," said Dr. Elizabeth Frost, a family practice doctor at the West Side Community Health Center, which serves a poor and working-class neighborhood in St. Paul. "It's not surprising that there are so many children in poverty."

Frost also sees the health consequences. Last year she was worried that a 2-year-old patient with a severe case of the flu would end up in the hospital because her mother could not pay for the $150 medication she needed. The child recovered.

Obesity rates in Minnesota continued a steady climb, increasing from 25 to 26 percent of the population in the last year. That's up from 10 percent in 1990.

There were a few bright spots for Minnesota. Smoking rates, which weigh significantly in the overall score, dropped from 18.3 to 16.5 percent of the population, rocketing Minnesota from fifteenth nationally in that category last year to fifth this year. Binge drinking declined from 18 to 16 percent, and the number of cardiovascular deaths per 100,000 people dropped from 227 to 219.

To see the report, go to

Lawmakers, governor react to nearly $5.3 billion deficit projection

Lawmakers, governor react to nearly $5.3 billion deficit projection
Published (12/4/2008)

State officials announced that the nation’s economic downturn has “body-slammed” the state budget, leaving lawmakers and Gov. Tim Pawlenty stuck with a nearly $4.8 billion deficit for the 2010-11 biennium.

Minnesota Management and Budget Commissioner Tom Hanson didn’t mince words in presenting the state’s grim November Forecast, which predicts an additional $426 million deficit for the remainder of the current biennium ending June 30, 2009.

"This presents a $5.273 billion dollar challenge over the next three years,” Hanson said, summarizing the difficult situation that state leaders will have to negotiate when the upcoming legislative session begins Jan. 6.

Pawlenty and legislative leaders reacted swiftly to the announcement, pledging not only budget cuts but also major changes to the state’s budgeting process.

"This is going to be a time of dramatic change and dramatic reform,” Pawlenty said, adding that the deficit will provide an unprecedented opportunity to curb spending increases and find new efficiencies in the way state services are delivered. He also stated that tax or fee increases to make up for the predicted $3.3 billion revenue shortfall are off the table.

House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher (DFL-Mpls) echoed a similar note of optimism, saying that Minnesotans could expect “a lot of innovation in the Legislature about how we budget this time”; however, she and House Majority Leader Tony Sertich (DFL-Chisholm) did not reject the possibility of finding ways to increase revenues.

"Nothing is off the table,” Sertich said.

DFL leaders also emphasized the importance of creating jobs in the state. Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller (DFL-Mpls), who pledged to examine every current spending item in the state budget, indirectly criticized the Pawlenty administration’s economic development agenda, stating that “We need a new set of leadership in the job development area."

Meanwhile, Republican legislative leaders urged the DFL majority to present its budget solutions early during the session so that budget negations can begin as soon as possible.

"We need to front-load the process — get the cards on the table,” said House Minority Leader Marty Seifert (R-Marshall), who, like the governor, rejected the necessity of any tax or fee increases.

"Our whole philosophy has been ‘live within your means,’” Seifert said. He urged Minnesotans to “embrace the challenge of the deficit,” and said his caucus stood ready to work with Democrats in crafting solutions.

State Economist Tom Stinson said the current recession is expected to last about 24 months, and the resulting economic conditions could be the worst the country has seen since World War II.

"We're going to lose a lot of jobs,” said Stinson, who also warned that the effects of the faltering economy "will be real, significant, and will affect most people."

While the state has weathered several economic downturns, the most recent in 2001, Stinson said this recession will be different. He cited the dismal housing sector, the “massive loss of wealth” from the declining stock market and consumer lack of confidence.

With few sectors of the state’s economy doing well, he said the state’s unemployment numbers will most likely climb as the recession deepens. The state has already experienced the loss of about 20,000 jobs and “from now to the end 2009, the state could lose about 58,000 more,” Stinson said.

This is compounded by the projected loss of revenue to the state. Revenue projections show a downturn in collection of income taxes (10.1 percent), sales taxes (8.7 percent), corporate taxes (31.3 percent), and motor vehicle taxes by 9 percent.

Stinson said the state is in uncharted territory, and wouldn’t rule out an even bleaker outlook when the February Forecast is issued.