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, September 30, 2009

TAKE ACTION! Celebrate 2 Years of a Smoke-Free Minnesota!

Celebrate 2 Years of Smoke-Free Minnesota!

On October 1, Minnesota's Freedom to Breathe Act will turn 2 years old! The Freedom to Breathe Act is the statewide smoking ban that took effect on October 1, 2007 prohibiting smoking in ALL Minnesota workplaces including bars and restaurants. Minnesotans and the business community have embraced the law with overwhelming support protecting workers from secondhand smoke, helping Minnesotans quit smoking and making Minnesota a healthier place to live, work and play.

After passing smoking bans, communities in North America and Europe had 17 percent fewer heart attacks compared to communities without smoking restrictions, and the number of heart attacks kept decreasing with time, according to a report in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

In addtion, in Minnesota we know that the public has embraced the law (77% support) and does not want to return to the days of breathing in secondhand smoke in public places.

Your support continues to make our state a healthy place to live.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Heart Attack Rates Drop After Smoking Bans, Continue Downward Over Time

After passing smoking bans, communities in North America and Europe had 17 percent fewer heart attacks compared to communities without smoking restrictions, and the number of heart attacks kept decreasing with time, according to a report in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

The report is a meta-analysis of 13 studies in which researchers examined changes in heart attack rates after smoking bans were enacted in communities in the United States, Canada and Europe. The researchers found that heart attack rates started to drop immediately following implementation of the law, reaching 17 percent after one year, then continuing to decline over time, with about a 36 percent drop three years after enacting the restrictions.

“While we obviously won’t bring heart attack rates to zero, these findings give us evidence that in the short- to medium-term, smoking bans will prevent a lot of heart attacks,” said James M. Lightwood, Ph.D., co-author of the study and assistant adjunct professor in the department of clinical pharmacy at the University of California–San Francisco. “The studies on this issue now have long enough follow-up periods so that we can see exactly how big the effect is.”

Lightwood also noted that the community effect is consistent with probable individual risk and exposure scenarios.

For example, according to the American Heart Association’s Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics 2009 Update, non-smokers exposed to secondhand smoke at home or at work have a 25 percent to 30 percent increased risk of developing heart disease. This new research suggests that the individual increased risk may be higher, said Lightwood.

“This study adds to the already strong evidence that secondhand smoke causes heart attacks, and that passing 100 percent smoke-free laws in all workplaces and public places is something we can do to protect the public,” Lightwood said. “Now we have a better understanding of how you can predict what will happen if you impose a smoking-free law.”

David Goff, M.D., Ph.D., Chair of the Department of Epidemiology and Prevention and Professor of Public Health Sciences and Internal Medicine at Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, NC, and an American Heart Association national spokesperson said the paper provides strong support for the contention that smoke free laws will improve public health. “This is good evidence that the benefits are realistic and consistent with reasonable estimates of the harm imposed by secondhand smoke,” Goff said.

“It is important to move forward now with widespread implementation of smoke-free laws,” he added. “At a time of great concern over the financial sustainability of our healthcare system, smoke free laws represent an inexpensive approach to reducing heart attacks, and, probably, other cardiovascular conditions.”

Stanton Glantz, Ph.D., co-authored the study. Author disclosures are on the manuscript.The National Cancer Institute funded the study.

###Additional resources:For more on smoking and cardiovascular disease, visit

Monday, September 14, 2009

Millions raised for the American Heart Association through corporate-lead employee giving drives!

Did you know you can be an advocate for the American Heart Association during your company’s employee giving campaign?

Each year, millions of dollars are raised for research and education through these campaigns. Please consider choosing the American Heart Association this year and be a part of our mission by taking action today:

1.) Participate in your company’s employee giving campaign! Be part of the team and part of your community.
2.) Choose the American Heart Association through payroll deduction. Every penny helps us fulfill our mission.
3.) If the American Heart Association is not a listed organization, designate it in the ‘write in’ option.
4.) Talk to your campaign manager and ask them to add the AHA as a direct giving option for next year’s campaign.
5.) Spread the word! Share your passion with others and encourage them to choose the American Heart Association!

**If you have questions about how to designate the AHA, please contact Sara Shaw:

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Statement by American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown on President Obama’s Address to Joint Session of Congress on Health Care Reform

Washington, September 10, 2009 -- The President has reminded us that health care reform is not about politics, it’s about real people who wake up each day hoping that a medical emergency won’t throw them into bankruptcy. We all agree that the current health care system is not working well for the insured, it’s not working well for the underinsured and it’s certainly not working for the uninsured. That’s why we’re pleased the President has brought the debate back to where it started – focusing on the needs of Americans who cannot access affordable, quality health care. We cannot forget the children with congenital heart defects who surpass their lifetime insurance coverage limits before they’re toddlers, we cannot forget the families who lose their homes because of high out-of-pocket medical expenses to treat a chronic illness, and we cannot forget those who go without needed, even lifesaving care because they can’t access or afford insurance. Their stories must be the reason why Congress must continue in their efforts to find common ground and pass meaningful health reform this year. We urge Congress to not lose sight of the goal we all share - to build upon what works in our health care system and fix those parts that are broken and simply unsustainable.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

MN Dept of Health awards $47 Million in state grants to fight chronic disease

Your American Heart Association is proud to announce that your advocacy efforts paid off! In 2008, we asked our legislators to make chronic disease a priority and our legislators listened.

See media release from MN Dept of Health below:

Minnesota Department of Health awards $47 million in state grants to fight chronic disease

Locally driven plans will create sustainable, systemic changes to support healthy choices
In a nation-leading effort to reduce chronic disease, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) has awarded 39 grants to Minnesota communities to help lower the number of Minnesotans who use tobacco or who are obese or overweight.

The $47 million appropriation for the Statewide Health Improvement Program, also known as SHIP, will cover 86 counties and eight tribal governments over the next two years through grants and technical assistance. SHIP is part of Minnesota’s historic health care reform initiative that was signed into law in 2008.

“Minnesota is at the forefront of health care reform,” Governor Tim Pawlenty said. “The Statewide Health Improvement Program will improve the health of Minnesotans and also help contain the spiraling costs of health care.”

SHIP tackles the top three causes of preventable illness and death in the United States: tobacco use, physical inactivity and poor nutrition. Together these three factors have been estimated to cause 35 percent of all annual deaths in the United States, or 800,000 deaths each year. These factors also drive up health care costs. SHIP interventions are projected to save an estimated $1.9 billion in Minnesota by 2015.

“If we want to truly improve health in Minnesota, we have to move upstream to prevent the chronic diseases that bring people into the health care system in the first place,” Dr. Sanne Magnan, Minnesota Commissioner of Health said. “Not only do those chronic diseases reduce the quality of life and life expectancy for Minnesotans, but the costs of treating them create a substantial burden for our health care system. SHIP can reach across the state to improve policies, systems and environments and make it easier for Minnesotans to engage in healthy behaviors that help prevent chronic disease.”

SHIP takes a new approach toward prevention by focusing on creating sustainable, systemic changes that make it easier for individuals to make healthy choices in their daily lives. Some prevention programs focus on individual behavior change, which can be difficult to sustain past the life of the program or the individual’s involvement in the program.

“Changing policies and systems so that our communities support healthy behaviors will make it easier for people to make healthy choices every day and make that change sustainable,” Dr. Marc Manley, vice president and medical director of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota said. “We look forward to collaborating with the Minnesota Department of Health and their Statewide Health Improvement Program on these important goals.”

Community health boards and tribal governments applying for the grants chose from a menu of interventions that have been proven effective in reducing tobacco use and exposure and in improving physical activity and nutrition. The interventions focus on four settings – schools, communities, worksites and health care – to make sustainable improvements to the policies, systems and environments that determine how Minnesotans live, learn, work, play and receive care.

“We applaud the state’s efforts to improve the health and well-being of Minnesotans,” Gregg Steinhafel, Target’s chairman, president and CEO said. “At Target, our vision is to make it easier for our team members (Target employees) and their families to get and stay healthy. We believe healthier employees and families will lead to more vibrant and productive communities and a healthier nation.”

Some of the grant recipients are in the planning phase, while others are implementing their changes. SHIP is locally controlled, so grantees can establish the plans that are best suited to their communities.

A full list of all 39 grant recipients is available online at