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, February 25, 2010

Hole In Heart: Girl, 3, Saved After Surgery

From WCCO CBS Website...

When Maggie was born doctors found a heart murmur.

More than half of all children have a heart murmur at some time in their lives.

Most heart murmurs are nothing serious. However, sometimes they are a warning sign of a bigger problem. That's what happened to 3-year-old Maggie Wood, but thanks to surgery, she's not letting it slow her down.

Maggie is back on the ice doing what she loves to do -- skating with the women's Gopher hockey team. Her Dad, Jamie Wood, is the assistant coach, so she likes having fun on the ice with the team.

"She had begun to get a little bit tired. When she first was born because I think her body was so small her heart could compensate for it pretty well, but now that she's getting a little bit bigger she was starting to feel more and more tired," said Jamie Wood.

When Maggie was born doctors found a heart murmur.

"They gave her an echo at birth and told us she's fine, it's nothing. And at 6 months they retested and said 'yes, she has ASD,'" said her mom, Carie Wood.

Atrial septal defect (ASD) basically means there's a hole between the upper two chambers of the heart.

"It's not something where kids usually have a lot of symptoms," said Dr. Dan Grunstein, who is with the University of Minnesota's Amplatz Children's Hospital and performed surgery on Maggie two months ago.

"We did not have to touch her chest. We didn't have to cut into her heart, and her heart was beating and circulating her own blood during the entire procedure," said Grunstein.

Video from the actual surgery shows that it starts by inserting a tiny wire into place through Maggie's blood vessels.

"Under x-ray guidance, remove that catheter into her heart and across the hole and we used a small metal patch in order to close the hole," said Grunstein.

Maggie's Mom had similar heart repair when she was 4 years old, but back then the surgery was much more complicated and risky.

Doctor's said she only had a 50-50 chance of surviving the surgery.

"I had the open heart surgery. They go right through the chest and what not, and we were planning on, I think, going with that procedure until we met up with people at the University of Minnesota," said Carie Wood.

Maggie's grandma recently found out she has the condition too.

"Not all ASD are hereditary, but certainly there are some families that have been identified that do have multiple family members with ASD," said Grunstein.

Grandma is still trying to decide whether to get the surgery, but considering it only took about 10 minutes to put the device into Maggie's heart, she might go through with it.

Find this article at

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

You're Invited to the 2010 Heart on the Hill Coalition Lobby Day!

This year, the American Heart Association has teamed up with the American Cancer Society and several other non-profit organizations to host a coailition lobby day event at the Minnesota Capitol.

Join advocates to speak with Minnesota legislators with a strong, unified voice about the importance of fighting our nation's top health issues.

Event Information
When: Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Where: Minnesota History Center 345 Kellogg Boulevard West St. Paul, MN 55102
Time: 9:30 am - 3:00 pm
Fee: Free event, pre-registration by March 31, 2010 is required.
Reserve your spot today! Register Here or visit

The Tobacco Industry hasn't given up. Neither will we. At this year's Heart on the Hill, we will focus on educating our legislators about the dangers of tobacco products (and it's not just cigarettes anymore)!
If you encounter problems with registering online, please contact Melissa Horn at or call 952.278.7921.

Heart Disease and Stroke. You're the Cure.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Tobacco Industry's New Tricks

The Tobacco Industry has changed their game to keep smokers addicted and entice our kids with advertising and marketing appeals.

The Tobacco Industry’s New Tricks:

  • Chocolate, grape and strawberry-flavored “little cigars” that sell for less than $2.00 a pack.
  • Tobacco products that look like candy and can be sold in the candy isle.
  • E-cigarettes that can be sold to children under 18 years of age.

The Tobacco Industry hasn't given up. Neither will we.

Educate your family and community and spread the message: None of these products are safe.

Learn About the Tobacco Industry's New Tricks

Monday, February 15, 2010

Hearing on Complete Streets Set for February 16th!

On February 16th, the House Transportation Finance and Policy Committee will be holding a hearing on our Complete Streets legislation. The American Heart Association invites you to attend this hearing and encourage physical activity to prevent heart disease in Minnesota. The hearing starts at 4:30pm in State Office Building room 10.

Let us know you plan on attending by sending your RSVP to Melissa Horn at

Follow the link below to invite your legislators to attend:
Support Complete Streets in Minnesota

Complete Streets are designed and operated so they work for all users---pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit riders of all ages and abilities. Communities that adopt complete streets policies are asking transportation planners and engineers to consistently design and alter the right-of-way with all users in mind. When streets are safe for walkers and bikers, more people will choose to incorporate physical activity into their lives.

Learn more about Complete Streets by following the link below:
Complete Streets Legislation in Minnesota

Complete Street policies have great potential to increase the overall activity level of Americans and in turn reduce the risk of overweight and obesity. Thank you for your help on this important legislative issue.

Editorial: 'Complete Streets' from Star Tribune

Editorial: 'Complete Streets' promotes livability

One of many witty moments in the 1999 cult movie "Office Space" comes as the main characters return to their suburban office park after lunch at Chotchkie's, the local diner. They trudge along the shoulder of a busy road, then down though a ditch, up over a grassy mound and finally through a big parking lot, oblivious to the fact that there are no sidewalks.

Indeed, most Americans don't notice that their cities and towns are designed almost exclusively for driving. There's nothing really sinister about it; it's just that for 60 years governments have presumed a future of wider, faster roadways, and engineers have conditioned themselves to think mainly about accommodating cars. Only recently have the concepts of climate change, carbon footprint, energy independence, obesity and livability penetrated the world of infrastructure design to provoke second thoughts. But even so, the rules that govern design and construction are locked in place, and those rules specify the building of an autocentric world.

"Complete Streets" aims to change all that. Eighteen states and 103 locales have enacted laws that encourage building and rebuilding streets so that they can safely and harmoniously handle cars, sidewalks, bike lanes and transit stops. The Legislature should add Minnesota to those ranks by passing this session a bill sponsored by Sen. Tony Lourey, DFL-Kerrick, and Rep. Mike Obermueller, DFL-Eagan.

The bill doesn't force change. Rather, it invites cities and towns to take advantage of flexible new state standards that would allow more variety in roadway construction and reconstruction, depending on local context. Maybe on a certain new road there's no foreseeable need for anything but auto traffic. That's fine. But maybe on another road there's a desire for slower auto traffic, walking, biking, transit use and storefronts. State rules would no longer prevent that.

Hundreds of examples illustrate past abuses. Small towns have been stripped bare by wide highways that eat away so much of Main Street that there's little space left for commerce and community life. Urban neighborhoods suffer similar fates.

Residents of south Minneapolis spent years trying to prevent the turning of Lyndale Avenue into the four-lane thoroughfare required by state traffic-count standards. Only with extraordinary effort were they able to save trees and negotiate a more livable three-lane layout with slower traffic. Complete Streets would have offered that option from the start.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation supports both the bill and the concept as part of Commissioner Tom Sorel's shifting the agency away from a roads-only mentality. A new MnDOT report concludes that "the benefits of Complete Streets offset the incremental costs." That means the bill is revenue neutral. Adding an occasional bike lane or a sidewalk might cost more. But no longer having to build massive, freeway-style bridges on quiet, narrow streets would save money. It evens out.

Safety and health are primary concerns. More than 500 people have been killed and 20,000 injured while walking or biking along Minnesota roads over the past decade. Roadway design should encourage, not punish, healthy lifestyles. And Minnesota communities should have the option of restoring a more human scale to daily life.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Do You See RED When You Look in the Mirror?!

When you woke up this morning, did you see RED? Today is National Wear Red Day, so hopefully you wore your favorite red attire and not only saw your reflection in the mirror this morning, but felt empowered to speak up to create awareness for heart disease.

So what now??! Decide to make a difference by joining our advocacy network, You're the Cure. Join You’re the Cure!

We engage a network of volunteers across the Midwest Affiliate through our advocacy network called “You’re the Cure”. This group of volunteers contacts their elected officials to help pass important heart-healthy policies in their state and across the nation. If you’d like to be a part of our network, you can visit to join.

Once you’re a part of You’re the Cure, you’ll receive e-mails that guide you on how to take action – from clicking on an alert that you can personalize and send to your lawmakers to talking points on what to say when making a call to a district office or visiting a lawmaker on legislation affecting heart or stroke issues. It’s a great resource to keep you up to speed with state and federal health legislation and the best part is, we offer it as a free service to the public. Feel free to share “You’re the Cure” with your friends/family/colleagues as well.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

2 Ways You Can Go Red with Us on Social Networking Sites!

February is American Heart Month, drawing attention to heart disease, America's No. 1 killer, and the strides being taken through research and education to raise awareness of risk factors and decrease death rates. Kicked off on National Wear Red Day (Feb. 5, 2010), the American Heart Association and its Go Red For Women movement urge everyone to support the fight against heart disease in women by wearing red and speaking out on heart issues.

1. Speak Out! Everyone knows someone who's been affected by heart disease. It's the very reason most of us became advocates! Send us your reason to "Go Red" and tell us why you're a You're the Cure advocate along with a photo of you wearing red. Email it to Melissa Horn at - you might get picked as a feature post on our blog!

2. Put a little <3 into your Facebook status updates. Simply typing the '<' key followed by the number '3' (with no spaces) will create a heart-shaped symbol in your online status. Include the name of a loved one - it's a great way to show love to survivors and remember those we have lost. Also, change your profile picture to a picture of you wearing red!

And don't forget to join our page "You're the Cure: Midwest Clicks for Hearts" at and make sure all your friends and family know you care about advocating to make heart disease a national priority!

Tell Your Legislator to Go Red Friday, February 5th!

Too many women die each year because they are unaware that heart disease is their No. 1 killer. I invite you to join me and thousands across the state to bring awareness to women's heart disease by wearing red on National Wear Red Day on Friday February 5th.

Follow the link below to tell your legislators to wear red too and ask for their support of heart healthy policies in 2010:

Tell Your Legislator to Wear Red on Friday, February 5th!

Tell your legislator to support Heart Healthy Policies in Minnesota, such as, preserving the Freedom to Breathe Act, increasing the price of tobacco to discourage our youth from ever picking up the habit, encouraging physical activity by making it safer and easier to walk or bike in our communities, and by promoting physical education in our schools to teach kids the skills for a lifetime of physical activity.

Tell Your Legislator to Wear Red on Friday, February 5th!

Thank you for taking action and creating awareness for heart disease in Minnesota. And one more thing---don't forget to wear red on Feb. 5th!

Monday, February 1, 2010

HHS Secretary and Surgeon General Join First Lady to Announce Plans to Combat Overweight and Obesity and Support Healthy Choices

First Lady Michelle Obama, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin announced plans to help Americans lead healthier lives through better nutrition, regular physical activity, and by encouraging communities to support healthy choices. At a YMCA in Alexandria, VA, they talked directly with national and local leaders, parents and health professionals about reducing overweight and obesity in adults and children.

The First Lady recently announced that she will launch a major initiative on childhood obesity in the next few weeks and has asked HHS to play a key role. HHS released The Surgeon General’s Vision for a Healthy and Fit Nation. In her first release to the nation, Dr. Benjamin highlights the alarming trend of overweight and obese Americans, and asks them to join her in a grassroots effort to commit to changes that promote the health and wellness of our families and communities.

“The surge in obesity in this country is nothing short of a public health crisis that is threatening our children, our families, and our future,” said First Lady Michelle Obama. “In fact, the health consequences are so severe that medical experts have warned that our children could be on track to live shorter lives than their parents. The paper released today is an incredibly important step in directing the Nation’s attention to solving the obesity epidemic and we do not have a moment to waste.”

The prevalence of obesity has more than doubled among adults and has tripled among children and adolescents from 1980 to 2004. Currently, two-thirds of adults and nearly one in three children are overweight or obese. Increased food intake, a sedentary lifestyle, and environments that make it difficult for people to make healthy choices but easy to consume extra calories, all contribute to the epidemic of overweight and obesity. This epidemic threatens the progress we have made in increasing Americans’ quality and years of healthy life.

“Curbing the obesity epidemic requires committed people and organizations across the nation working together to take action,” said Secretary Sebelius. “Today, we outline a vision for the nation that requires parents, neighborhoods, the medical community, employers, schools and individuals to take a coordinated and comprehensive approach to combating overweight and obesity.”

Additionally, many racial and ethnic groups and geographic regions of the United States are disproportionately affected. For instance, African American girls and Hispanic boys are more likely to be obese compared to non-Hispanic whites. Among adults, American Indian and Alaskan native adults have the highest rates of obesity. The sobering impact of these numbers is reflected in the nation’s concurrent epidemics of diabetes, heart disease and other chronic diseases. Researchers warn that if trends are not reversed, our children will be seriously afflicted with medical conditions such as diabetes and heart disease in early adulthood.
“Americans will be more likely to change their behavior if they have a meaningful reward - something more than just reaching a certain weight or dress size,” said Dr. Benjamin. “The real reward is invigorating, energizing, joyous health. It is a level of health that allows people to embrace each day and live their lives to the fullest without disease or disability.”

The recommendations inThe Surgeon General’s Vision for a Healthy and Fit Nation include:

Improving our communities – Neighborhoods and communities should become actively involved in creating healthier environments. The availability of supermarkets, outdoor recreational facilities and the limitation of advertisements of less healthy foods and beverages are all examples of ways to create a healthier living environment.

Healthy Choices and Healthy Home Environments – Change starts with the individual choices Americans make each day for themselves, their families and those around them. Reducing the consumption of sodas and juices with added sugars; eating more fruits, vegetables and whole grains; limiting television time; and being more physically active help us achieve and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Creating Healthy Child Care Settings – It is estimated that more than 12 million children ages 0-6 receive some form of child care on a regular basis from someone other than their parents. Parents should talk with their child care providers about changes to promote their children’s health.

Creating Healthy Schools – To help students develop life-long health habits, schools should provide appealing healthy food options including fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, water and low-fat beverages. School systems should also require nutrition standards and daily physical education for students.

Creating Healthy Work Sites – Employers can implement wellness programs that promote healthy eating in cafeterias, encourage physical activity through group classes and create incentives for employees to participate.

Mobilizing Medical Communities – Medical care providers must make it a priority to teach their patients about the importance of good health. Doctors and other health care providers are often the most trusted source of health information and are powerful role models for healthy lifestyle habits.

To view The Surgeon General’s Vision for a Healthy and Fit Nation, visit