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, March 26, 2010

Snip it, Clip it, and Mail it!

The American Heart Association is going to be featured in an advertisement in THIS SUNDAY's Star Tribune on March 28, 2010. Pictured left, the ad emphasizes the need for physical education in Minnesota schools.


So, we're asking you to Snip it, Clip it, and Mail it!

Snip it: If you get the Sunday edition of the Star Tribune, cut the ad out.

Clip it: Write a note to your State House Representative letting them know you're a constituent who care's about PE in schools and paperclip it to the ad.

Tell your State Representative in the MN House of Representatives:

"Support the Smart & Healthy Kids Bill (HF3115/SF2753) because kids who are fit and active do better at school."

Mail it: Mail your note and the ad to your Representative. Call (651) 296-2146 or 1 (800) 657-3550 OR follow the link below to find your Representative’s Address:

BE COUNTED! Click Here if You Completed This Activity.

The Smart & Healthy Kids bill (HF 3115/SF2753) will make Minnesota a better place for our kids to live and grow. Learn more about the bill here

*Don't Forget to Register for our Minnesota Heart on the Hill Event to further protect Minnesota Kids at

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Statement from American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown

The U.S. House of Representatives took an historic and bold step forward to expand health care to millions of Americans to guarantee accessible, affordable, and high quality care. We all acknowledge that such a complex piece of legislation like the final health reform package isn’t perfect -- no package of similar magnitude has ever been perfect at the outset -- but this is the first step of a legacy building process that will transform American health care. This measure takes important steps forward by enacting needed insurance reforms, increasing affordability and reducing costs, emphasizing value over volume and placing a greater emphasis on prevention and wellness. For the American Heart Association (AHA), health care reform has always been about the needs of heart disease and stroke patients and we’re gratified that lawmakers didn’t lose sight of the concerns of those facing pre-existing medical conditions, lifetime and annual limits and other challenges with the health care system.

We now have health care reform that makes significant progress towards embracing the excellence of available health care in America while improving a health care delivery system that was untenable for too many Americans and unsustainable for all Americans.

We realize the current system cannot fully accommodate the current and growing burden of disease. Risk factors for cardiovascular disease and other chronic illnesses are on the rise and will only worsen if attaining better health does not become a high priority. The AHA will continue to do its part and now with this legislation all Americans will have preventive benefits that help lower rates of obesity, hypertension, tobacco use and diabetes. First dollar coverage for evidence-based preventive services and appropriate treatments and medications that allow patients to lead productive lives after a heart attack or stroke will be key components in our efforts to reduce the burden of disease and extending prevention into communities, especially those of the underserved, will be invaluable.

This vote for health care reform represents a major milestone but not the end of the journey. We believe the work on health care reform is just beginning. The AHA remains committed to working with Congress, the Administration and our partners in the public and private sectors to further improve the health care system, to monitor and implement this legislation and to transform the current system into one that fulfills our American generational promise to make life better for future generations.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Our job isn't done yet...

In case you missed the wonderful news, yesterday the House of Representatives took a truly historic vote to pass the final health care reform package by a vote of 219 to 212!

Thanks to the efforts of You’re the Cure activists, Members voted for meaningful reform with patient protections that will help Americans live healthier lives - and voted against the status quo of denials based on pre-existing medical conditions, caps placed on coverage, and unmanageable out-of-pocket costs for treatments and preventative services.This action by the House sends significant, meaningful reform to the President for his signature.

But our job isn’t yet done; there’s a final step to overcome…

Starting today, we need to ensure the Senate follows the House of Representatives’ lead and finishes this year’s work on health care reform by promptly passing the Health Care and Education Affordability Reconciliation Act. This legislation will further strengthen and improve upon reform by making coverage more affordable.

Contact your U.S. Senators today with the message: Act NOW and Vote YES!

The Senate - which could vote as early as this week - must pass the agreed-upon improvements to the health care package in order to complete action on reform. For the improvements bill to pass, a majority of Senators will need to vote YES - and patient advocates, like you and me, must continue to express our support on behalf of the 81 million Americans living with heart disease and stroke, and the millions more at risk, until the job is done.This is the closest that this country has come to adopting comprehensive health care reform.

Urge your Senators to do their part to finish the work on meaningful health care reform.

(After you take action, please share this blog post with your Facebook and Twitter friends!)

Join AHA’s Mobile Action Network today and get special action alerts, breaking news and exclusive invitations regarding the upcoming healthcare reform legislation. Click on the image to sign up or visit

Weight & nutrition film to be screened at National Public Health Week Film Festival—April 8, 2010.

FAT: What No One Is Telling You, a film that explores the myriad of psychological, physiological, and environmental factors that make it tough to shed weight and keep it off, will be screened on April 8 at the Mayo Memorial Building, University of Minnesota East Bank campus.

The film will be shown as part of the National Public Health Week Film Festival hosted by the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. Free admission and refreshments will be provided.

The festival, now in its 6th year, will be held April 5-9. Doors will open at 5 p.m. daily with expert introductions and films starting at 5:30 p.m. A debate and Q&A will follow the film.

To learn more about the April 8th obesity-themed evening, view the film schedule, and promotions, go to

Friday, March 19, 2010

Because Healthy Kids = A Brighter Future...

Legislators are working to assemble a comprehensive Education bill for 2010. This comprehensive or "omnibus" bill will include a range of education-related issues that legislators want to achieve and will result in the final bill that will be sent to the governor.

The Healthy Kids bill (HF 3115 Norton/SF2753 Bonoff) promotes a healthy lifestyle for Minnesota children. Tell your legislator to keep PE in the equation when it comes to our childrens education by asking them to include the Healthy Kids bill in the comprehensive/omnibus bill:

Support the Healthy Kids Bill

The Healthy Kids/PE bill includes:
-Statewide PE standards that will be phased in by school districts as they do their curriculum review;
-Posting school wellness policies on school district web sites to promote local discussion about healthier schools;
-Direction to MN Dept. of Ed. to develop quality recess guidelines that schools may adopt;
-Direction to MN Dept. of Ed. to begin tracking the amount and quality of PE offered in the schools;
-The creation of a Healthy Kids Awards program that would encourage schools to help their kids get the recommended 60 minutes/day of physical activity and recommended servings of fruits and vegetables.

Support the Healthy Kids Bill

Thank you for your support on this important legislative issue.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Vote "YES" on Healthcare Reform

This is it. In a matter of days, the House of Representatives will vote to either pass health care reform, or carry on with the status quo of a broken health care system- and the vote is expected to be extremely close. 216 votes are needed in the House to pass the bill and grassroots advocates, like you, must take a stand for patients and speak up now!

Tell your Representative to vote "YES" on the final health care reform package.

For patients, the status quo would mean an estimated 20 million Americans becoming uninsured over the next decade, tens of thousands of Americans losing their lives because they can't afford the care they need, rising health care costs, and Medicare's trust fund drying up. Quite simply, failure to pass health care reform is not an option.

Guided by our core principles for reform, the American Heart Association has worked hard to ensure Congress understands the needs and concerns of the 81 million Americans living with heart disease and stroke, and the millions more at risk, and to support policies that address those needs. Although it is not perfect, the final health care legislation, makes significant improvements to our current health care system that we can build on for years to come, such as:
-Expanding health insurance coverage to an additional 32 million Americans, achieving coverage for 95 percent of all non-elderly Americans.
-Establishing important new consumer protections, such as ensuring patients with pre-existing medical conditions will no longer be denied or dropped from coverage.
-Eliminating lifetime and annual caps on essential medical services.
-Making coverage more affordable for millions of American families and small businesses by pooling them together to benefit from group rates and providing tax credits to help buy coverage.
-Promoting prevention by requiring private health plans and Medicare to provide coverage for preventive services with no cost-sharing, adding a new annual wellness visit to Medicare, and making significant new investments in community prevention efforts.

Health care reform is critical to reducing death and disability from cardiovascular disease and helping all Americans live healthier lives. So, at this truly historic moment, we must join together with other patient advocates and demand better than the status quo.

Send your email today to urge your Representative stand with patients by voting "YES".

Thank you for speaking up for progress!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Snus, Strips, and Sticks - Stop Big Tobacco's New Tricks!

Join the American Heart Association at the Capitol on April 14th for the Minnesota Heart on the Hill event as we work to pass legislation that will help close the loopholes that the tobacco industry is exploiting.

Follow the link below to register for the event:
Register for the Minnesota Heart on the Hill

Have you heard about "little cigars", Snus, Strips, Sticks, Orbs and e-cigarettes ...the tobacco industry's new tricks to entice our kids, keep smokers addicted and draw in new customers to tobacco products?

Follow the link below to learn about these new products:
Big Tobacco's New Tricks

The Tobacco Industry hasn't given up. Neither will we. You've already helped us lower smoking rates and implement the Freedom to Breathe Act, now we need your help advocating against Big Tobacco's new tricks.

The American Heart Association and other tobacco control advocates support the Tobacco Modernization and Compliance Act of 2010 (Senate File 3055/House File 3467), a bill that will:
1. Classify "little cigars" as what they really are -- cigarettes.
2. Prohibit youth from buying new tobacco products.
3. Ensure "youth friendly" tobacco products can not be sold on the counter next to candy and gum.
4. Reduce tobacco tax evasion.

Register for the Minnesota Heart on the Hill

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.

*If you encounter problems with registering online, please contact Melissa Horn at or call 952.278.7921.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Heart and Stroke Survivors Urge Congress to Capitalize on Momentum of Stimulus Bill and Increase Funding for Medical Research

A strong investment in heart disease and stroke research is a strong investment for families and the economy. American Heart Association patient advocates and researchers delivered that message to members of Congress during the association’s You’re the Cure on the Hill Fly-In on Wednesday, March 10.

A special thanks to the following Minnesotsa advocates that attended:

Thomas Kottke
John Wheeler

Many heart disease and stroke survivors have benefited from advancements in medical research that continues to bring us closer to a cure.

These individuals joined other American Heart Association advocates to meet with legislators in Washington, D.C. to urge them to appropriate $35 billion for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for FY 2011 to capitalize on the momentum achieved under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The Act provided a $10 billion investment to the agency over two years.

NIH-supported research has led to significant breakthroughs in the treatment and prevention of heart disease and stroke. Robust funding increases for the NIH budget in the appropriations bill will help us advance to the next wave of scientific discoveries.

Currently, NIH invests only four percent of its budget on heart research and a mere one percent on stroke research. The President’s FY 2011 budget request for NIH cardiovascular research is ten percent below the FY 2010 level, including the Recovery Act funding and 12 percent below the FY 2009 level.

NIH supported research also fosters economic growth and innovation at the state and local levels and worldwide. Each NIH grant generates on average seven jobs. Medical research has a profound impact on local communities, contributing to job growth and economic development.

For more information, visit

Monday, March 8, 2010

Hearings on PE Bill Last Week a Success!

Important Legislative Update from Minnesota Advocacy Director, Rachel Callanan:
Great news! The Healthy Kids bill (PE bill) passed the House Education policy committee on Tuesday and the Senate Education Policy Committee on Wednesday last week! Thanks to each of you who contacted your legislators and came to the hearings. Your efforts made a difference!
Follow the link below to send a thank you message to your legislator(s):

On Tuesday in the House, our chief author Rep. Kim Norton and co-author, Rep. Bob Dettmer, did a great job presenting the need for the bill (HF 3115). Liz Parr-Smestad, a St. Paul PE teacher, provided excellent testimony on the bill and brought the discussion back to the kids. She did a great job reminding the committee that this legislation is about empowering our kids to lead healthier lives and she used specific examples of how she has seen kids blossom when given the chance to master new physical fitness challenges. The bill passed on a unanimous voice vote!
On Wednesday in the Senate, our chief author Sen. Terri Bonoff, again did a great job explaining the need for the bill (SF2753). Dr. Anne Edwards, pediatrician and current president of the Minnesota Academy of Pediatrics, provided important testimony about the importance of tackling this problem as a community; stressing the importance of partnership and collaboration. Then Jack Olwell, PE teacher at North Trail Elementary in Farmington, and Dr. Steven Geis, principal of North Trail, discussed the amazing results they have seen firsthand when a quality PE program is implemented in a school. They explained the positive impact that daily, quality PE has had on their school--they are #1 on test scores in the district despite having greater proportions of lower-income students, and students facing other challenges.
Please take a moment to email your legislator(s) to thank them for their leadership on these issues.
Thank you again for your hard work to get the legislation to this point. We still have a long way to go this session, but we have really hit the ground running!

Rachel Callanan, JD Senior Advocacy Director
American Heart Association, Midwest Affiliate

*Don't Forget to Register for our Minnesota Heart on the Hill Event at the Capitol at

Friday, March 5, 2010

Health beat: Is gym class coming back?

Health beat: Is gym class coming back?

Last update: March 5, 2010 - 6:19 AM

Remember recess?

A lot of Minnesota schools, asked to administer more standardized tests while also cutting budgets, simply gave it up.

Then came the epidemic of childhood obesity, and suddenly physical education in schools seems like a good idea again.

The Minnesota branch of the American Heart Association and a coalition that includes phy ed teachers and health insurance plans are once again pushing for a law that would require schools to adhere to national standards on physical education, just as they do for math and social studies.

This is the fifth year or so that the coalition has pushed for such a bill. Maybe this time, with First Lady Michelle Obama leading the charge for fitness, the bill will pass.

"What we are asking for is pretty basic," said Rachel Callanan, advocacy director for the Heart Association. "We believe that all students have a right to quality physical education."

The state dropped requirements for physical education earlier this decade, and instead allowed each district to set its own standards.

"That's why we have this scattershot approach," Callanan said. "Some schools are doing amazing things and others are falling behind."

The majority of schools in Minnesota has physical education programs, or try to, but over time the number has dropped. Today, Callanan said, 13 percent of Minnesota schools do not have a physical education requirement.

Previous attempts at legislation have failed in the face of opposition from school administrators who worried about cost. As a result, this year the coalition has scaled back its ambitions.

The newest version of the bill no longer would require schools to include physical education as a credited graduation requirement, and it would also give them a few years to ramp up their programs.

"We understand that school districts are squeezed," Callanan said. "We are trying to be flexible."

Josephine Marcotty • 612-673-7394

Find this article at:

Monday, March 1, 2010

Hearing on PE Bill Set for March 2nd and March 3rd!

The Smart & Healthy Kids bill (HF 3115/SF2753) will make Minnesota a better place for our kids to live and grow. The Smart & Healthy Kids bill be heard in both the House and Senate Tuesday, March 2nd and Wednesday, March 3rd of this week!

The House K-12 Education Policy committee will hear our bill Tuesday, March 2nd at 8:30-10:00AM Basement Hearing room of the State Office Building. The Senate E-12 Education Budget and Policy Committee on Wednesday, March 3rd 8:30-11:30AM in room 112 of the Capitol Building.

Two things you can do this week to help address childhood obesity, make Minnesota a healthier place for kids to grow up and increase their academic performance:
1. Attend one or both of these hearings! We want legislators to know that NOW is the time to pass the Smart & Healthy Kids bill. Please contact Melissa Horn if you plan to attend the hearing at
2. Follow the link below to contact your legislator today to let them know you support the Smart & Healthy Kids bill and believe that it is an important step forward in tackling childhood obesity in Minnesota.

Tell Your Legislators to Support the Smart & Healthy Kids Bill

The bill includes: -Statewide PE standards that will be phased in by school districts as they do their curriculum review;
-Posting already required wellness policies on school district web sites to promote local discussion about achieving these plans;
-Direction to MN Dept. of Ed. to develop quality recess guidelines that schools may adopt;
-Direction to MN Dept. of Ed. to begin tracking the amount and quality of PE offered in the schools;
-The creation of a Healthy Kids Awards program that would encourage schools to help their kids get the recommended 60 minutes/day of physical activity and recommended servings of fruits and vegetables.

Tell Your Legislators to Support the Smart & Healthy Kids Bill

Thank you for your help on this important health issue.

*Don't Forget to Register for our Minnesota Heart on the Hill Event at the Capitol at