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, September 30, 2011

The Big Problem of Little Heart Attacks

The World Heart Federation announced last month that beginning this year, World Heart Day will be held each year on September 29.

According to the World Health Organization 17.1 million people around the globe die from cardiovascular disease every year – an estimated 1.4 million are Americans and more than 10,000 are Minnesotans. More women die of cardiovascular disease than from the next four causes of death combined, including all forms of cancer.

Heart disease is still the No. 1 killer of women, causing 1 in 3 deaths each year. This means women - mothers, sisters, spouses, friends - are dying at the rate of one per minute because they don't know what you know: heart disease kills.

Send a message to your legislators to make sure they are supporting policies that improve heart health. Then mark World Heart Day by forwarding this eye-opening short video Just a Little Heart Attack to at least 5 women in your life, or even posting it on Facebook. Ask your friends to become part of the Cure by joining our fight against cardiovascular diseases.

Learn the signs and don't hesitate to call 9-1-1 if you see them.

Send your legislator letter now, and feel free to customize it to share why this is so important to you!

Monday, September 26, 2011

F as in Fat

Adult obesity rates increased in 16 states in the past year and did not decline in any state, according to F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America's Future 2011, a report from the Trust for America's Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) released this past July. Minnesota is ranked the 38th most obese state in the nation. While Minnesota is faring better compared to most states, our increase in obesity over the last fifteen years is alarming. Our adult obesity rate increased more than 73 percent over the last 15 years from 14.6% in 1995 to 25.3% in 2010.

This year in Minnesota, the American Heart Association will continue to fight for policies that lower the prevalence of obesity in both children and adults. This past year we succeeded in getting the Legislature to preserve the Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP) and passing a clarification in the law to promote greater community access to schools for physical activity. We want to encourage lawmakers to continue their support for these issues and take the lead on advancing heart-health legislation.

Will you share the F as in Fat report with your state lawmakers? Click on this link to let legislators know about the obesity problem in Minnesota.

There isn’t a single idea or policy that is the “silver bullet” for reducing obesity but there are proven strategies that do work if they’re implemented. It will take all of us working together to make a difference on this issue. You’ll be hearing more from us about specific legislation in the months ahead, as well as opportunities to discuss these topics with your elected officials.

Please take a minute today to share this message with your lawmakers. Thank you for helping to build healthier lives, free of cardiovascular disease and stroke.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Worksite Wellness Symposium

Worksite Wellness Symposium
Thursday, Nov. 10
7:30 - 10:30 am
8170 33rd Ave South, Bloomington 55425

Join our community partners for a workshop on promoting wellness in your company.

Featured Speaker:
Nico Pronk, PhD, FASCM
Symposium Sponsor:


Details to follow. Questions now? Email

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A healthier school lunch in Robbinsdale schools

Article by: KELLY SMITH , Star Tribune
Updated: September 20, 2011 - 10:59 PM

Fresh fruits and veggies are climbing up the list of favorite lunch foods for Robbinsdale school students.

Over the past year, Robbinsdale school staff have learned how to sell kids of all ages on fresh fruits and vegetables by -- to their own surprise -- revamping the classic salad.

For a few years now, schools have been trading fried foods for more fresh fruits and vegetables, but the northwest suburban school district decided to take the trend a step further last year by serving up salads as an everyday entree option at every school.

Students from first-graders to high school age have been so taken by the restaurant-inspired salads that they ate nearly 16,000 salads in the first seven months of the school year -- double the rate of salads sold the year before.

"It was a nice surprise," said Adele Lillie, Robbinsdale schools' child nutrition director. "They're trying different things and getting good nutrition."

The salad surge was spurred by a $68,000 grant from the Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP), a two-year initiative to fight tobacco use, physical inactivity and poor nutrition in communities and schools across the state. The 12,000-student district used the money to fund new wellness initiatives, including revamping salads to increase the amount of vegetables and fruits students get in their school meals.

Copying restaurants

The district held taste-testing sessions with students and then launched the new salads last fall. To make the greens appeal to teens and younger kids alike, the school district took its cue from restaurants, nixing dull iceberg lettuce in favor of dark-green romaine.

This year the district's kitchens are offering seven salads, including strawberry chicken, Mandarin orange chicken and Santa Fe salads, all served with controlled portions of dressing such as reduced-fat ranch or vinaigrette.

It's an appealing way, Lillie said, to get students to eat more vegetables, fruits and beans -- all expected requirements of new federal nutrition guidelines set to be released early next year.

With those guidelines on the way, schools across the state are ramping up their use of fresh produce from local farms. Farm-to-school programs in the state have spread from 10 school districts in 2006 to 123 school districts -- or more than 800 schools -- last year. To decrease sodium and fat content, schools like Robbinsdale are making more meals from scratch and nixing processed foods.

That's also what Anoka-Hennepin Schools have done, turning to scratch cooking for meals such as chili and offering unlimited fruits and vegetables to students, Child Nutrition Director Allison Bradford said.

In nearby Hopkins Schools, cafeteria staff sported "I dig my farmer" T-shirts at lunch last week as they served homemade pasta mixed with fresh tomatoes and basil from a Delano farm. All schools in the Hopkins district aim to have locally grown food twice a week.

"Kids are just getting more and more exposure to locally grown food," said Laura Metzger, Hopkins' school nutrition and wellness coordinator. "It's pretty exciting."

The district's cooks also have cut salt content by making their own pasta sauce, and they have trimmed fat by making 70 percent of their meals from scratch. They also have banned fried food; fryers don't even exist in Hopkins' cafeterias anymore.

Competing with quesadillas

Students won't find fried food in Robbinsdale either, which has made similar changes, snatching up everything from locally produced beef hot dogs to locally grown corn on the cob. While the SHIP grant ends in December, the salads will stay, Lillie said, as long as they remain popular.

Last year, staff were astonished at the salads' success when schools like Northport Elementary sold more than 500 salads a month.

Last week, the school staff saw salads fare well against hot dogs, but they did run into one strong culinary competitor: the ever-popular cheese quesadillas. Only a few students snatched up salads the day that the quesadillas were served.

Lillie said it shows the district's dietary planners are still learning how to best make the greens appeal to students, tweaking and improving recipes each year.

"We just have to continue to offer new things," she said, and how they offer it matters.

"The presentation is huge," she said. "We eat with our eyes."

Kelly Smith • 612-673-4141

To read article

Monday, September 19, 2011

August Recess Meeting A Success

Thanks to all of our volunteers who helped us contact key federal legislators during the August Recess on important issues like NIH funding, FIT Kids Act, Medicaid and Medicare and Safe Routes to Schools.

Congressman Kline Meeting

AHA volunteer, Stevie Nelson, set up a meeting with Congressman Kline’s District Director, Brooke Dorobiala on Aug. 18, 2011. Congressman Kline chairs the Labor and Education Committee in the US House of Representatives so will be making decisions about whether the FIT Kids Act will be included in the final education bill that is under consideration. The “Fitness Integrated with Teaching Kids Act” amends the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) to increase children’s physical activity throughout the school day and ensure that they learn how to live healthy lives through exercise and diet.

We had an all-star line-up for our meeting with Ms. Dorobiala. Along with long-time AHA volunteer and stroke survivor, Stevie Nelson, we had Jack Olwell, an elementary school physical education teacher in Kline’s district, two Republican state legislators (Rep. Bob Dettmer and Sen. Ted Daley) who have taken leadership on childhood obesity and have passed legislation to improve kids health at the state level, and Becky Gonzalez-Campoy the executive director of Minnesota Center for Obesity, Metabolism & Endocrinology Foundation and an American Cancer Society volunteer. With this all-star line-up we were able to demonstrate to Congressman Kline the wealth of expertise he has in his own district and their strong passion to address these issues. Along with the children’s health/chronic disease prevention arguments, we were able to present a strong case for why this is a national security issue. Stevie Nelson, Rep. Dettmer and Sen. Ted Daley are all retired from military service and were able to speak directly to the negative impact childhood obesity has on the number of young adults who are ready and able to serve. American Heart Association is grateful for these wonderful volunteers and their passionate message for children’s health.

In photo:
Jack Olwell, Justin Bell (AHA staff), Sen. Ted Daley, Becky Gonzalez-Campoy, Brooke Dorobiala, Stevie Nelson, Rachel Callanan (AHA staff), and Matt Schafer (ACS staff)

Congressman Paulsen Meeting

On September 7th the American Heart Association attended another follow up meeting with Congressman Erik Paulsen’s office to discuss the FIT KIDS ACT. Earlier this year AHA met with Con. Paulsen’s staff to discuss FIT KIDS and were asked to check in again during August recess with the Congressman himself. In attendance was Jack Olwell (Phy Ed teacher from Farmington MN and member of the AHA State Advocacy Committee, Dr. Stephen Geis (Principal Farmington MN and National rep. from Elementary Principal’s Association), State Rep. Bob Dettmer and State Sen. Ted Daley (members of MN Childhood Obesity Working Group and author’s of AHA Joint Use bill 2010), Heather Schetka and Justin Bell (AHA staff).

We discussed the work being done in Minnesota to combat childhood obesity and asked for the Congressman’s support for the FIT KIDS ACT on the national level. We also asked Congressman Paulsen to discuss the meeting and the legislation with Congressman Kline (Ed Committee chair) and he agreed.

Friday, September 16, 2011

CDC New Website About Congenital Heart Defects

This week, the CDC shared a new website to help educate the public about congenital heart defects (CHD), the most common type of birth defect. Check it out here:

Are you a CHD survivor, or a caregiver for a CHD survivor? Share your story with us! (link for the share your story with us text:

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Public health leaders receive 2011 Community Health Services Awards

Minnesota Department of Health

News Release

September 15, 2011

Public health leaders receive 2011 Community Health Services Awards

Awards presented to: Lois Ahern (Freeborn County); Patricia Coldwell (Association of Minnesota Counties); Healthy Living Minneapolis – Community Resources for Everyone; Commissioner William Montague (Polk County); Susan Ross (Minnesota Department of Health); Deb Smith (Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa)

Minnesota Commissioner of Health Dr. Ed Ehlinger presented awards to several individuals and one group on Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2011, for significant accomplishments in public health in Minnesota. Awardees were selected by their peers and received their awards at the 2011 Community Health Conference.

A Certificate of Recognition was presented to HealthyLiving Minneapolis – Community Resources for Everyone. This network of organizations provides free and low-cost services for healthy eating, physical activity and tobacco cessation. By partnering with health care clinics to link patients to online resources, the network hopes to provide a sustainable way to connect clinics and patients to community-based resources to help patients quit smoking and maintain a healthy weight.

A Certificate of Recognition was presented to Susan Ross of the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). As a clinical advisor, Ross has created and implemented a number of innovative programs to make a positive difference in the lives of Minnesotans with asthma. Among Ross' accomplishments is the first publicly available interactive asthma action plan, which allows health care professionals to quickly determine asthma severity by assessing a wide range of symptoms.

The Commissioner's Award for Distinguished Service was presented to Lois Ahern, formerly of Freeborn County. As the county's public health director for 17 years, Ahern fostered a climate of creativity and support for her staff and left a legacy of excellence and passion for public health. Ahern successfully steered Freeborn County through a number of outbreaks and major events, from SARS and AIDS to winter storms and tornadoes.

The Jack Korlath Partnership Award was presented to Patricia Coldwell of the Association of Minnesota Counties. In her role as a health and human services policy analyst, Coldwell serves as a key liaison between MDH and Minnesota counties on public health issues, creating shared learning opportunities, collaboration and partnerships. She is skilled at bridging differences between organizations and is a tireless advocate for public health.

The Award for Outstanding Dedication to Local Public Health was presented to Polk County Commissioner William Montague. Montague has served as commissioner since 2001 and served as the chair of the State Community Health Services Advisory Committee in 2004. Mr. Montague has encouraged county commissioners to increase their participation and knowledge of public health in their counties and has been a champion among elected officials for the broader appreciation of the work of public health at the county level.

The Jim Parker Leadership Award was presented to Deb Smith of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. As the Human Services Division public health nursing coordinator, Smith is instrumental in collaborating across tribes and with surrounding counties on measures to improve the health of tribe members of all ages. Smith works on multiple advisory boards and in associations and is the first American Indian nurse to serve as a reviewer for the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care. Smith was joined by the family of Jim Parker while accepting the award, as 2011 marks the 20th anniversary of Parker's death.

"I am consistently impressed by the passion and dedication of Minnesota's public health professionals, elected officials and volunteers who work to promote health in Minnesota," said Ehlinger. "No matter what challenges they face, they always put the health of Minnesotans first."

For more information on the 2011 Community Health Awards, please visit:


MNC story: Report: An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure in Rural MN

Public News Service-MN

August 30, 2011

Report: An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure in Rural MN

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Health-care reform should have an especially positive impact in the small towns and on farms across Minnesota and America, according to new research by the Center for Rural Affairs (CFRA). Report author Jon Bailey, who is the Center's director for rural research and analysis, says that's because the Affordable Care Act succeeds in putting a greater focus on prevention.

"And it's actually creating a real health care system, one that promotes and encourages health, rather than just treating the diseases and conditions after they're already in place."

Bailey says the prevention and public health provisions of the Affordable Care Act have been seriously overlooked and so far, under-funded, and yet, he says, they are among the most important measures of the law for rural people.

Bailey says that focus on prevention, from regular check-ups to personal responsibility for healthy choices, is something that's needed everywhere, but more so in rural areas.

"Mostly because rural areas tend to be sicker. They have more of the kinds of conditions - such as high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes - that account for about, by some estimates, 75 percent of all health care costs."

For true health care reform, Bailey says, Americans need to become healthier, and that's why another focus of the Affordable Care Act is to provide education.

"And provide the resources to communities and health care providers to promote and encourage people to be healthier, which I think is an important part for rural communities because they do not have those resources currently."

Those resources vary widely, but could include more workout facilities, biking trails and nutrition education, to name a few. Bailey notes that rural America also has a shortage of doctors, a problem the law is also addressing.

The report is online at

Click here to view this story on the Public News Service RSS site and access an audio version of this and other stories:

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

MNC story: More Minnesota Schools are Serving Up Locally Grown Food

Public News Service-MN

September 01, 2011

More Minnesota Schools are Serving Up Locally Grown Food

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Gov. Dayton has declared September "Farm to School Month" in Minnesota. The Farm to School initiative is a program of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP).

JoAnne Berkenkamp, AITP program director for local foods, says one goal is to link schools with farmers to get more locally grown food onto students' lunch trays - but there are others, too.

"The intention is really several-fold. One is to connect kids with healthy, minimally processed, fresh food choices. Another is to educate them about how and where their food is grown. And another is to really help build markets for our small- and mid-sized farmers."

Positive response from growers and school officials has led to major growth for the program, which had only 10 districts involved in 2006, Berkenkamp says.

"When the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy conducted our last annual survey, we found that about 123 school districts, serving more than half of the K-12 population in Minnesota, are now engaged in Farm to School."

Berkenkamp says the growth is spurred by a heightened interest in fresh foods and people wanting to know where their food is coming from.

"You also see in school environments increasing concern about child obesity, which has grown very rapidly in recent decades, and an increasing concern from parents about what their children are eating."

Berkenkamp says most school districts start out with apples and then expand from there, adding everything from carrots and corn to broccoli and bison.

More information on the program is available at

Click here to view this story on the Public News Service RSS site and access an audio version of this and other stories:

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

New public-private sector initiative aims to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes in five years

September 13, 2011

Million Hearts focuses on improving aspirin use, blood pressure, cholesterol control and tobacco prevention

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), with several key initial partners, today launched Million Hearts, an initiative that aims to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes over the next five years. Currently, cardiovascular disease costs $444 billion every year in medical costs and lost productivity in Americans. Building on work already underway thanks to the Affordable Care Act, Million Hearts will help improve Americans’ health and increase productivity.

Million Hearts is focused on two goals:

·Empowering Americans to make healthy choices such as preventing tobacco use and reducing sodium and trans fat consumption. This can reduce the number of people who need medical treatment such as blood pressure or cholesterol medications to prevent heart attacks and strokes.

·Improving care for people who do need treatment by encouraging a targeted focus on the “ABCS” – Aspirin for people at risk, Blood pressure control, Cholesterol management and Smoking cessation – which address the major risk factors for cardiovascular disease and can help to prevent heart attacks and strokes.

“Heart disease causes 1 of every 3 American deaths and constitutes 17-percent of overall national health spending,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “By enlisting partners from across the health sector, Million Hearts will create a national focus on combating heart disease.”

By empowering Americans to make healthy choices and improving care, Million Hearts strives to achieve the following specific goals:

Indicator/Baseline/ 2017 goal:

Aspirin use for people at high risk- baseline 47%; 2017 goal 65%
Blood pressure control- baseline 46%; 2017 goal 65%
Effective treatment of high cholesterol (LDL-C)- baseline 33%; 2017 goal 65%
Smoking prevalence- baseline 19%; 2017 goal 17%
Sodium intake (average)- baseline 3.5g/day; 2017 goal 20% reduction
Artificial trans fat consumption (average)- baseline 1% of calories/day; 2017 goal 50% reduction

from our existing health investments,” said Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Thomas R. Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “If we succeed in achieving our Million Hearts goals, 10 million more Americans with high blood pressure will have it under control, 20 million more Americans with high cholesterol will have it under control, and 4 million fewer Americans will smoke by 2017.”

“The treatment of heart disease and stroke account for about $1 of every $6 spent on health care in this country,” said Donald Berwick, M.D., M.P.P., Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). “By shifting our focus from paying for how much care is provided to how to get the best health for Americans and putting more tools into the hands of health care providers and patients, CMS can help prevent strokes, heart attacks and avoidable human suffering.”

Several partners from the private sector will work to achieve the Million Hearts goals by:

·Improving Americans’ diets, reducing tobacco use, and improving medication adherence through community innovations.

Specifically, these private sector initiatives include:

o The American Heart Association will help monitor progress of the initiative’s goals and provide consumers with access to their heart health management tools, including Heart 360, My Life Check, and the Heart Attack Risk Calculator.

o Walgreens will engage its more than 26,000 health care providers to support the Million Hearts initiative’s prevention goal by providing blood pressure testing at no charge in consultation with a Walgreens pharmacist or Take Care Clinic Nurse Practitioner.

o The Y is aiming to expand coverage of the Y’s Diabetes Prevention Program as well as the successful National Diabetes Prevention Program and CDC’s Healthy Communities Program to better address risks for diabetes, heart attacks, and stroke.

o America’s Health Insurance Plans and its members will amplify their ongoing commitment to reduce cardiovascular disease, which includes community-based collaborations to reduce the burden of obesity and other risk factors for heart disease (UnitedHealthcare), beneficiary fitness programs (WellPoint), initiatives to reduce ethnic and racial disparities in cardiovascular health (Aetna) and programs to better manage chronic disease (Cigna).

o The American Pharmacists’ Association and the American Pharmacists’ Association Foundation will encourage its more than 62,000 members to engage in the Million Hearts Campaign by raising awareness with their patients and their communities.

o The National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations and the Alliance for Patient Medication Safety will encourage state pharmacy associations and their members to engage in the Million Hearts Campaign throughout the year with many activities planned for American Pharmacists Month in October and beyond.

o The National Community Pharmacists Association will encourage all 23,000 independent community pharmacies to become involved in the Initiative and continue to raise awareness through their publications and social media outlets.

Participation and commitment from private partners are expected to grow in the coming months; major national associations like the American Medical Association and American Nurses Association have already committed their constituencies to this important work.

In addition, HHS will target more than $200 million in new and refocused investments to achieve the goals of Million Hearts:

o Today, CDC is announcing $40 million for chronic disease prevention programs to health departments across the country.

o The Food and Drug Administration and the Food Safety and Inspection Service are launching efforts to identify opportunities to reduce sodium in food in order to put more control into consumers’ hands.

o CDC is announcing a $2 million Pharmacy Outreach Project to team up with pharmacists to provide additional advice and support to patients diagnosed with high blood pressure.

o CMS is announcing $85 million in Medicaid Incentives for Prevention of Chronic Diseases grants awarded to 10 states. These awards support prevention programs for Medicaid beneficiaries of all ages.

o CDC is announcing $4.2 million in funds to seven national networks of community-based organizations to support, disseminate and amplify the reach of the Community Transformation Grant program. Later this month, CDC will announce another $100 million in grants to communities across the country focused on reducing smoking, improving nutrition, and promoting blood pressure control.

o The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration will align all available resources to support improved outreach and provision of comprehensive health care to people with mental and substance use disorders.

HHS will also achieve the goals of Million Hearts by:

·Enhancing focus on cardiovascular disease prevention

o Federal agencies and private sector partners will focus and align measurement strategies which will both improve ABCS care and simplifying reporting for providers. For example, the Physician Quality Reporting System, which provides bonus payments, and in the future, payment reductions, based on the reporting of quality information by eligible professionals, CMS plans to enhance its focus on the ABCS.

o Beginning in 2012, HRSA will require all community health centers to report annually on the ABCS measures to track and improve performance, including new measures for 2012 for aspirin use and cholesterol screening. These efforts will help to improve ABCS care for more than 20 million patients.

· Focusing HIT efforts to prevent heart attacks and strokes

o Ongoing HIT improvements will increase focus on cardiovascular prevention and give providers improved tools for their delivery of lifesaving ABCS care. Regional extension centers, which reach nearly 100,000 primary care doctors, and Beacon Communities will reach more than 100 million patients within the next few years.

· Improving the delivery of ABCS care through clinical innovations, including:

o Quality Improvement Organizations (QIOs). A network of 53 Medicare-funded organizations nationwide to improve healthcare quality at the community level, QIOs will work with physician offices, clinics and other providers to create Learning & Action Networks focused on achieving the elements of ABCS as part of each QIO’s tasks and goals.

o Learning from Local Innovators (Healthcare Innovations Exchange). The HHS Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s Healthcare Innovations Exchange supports efforts to identify and disseminate innovative efforts to improve health care led by local communities and leaders.

For further information on the public and private support of the Million Hearts initiative, please visit:

For more information about the Million Hearts initiative and to access cardiovascular disease risk assessment tools visit Million Hearts is a trademark of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Contact: HHS Press Office (202) 690-6343


Monday, September 12, 2011

American Heart Association's Heart & Stroke Heroes Announced!

The American Heart Association is happy to announce our 2011 Heart & Stroke Heroes! We would also like to thank our Heart & Stroke Hero Nominating Committee for their dedication to this program and for helping us recognize these three amazing individuals!

2011 Heart & Stroke Heroes
Physician/Researcher: David Benditt, M.D.
Medical Professional: Jane Linderbaum, MD, CNP
Survivor: Herbert Stead

Thanks to our 2011 Heart & Stroke Hero Nominating Committee!
Julia Steinberger, M.D., University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital
Stephen Smalley, M.D, FACC, Regions Hospital
William Nelson, M.D., Ph.D., FACC, Regions Hospital
Adrian Almquist, M.D., Minneapolis Heart Institute
John Bass, M.D., University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital
Jay Traverse, M.D., Minneapolis Heart Institute
Thomas Kottke, M.D., Health Partners
Richard Asinger, M.D., Hennepin County Medical Center
Marnee Shepard, Fairview Southdale
Merrilyn Dawson
Patty Peterson
Candis Fancher, Fairview Southdale

Dr. Benditt, Jane and Herb will be recognized at our Patron Party on Wednesday, September 21 and at the Heart & Stroke Gala on Saturday, December 10.

For more infomration, please contact Heather Shetka 952-278-7924 or

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Minnesota names to American Heart Association 2011-2012 Affiliate Board of Directors

One of the greatest assets the American Heart Association has is outstanding volunteer leadership. We are pleased to announce Alex Mitchell, resident of Minnesota will serve as a new AHA affiliate board member.

Treasurer - Alex Mitchell, senior director of business risk management at UnitedHealth Group in Minneapolis. Alex is a heart disease survivor, having had emergency heart surgery to replace his aortic valve at age 25. His son also had pulmonary stenosis and a balloon valvuloplasty at birth to repair his pulmonary valve. As a result of being touched personally by heart disease, he feels passionate about our mission. Over the last five years, he has served on the Midwest Affiliate's Banking Request for Proposal and Investment subcommittees and been involved with the Twin Cities Heart Walk.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Top 10 myths about cardiovascular disease

How much do you know about your heart's health? It's easy to be fooled by misconceptions. After all, heart disease only happens to your elderly neighbor or to your fried food-loving uncle, right? Or do you know the real truth - that heart disease affects people of all ages, even those who eat right? Relying on false assumptions can be dangerous to your heart. Cardiovascular disease kills more Americans each year than any other disease. So let's set the record straight on common myths.

  1. "I'm too young to worry about heart disease." How you live now affects your risk for cardiovascular diseases later in life. As early as childhood and adolescence, plaque can start accumulating in the arteries and later lead to clogged arteries.

  2. "I'd know if I had high blood pressure because there would be warning signs." High blood pressure is called the "silent killer" because you don't usually know you have it. You may never experience symptoms, so don't wait for your body to alert you that there's a problem. Check you numbers with a simple blood pressure test.

  3. "I'll know when I'm having a heart attack because I'll have chest pain." Not necessarily. Although it's common to have chest pain or discomfort, a heart attack may cause subtle symptoms. These include shortness of breath, nausea, feeling lightheaded, and pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the jaw, neck or back. Even if you're not sure it's a heart attack, call 9-1-1 immediately. Learn your risk of heart attack!

  4. "Diabetes won't threaten my heart as long as I take my medication." Treating diabetes can help reduce your risk for or delay the development of cardiovascular diseases. But even when blood sugar levels are under control, you're still at increased risk for heart disease and stroke. That's because the risk factors that contribute to diabetes onset also make you more likely to develop cardiovascular disease.

  5. "Heart disease runs in my family, so there's nothing I can do to prevent it." Although people with a family history of heart disease are at higher risk, you can take steps to dramatically reduce your risk. Create an action plan to keep your heart healthy by tackling these to-dos: get active; control cholesterol; eat better; manage blood pressure; maintain a healthy weight; control blood sugar; and stop smoking.

  6. "I don't need to have my cholesterol checked until I'm middle-aged." You should start getting your cholesterol checked at age 20, even earlier if your family has a history of heart disease. Children in these families can have high cholesterol levels, putting them at increased risk for developing heart disease as adults.

  7. "Heart failure means the heart stops beating." The heart suddenly stops beating during cardiac arrest, not heart failure. With heart failure, the heart keeps working, but it doesn't pump blood as well as it should. It can cause shortness of breath, swelling in the feet and ankles or persistent coughing and wheezing. During cardiac arrest, a person loses consciousness and stops normal breathing.

  8. "This pain in my legs must be a sign of aging. I'm sure it has nothing to do with my heart." Leg pain felt in the muscles could be a sign of peripheral artery disease, which results from blocked arteries in the legs caused by plaque build-up. The risk for heart attack or stroke increases five-fold for people with PAD.

  9. "My heart is beating really fast. I must be having a heart attack." Your heart rate speeds up during exercise or when you get excited, and slows down when you're sleeping. Most of the time, a change in your heartbeat is nothing to worry about. But sometimes, it can be a sign of arrhythmia, an abnormal or irregular heartbeat. Most arrhythmias are harmless, but some can last long enough to impact how well the heart works and require treatment.

  10. "I should avoid exercise after having a heart attack." No! As soon as possible, get the help you need by joining a cardiac rehabilitation program or consulting your healthcare provider for advice on developing a physical activity plan for you.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

'The Last Heart Attack' airs on CNN

In a new CNN documentary, Sanjay Gupta investigates whether diet and the latest diagnostic tests are enough to prevent every heart attack. In this medical journey of discovery, Dr. Gupta talks to former President Clinton, cutting-edge doctors, AHA CEO Nancy Brown and additional guests. Gupta also puts his own heart under the microscope as he offers practical advice and hard science to show how heart disease and heart attacks could be prevented.

Watch The Last Heart Attack.