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!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Pediatric cardiologist receives American Heart Association award

Last week at our Scientific Sessions in Orlando, the AHA presented one of our highest honors, the Eugene Braunwald Academic Mentorship Award, to pediatric cardiologist James H. Moller, M.D., of the University of Minnesota. The award lauded Moller "for his highly successful guidance of promising young physicians and academicians during a career that combined great personal achievement with intense devotion to the professional development of his many trainees."

Dr. Moller, a former President of the American Heart Association, is a widely recognized authority on congenital heart defects in children. He has also put his mark on young physicians and scientists in his home state, by working with the AHA to start a scholarship program that bears his name for Minnesota students in the health sciences.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Major League Baseball Scores on Smokeless Tobacco Agreement, Says American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown

November 22, 2011

“The American Heart Association is pleased that baseball players recognize the dangers of smokeless tobacco use and will now take steps to reduce its visibility during and after games and other public events, and educate young people about its dangers.

While today’s Major League Baseball agreement on smokeless tobacco is not a grand slam, it is definitely a solid base hit. Although the players would not agree to stop using tobacco while on the field, the contract provisions are an important step forward.

Children who emulate their favorite players by using smokeless tobacco risk falling into a trap that can lead to a lifetime of nicotine addiction. Evidence shows that kids who use smokeless tobacco are more likely to become cigarette smokers.

Baseball is the nation’s pastime, and Americans cherish this great game and its time-honored traditions. But in the case of smokeless tobacco, there are clear indications that tradition leads to undesired health consequences, including oral cancer, tooth decay, gum disease, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.”


Retha Sherrod

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Celebrating 30 years of AHA advocacy success

The AHA Advocacy Department celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, which makes it the perfect time to look back on our many accomplishments. Thanks to the hard work of staff, volunteers and public officials, the AHA and a dedicated network of You're the Cure advocates has brought about lasting change in local, state and federal policy.

We've accomplished great things in tobacco control, research and public health funding, childhood obesity prevention, nutrition promotion, systems of care, CPR training and AED placement, and quality healthcare access. And we're just getting started!

We invite you to watch our new video below and share it with friends, family, and colleagues and ask them to be a part of the cure! Here's to the next 30 years!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Economist predicts big impact in Minn. from health care reform law

November 17, 2011
By Elizabeth Stawicki, Minnesota Public Radio

St. Paul, Minn. -- A health care economist from MIT told members of a governor's task force Thursday that the federal health care law will reduce the health insurance racial disparities in Minnesota.

Jonathan Gruber presented his projections to the health insurance task force, which is charged with developing a health care exchange in Minnesota by early 2013. Gruber told the group that even though more people of color will likely obtain insurance, there will still be many who won't, especially if they're poor.

"One thing you have to think about is outreach. How are you going to go after those low-income people who get free insurance entitlements? They don't take it up now," said Gruber. "That's been a real problem and a real opportunity for Minnesota with its tradition of trying to serve those underserved groups, to really go after them and set a national model there."

Gruber predicts that one in five Minnesotans -- about 1 million people -- will obtain their health insurance through the insurance exchange by 2016.

He also says the federal health care law would save Minnesota households on average about $500 per year.

Gruber projects that almost 300,000 additional Minnesota residents would gain insurance coverage by 2016, and that those who currently buy health insurance on the individual market could pay 20 percent less in premiums after taxes.

Friday, November 18, 2011

State finalizes tobacco bond sale

Posted at 2:00 PM on November 17, 2011 by Tom Scheck * MPR News

Minnesota Finance officials say they have sold $757 million in bonds tied to the state's future tobacco payments. Minnesota Management and Budget says it finalized the bond sale - a move that was needed to help close the state's budget gap. $640 million of the $757 million bond sale will go to fix the state's budget deficit. The remaining $117 million will go into a special account to cover the cost of issuing the bonds and creating a reserve to pay back bondholders. The bonds are backed by future payments from the state's 1998 settlement with tobacco companies. The state will eventually pay bondholders $1.2 billion over the life of the 20 year bonds.

Governor Dayton and the Republican-controlled Legislature used the tobacco bonds to help end a three week government shutdown. Critics of the sale say the one-time money doesn't address structural problems in the state's budget. They say only permanent tax increases and/or spending cuts will do that.

You can read more about the sale here.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Strangers who helped each other on I-94 in Wisconsin reunite

Article by: Associated Press
Updated: November 17, 2011 - 11:27 AM

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. - A man who stopped to help a woman change a tire along a Wisconsin interstate before suffering cardiac arrest was reunited with the motorist who had a chance to quickly repay his kindness.

An emotional and grateful Victor Giesbrecht thanked and hugged Sara Berg, of Eau Claire, in his hospital room Wednesday evening. Berg says they both started crying when they were reunited.

Giesbrecht, of Winnipeg, Manitoba, helped Berg and her cousin change a tire when they became stranded on Interstate 94 in Dunn County Nov. 5. After driving away, Giesbrecht suffered a heart attack. His wife, a passenger, brought their pickup to a stop. Berg saw the truck on the side of the road and recognized it. She jumped into the pickup and began CPR.

Giesbrecht could be released from the hospital Thursday.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Mayo: Smoking bans cut cardiac events 45%

Article by: JACKIE CROSBY , Star Tribune
Updated: November 15, 2011 - 8:17 AM

Researchers report direct link between indoor smoking bans and fewer deaths.

The incidence of heart attacks and sudden deaths has fallen nearly in half since smoking bans took effect in southeastern Minnesota, according to new research from the Mayo Clinic.

The Rochester-based organization said the data bolsters its fight to rid the nation's workplaces of second-hand smoke. It found a 45 percent decline in heart attacks and cardiac deaths.

"That's just a staggering number," said Dr. Richard Hurt, the lead investigator and director of Mayo Clinic's Nicotine Dependence Center. "This is a policy that can be implemented at any legislative level -- any city, any community, any state can do this."

Mayo researchers examined data beginning 18 months before the first smoke-free law was passed at restaurants in Olmsted County, in 2002, and concluding 18 months after the law was expanded to cover all workplaces in 2007.

Adult smoking rates also dropped 23 percent during the time period. Other risk factors, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and obesity remained stable or increased, according to the study, which was presented Monday at an American Heart Association conference in Orlando.

In the United States, 23 states plus Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico have banned smoking in all public indoor facilities, according to the American Cancer Society.

Mayo has spent the past 50 years tracking patients in Olmsted County, where its flagship operations are based. Aside from smoke-free Sweden, no place else in the world has the capability to scientifically track health trends and outcomes, Hurt said.

Mayo pushed for a smoke-free ordinance in Olmsted County, the first county in Minnesota to pass a ban and among the first in the nation. Mayo also helped write statewide legislation, known as the Freedom to Breathe Act.

"Had we not done that in Olmsted County, most of us think the state would have watered down the law and made it less than it was," Hurt said.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown Strongly Urges Justice Department to Appeal Court Decision on Tobacco Warning Labels

November 7, 2011

The American Heart Association ardently disagrees with today’s ruling by a federal judge blocking the implementation of the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) new graphic warning labels on cigarette packs. These warning labels are a vital part of keeping children from becoming addicted and helping current smokers quit. We strongly encourage the Justice Department to appeal this ruling.

There is a clear reason why the tobacco industry is fighting these warning labels—they work. Many other countries already require graphic warning labels, and research has clearly shown that they are effective in reducing tobacco use. We know from decades of experience that the tobacco industry will fight any laws that reduce its profits from selling a deadly product. Today’s misguided court ruling could result in more deaths from tobacco addiction and more profits for the tobacco industry.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 45 million Americans smoke cigarettes, about 20 percent of the population, and one in five high school students still smoke. The new health warnings represent an aggressive and welcome approach to reducing smoking rates that have leveled off in recent years as tobacco companies continue to launch campaigns to entice new smokers and maintain current customers.

The American Heart Association believes that the graphic depictions of smoking-related diseases on cigarette packages will drive home the message that tobacco use is an equal opportunity killer, affecting smokers and nonsmokers alike. In the United States, about one-third of smoking-related deaths are linked to heart disease and stroke. Cigarette smoking causes about 443,000 premature deaths each year and about 49,000 of these deaths are due to secondhand smoke.

Undoubtedly, the new graphic health warnings, if allowed to proceed, will heighten awareness about the dangers of smoking and more importantly, encourage smokers to quit and discourage smoking initiation. We are confident that future court rulings will reverse Judge Leon’s decision and allow the FDA to move forward with these important warning labels.

For more information, visit

Monday, November 7, 2011

Fundraiser for American Heart Association at Ten Thousand Villages

November 21, 2011

867 Grand Ave
St. Paul, MN 55105

On November 21st, Ten Thousand Villages will feature the American Heart Association and its advocacy work in Minnesota. The AHA will be on hand sharing information on current initiatives from 5:00-9:00pm. A percentage of all goods sold that evening will go to the AHA, to support their work in Minnesota. Come and check out this super-hip shop, get some of your holiday shopping done and support the AHA’s work to make Minnesota healthier!

Ten Thousand Villages is an exceptional shop for unique handmade gifts, jewelry, home decor, art and sculpture, textiles, serve ware and personal accessories representing the diverse cultures of artisans in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. One of the world's largest fair trade organizations and a founding member of the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO); the company strive to improve the livelihood of tens of thousands of disadvantaged artisans in 38 countries. Ten Thousand Villages accomplishes this by establishing a sustainable market for handmade products in North America, and building long term buying relationships in places where skilled artisan partners lack opportunities for stable income. Product sales help pay for food, education, healthcare and housing for artisans who would otherwise be unemployed or underemployed.

For more information or if you have questions, please contact 952-278-7921.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

High sodium: It's not just a food problem. It's a heart problem.

High blood pressure? Isn’t that something only old people have to worry about?

Not anymore. Nowadays, high blood pressure affects people of all ages. In fact, it is estimated that 9 out of 10 Americans will develop high blood pressure during their lifetimes, beginning as early as childhood for some.

So what’s contributing to the problem? Sodium levels. While we can control the salt we put on our food, we can’t control the salt that’s already in it. When over 75 percent of the sodium in our diet comes from processed and packaged foods sold in grocery stores and served at restaurants and schools, it’s hard for even the most health-conscious among us to stay within the recommended daily sodium intake.

But you can help do something about it. From now until November 29, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is asking the public for feedback on whether it should take measures to reduce sodium levels in our food- and we need you to speak up! Share your thoughts today about the need to address excess sodium in the packaged and prepared foods that we eat.

Of course, it’s not just about healthy food. It’s about healthy hearts. Lowering the sodium we consume can have significant cardiovascular benefits, so it is critical for consumers and health advocates alike to stress the importance of sodium reduction to the FDA. Send your message today!

Thank you for your help,

Clarissa Garcia
American Heart Association

PS- Don’t forget to personalize your message! Whether you are a parent, medical professional, survivor, or someone with heart disease or stroke risk factors, your personal concern is important to share with the FDA.

Study: Sugary Drinks, Greatest Source Of Added Sugars

October 31, 2011 6:56 AM

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Kids love sugary drinks, but an eye-opening new report, just released Monday morning, has some disturbing findings.

The study looked at more than 600 drinks and the way they’re marketed to kids and teenagers.

You may think it’s a better alternative than soda, but fruit drinks are loaded with sugar and often have the same amount of sugar as a soda.

The new study, which was done by researchers at Yale, shows a couple of things including how much young people are exposed to advertising for sugary drinks and how they impact the health of kids and teenagers.

According to Yale researchers, sugary drinks are the greatest source of added sugars in the American diet, and the No. 1 source of calories in teen diets.

Companies spent more money to market these types of drinks to children and teens than any other food category, including fruit, soda, sports drinks, Vitamin water and energy drinks.

There’s a lot of marketing happening online, too.

Twenty-one sugary drink brands had YouTube channels in 2010, with more than 229 million views. Coca-Cola led the way on Facebook, with more than 30 million fans.

The study shows Capri Sun and Kool-Aid are the drinks most frequently marketed to kids and teens. Those are both made by Kraft.

Coca-Cola was No. 2 on the list, followed by Pepsi-Co.

Researchers say drinking just one 8-oz. sugary drink a day increases a child’s odds of obesity by 60 percent.

The study also showed just how popular energy drinks have become, and how they are increasingly marketed to teenagers.

Researchers say beverage companies need to make drinks with less sugar and ditch artificial sweeteners.

Their advice to parents is to read labels and when it comes to juice, give them small portions.

And they’re urging parents to contact these companies and tell them to change their marketing practices.

To read the full study, click here.

To read the full article:

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Worksite Wellness Symposium

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

Please join the American Heart Association and Ergotron, our local sponsor, for a workshop on implementing wellness at your worksite. We're offering a comprehensive program to help local businesses foster heart-healthy work environments to prevent heart disease and stroke. The workshop will include real-world examples and tools on "what works in our workplace."

Featured speakers include:
Nico Pronk, PhD, FASCM,
Dr. Courtney Jordan, Allina Cardiologist
and representatives from Ergotron, Medtronic and
the American Heart Association.

The symposium is open to Senior Management, Human Resources and Wellness Program Directors. There's no cost to attend. However, registration is required.

Please RVSP by November 7 to