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, January 30, 2012

Creating the Next Generation of Lifesavers in Minnesota

Jamie LaLonde is lucky to be alive today. When she had her Sudden Cardiac Arrest at 18 years old while working at the Mall of America, she was surrounded by friends who had just graduated high school and no one knew what to do. Luckily there was a police officer around the corner who knew CPR and how to use an AED and saved Jamie’s life.

Today, Jamie met with her State Senator, Dan Hall of Burnsville, who is authoring a bill for the American Heart Association that would require all students to receive CPR training before they graduate from high school. What most people don’t realize is that in about the same amount of time it takes to watch the average TV sitcom, students can get trained in CPR. If we assure all students get this training before they graduate, we’ll be training the next generation of lifesavers in Minnesota.

Join Jamie and other advocates for our Heart on the Hill on March 7 in St. Paul. Advocates from across the state will speak with Minnesota legislators in a strong, unified voice about the importance of fighting heart disease and stroke and creating thousands of life savers by requiring all Minnesota high schools students to learn CPR.

The day starts with workshops and training and then you’ll put your skills to the test when you meet with your state legislators. Breakfast and lunch included. Students are also encouraged to attend this daylong event. There's no cost to attend but advance registration is required. Register today at: Heart on the Hill 2012. For questions, contact Ngia Mua at or 952-278-7934.

Friday, January 27, 2012

You're Invited! 2nd Annual State of Women's Heart Health Webinar

Did you know that more women die of heart disease than all forms of cancer combined? Heart disease is often silent, hidden and misunderstood- but we can each do our part to learn about our risk factors, make changes, and share the truth with others.

So, kick of American Heart Month by joining us for a national discussion on the State of Women’s Heart Health! You’ll hear from some of our nation’s leading health experts about the latest heart disease and stroke research and prevention efforts. _________________________________________________

WHO: You!

WHAT: A national webinar with Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, cardiologist Dr. Nanette Kass Wenger, and fellow survivor-advocates to learn about the new Million Hearts initiative and some of the latest advances in women’s heart research.

WHEN: Wednesday, February 1st, 2012 at 5:30-6:30 pm EST (4:30-5:30 pm CST)

WHERE: Your computer

HOW: Register today! You will receive a confirmation email with log-in details. __________________________________________________

The experts will take some of your questions at the end of the call, so come prepared to participate in the discussion!

We are looking forward to having you join us for this exciting American Heart Month event!

Clarissa Garcia
American Heart Association

Thursday, January 26, 2012

New federal guidelines for school lunches

Written byJay Olstad, KARE 11- Jan 26, 2012

CHANHASSEN, Minn. - Over the years, the school lunch line has been almost a rite of passage for kids, but unfortunately not always the healthiest.

But new guidelines passed by the U.S. Congress hope to change that. It's the first major nutritional overhaul of school lunches in 15 years.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture unveiled new school lunch guidelines Wednesday in an effort to fight childhood obesity.

It will force schools to provide children with twice the amount of fruits and vegetables, as well as more whole grains, and less sodium and Trans fat.

"They're encouraging increase of fruits and veggies, which we know are whole foods and that's the foundation of our diets," said Anika DeCostera, a registered dietician with Lifetime Fitness.

The new rules could take effect as early as next school year.

The federal government would help schools pay for it, which will cost roughly $3.2 billion to implement over the next five years.

"If we're going to provide lunch we should provide the best lunch we can," said Principal Bryan McGinley with Deephaven Elementary School.

McGinley knows what it takes to make this type of transformation. Since September, his school has been part of a pilot program with Lifetime Fitness.

"It's been a success so far," said DeCostera.

DeCostera has helped lead the charge, retraining Deephaven's school cooks on how to make, for the most part, meals from scratch. And it appears the kids actually like eating healthy.

"From what the cooks have been telling me it's been the most salads they've ever sold in a lunch period," she said.

The cost to Deephaven is picked up by Lifetime Fitness.

Some critics argue the rules amount to a government overreach and the new guidelines maybe too expensive for school districts.

But, with obesity becoming a growing problem, proponents wonder if we can afford not to make the changes.

"It's hard to argue providing healthier food for children," said McGinley.

KARE 11:

Friday, January 20, 2012

Minnesota Heart on the Hill Lobby Day

Wednesday, March 7, 2012
Register NOW

Join other advocates to speak with Minnesota legislators in a strong, unified voice about the importance of fighting heart disease and stroke. Attend workshops and training and then put your skills to the test when you meet with your state legislators about:
  • Creating thousands of life savers by requiring all Minnesota high schools students to learn CPR

  • Educating legislators about the gaps in stroke care in Minnesota and ensuring the best available care no matter where you live in the state

  • Supporting a $3 million initiative for a state Safe Routes to School program to

Breakfast and lunch included. Students are also encouraged to attend this daylong event. There's no cost to attend but advance registration is required.

Register today at: Heart on the Hill 2012. For questions, contact Ngia Mua at or 952-278-7934.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Secondhand Smoke in Our Communities

You probably know that smoking is bad for you. Every year, thousands of people die from diseases related to smoking, like lung cancer and heart disease. But did you know that being exposed to the smoke from other people’s cigarette smoking is also very dangerous? Smoke from cigarettes contains many poisons that can cause cancer.

To learn more about this topic, watch “Secondhand Smoke in Our Communities.” This program will broadcast in eight languages on tpt’s Minnesota Channel (tptMN) – Comcast Channel 243:

Sunday, January 15:
English - 7 p.m.
Spanish - 7:30 p.m.

Sunday, January 22:
Hmong - 7 p.m.
Somali - 7:20 p.m.
Karen - 7:40 p.m.

Sunday, January 29:
Vietnamese: 7 p.m.
Lao - 7:20 p.m.
Khmer: 7:40 p.m.


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

US obesity epidemic shows no signs of reversing course, reports on kids and adults show

Article by: LINDSEY TANNER , Associated Press: January 17, 2012

CHICAGO - America's obesity epidemic is proving to be as stubborn as those maddening love handles, and shows no sign of reversing course. More than one-third of adults and almost 17 percent of children were obese in 2009-2010, echoing results since 2003, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Tuesday.

"It's good that we didn't see increases. On the other hand, we didn't see any decreases in any group," said CDC researcher Cynthia Ogden.

Early in the decade, slight increases were seen among white, black and Hispanic men, and among Hispanic and black women. These changes may be leveling off, but the authors said they "found no indication that the prevalence of obesity is declining in any group."

In 2009-2010, more than 78 million adults and almost 13 million children aged 2-19 were obese, the CDC researchers reported.

Those numbers are staggering, and while they haven't increased in recent years, "we're plateauing at an unacceptably high prevalence rate," said Dr. David Ludwig, director of an obesity prevention center at Children's Hospital Boston. He was not involved in the reports.

The CDC reports summarize results of national health surveys in children and adults, which are conducted every two years. The nationally representative surveys include in-person weight and height measurements. The 2009-2010 reports involved nearly 6,000 adults and about 4,000 children, from infancy through age 19.

The results were released online in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Dr. Elbert Huang, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Chicago who studies health care policy issues, said his research shows that even if obesity rates continue to remain stable, there will be dramatic increases down the road in diabetes and in costs linked with that disease. That's because Type 2 diabetes, among many diseases linked with obesity, becomes more prevalent as people age.

The latest reports — one on children and the other on adults — focused on obesity, meaning a body-mass index of at least 30. But the numbers of adults and children who were overweight, with a BMI of between 25 and 29, also remained high.

Overall, 33 percent of adults were overweight but not obese, versus about 15 percent of children and teens.

Rates of overweight or obese adults and children were generally higher in blacks and Hispanics than in whites.

The government says a healthy weight is a BMI of between 18 and 25. The index is a ratio of height to weight.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Farmington’s Active Student Programs Featured at State School Board Conference

Meadowview Physical Education Teacher Joe McCarthy, Board Member Melissa Sauser and North Trail Physical Education Teacher and American Heart Association State Advocacy Committee member Jack Olwell.

What role does the Century Club, Jammin Minute, Run Across America and other programs held in Farmington’s elementary schools have in improving academic performance in the classroom?

School Board members from across the state got answers to those questions and a whole lot more as Farmington Area Public School was invited to present at the Minnesota School Boards Association Annual Leadership Conference held Thursday, January 12 and 13 at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

In a 90 minute presentation titled “Body and Mind Working Together”, district Physical Education teachers Joe McCarthy, Meadowview Elementary and Jack Olwell, North Trail Elementary joined School Board Clerk Melissa Sauser in providing a comprehensive report on Farmington’s efforts. Highlights of the presentation included:

Jammin Minute- A daily activity program held in the classroom and coordinated by a group of fifth-grade student leaders in every classroom at the school.

Century Club- A program at Meadowview to track activity outside the classroom in order to reinforce life skills. Students are rewarded for increasing activity with the goal of traveling “100 miles” on their scale. Students integrate art with the program as they design a poster shaped like a shoe to travel along the timeline.

Literacy PE/Math PE Integrating and embedding reading and math with vigorous physical activity in small group sections.

The presentation cited multiple research studies from around the nation and the world linking increased cardiovascular activity with increased brain activity and corresponding student achievement. The seminar was attended by approximately 30 school board members and superintendents from throughout Minnesota.

Farmington Area Public Schools:

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

New Study Predicts Nationwide Tax on Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Would Prevent Thousands of Heart Attacks, Strokes and Cases of Diabetes

January 9, 2012

Study adds to the collection of RWJF-funded research briefs, journal articles and other resources related to sugar-sweetened beverage taxes.

A nationwide, penny-per-ounce tax on sugar-sweetened beverages would prevent thousands of heart attacks, strokes, cases of diabetes and premature deaths, helping avoid billions of dollars in medical costs over 10 years, according to a study published in Health Affairs. This is the first major study to predict how specific health problems and financial costs could be directly affected by such a tax.

Researchers at Columbia University and the University of California, San Francisco, calculated that a penny-per-ounce tax would reduce overall consumption of sugary drinks by 15 percent among adults ages 25 to 64. They also estimated that, between 2010 and 2020, it would prevent 2.4 million diabetes person-years (a measure that combines how many people have diabetes with how long each of those people lives with the disease), 95,000 cases of coronary heart disease, 8,000 strokes and 26,000 premature deaths. Their calculations indicate the change would help the nation avoid more than $17 billion in medical costs during those 10 years.
A penny-per-ounce tax would mean an extra 12 cents per can or 20 cents per bottle, a price increase of about 15 percent to 25 percent.

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Monday, January 9, 2012

Bill Could Require Students to Take CPR

Posted at: 01/04/2012 10:12 PM - By: Paige Calhoun

Math, science, and english are all required subjects needed to receive a high school diploma, but now some health officials are calling for CPR to be added to that list.

CPR can double or triple survival from cardiac arrest, and now the American Heart Association has drafted a bill that would make CPR training for high school students law. Dr. Mary Boylan is a cardiothoracic surgeon at St. Luke's Hospital. She also sits on the American Heart Association Midwest Affiliate Board of Directors and said students are the perfect age to learn.

"We have a whole student body. They're young, they're able, they have a lifetime that they can use the education about CPR to save lives. We're all going to be touched by heart disease," Boylan said.

Under the proposal, Minnesota high schoolers would have to take a 30 minute CPR course before they could graduate. They would learn basic hands-only CPR and how to use a defibrillator. Local providers in the community would foot the bill.

The goal is to get citizens to act before medics arrive, as survival is less than one percent with no CPR.

"People have heart attacks when they're at football games, when they're at home, anyplace. If we were all trained in CPR, then we can be the first person to actually help save a life," Boylan said.

According to Duluth School Officials, both East and Denfeld high schools talk about and teach the method in their health curriculum, which students are required to take. However, certification is not required.

The first draft of the bill will be introduced sometime in the 2012 legislative session, but it could change as it makes its way through the legislative process. States like Iowa and Alabama have signed similar bills into law, but shifted the CPR class from a requirement to simply being available to all students.


Friday, January 6, 2012

Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan- New Health Coverage Option for the Uninsured

If you are a Minnesotan who has had difficulty finding health coverage because of a medical condition, you should know about the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP). Created in 2010 under the Health Reform Law, this program offers uninsured people with pre-existing conditions health coverage without charging them more for their coverage or denying them coverage of their pre-existing condition.

The Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan is providing eligible adults and children with comprehensive benefits until 2014, when insurers will no longer be allowed to deny coverage to people with any pre-existing condition. At that time, people enrolled in PCIP will have a choice of health plans. Until then, this program is available in every state and the District of Columbia; and administered at the state level or by the Federal government. In Minnesota, the program is administered by the Federal government.

Reduced premiums and simplified eligibility could make PCIP the right option for you. In 2011, premium prices for Minnesotans enrolled in PCIP were reduced by 38.3% and remain at those levels. For more information on premiums, please visit

In Minnesota, and in other states where PCIP is federally administered, you can fill out a PCIP application online at Watch a short video first on the How To Apply page to get prepared to apply online. You can also call 1-866-717-5826 (TTY 1-866-561-1604). To prove that you have a pre-existing condition, simply mail in a letter from a doctor, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner dated within the past 12 months stating that you have or, at any time in the past, had a medical condition, disability, or illness. To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or reside in the U.S. legally and have been without health coverage for at least six months.

When you apply, you can choose among three plan options. Each plan covers 100% of preventive care (with no deductible), which includes annual physicals, flu shots, routine mammograms and cancer screenings. For other care, you will pay a deductible before PCIP pays for your health care and prescription drugs. There is no lifetime maximum on the amount PCIP pays for care, and you can receive benefits at any qualified provider.

With PCIP, all covered benefits are available for you, beginning on your coverage effective date, even if it’s to treat a pre-existing condition - there are no waiting periods.

For more information, including eligibility, plan benefits and rates, and how to apply, visit and click on “Find Your State.” Then select Minnesota from the drop-down menu. The PCIP Call Center is open from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Eastern Time. Call toll-free 1-866-717-5826 (TTY 1-866-561-1604).

Thursday, January 5, 2012

January 2012 EVP Letter- You're The Cure; Advocacy Efforts

January 2012

Dear Friend of Heart:

Thirty years ago, the American Heart Association developed a new strategy to amplify the voices and improve the lives of millions of Americans struggling with heart disease and stroke. Harnessing the passion of amazing volunteers from every corner of the country, we took to the steps of the Capitol and began advocating for legislation to improve the lives of heart and stroke patients.

Armed with American Heart Association science, these passionate volunteers used their personal stories to give faces and names to the fight against two of our nation’s leading killers. These coordinated efforts have led to major lifesaving changes, including doubling the NIH budget for biomedical research from 1998 to 2003 and the passage of statewide clean indoor air laws across the country. These kinds of victories save lives and change lives for millions of people, and would not be possible without extraordinary volunteers leading the charge.

Our volunteers have many faces, and many reasons for joining the American Heart Association’s lifesaving mission. Some of them are survivors. Some have lost loved ones to heart disease or stroke. But all of them have shown an unwavering commitment to building healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke.

One of these extraordinary individuals is Stevie Nelson, a Minnesota resident whose life changed when he suffered a stroke on April 22, 1998. One year later, Stevie began his quest to improve outcomes for stroke patients through volunteerism. He has lobbied at both the local and federal level for stroke funding and has seen first-hand how his personal testimony can effect change.

“Being a volunteer gave me a new mission, a new purpose in life,” Nelson said. “My goal is to pass my knowledge on so others can lead healthier lives. Some of the things I have fought and advocated for have come into law. Just knowing I played a part in that is a great feeling.”

Because of Stevie, and millions of others like him, we have celebrated many victories in the three decades we’ve been advocating for lifesaving public policies. But our work is not done. Heart disease is still our nation’s No. 1 killer, and stroke is No. 4. I encourage you to join our amazing corps of volunteers by signing up for our You're the Cure network at You can learn more about our work and meet more of our volunteers by watching our 30th Anniversary celebration video, or by visiting and clicking on Advocate.

Being a You’re the Cure advocate gives you the opportunity to lend your voice to our legislative efforts. It’s fast, it’s simple and it’s free.

And with this one simple step, you can help the American Heart Association make the next 30 years better than the last.

Warm regards,

Kevin D. Harker
Executive Vice President, Midwest Affiliate

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Bill Would Require CPR Class to Graduate High School in MN

Public News Service - December 22, 2011

St. Paul, MN - All Minnesota high school students would have to take a cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) class if a bill being drafted by the American Heart Association becomes law in the New Year. Supporters of the idea include Norm Okerstrom, Plymouth, whose son, Teddy, collapsed at a football practice at age 16.

Norm Okerstrom says his son survived thanks to quick action by his coach, Matt Lombardi.

"Matt at that point started CPR on Teddy, and he told me, later on, that that was the most important coaching job he's ever done in his life. He was just trying to coach Ted to stay with him and don't give up and keep fighting."

Teddy made a full recovery and is now in college. His father says his story shows just how critical it is to know how to administer CPR.

"It's very important that all people know CPR, and know that it's really the way to increase the chance of survival. My understanding is that it doubles - possibly even up to 75 percent greater - the chance of survival if you begin immediate CPR."

Okerstrom says another advance that makes learning CPR much easier than it used to be is the new, and recommended, hands-only technique.

"There is enough oxygen in the blood already that if we continue to pump that blood through the brain and the vital organs, that oxygen is sufficient enough until we can get the AED [automated external defibrillator] and the emergency medical personnel there. The main thing is to get people to do something, because without doing anything, that person's chance of survival is less than 1 percent."

The bill will be introduced in the 2012 legislative session. It would require all high-schoolers in the state to take one, 30-minute CPR class to meet graduation requirements.

More than 20 percent of all deaths in Minnesota are due to heart disease.

More information is available at

John Michaelson, Public News Service - MN