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, April 23, 2012

CPR Bill Signed into Law: High school students to learn life-saving skills

ST. PAUL, MINN., April 23, 2012 – Every high school student in Minnesota will now learn the life-saving skills of CPR. On Monday, April 23, 2012, Gov. Mark Dayton signed the CPR Training in Schools bill (HF 2329/SF 1908) into law.

“We are so pleased that Gov. Dayton saw how this bill will save lives,” said Justin Bell, government relations director for the American Heart Association. “We are so grateful to the co-authors who championed this bill throughout session including Senators Dan Hall (R-Burnsville), Carla Nelson (R-Rochester), Chuck Wiger (D-Maplewood) and Leroy Stumpf (D-Plummer), and Representatives Jennifer Loon (R-Eden Prairie), Bob Dettmer (R-Forest Lake), Mindy Grieling (D-Roseville) and Mary Liz Holberg (R-Lakeville).”

With this bill, Minnesota students between grades 7 and 12 will receive hands-only CPR training at least once before they graduate. The training can occur in as little as 30 minutes and local volunteer fire fighters and EMTs can assist with the training. The bill will be implemented for the 2014-15 school year.

Sudden cardiac arrest strikes 42 people every hour in the U.S. including nearly 6,000 children each year. The survival rate for cardiac arrest that occurs outside of a hospital is less than 7 percent but with bystander CPR the survival rate can triple.

“This bill will train an entire generation to be life-savers,” Bell added.

To send a messge of thanks to Minnesota legislators, please follow this link:

All high school students should be trained in CPR

Published April 21, 2012  * Duluth News Tribune

The Minnesota Legislature just approved a bill to teach cardiopulmonary resuscitation in schools. I urge Gov. Mark Dayton to support the bill and create the next generation of lifesavers.

All Minnesota high school students should be trained in CPR prior to graduation. What most people don’t realize is that in about the same amount of time it takes to watch the average television sitcom, students can get trained in CPR. Less than one-third of out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrest victims receive bystander CPR, making the survival rate of sudden cardiac arrest less than 6 percent. Bystander CPR can triple survival from cardiac arrest.

Students can be taught using a DVD course and mannequin dummies by an instructor, by local fire or emergency medical service personnel or even by another student who has completed the training. Research shows people who have learned CPR in nontraditional settings are just as likely to use it during an emergency.

When bystander CPR is used as an integral part of a chain of survival, survival rates can exceed 50 percent.
I urge Gov. Dayton to sign this bill into law and create the next generation of lifesavers by ensuring all Minnesota high school students are trained in CPR prior to graduation.

Kim Gear

Students and Supporters Push for Safe Routes To School

John Michaelson, Public News Service - MN

(04/23/12) ST. PAUL, Minn. - As state lawmakers try to agree on a bonding bill for public works projects before the 2012 session ends, the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota is hoping they include funds for a state Safe Routes to School program. Executive director Dorian Grilley says there's a federal program, but it doesn't cover high schools or private schools and the need outstrips the demand.

"The federal funds are only available to middle schools and elementary schools. And the other problem is that when Minnesota requested grant applications in 2011, they received $23 million in requests and they only had $3.7 million to grant."

The state program would allow high schools and private schools to apply for funds to be used to provide more sidewalks, paths, crosswalks, bike lanes, and pedestrian bridges so kids could walk or bike safely to school.

Grilley says in addition to safety, the program would also help take a step toward cutting down on the epidemic of childhood obesity.

"Walking and biking to school can provide a significant percentage of the physical activity that the health professionals are recommending that we get every day."

A number of high school pupils across the state are also pushing for the funds. Samantha Kalso of Mounds View says she learned about the issue first hand.

"I wanted a 'Bike to School Day,' but the school would not let us do that because of the safety concerns, and so if the Safe Routes to School bill passed it would make biking to school easier and safer for students like me."

Kalso's classmate Patrick Sullivan concurs, saying he doesn't ride his bike to school because the trail he'd have to take doesn't go all the way.

"It stops 300 meters from school and then you have to essentially drive against traffic on this kind of gravel surface. It's really unsafe. One of my friends and neighbors, his brother was hit there twice."

The Alliance and other supporters are requesting $3 million be included in a bonding bill for Safe Routes to School.

More information is at

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

Friday, April 20, 2012

Letter of the Day (April 19): Lifesaving skills

Two years ago, at age 18, I died. I suffered cardiac arrest while working at a store in the Mall of America. None of my young coworkers knew what to do when I collapsed. Thankfully, a security guard performed CPR on me and used an automated external defibrillator to shock my heart rhythm back.

But what if that security guard hadn't been there? That is why I urge passage of a bill that would require high school students to take simple, 30-minute, hands-only CPR training, just once, before they graduate.

Cardiac arrest is one of the leading causes of death in the United States, and survival rates are less than 6 percent. But bystander CPR can triple a person's chance of survival.
This bill provides such an easy way to teach teens how to save lives.

I plan to become a paramedic after getting my second chance at life. This bill would give every young person a chance to be lifesaver.


Star Tribune-

Bill to Have Students Receive CPR Training Awaits Governor's Signature

April 20, 2012

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Legislation which would require every Minnesota high school student to learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) now sits on Gov. Mark Dayton's desk, and supporters are urging him to sign it into law.

The measure has bipartisan support and makes sense, says state Sen. Dan Hall, R-Burnsville.

"How important is it that we can put more first-aid people out there that can be trained? Bottom line is, we can save a lot of lives."

Hall says the training can be done with no additional costs for Minnesota schools.

"We have the Minnesota Resuscitation Consortium that has said they'll go out and help every school put it up there as volunteers, police and fire that has said, 'Hey, we'll help the schools do it,' so there shouldn't be a cost. We've got the American Red Cross behind us, we've got the Minnesota Heart Association, Medtronic Minnesota, the School Board Association all behind us saying, 'This is really a good thing. We need this.' "

Sen. Chuck Wiger, D-Maplewood, says the impact would be immediate because of the large incidence of cardiac arrest.

"There's hundreds of thousands of people that experience cardiac arrest each year throughout the country. The survival rate is only 7 percent, and if people are trained in CPR, we can make a big impact on the survival rate."

The American Heart Association says bystander CPR can double or triple survival rates. If Dayton signs the bill into law, all high-schoolers in the state would be required to take one 30-minute CPR class before graduation.

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

More information is online at

John Michaelson, Public News Service - MN

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Seeking Lifestyle Change Award nominations!

At 469 pounds, Lloyd Toledo wasn’t happy with his weight and neither were his doctors. He was in and out of the hospital for insulin-dependent diabetes, an enlarged heart, sleep apnea, back pain, and respiratory failure. Reality hit after Lloyd’s doctor, Dr. Michael Aylward of the University of Minnesota Physicians, warned him that he would live only a few more years—if that—if he didn’t lose a tremendous amount of weight. And all this after Lloyd had already survived cancer.

The warning was a much-needed wake-up call. “I thought, ‘This is a life or death situation,’” says the now 56-year-old. “I thought ‘I have to change, starting today. I’m not stopping until I reach 225 pounds.” His motivation was not only a strong will to live, but a fierce love for his family—he wanted to be around for his wife Carolyn and his kids Chad and Michelle.

He had packed on the weight over the years by eating any and everything— nothing was off-limits. Not only was his diet far from healthy; he never exercised. “I was on oxygen and my activities were very limited,” he says. “I couldn’t walk more than a few yards at a time.”

His wife was highly supportive, making low-fat, healthy meals and snacks for the whole family (she eventually lost 44 pounds and his daughter lost 46 pounds), but Lloyd was still hungry all the time. He soon realized that food deprivation would only frustrate and discourage him.

It was all about baby steps. Instead of cutting out all snacks, he cut out one snack a day. Exercise was the same way — he knew he couldn’t start on a rigorous exercise plan, so he walked one minute a day. Just 60 seconds, but it was enough to light a fire under him. “Every two weeks after that, I took away another snack and added another minute to my walking,” he says. “This continued for a long period of time.”

The baby steps became impressive strides. He did not have gastric bypass surgery, he lost the weight by altering his diet and riding a stationary bike, walking, lifting weights, and doing a lot of yard work (he traded in his riding lawn mower for a push mower). He acknowledged the 100-pound weight loss by taking his family out to dinner. At 200 pounds, the family went out to a nice dinner to celebrate and Dr. Aylward said he would dance in the middle of the plaza at the U of M.

He has a future that never seemed possible — and a past that seemed to have belonged to someone else. He’s no longer on insulin; his weight-related health problems have all but disappeared. His advice to others hoping to shed the pounds? “Don’t think of it as a diet, it’s a lifestyle change. You must be completely dedicated to change your lifestyle.” Step up to the plate and do something, even if it’s as small as walking 60 seconds a day. Know there will be ups and downs, gains and losses, but stay focused and keep your goal in mind.

Whatever you do, do not give up. There’s a reason, after all, that it’s called a weight loss journey. “I’m extremely happy today,” he says. “I feel like I’m 30 years old again.”

The Twin Cities Lifestyle Change Award is presented annually at the Heart Walk and is sponsored locally by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota.

Apply today at

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Citizen Solutions - A different conversation about health care

Join Citizen Solutions to engage with other Minnesotans in a conversation about what’s important to the future of health and health care in our state. View this YouTube animated essay about the meetings by David Gillette. Starting in mid-April, a series of on-line activities will complement the in-person meetings. Activities will include bi-weekly discussions, a place to share your stories, and an open discussion forum.Additional forums will also be held throughout the state. In August, the Bush Foundation and the Citizens League will deliver a report to Governor Dayton’s health care reform task force on the values and priorities that have been heard from people and businesses across the state.

Scheduled Forums

April 12 Minneapolis
April 17 St. Paul
April 18 Rochester
April 24 Northfield
April 26 Eden Prairie

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Take Heart Woodbury

Woodbury MN is the newest city trying to achieve Heart Safe Community Status by training over 7,000 residents in CPR and placing public access AEDs. This is footage from their kickoff event featuring Dr. AJ Wheeler (American Heart Association State Advocacy Committee); Dale Wakasugi (SCA Survivor and American Heart Association volunteer); and Justin Bell (American Heart Association Government Relations Director). This video is being used to recruit other cities to become Heart Safe!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Seeking Lifestyle Change Award Nominations

Lloyd Before

Lloyd After

Lloyd Toledo lost over 200 pounds and his successful journey started by walking just one minute a day. Have you or a friend recently lost a lot of weight or made significant healthy changes in your life? The American Heart Association is seeking nominations for its annual Lifestyle Change Award.

Nominations are due by April 19 and can be submitted online at

The Lifestyle Change Award recognizes individuals who have made positive changes to improve their quality of life and health over the past year, such as losing weight, becoming active, eating healthier and/or managing chronic diseases such as diabetes and cholesterol. Finalists will be chosen based on criteria evaluating the significance of the change that was achieved; any obstacles that were surpassed in achieving the goal; and the power that positive lifestyle change had not only on the individual achieving it but also those around him/her.

The winner will be announced at the annual Twin Cities Heart Walk on Saturday, May 19, at Target Field in Minneapolis and honored by the American Heart Association and the Twin Cities 2012 Lifestyle Change Award sponsor, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

If Obamacare Is Struck Down, These Americans Are in Trouble

—By Adam Serwer Thu Apr. 12, 2012

Millions could be hurt if the Supreme Court scraps health care reform. Here are their stories.

Marla Tipping's 14-year-old son, Cam, has to have his blood cleaned every two weeks. He has a rare condition that makes his body produce too much cholesterol.

Tipping says her family has had "to be absolutely vigilant in never having a lapse in coverage…because many carriers would never carry you with a preexisting condition again."

That was the case before the passage of the Affordable Care Act. Now, children like Cam cannot be denied coverage because of a preexisting condition. (Similar protections for adults are set to start in 2014.) While Tipping says she and her husband still pay between $20-25,000 out of pocket every year for costs their insurance won't cover, the ACA at least guarantees that they'll be able to find some kind of policy for Cam, even if they are forced to leave their current plan.

Likewise, Stacie Ritter, a mother who participated in protests supporting the ACA's passage, no longer has to worry if her twins, who have a rare form of leukemia, will be denied coverage if they have to change insurance providers.

"This law protects them from being discriminated against if my husband lost his job," Ritter says. "Right now what's protecting us is the fact that my girls can't be discriminated against; we don't have to fear that we don't have access to insurance. That's a really scary thought if the law is repealed."

Most of the speculation over the fate of the Affordable Care Act has focused on the individual mandate and what the decision could mean for the 2012 presidential election. However, if the Supreme Court decides to throw out large parts of the law along with the mandate, Tipping's family is one of millions that could lose the benefit of provisions that are already in place.

When it issues its decision, the Supreme Court has a handful of options: It could uphold the law, strike it down, or allow only certain portions to stay on the books.

"There are basically five ways this could come out. None except upholding the law are good," says Donald Berwick, who until December 2011 served as administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, where he helped implement early provisions of the Affordable Care Act. "The implications of the law going away are dire for millions of Americans." Given all the provisions already in place, any changes spurred by the court would also be an administrative nightmare. "It would be logistically very, very difficult," Berwick adds.

The high profile parts of the bill, like the mandate, don't kick in until 2014, but defenders of the law point to several parts that are already active that would be taken away if the Supreme Court struck the entire law down. Aside from banning discrimination against children on the basis of preexisting conditions, the National Center for Health Statistics estimates that about 2.5 million young Americans have benefited from being able to stay on their parents' health insurance until age 26. Seniors no longer have to spend thousands of dollars out of pocket before qualifying for assistance paying for their prescription drugs—help that fills the so-called "doughnut hole." The Affordable Care Act has also eliminated the cap on lifetime benefits, which means people with serious health problems won't find themselves overwhelmed with health care costs because their insurance company no longer wants to help pay the bills.

Jeremy Aylward, who now works as an accountant for a hospital, was 12 years old when doctors discovered he had a congenital heart defect. At 22, he was booted off his father's insurance.

Aylward says he was unable to find a workable insurance plan given his preexisting condition. "[I had] no affordable, realistic insurance coverage options," Aylward remembers. Had the Affordable Care Act been in place, he would have been able to stay on his father's plan, and wouldn't have had to go without health insurance and pay out of pocket until a year later, when he found a job. Even then, his employer's health insurance plan still kept him off for a year because of his preexisting condition and the fact that he had "allowed" his coverage to lapse.

It might seem extreme for the Supreme Court to throw out the entire law if they find only one part of it unconstitutional. But at least one of the justices has already explicitly endorsed the idea. During oral arguments over whether or not the mandate could be overturned separately from the rest of the bill, Justice Antonin Scalia said, "My approach would say if you take the heart out of the statute, the statute's gone." Opponents of the law are justifiably concerned about the infringement on individual freedom the mandate poses. But they neglect the very real restrictions on freedom that the law rectifies by ensuring and extending health care coverage.

The Affordable Care Act remains unpopular, despite the provisions already in place. Even some of those benefiting from the bill think it's not an ideal piece of legislation. Ritter, who followed the oral arguments at the Supreme Court, simply wishes for a single-payer system.

"I don't believe our health should be a product. I don't believe we should be a commodity. I don't think my life and well-being should be for sale," Ritter says. "It's big business playing with people's lives. I can't understand why [Obamacare opponents] are not angry about that."

Mother Jones:

Join U.S. Senator Al Franken’s Staff

In a Discussion of Why the Farm Bill Will Have a Significant Impact on Metro Area Residents

Almost three-quarters of the billions of dollars in federal Farm Bill funding each year goes toward food and nutrition programs like school meals and hunger assistance. The significant impact of Farm Bill funding will be felt, not only in our state’s rural areas, but also by most Minnesotans living the urban and suburban areas.

As the U.S. Senate begins debate the 2012 Farm Bill, key members of Senator Al Franken's staff will hold a Farm Bill Nutrition Listening Tour across the Twin Cities to update those concerned about nutrition programs, public health, school nutrition and hunger programs on the status of the Farm Bill and to hear their concerns.

Senator Franken will use the input he receives from these meetings during the upcoming Senate debate to ensure Minnesota’s interests are reflected in the bill. The meetings will be led by Senator Franken’s Minnesota Agriculture Advisor, Al Juhnke. They are free and open to the public but your RSVP is requested at or 651-221-1016.

Wednesday, April 18
10:00 am
Friends in Need Food Shelf
(Located on the property of Northern Tier Energy)
255 East 3rd Street
St. Paul Park, MN 55071

Wednesday, April 18
4:00 pm
Eagan Resource Center Pantry
3904 Cedar Grove Parkway
Eagan, MN 55122

Thursday, April 19
3:30 pm
Crossroads Elementary School
543 Front Avenue
Saint Paul, MN 55117

Friday, April 20
10:00 am

The Farmstead Senior Living
(Use entrance facing round barn)
13742 Marigold Street
Andover, MN 55304

For questions, directions or to RSVP, please contact our office at or call (651) 221-1016.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

April EVP letter: Physical activity

Dear Friend of Heart:

I have a challenge for you.

Should you choose to accept this challenge, you could add years to your life – and life to your years. It’s not easy, and it requires dedication, but it is worth it.

So here it is. This spring, I challenge you to increase your physical activity level to at least 30 minutes a day, five times a week. The American Heart Association says making this one behavior change can significantly lower your risk for the No. 1 killer in America, cardiovascular disease. You can also improve your quality of life and increase your life expectancy.

“Regular physical activity is an effective lifestyle intervention that improves cardiovascular health,” says longtime American Heart Association volunteer, Dr. Barry Franklin, Director of Preventive Cardiology at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan. “It boosts your exercise capacity; reduces stress and anxiety; strengthens immunity; increases blood circulation; reduces cholesterol levels; helps prevent or manage high blood pressure; and improves your overall well-being. Because low-fit people are approximately two- to five-times more likely to die prematurely than their more fit counterparts, regular exercise can provide huge benefits for inactive individuals.”

We all know that the biggest barriers to getting enough exercise are time and motivation. Thirty minutes a day, five times a week may be too much for you at first. The American Heart Association says something is better than nothing, and it’s OK to start slow. If you don't think you'll make it for 30 minutes, set a reachable goal for today. You can work up toward your overall goal by increasing your duration over time. Or you can break up your physical activity to two or three 10- or 15-minute intervals a day. You’ll still receive the great heart-health benefits listed above. Don't let all-or-nothing thinking rob you of doing what you can every day.

The American Heart Association is here to help. Our new platform, My Heart. My Life., brings the association’s expertise in physical fitness and nutrition to you through comprehensive programs, tools and resources. From local walking path and walking club finders to food and fitness trackers, My Heart. My Life. will help your family develop lifelong healthy habits. Visit to learn more.

Are you up for the challenge? I will be watching for you when I’m on the bike trails this spring!

Warm regards,

Kevin D. Harker
Executive Vice President, Midwest Affiliate

Thursday, April 5, 2012

OMMH EHDI - Letter for Request for Reviewers

DATE: March 27, 2012

TO: Prospective Eliminating Health Disparities Grant Reviewers

FROM: José L. González, Director, Office of Minority and Multicultural Health, MN Department of Health

RE: EHDI Grant Applications Review Process

The Office of Minority and Multicultural Health would like to invite you to participate in the grant review process for the Eliminating Health Disparities Initiative (EHDI). This is an important initiative and your experience is a valuable component of the process in serving populations of color and American Indians.

The 2011 Legislature appropriated approximately $3 million in state general funds and $2 million in federal Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) funding for EHDI grants in fiscal year 2012, which begins July 1, 2012. These funds will be available for implementation grants in the following priority health areas: infant mortality, adult/child immunizations, breast and cervical cancer screening, heart disease and stroke, diabetes, HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infections, teen pregnancy, and violence and unintentional injuries and for community primary prevention grants.

If you are able to accept our invitation to participate in this critical process, please complete the attached form and return it via e-mail by Wednesday, April 4, 2012 to

If you have questions please contact Babette Jamison directly at (651) 201-5814 or .

2012 EHDI RFP Reviewer Application.doc

No butts about it: Target Field's last smoking locale snuffed out

Article by: PAUL WALSH,
Star Tribune, April 5, 2012

From the team that brought you the bellowing admonitions of Bob Casey -- "No smoking in the Metrodome" -- the Twins are removing the last place to light up on Target Field property.

For the team's first two seasons at Target Field, smokers were relegated to a corral outside left field on the promenade, cutting that number down from two locations at the Metrodome.

That final nicotine outpost will no longer exist at Monday's home opener, after the Minnesota Ballpark Authority came to the team with the idea to make Target Field smoke-free.

"When wind was blowing the right way, second-hand smoke would back into the main concourse, and it would even get up into escalators and waft up into the club level," said Twins spokesman Kevin Smith. "That was very unpleasant."

Smith said the team surveyed fans and employees "and got a resounding response that this is in the best interests of everyone."

The ban includes not only inside the stadium but all of Target Plaza, the sidewalk along 7th Street, the promenade on the west side and Target Field's side of 5th Street.

As for any fan wanting to leave at any point for a smoke and then returning, Smith said, "You may not. And that's not a smoking thing. That's just our long-standing policy of having a no re-entry rule."

The smoking ban applies to any goings on at Target Field, whether it's a concert or a private gathering such as a wedding.

When the ballpark authority meets on Friday, chairman Steve Cramer said he will suggest reviving the public address audio of the late Bob Casey's fan-pleasing directive starting Monday.

"I think that would be a great idea, sort of nostalgia of the Dome," Cramer said. "It's certainly drilled into all of our memories."

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

MNC story: Minnesotans Step Up for National Walking Day

Public News Service-

(04/04/12) ST. PAUL, Minn. - All it takes to get on the road to better health is to put one foot in front of the other.

This is National Walking Day, and the American Heart Association is encouraging Minnesotans to take a break from their busy schedules to take a few steps in the right direction - literally.

Kim Daninger, a wellness consultant for Medtronic, says just about everyone can begin a walking program.

"It's very cost effective and efficient to do. You don't need any special equipment. You can do it just about anywhere, and even just 20 minutes a day can help burn off up to seven pounds a year, if you did nothing else different in your daily life."

Daninger says incorporating walking into your lifestyle has a multitude of benefits.

"It helps reduce your risk of dying prematurely, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, colon cancer. It can also help decrease your stress. It can help improve your circulation and help increase bone density."

Helping people stay healthy also is becoming a big focus for employers, Daninger says, since obesity costs American companies $225 billion a year in lost productivity.

"Companies are realizing that one of the best and about the only way they can control their health-care expenses is to try and help keep their employees healthy - and so they are trying to promote exercise and fitness through whatever means they can."

Every hour of regular exercise means a gain of two hours of life expectancy, according to the AHA.

Tips for designing and sticking to a walking program are 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:

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Did you see it?

Did you see our advertisement in today’s paper? The American Heart Association placed this advertisement in papers throughout Minnesota, encouraging Minnesotans and legislators to save lives by supporting CPR in Schools legislation.

Take a minute to take action using the link below, making sure Governor Dayton has seen the ad and knows you support this life-saving legislation.

Take Action! Send the CPR ad to Governor Dayton

Remind Governor Dayton that CPR in Schools legislation would ensure all Minnesota high school students receive CPR training before they graduate. Teaching our students CPR can be easy, low-cost or no cost and most importantly save lives! If we assure all students get this training before they graduate, we’ll be training the next generation of lifesavers.

Follow this link to: Send the ad to Governor Dayton

Then ask your friends to take action. Share this alert on your Facebook page or Twitter feed by using this message:

Help me save lives! Send a message to the Governor asking him to create the next generation of lifesavers and support CPR in Schools:

Thank you for your continued support and immediate action on this very important issue.

Your MN Advocacy Team,
Justin Bell, Rachel Callanan, Ngia Mua and Anne Simaytis