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!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

AHA in the News: How to Avoid the Biggest Health Risks; U.S. News and World Report

On Monday, May 7, the U.S. News & World Report published a must-read article that highlights the American Heart Association’s ‘Life’s Simple 7’ and praises our volunteers, staff and supporters for all the work being done to educate Americans on the importance of healthy living to reduce the prevalence of heart attack and stroke. Below you’ll find a link to this excellent article. Please take a few minutes to read it and then pass it along to share with our many supporters, donors and volunteers.
“How to Avoid the Biggest Health Risks”
Summary: U.S. News & World Report article, May 7, 2012
This excellent article, featuring the lifesaving work of the American Heart Association, explains how more Americans could escape an early death by following simple advice:
·         * Adopt a healthy lifestyle
·         * Know your risk
·         * Get screened
·         * Know the warning signs
According to the article, a recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) suggests that abiding by six or more of the American Heart Association’s “cardiovascular health metrics” — not smoking, being physically active, maintaining a healthy diet and weight, as well as normal levels of blood pressure, blood sugar, and total cholesterol – “seems to make people about 75 percent less likely to die of heart disease than by adhering to only one or none.” 
The good news is that adhering to the AHA’s cardiovascular health metrics or ‘Life’s Simple 7’ works to lower the hazard of cardiovascular disease mortality. The bad news is that according to the JAMA  article, the prevalence of having all seven factors at ideal levels was less than two percent. Imagine what the impact would be if every American used the information provided in ‘Life’s Simple 7’ on the AHA’s ‘My Life Check’ website to take action to improve their health and longevity.
We can take pride in our progress but there is so much more that needs to be done. We must make sure we don’t lose ground in our fight against heart diseases and stroke because we really can help others learn and live. Thanks to the hard work and dedication of American Heart Association volunteers, supporters and staff across the country, amazing progress is being made.
Thank you for your support of our lifesaving mission. . .
Kevin Harker
Executive Vice President
Midwest Affiliate

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Minnesota You’re the Cure Advocates Talk Fresh Fruits and Vegetables on Capitol Hill

On Wednesday May 17, You’re the Cure advocates from six key states (CO, KS, MN, NE, OR, and TX) flew to Washington D.C. to urge their Members of Congress protect the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP).  Advocates Jo DeBruycker and Annette Derouin represented Minnesota.

The FFVP provides snacks of fresh fruit and vegetables to elementary school students in low-income schools across the country, increasing access to and consumption of fresh produce.  As Congress reauthorizes the 2012 Farm Bill, the program faces threats.

Advocates attended an afternoon of issue training and legislative meeting practice to prepare them for their day on Capitol Hill, where they met with Senators, Representatives, and staff.   

Additionally advocates participated in a congressional briefing, The Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Program: A Win for Agriculture, Children, Schools, Families and Public Health, where they shared firsthand experience with implementing the program in their schools. 

Annette, Director of Food and Nutrition Services, Willmar Public Schools in Willmar, MN, noted how the FFVP is transforming her elementary students into fruit and vegetable lovers, recalling how the students applaud and yell out “thank you” when the fresh fruit and vegetable snacks are delivered to their classrooms every day.

Jo recapped the meetings with Minnesota legislators Representative Colin Peterson and Senators Klobuchar and Franken, saying “we felt all visit were effective and bringing our local stories to D.C. has impact on all three offices.”

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Safe Routes to School Victory!

Thanks to all of our volunteers who made a real difference on this bill! 
We are already planning ahead for next year to secure the funding needed 
for Safe Routes to School in Minnesota.

The Legislature has adjourned for the year and we are happy to report one more legislative victory in the final days of the session. The policy language to establish the Minnesota Safe Routes to School program was passed as part of a larger omnibus transportation bill. The bill passed with very strong bipartisan support (Senate 61-5; House 128-2) and Governor Dayton signed the bill into law on May 10th.

Thank legislators and the Governor for taking this important first step to promote walking and biking to school!  

Minnesota is one of just a handful of states that have established a state-level Safe Routes to School program to complement the federal program! The law requires the Minnesota Dept. of Transportation (MNDOT) to establish a state SRTS program and account. While $3 million was requested in the bonding bill, the account received no funding this year. The program would be open to all Minnesota schools on a competitive basis (the federal program excludes high schools from applying) and requires a resolution of support from the local school board. The law also requires the commissioner of MNDOT to establish criteria for the program, publish a manual on the safe routes to school program, and requires an annual report to the Legislature on the program.  

While not funded this year, this is an extremely important first step in promoting SRTS in Minnesota. Rarely does legislation make it through the process in a single year, so this policy language is a great victory to be celebrated. Thank you for your help by contacting your legislators at key points during the legislative session. You helped pass this important law and laid the groundwork to secure funding for the program next year.

Thank Policymakers for Promoting the Health of Minnesota’s Children! 

Thank you!  

Your MNA Advocacy Team,
Anne, Justin, Ngia and Rachel

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Do you know the warning signs of the #3 killer in Minnesota?

May is American Stroke Month.  This is a perfect opportunity to refresh yourself with the warning signs of a stroke and more importantly take a few minutes to learn what healthy steps you can take to reduce your chances of having a stroke!  In coordination with the Minnesota Department of Health, the American Stroke Association created a PSA that will run throughout the state educating Minnesotans on how to recognize a stroke and the importance of calling 9-1-1 immediately.  Watch the PSA here.  

Send a message to educate your legislators on the warning signs of stroke and share our PSA

We are also happy to report that Governor Dayton proclaimed May American Stroke Month in Minnesota, urging citizens to familiarize themselves with the risk factors associated with stroke, and to join in supporting the efforts, programs, services, and advocacy of organizations striving to enhance public awareness of stroke in Minnesotans of all ages.  

Send a message thanking Governor Dayton for declaring May American Stroke Month  

The Warning Signs of a Stroke can include:
  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden, severe headache with no known cause
If you or someone you know experiences any of the above warning signs, call 9-1-1 immediately and seek medical help.  

For more information on the warning signs and risk factors for stroke visit our website here.   

Thank you for helping us to build healthier lives, free of cardiovascular disease and stroke.  

Your MN Advocacy Team,
Anne, Justin and Rachel

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Stroke continues to be a leading cause of death in Minnesota

Health officials urge Minnesotans to learn the signs and symptoms of stroke during National Stroke Awareness Month in May.
Stroke is the third leading cause of death in Minnesota, with 2,154 deaths in 2010, according to new data from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). During that year, more than 75,000 Minnesotans, or 1.9 percent of adults, reported having had a stroke in their lifetime. Previously available data from 2009 show that:
  • Minnesotans were hospitalized more than 11,000 times for stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA).
  • The total inpatient charges for stroke-related hospitalizations were more than $367 million, or more than $31,000 per hospitalization.
  • Only 55 percent of Minnesota adults could correctly identify all five major signs and symptoms of stroke.
A stroke is a "brain attack" that occurs when blood flow to tissues in the brain is interrupted. Strokes can lead to permanent disability and death. To help raise awareness about stroke in Minnesota, Gov. Mark Dayton has proclaimed May as Stroke Awareness Month in Minnesota.
Dr. Ed Ehlinger, Minnesota Commissioner of Health, urged Minnesotans to learn the warning signs and symptoms of stroke.

"When it comes to strokes, we say that time lost is brain lost," Ehlinger said. "That's why it is critical for Minnesotans to know the signs and symptoms of stroke and to call 9-1-1 at the first sign of symptoms."

The signs and symptoms of stroke are:
  • Sudden confusion or trouble speaking.
  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side.
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness or loss of balance.
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause.
If you think that you or someone else is having a stroke, call 9-1-1 immediately.

More information about stroke and its risk factors is available from MDH's Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Unit at

For more information on the signs and symptoms of stroke and access to resources for stroke survivors, please visit the Minnesota Stroke Association's website at

For more information about cardiovascular diseases and stroke, visit the Minnesota Affiliate of the American Heart Association's website at

Health professionals looking for more information on how to conduct stroke community education events can find resources at the Minnesota Stroke Partnership's website at

NOTE: A 30-second public service announcement about the signs and symptoms of a stroke is available at