Archive for the ‘Prevention’ Category

Statement from HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on National High Blood Pressure Education Month

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

May is National High Blood Pressure Education Month and Stroke Awareness Month. It makes sense to observe both in the same month because when you control your blood pressure, you reduce your risk of stroke —the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. Unfortunately, 1 in 3 U.S. adults—an estimated 68 million of us—have high blood pressure, also called hypertension. This “silent killer” can damage the heart, brain, and kidneys without a single symptom.

Right now, half of those Americans with high blood pressure still don’t have it adequately controlled. African Americans are at particular risk—often having more severe hypertension, and developing it at younger ages.

Each year, more than 795,000 Americans have a stroke and more than 130,000 people in the United States die every year after a stroke—an average of one stroke-related death every 4 minutes.

Together, the financial costs of high blood pressure and stroke are staggering: annual costs of hypertension are $156 billion, with medical costs accounting for nearly $131 billion and lost productivity from illness and premature death of about $25 billion a year. Annual stroke costs to the nation are more than a billion dollars a week.

Fortunately, there are some things in life you can control—and blood pressure is one.

Helping Americans with high blood pressure get it under control to reduce strokes and other forms of cardiovascular disease is a high priority for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and through our national Million Hearts initiative, we are making a difference. Co-led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services—and in collaboration with many other government and private partners—we aim to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes by 2017.

Million Hearts is working to reduce high blood pressure with a one-two punch; the first, focusing health care professionals, health systems, insurers, employers, and individuals on the link between good blood pressure control and good health and, the second, encouraging all Americans to know their blood pressure, monitor it regularly, and talk with their doctor, nurse, pharmacist, or community health worker about how to keep it in the normal range. From diet and physical activity to medications, there are easy, effective and economical ways to measure, routinely monitor, and control blood pressure.

Million Hearts is supported by the many improvements to health care provided by the health care law, the Affordable Care Act, which now strengthens the prevention of stroke by ensuring that many adult patients receive preventive services, including blood pressure screenings, at no cost.

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Thank Your Mom and Macy’s Will Donate to the AHA!

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

Mother’s Day is fast approaching, and everyone is trying to find unique ways to say how much they appreciate their Mom. In addition to the cards, flowers, and dinners, Macy’s has come up with another to say thanks.

Simply go the Macy’s Magical Moments Facebook Page and send Mom an e-card telling her how much you love her. For every card you send, Macy’s will donate $3 to American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women Campaign. Simply select it among the list of worthy charities. You can send up to 15 cards and Macy’s will donate $3 for each one!

Thank Mom by having Macy’s donate to this worthy cause today!

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Three You’re the Cure Advocates Go to the Media to Talk about Heart Attacks in Women

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

Three You’re the Cure advocates were recently highlighted in two ABC News spots talking about a recent study that showed younger women who have heart attacks do not always experience chest pain during the event and the attack can be more deadly as a result.

Gail Harris-Berry was profiled on a story that aired on ABC News with Diane Sawyer, where she was turned down by multiple hospitals because she didn’t show the “classic” heart attack symptons.

Tami Kimet told her story to ABCNEWS.com, where she went to the hospital to get relief from what she thought was the flu but instead received life-saving surgery due to a heart attack. In the same article, Dr. Malissa Wood explains how younger women tend not to recognize the signs of a heart attack, but the effects of one can be devastating.

Both Gail and Dr. Wood will be attending the White House Community Leaders Briefing on Cardiovascular Health this Friday, where they will share their stories and experiences with top Obama Administration officials.

Check out the video below to see Gail Harris-Berry’s story and click here to see Tami’s story and Dr. Wood’s advice on how to recognize the signs of a heart attack in younger women.

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Postal Service Unveils Heart Health Stamp

Thursday, February 9th, 2012

History was made today. Right in the midst of American Heart Month, the United States Postal Service unveiled a new Heart Health Forever® stamp during a commemorative ceremony in Washington, DC. The stamp was designed to help raise awareness of the nation’s No. 1 killer, heart disease. Since 2001, the American Heart Association has been advocating for this stamp and today the USPS delivered.

“We want to thank the United States Postal Service for creating this exciting new stamp that will help us advance our mission to build healthier lives free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke,” said Barry Franklin, Ph.D., Chairman of the American Heart Association National Advocacy Coordinating Committee. “This stamp is a reminder to all Americans that embracing healthier lifestyle changes today can improve all your tomorrows.”

U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe and Dr. Stuart Seides, Executive Director of MedStar each spoke about the importance of the new stamp and how the image communicates the feelings of wellness and vitality that comes from physical activity and a well-balanced diet.

You can pick up your Heart Health Forever® stamp at the post office today and begin spreading heart health awareness whenever you mail a letter, a birthday card or even your electric bill!

Also, click here to watch a short clip from the ceremony!


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Pulse Oximetry Screening: Simple Heart Test that Could Save Newborns’ Lives

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

Today marks the beginning of Congenital Heart Defects Awareness Week—a great time to draw attention to a non-invasive screening test that helps identify newborns at risk for heart defects and potentially saves their lives. The test, pulse oximetry, or pulse ox, consists of sensors placed on a baby’s hand and foot to check blood oxygen levels. If their levels are too low, additional tests are conducted to detect critical or possibly life-threatening heart defects that might otherwise be missed. With congenital heart defects considered to be the leading cause of birth-defect related deaths in the U.S., new research suggests wider use of pulse ox screening could help identify more than 90 percent of heart defects.

U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius has suggested that critical congenital heart defects screening be added to the “Recommended Uniform Screening Panel” for newborns before they are released from a hospital or birthing facility. To achieve this goal, association staff and volunteers are working in states across the country to enact pulse ox screening policies that will allow babies with heart defects to live longer and fuller lives. Thanks to the work of association advocates and key stakeholders, New Jersey, Maryland and Indiana have all recently passed laws requiring newborns to have pulse ox screenings prior to being discharged from the hospital. In New Jersey, just hours after their law took effect, a newborn’s life was saved.

The American Heart Association will continue its efforts to educate key decision makers and the public about the critical role pulse ox screening plays in improving early diagnosis for newborns. We will also work to increase funding for support and educational services, enhance scientific research in this area, and expand access to quality care for the nation’s children

To learn more about congenital heart defects and pulse ox screening policies in your state, visit You’re the Cure today!

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State of Women’s Heart Health Webinar

Friday, January 27th, 2012

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.

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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.

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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!

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Prevention Fund Remains Intact But Could Continue to Face Threats

Monday, January 9th, 2012

The Affordable Care Act created the Prevention and Public Health Fund (Fund), which represents an unprecedented investment in programs that help keep Americans healthy. If left untouched, the Fund will provide $15 billion over 10 years to state and community efforts to prevent illness and promote healthy living. The programs supported by the Fund focus on issues that are important to the American Heart Association (AHA), such as increasing physical activity, improving nutrition, preventing and reversing childhood obesity, and preventing tobacco use.

Since the Fund has been enacted, some Members of Congress have disagreed about the value of investing in Prevention. To counter this argument, the AHA participated in “An Ounce of Prevention” Advocacy Day in December, aimed at educating lawmakers on the importance of prevention funding and asking for their support to protect and preserve the Fund. Thirty-eight groups participated in the event and met with staff of 72 members of Congress.

The good news is that the Fund survived 2011 and remains intact– for the moment. The bad news is that it will continue to be a target for cuts. In addition, the Fund will be subject to automatic funding cuts in 2013 that were negotiated last year

AHA will continue to work with our partners to preserve this important source of funding that can help move this nation from a focus on sickness and disease to one based on wellness and prevention.

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Make a Call for Prevention Today!

Thursday, December 15th, 2011

If we invested just $10 a person each year in community health programs, our country would save $16 billion a year – while still providing quality health care. Those are some big savings! That’s why we need your help to tell Congress to keep investing in public health through the Prevention and Public Health Fund.

The Prevention Fund was recently established to empower individuals and communities with the tools and resources they need to help prevent heart disease, stroke, obesity, and tobacco use. But now it is in jeopardy as Congress looks to make spending cuts. Tell your elected officials, “Don’t make cuts to the Prevention Fund” by calling them today.

Calling your elected officials is fast and painless, and today you’ll be joining with thousands of people who are speaking out. We are partnering with dozens of other public health organizations to defend the Prevention Fund by calling lawmakers today. Here’s how to make your call:

1. Before the end of the day, call your legislators by connecting to the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121. Don’t know your legislators? Click here  and use our Legislator Look-Up tool to find out.

2. A staff person will answer the phone. It’s their job to take calls from constituents, so don’t be shy! Tell that person your name, where you’re calling from, and that you are counting on the Member to support the Prevention Fund, which will save American lives by helping prevent heart disease and stroke.

3. Many calls end here. However, if you like, you can add that he/she should support the fund because:

• The U.S. needs to invest in prevention in order to get health care costs and the budget under control. For example, the combination of cardiovascular disease (CVD), cancer, and diabetes costs the U.S. an additional $1 trillion in lost productivity each year.

• The Fund supports effective, proven prevention programs aimed at reducing chronic illnesses, such as childhood obesity prevention and tobacco cessation.

4. Once you’ve ended your call, click here to tell us how it went!

Congressional staffers are there to take your calls and keep tabs on what constituents care about to inform the decisions of our nation’s leaders. Your quick call will make a big difference.

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5 Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About the Prevention and Public Health Fund

Monday, December 5th, 2011

1) The Fund was established under the Affordable Care Act to implement state and local programs to help improve health, reduce health disparities, and lower health care costs.

2) It represents an unprecedented investment- $15 billion over 10 years- that will help prevent chronic diseases, including heart disease and stroke.

3) People in all 50 states and DC benefit from the fund.

4) Prevention funding is a wise investment in our future. A report from Trust for America’s Health concluded that investing $10 per person, per year in proven, community-based programs that increase physical activity, improve nutrition, and prevent smoking could save the country more than $16 billion annually within 5 years.

5) Serious threats to the Fund exist as Congress looks for spending cuts, so health advocacy groups, like the AHA, are urging our nation’s leaders keep chronic disease prevention as a priority.

Learn more about how the Fund improves wellness and prevention for your state- and stay tuned for opportunities to help protect this important investment in our nation’s health.

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New Heart-Healthy Benefits in Medicare

Friday, November 11th, 2011

Medicare just made it easier for those over 65 to live heart-healthy! On Thursday, November 11, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that Medicare will offer more free preventative services that aim to help reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.  These new benefits are in addition to the many free prevention services established under the Affordable Care Act and are crucial to ensure that our seniors will live well into their golden years. 

Specifically, those in Medicare can receive a yearly in-person meeting with a qualifying primary care practitioner to talk about heart disease and stroke prevention, get screened for hypertension, and discuss healthy eating habits. Read more about the new benefit and see if you or a loved one qualifies for the valuable service. 

This new benefit is a part of the Million Hearts initiative that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced in conjunction with CMS and the Centers for Disease Control. The American Heart Association is a proud partner of the Million Hearts initiative and supports its goal of preventing a million heart attacks and strokes by 2017. To find out more information, visit the Million Hearts website

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