Friday, November 11, 2011

Secretary Aragon comes out in support of shared-use agreement bill

Oklahoma's Secretary of Veterans Affiars, Gen. Rita Aragon, authored a column in today's Tulsa World in support of clarifying liability laws as they relate to shared-use agreements.

Shared-use schools can help battle obesity

Friday, November 11, 2011

As a proud member of our nation's military, enlisting in the Oklahoma Air National Guard in 1979, and as a volunteer for the American Heart Association, I am deeply concerned about the obesity epidemic facing America's young people.

Recently, an organization of retired senior military leaders issued a report warning Congress that obesity had become so severe in the United States that it was hampering military recruiting. At least 9 million 17- to 24-year-olds are too fat to serve in the military.

Otherwise excellent candidates are repeatedly turned away by military recruiters because they are too fat to fight.
Within a 10-year period ending in 2008, the number of states with 40 percent or more of their young adults overweight or obese went from just one state - Kentucky - to 39 states.

You can read the rest of the article here.

AHA Statement on passing of Senator Myers

The AHA joined with members from the Smoke-Free Oklahoma Coalition in releasing a statement about the passing of Senator Myers. Senator David Myers passed away Thursday from a lung infection. He served as our legislative champion in the Senate for smoke-free legislation and will be greatly missed.

 Health organizations saddened by loss of Senator David Myers

The State of Oklahoma has lost a great champion with the passing of Sen. David Myers.

The Republican from Ponca City died on Thursday. He was a strong supporter of issues related to tobacco control in Oklahoma.

“It will be hard to fill the gap left by Sen. Myers’ passing,” said Marilyn Davidson, government relations director for the American Heart Association. “He recently stated that passing smoke-free legislation was going to be a main priority for him during his last three years in office. He was a true treasure.”

The coalition of the American Heart Association, American Lung Association and American Cancer Society partnered regularly with Myers on health-related issues, especially those related to fighting tobacco.

“This is a great loss to Oklahoma. He felt a tremendous personal mission to pass legislation to protect all Oklahomans from secondhand smoke,” said Pat Marshall, Legislative and Government Relations Director for the American Cancer Society.


Monday, October 31, 2011

Celebrate Start! Eating Healthy Day

Please join the American Heart Association for our first ever local celebration of National START EATING HEALTHY DAY! The event is sponsored by Mercy Hospital and hosted by Francis Tuttle Vo-Tech, Rockwell campus.

Wednesday, November 2nd from 1:00-3:00pm
Francis Tuttle Vo-Tech, Rockwell Campus
12777 N. Rockwell Avenue
(Just south of the John Kilpatrick Turnpike in northwest Oklahoma City)

Area hospitals are sending representatives to create a heart healthy dish…the secret ingredient won’t be announced until the challenge begins.

Spread the word- we’d like to see the place packed! Come cheer on the challengers and help us attract attention to the need for improvement in the eating habits of Oklahomans.

Please also consider an office or family activity that celebrates this day, and send us your photos so we can use your stories as inspiration for others!!!

Plan to eat healthy all day next Wednesday…and beyond!

Thank you!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Stroke Advocates Have Nothing to Fear

Stroke advocates for the American Heart Association want to let lawmakers know that they have nothing to fear this Halloween!!! It’s estimated one out of every six people worldwide will have a stroke. This might scare some people but I know that there are changes we can make in Oklahoma to reverse this trend. We can do this by improving our systems of care, reducing our risk factors and making sure our citizens know the signs of a stroke.

Below are some pictures of advocates telling lawmakers to improve stroke care in Oklahoma.

Telling the Story of Strokes In Oklahoma

Over the past month through out You're the Cure network you've heard about the signs of strokes, you've heard about stroke care in Oklahoma and you've heard about the financial cost of stroke. Now it's time to hear a personal story about how stroke can change a life. Pam Bedford is a stroke survivor and valued advocate with the American Heart Association. She has graciously agreed to share her story with us.

Above is a picture of Pam visiting with
Rep. Ann Coody at the State Capitol about
stroke care in Oklahoma.

My name is Pam Bedford and I am a stroke survivor of five years. I was 43 years old when my life changed. It happened while getting ready one Saturday morning when I heard a lout buzzing in my ears, numbness on the right side of my body, a horrific headche and an overwhelming urge to fall asleep. My husband of 11 months called 911 and I was rushed to St. Anthony Hospital. I fell unconsious and woke up 5 days later. I spent the next 24 days in the rehabilitation depatment learning how to talk, walk, eat. sit up and try to understand why this has happened. I was like a little baby learning basic skills all over again. The kind of stroke I had is called a hemorrhagic stroke (brain bleed). I have left side muscle weakness and right side nerve damage along with a number of other issues. Being left handed, I had to learn to start using my right hand. My old "normal" was no more and now I have to create a new normal. Today, I still live with the side effects of my stroke. I am leading a fulfilling life. I have learned to listen to my body more and not take life for granted. This has given me an opportunity of helping others that I never would have had.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Strokes Are Scary: Reduce Your Risk today!

Stroke is the leading cause of disability and the third leading cause of death in the United States. A stroke can not only be devastating it can be SCARY. That’s why it’s important to reduce your risks.

Smoking cigarettes and exposure to secondhand smoke greatly increases your risk of stroke and is one of the biggest risk factors that you CAN control. Consider these facts from the CDC:

• Cigarette smoking approximately doubles a person's risk for stroke.
• The U.S. incidence of stroke is estimated at 600,000 cases per year, and the one-year fatality rate is about 30%. (p. 393)
• The risk of stroke decreases steadily after smoking cessation. Former smokers have the same stroke risk as nonsmokers after 5 to 15 years.
• About 60 percent of American children ages 4-11 are exposed to secondhand smoke at home.
• On average, smokers die 13 to 14 years earlier than nonsmokers.

One way we can improve our environment in Oklahoma is to ask lawmakers to pass a law allowing cities to go 100% smoke-free. I know Strokes Are Scary but contacting your lawmaker isn’t. Sign up to be a You’re the Cure advocate today! Go to

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Strokes Are Scary: But they don’t have to be

If you look at the statistics they will scare you. Heart disease and stroke, the first and third leading causes of death for men and women, are among the most widespread and costly health problems facing our nation today, yet they also are among the most preventable. Cardiovascular diseases, including heart disease and stroke, account for more than one-third (33.6%) of all U.S. deaths.

795,000 strokes occur each year in the United States costing taxpayers $53.9 billion.

Having a stroke can be a life-changing event. Being prepared to prevent, respond to, and recover from all types of public health threats requires that states and localities have the right tools and knowledge available to them. Public health strategies and policies that support healthy living, encourage healthy environments, and promote a quality system of care are vital to improving the public's health and saving lives.

Don’t be scared! Become a You’re the Cure advocate and contact your lawmaker today! Find out how here

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Strokes Are Scary! AHA advocates speak out


Recently the AHA was invited to attend Stroke of Courage, an event at St. Anthony Hospital, with special guest speaker Charlie Daniels. At the event we asked stroke survivors to tell lawmakers that Strokes Are Scary and changes need to be made to Oklahoma's system of care. 

Above is stroke survivor and AHA volunteer, Gary Bulmer, with his wife. 

Monday, September 12, 2011

Governor Fallin Highlights The Importance of Fighting Childhood Obesity

I wanted to share with you Governor Fallin's monthly column for September. In it she highlights the need to address childhood obesity in our state.

Governor Mary Fallin’s “Oklahoma Now” Column

Headline: “Time to Get Healthy: The Costs of Obesity and Poor Health”

By Governor Mary Fallin

This September is Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, and it’s a good time for all Oklahomans to reflect on the importance of healthy living. As a mother, childhood obesity is an issue that speaks to my heart. No parent wants to see a child as young as seven developing chronic diseases, like type-2 diabetes, once only found in adults. It pains me to think of the health risks and emotional heart ache that these children face and may continue to face if they develop into overweight grownups.

As Oklahoma’s chief executive, however, it concerns me for another reason: the dangerous implications for our economy, our businesses and our state budget.

Most Oklahomans know our state has a problem with obesity. Few are aware, however, of the terrible financial toll that poor health is taking on our economy, workforce productivity and our businesses, not just here but all across the nation. A report recently released by the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine offers a sobering look at the United States’ obesity epidemic and the financial bottom line that comes with it. Simply put, if left unchecked, that epidemic will cause enormous financial strain on families, taxpayers, government and businesses alike.

The new report examines the hidden costs of obesity for businesses, and the numbers are staggering. Loss of productivity due to obesity now costs U.S. businesses an estimated $73.1 billion per year. To put that number in perspective, that money could be used to hire 1.8 million new workers in the United States at an annual salary of $42,000. Instead it’s being used to pay medical bills of employees who are overweight and sick, and draining the coffers of the small businesses we count on to create jobs and invest in our communities.

The cost to taxpayers, state government and families is also enormous. In Oklahoma, it’s estimated that up to 11 percent of our total medical expenditures can be directly linked to the obesity epidemic. Oklahoma taxpayers shell out millions of dollars annually to treat the chronic illnesses related to overweight and obese Oklahomans on Medicare and Medicaid – money that could be spent instead on lowering the tax burden for our citizens or funding roads and schools.

Studies show that as many as 70 percent of overweight and obese children become overweight and obese adults. If that statistic does not change, we will have a serious workforce issue on our hands.

Recently, I was in New York City touting Oklahoma’s strong economy and economic development successes, something that few governors can do during this national recession. Oklahoma has made great strides in the past several years in becoming a business friendly state that supports the creation of new jobs. In the 2011 legislative session alone, we passed comprehensive lawsuit reform, a rewrite of the workers’ compensation laws, and worked to strengthen our public schools. All of these changes make Oklahoma a more attractive place to locate or expand a business.

Unfortunately, as a variety of reports continue to show, the health of our citizens continues to decline, with diseases related to obesity being the main culprit. Preventable illnesses cost Oklahoma businesses and taxpayers more than $800 million in health care costs and lost workforce productivity. Just as high taxes and overregulation are an impediment to business recruitment and job growth, so too is poor health.

To continue the Oklahoma economy’s forward momentum, we can and we must do better when it comes to the health of our citizens. To that end, the Oklahoma Health Department will continue its support of public health campaigns like “Shape Our Future” that focus on voluntary partnerships to promote healthy living, exercise and proper nutrition in our businesses, communities and schools.

The reality is, however, that healthy life choices are just what they sound like: choices. To tackle the obesity endemic in Oklahoma and start reversing course, all of us will have to make good choices about our health and our wellness. Just as important, we will have to teach our children about the importance of exercise and good nutrition.

As we begin Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, I would ask all our parents to talk to their children about the importance of being healthy. Let’s work together to make Oklahoma a healthier and more prosperous state and to make ourselves healthier people. We owe it to ourselves and to our children.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

September is Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

It's September already and like every year we are celebrating Childhood Obesity Awareness month. I wanted to take this time to share an editorial from the Oklahoman that was written by fellow childhood obesity advocate and AHA volunteer Amber England about the importance of taking action this legislative session.

You can find the link below.

Tobacco Use and Academic Achievement

Data presented from the 2009 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) show a negative association between tobacco use and academic achievement after controlling for sex, race/ethnicity, and grade level. This means that students with higher grades are less likely to engage in tobacco use behaviors than their classmates with lower grades, and students who do not engage in tobacco use behaviors receive higher grades than their classmates who do engage in tobacco use behaviors.

Please click here to read the full report.

Friday, August 26, 2011

School's daily PE, fresh fruit set kids on a healthy path


The school board said, "Make health a priority."

With that directive, Cheryl McIntire began the next phase of her career three years ago, as principal of Northeast Elementary Magnet School in Danville, Illinois.

This summer, she flew to New York to receive the first Gold Award given to an elementary school by the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, which has been working with schools since 2006 to fight childhood obesity.

Certain things at Northeast Elementary really stand out. During class, the teachers lead students through a physical activity break, where they do yoga or some simple stretching. They have PE class every single day, and snack on fresh fruits like strawberries, grapes and blueberries.

The Alliance, founded by the Clinton Foundation and the American Heart Association, currently partners with about 12,000 of the nation’s 99,000 elementary and secondary schools to offer free guidance on improving school environments.

Of those 12,000 schools, only three have received the Gold Award.

“If we can measure that we have stopped the rise of young children who are obese and chronically overweight and that it’s going back down, and if we can see a reversal in the number of young people who developed type II diabetes,” former President Bill Clinton tells Dr. Sanjay Gupta, “then I think you will see that will have enormous ramifications through the health care system.”

In the halls of Northeast Elementary, a banner announces the school’s Gold Award status, but the real impact, say administrators, is felt well beyond the campus walls.

“One of the things on our parents' survey is how excited they were about the exposure that our children have had to fruits and vegetables that they have never tasted before,” says McIntire, “and how much they’ve encouraged their parents when they’re grocery shopping to buy those things at home.”

Online link to the article

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The ABC'c of PCIPs

As kids go back to school, families are balancing a lot, from shopping for school supplies to scheduling vaccinations and sports physicals. Fortunately, one thing that families no longer have to worry about is accessing health coverage for children with pre-existing conditions. Insurance companies can no longer limit or deny coverage for kids up to age 19 because of a pre-existing condition – a health problem, disease or disability that the child developed before their parents applied for health coverage. And starting in 2014, individuals of all ages cannot be denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition. In the meantime, Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plans are available for those who have been denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition and who have been uninsured for at least six months. To learn more, read about the ABCs of PCIPs or check out your state page for details.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Study: Boston Public Schools’ Sugary Drink Ban is Working


A new study indicates that the Boston public schools’ ban on sugary drinks has paid off, with high school students drinking less of such beverages even when they’re not at school.

The study funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation tracked 9th through 12th graders for two years after the ban began. It found sugar-sweetened beverage consumption, inside and outside school, fell from 1.71 average servings per day in 2004 to 1.38 servings in 2006, according to results released Tuesday. That’s roughly 45 fewer calories daily.

Please click here for more information.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Some exercise is better than none. More exercise is even better to reduce heart disease risk! As little as 2.5 hours of moderate intensity physical activity per week can lower the overall risk of heart disease by 14 percent!

New FTC Reports Show Tobacco Companies Still Spend Huge Sums on Marketing


On Friday, the Federal Trade Commission released its most recent reports on cigarette and smokeless tobacco marketing for the years 2007 and 2008. While spending is down for cigarette marketing since 2006, smokeless marketing is up substantially (although smokeless marketing remains a small fraction of cigarette marketing), and tobacco marketing still dwarfs (by a ratio of 20 to 1), state spending on tobacco prevention and cessation. Current tobacco marketing also still represents a 50 percent increase since the year of the 1998 tobacco settlement.

The cigarette companies continue to spend the bulk of their marketing dollars on price discounting (72%) and other point of sale and price promotions (coupons, etc.).

The CTFK statement on the new reports is below, following by links to the actual FTC reports and FTC press release:

FTC Reports Show Tobacco Companies Still Spend Huge Sums on Marketing – Cigarette Marketing Declined, but Smokeless Tobacco Marketing Doubled in Recent Years

Statement of Matthew L. Myers

President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

WASHINGTON, DC (August 1, 2011) – The Federal Trade Commission on Friday reported that cigarette marketing expenditures in the United States declined from $12.5 billion in 2006 to $10.9 billion in 2007 and $9.9 billion in 2008. The FTC also reported that smokeless tobacco marketing increased from $354.1 million in 2006 to $411.3 million in 2007 and $547.9 million in 2008. When measured from 2005, smokeless tobacco marketing has more than doubled (from $250.8 million to $547.9 million).

While it is a positive step that cigarette marketing has declined, the tobacco companies continue to spend huge sums to market their deadly and addictive products. Counting both cigarette and smokeless tobacco marketing, the tobacco companies spent $10.5 billion on marketing in 2008 – nearly $29 million each day and 52 percent more than they spent at the time of the 1998 settlement of state lawsuits against the industry, which was supposed to curtail tobacco marketing.

Tobacco companies in 2008 spent 20 times more to market tobacco products than the states currently spend on programs to prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit (the states spent $517.9 million on such programs in fiscal year 2011). This huge mismatch between how much tobacco companies spend to encourage tobacco use and how much states spend to discourage it is a major contributing factor to the slowing of smoking declines in recent years.

It is especially troubling that smokeless tobacco marketing more than doubled from 2005 to 2008 and increased by 277 percent since 1998. This has contributed to a 36 percent increase in smokeless tobacco use among high school boys between 2003 and 2009 (from 11 to 15 percent reporting smokeless tobacco use in the past month, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

Much of smokeless tobacco marketing in recent years has been aimed at enticing kids to start and at discouraging smokers from quitting, undermining efforts to reduce tobacco use. Tobacco companies continue to aggressively market traditional smokeless tobacco products, often in kid-friendly candy and fruit flavors (such as vanilla, cherry and apple Skoal). They have also introduced an array of new smokeless tobacco products, many like R.J. Reynolds’ Camel Sticks, Strips and Orbs that appeal to kids because they look, taste and are packaged like candy and are easy to conceal. Increasingly, manufacturers have marketed smokeless tobacco as a complement to cigarettes in the growing number of places where smoking is not allowed. Marketing for R.J. Reynolds’ Camel Snus has used the slogan “Pleasure for wherever,” specifically encouraging use of the product in offices, bars, airplanes and concerts. Similarly, advertising for Philip Morris’ Marlboro Snus stated, “So next time smoking isn’t an option, just reach for your Snus.” These products and marketing campaigns clearly discourage smokers from quitting – and truly protecting their health.

The continuing high level of tobacco marketing show why we need aggressive action by all levels of government to stop the tobacco epidemic. The Food and Drug Administration must effectively exercise its new authority over tobacco products and marketing, while the Administration and Congress should fund and implement the federal government’s new Tobacco Control Strategic Action Plan. The states must pick up the pace of their efforts to increase tobacco taxes, enact smoke-free laws and fund tobacco prevention and cessation programs.

Tobacco use is the nation’s number one cause of preventable death, killing more than 400,000 people and costing $96 billion in health care bills each year. These deaths and costs are entirely preventable if elected officials at all levels fight tobacco use as aggressively as the tobacco companies market their deadly products.

2011 Children's Food Environment State Report

A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that Oklahoma can do more to improve access to healthy food – one piece of the puzzle in fighting childhood obesity. The 2011 Children’s Food Environment State Indicator Report notes that Oklahoma falls above the national averages in the percentage of schools that offer less healthy competitive foods and that allow advertising of less healthy foods.

To view the full CDC report visit

In Oklahoma 65.4% of middle and high schools allowed advertising of less healthy foods to students. This is above the national average of 49 percent. In relation, 59.8% of schools offer less healthy competitive foods. This is also above the national average of 51.4%.

The American Heart Association has been working with lawmakers in our state to improve the food environment in our schools. You can help advance our message by forwarding this report to your lawmakers.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Study Shows Link Between State Stroke Program and Number Of Designated Centers

May 25, 2011 (Washington, DC) —The size of a hospital and the population it serves, as well as being located in a state that has a program for stroke center certification, are among factors that contribute to whether an institution becomes a certified stroke center, a new study shows.

"The study demonstrates that having a state stroke program increases the number or percentage of stroke centers, and that's good thing," said lead study author Ken Uchino, MD, a stroke neurologist and staff physician at Cerebrovascular Center, Cleveland Clinic, in Ohio, and director, Vascular Neurology Fellowship Training Program. "One take-home message is that if all the states had such a program, we could probably increase the number of stroke centers across the country."

The study was presented during a poster session at the American Heart Association's Quality of Care and Outcomes Research 2011 Scientific Sessions in Washington, DC.

For this report, Dr. Uchino and his colleagues searched public databases for primary stroke centers certified by national organizations or state health departments. They calculated the proportion of primary stroke centers within hospitals in each state and analyzed the relationship to geography and state programs for stroke center certification.

Of 4521 acute care general hospitals across the country, 24% (1067) are stroke certified, they found. The percentages range from 0% to 98% among the 50 states and District of Columbia.

The researchers found that geography plays a role in determining the chances of a hospital being a certified stroke center. More stroke centers are located in the North and East and fewer in the South and West.

The size of the hospital in terms of the number of beds and admissions, as well as the population it serves, also positively influenced the rate of stroke centers across the country.

But another important factor is having a state health department program in stroke systems of care, which increases the likelihood of hospitals being a certified stroke center, they report. A median of 63% (range, 20% – 98%) of hospitals in the 8 states that have such a program are designated stroke centers compared with a median of 13% (range, 0% – 80%; P < .001) in states without such a program.

This indicates that even some small hospitals in areas that have a stroke program have designated stroke center status. "It means that this state program gives a little push or some incentive," said Dr. Uchino. "Some hospitals may not want to lose patients, and they go out of their way to get certified. I think it encourages even smaller hospitals to be certified."

Of the 8 states with a stroke program, 4 (Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York) are located in the Northeast, a region that tends to have more large urban areas than other parts of the country. However, not all of these 8 states are extensively urban; for example, Oklahoma "has a couple of big cities but is not a densely populated state," noted Dr. Uchino.

The other states with stroke programs are Texas, Florida, and Virginia.

Mounting research demonstrates that the mortality rate is lower in stroke centers compared with nonstroke centers. Dr. Uchino cited a recent paper (JAMA. 2011;305:373-380) that found that among patients with acute ischemic stroke, admission to a designated stroke center was associated with modestly lower mortality rates and more frequent use of thrombolytic therapy.

The current study also found that stroke centers that were certified by a state program without Joint Commission certification were smaller in terms of the number of beds compared with those centers certified by the Joint Commission.

Reached for a comment, Ralph Sacco, MD, professor and chairman of neurology, chief of neurology, Jackson Memorial Hospital, University of Miami, Miller School of Medicine, in Florida, and president of the American Heart Association, stressed that stroke centers are the most effective way to help improve outcomes for stroke patients.

"Some states have helped organize stroke systems better than others," he told Medscape Medical News. "In some states, stroke champions have helped push a stroke agenda, and in others, we have more work to do. The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association is trying to advocate through state legislatures for better organized stroke systems."

The number of stroke centers across the country has increased, but as the population ages, more will be needed to care for the growing number of people who will have a stroke, said Dr. Sacco.

"Too few patients with stroke get treated with acute stroke therapy, and only through improving our stroke systems of care can we improve the treatment of stroke," he said.

Dr. Uchino has disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

American Heart Association's Quality of Care and Outcomes Research 2011 Scientific Sessions: Poster 280. Presented May 14, 2011.

It's CPR Awareness Week!

June 1-7 is National CPR and AED Awareness Week. The American Heart Association believes that everyone should be trained in CPR because simply put CPR + AEDs = Saved Lives.

One strategy that is becoming more popular is to incorporate CPR training with school curriculum. CPR training in Oklahoma schools makes perfect sense if we want to prepare students for health emergencies. They can learn how to recognize cases of sudden cardiac arrest and be prepared to save lives.

Please consider these facts:
-About 5,920 children 18 years old and under suffer out-of-hospital cardiac arrest each year from all causes -- including trauma, cardiovascular causes and sudden infant death syndrome.
-Less than 8 percent of people who suffer cardiac arrest outside the hospital survive to make it home from the hospital.
-Sudden cardiac arrest can happen to anyone at any time. Many victims appear healthy with no known heart disease or other risk factors.
-Effective bystander CPR, provided immediately after sudden cardiac arrest, can double or triple a victim's chance of survival.

Please log on to and contact your lawmaker today to tell them we need CPR training in our schools.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Oklahoma lands at the bottom of the list of healthiest U.S. cities.

The annual American Fitness Index, from the American College of Sports Medicine, was released this week and puts Oklahoma at the bottom of the list of healthiest U.S.cities. Reasons for our poor showing include obesity rates, the percentage of people who exercise and availability of parks and walking trails. The American Heart Association is currently working with lawmakers to pass a law that would limit liability for schools that choose to open their recreational facilities to the communities. This will hopefully encourage communities to take advantage of those facilities as a cheap and easy way to get exercise.

"Right now in so many places, there are many barriers to being physically active. We need to make changes across the country that will make physical activity the easy choice, the convenient choice."

You can view an Oklahoma specific report here:

For more information, visit

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Oklahoma's Female Senators Go Red For Women

Recently on Go Red For Women Day at the Capitol Oklahoma's four female Senators wore red in support of the cause. Below is some of the news coverage on their efforts.

Push for Healthier School Meals

U.S. News and World Report recently published an article about the fight to improve nutrition standards in our schools. It gave some great insight into the fight going on at both the national and state levels to fix the problem of childhood obesity. The American Heart Association is also working to address nutrition standards in our schools.

You can read the full article below:

Monday, May 16, 2011

It's EMS Appreciation Week!

The American Heart Association values the Emergency Medical Services community as inseparable partners in emergency cardiovascular care management. We are proud to recognize the efforts of all EMS providers and agencies during Emergency Medical Services Week. Our entire organization is grateful for your commitment to patients and saving lives.

The Emergency Cardiovascular Care Committee and AHA staff acknowledges and shares in the EMS community’s goal of improving patient outcomes through the development and delivery of the highest quality prehospital care available. We appreciate your collaboration, input, and interaction with the American Heart Association.

The American Heart Association remains committed to a renewed, strengthened partnership with the EMS community that achieves the mission of saving lives. Further, we are confident that together we can globally improve our relationships and create an even more collaborative environment that fosters synergy and enables a convergence of our common goals.


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Advocates and Lawmakers Go Red For Women at the State Capitol

On Thursday, May 5th participants came from all around the state to the AHA’s annual Go Red for Women event at the State Capitol to visit with lawmakers and raise awareness of the effects of Heart Disease and Stroke on women, especially in the state.

Oklahoma Lt. Governor, Todd Lamb, stopped by the visit with the women and show his support for the cause. We were also honored to have General Rita Aragon, the first female Oklahoma Secretary of Veterans Affairs in attendance to advocate for our cause.
In 2007, Oklahoma had the 4th highest death rate from cardiovascular disease in the country. With a family history of heart disease, Sen. Eason McIntyre encouraged Oklahomans, especially those in the black community, to take control of their health. Sen. Johnson, was the 2008 national Ambassador for the Power to End Stroke Awareness Campaign.

The AHA kicks off its nationwide campaign with Wear Red Day each year on the first Friday in February. Being that the state Legislature is not in session then Oklahoma affiliates hold their Capitol event during Mother’s Day week.


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown Hails Progress in Smoke-Free Policies (Reposted from National You're the Cure blog)

Over the last decade, we have made steady progress in protecting Americans from the deadly consequences of tobacco use with passage of comprehensive smoke-free policies. But it’s too soon to rest on our laurels. Twenty-five states and the District of Columbia have enacted smoke-free laws for workplaces, bars and restaurants since 2000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and if current trends continue, the nation could be 100 percent smoke-free by 2020. However, nearly half of the country still lacks comprehensive smoke-free laws, hampering efforts to reduce tobacco use and smoking-related illnesses in the southern region of the country where heart disease and stroke death rates remain high. Tobacco use is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, the nation’s No. 1 killer. We must zero in on those areas that continue to lag despite studies that show smoke-free policies benefit public health and the local economy with lower health care costs.

The CDC report, State Smoke-free Laws for Worksites, Restaurants, and Bars - United States, 2000-2010, indicates approximately 88 million Americans are still exposed to secondhand smoke and several states have exemptions that put too many nonsmokers at risk. This remains a hurdle that must be addressed with passage of strong legislation to close loopholes. Elected officials, particularly those in the south, must do more to enact comprehensive smoke-free laws and give citizens a greater opportunity to breathe clean air.

For more information, visit the CDC website.

Advocate Tip! Take 2 to Save 2

May is American Stroke Month and you can help raise awareness about the signs and symptoms of stroke- and ways to prevent this devastating disease. The Power to End Stroke campaign encourages you to Take 2 to Save 2. Whether you send an email, make a phone call, tweet, or post to Facebook, you can help deliver an important message to your loved ones this month, that just might save a life. Visit to send your messages today!

Monday, May 2, 2011

AHA Joins with Nintendo join up to discuss the Power of Play

In January 2011, the American Heart Association and Nintendo convened “The Power of Play: Innovations in Getting Active” summit, which brought together thought leaders from the worlds of fitness, health care, technology, education and video games to discuss the synergies and potential benefits of active-play video games and physically active lifestyles.

On April 25, 2011, American Heart Association’s journal of Circulation published the proceedings from this summit through its online portal, documenting key dialogue and research considerations. View the Conference Proceedings.

We asked the Institute for the Future, a non-profit research center specialized in long-term forecasting and quantitative futures research methods, to attend the summit and develop a white paper to help broaden the consideration of summit topics and discussions. Download the White Paper.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

CDC Report Released on Children's Food Environment in our State

This week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will release a new state indicator report titled, “Children’s Food Environment State Indicator Report – United States, 2011.”  This report provides state-level data on behavioral, policy and environmental indicators related to access to healthy foods in child-centered settings (i.e., schools, communities and child care centers).  
Below is a statement from AHA CEO Nancy Brown highlighting  what states can do to help increase access to healthy food. 

American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown says CDC Report on Children’s Food Environment Underscores Need for Strong Public PoliciesApril 26, 2011
Our nation’s youth face major roadblocks to good health with easy access to calorie-laden snacks, sugary beverages and other unhealthy foods in their schools and communities. With about 1 out of every 6 children in the U.S. considered obese, we are condemning our kids to a bleak future of premature health problems such as type-2 diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and other risk factors for heart disease. The CDC Report: Children’s Food Environment State Indicator Report is a painful reminder that many children continue to lack access to fruits, vegetables and nutritious food close to home. We must place a greater emphasis on making healthier food choices more accessible and affordable, particularly for families living in food deserts where the nearest supermarket could be miles away and for those surrounded by fast food restaurants or corner stores with less healthy offerings.
Parents, schools, child-care facilities and communities have the potential to improve the health of young people by providing the tools they need to learn lifelong healthy behaviors. By strengthening nutrition standards in schools, pre-schools and day care settings, we can help limit kids’ exposure to unhealthy options. We must also support measures to reduce sodium and eliminate trans fat in the food supply, increase community and school gardens, reduce children’s exposure to marketing and advertising of unhealthy foods and require calorie information to be displayed on menus and menu boards in all restaurants.
Strong public policies and community programs to increase access to healthy foods will help children develop heart-healthy eating habits that could significantly reduce childhood obesity rates across the country.

Friday, April 15, 2011

FDA releases guidance on water and milk in schools

Today the U.S. Food and Drug Administration released their guidance documents on water availability during School Lunch Meal Service and nutrition guidelines for milk served at schools. Part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act passed by Congress included requirements relating to milk and water and this is the FDA's recommendation to schools on implimentating that. 

Below is a summary of both of those recommendations.

Water availability in school:

• Free water must be made readily available to children during lunch.

• Schools are given flexibility in how to implement this change. The memo reads: “For example, schools can offer water pitchers and cups on lunch tables, a water fountain, or a faucet that allows students to fill their own bottles or cups with drinking water.”

• Water is not considered part of the reimbursable meal. However, reasonable costs from providing water will be considered an allowable cost to the nonprofit food service account.

Nutrition Requirements for Fluid Milk

• Schools should offer children at least two choices of fluid milk that are either fat-free or low-fat (1 percent).

• Schools may continue to offer plain or flavored milk as long as they are fat-free or low-fat until the new proposed school meals rule goes into effect.

Even though local school districts have until the start of next school year (SY 2011-2012) to comply with the requirements, they are encouraging school officials and food service directors to start making these changes now. Implementing these changes quickly is key to making the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act a success.

How can you as an advocate support your school in this process?
• Workwith school wellness councils to raise awareness of these new requirements and the timetable for making changes

• Collaborate with community stakeholders and the media to build awareness and excitement about these nutritional improvements

• Supporteducation and dialogue for school staff, students, and parents promoting the acceptance and understanding of the health benefits of lower-fat milk and the availability of water

• Connectschools with best practice information on education materials, curriculum, and advice on lessons learned from the implementation of similar requirements

For updates on legislation in Oklahoma dealing with child nutrition please visit and become an adovcate today!

Monday, April 4, 2011

County Health Rankings are Out

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently released the 2011 County Health Rankings ( The Rankings rank nearly every county in every state in the nation on their overall health. Counties are ranked on health factors such as adult smoking and adult obesity as well as health outcomes such as premature death and low birthweight.

You can access our state data by clicking on the map at this site:

Congratulations to Woods county for being ranked #1!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown Applauds Benefits of Affordable Care Act for Heart Disease and Stroke Patients One Year Later

Washington, DC (March 17, 2011) - One year after the enactment of the Affordable Care Act, prospects for a healthier future have improved dramatically for millions of heart disease and stroke patients. As a result of reforms implemented over the last year, patients now have more options and protections for attaining quality, affordable health care. For example, preventive services have become a reality for many families and Medicare beneficiaries. Lifetime limits on coverage are now banned. Children with medical conditions can no longer be denied coverage and no American can be dropped from their coverage simply because they become sick. Annual wellness visits are now available for Medicare beneficiaries and prescription drugs are more affordable for many on Medicare. New Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plans also allow patients who have been denied coverage due to their medical condition to receive insurance coverage for a wide range of benefits including physician’s services, hospital care and prescription drugs. Although these plans may not be a feasible option for everyone, they are a pathway to insurance coverage for patients who cannot access coverage in the individual insurance market.
For those who need help navigating complex insurance issues, the new Consumer Assistance Programs (CAP) offer help to consumers who have problems with their coverage. Under the law, 30 states have received funding to implement the CAP programs which can be a useful resource for individuals who need insurance assistance. In addition, all young adults including those with congenital heart disease and other chronic conditions can continue to receive necessary treatment under their parents’ plan until age 26. These protections have already improved the health insurance marketplace for many Americans and more options will be made available as other reforms take effect in the coming years. With medical expenses for heart disease and stroke expected to triple by 2020, it’s more important than ever to implement reforms that provide access to affordable care for patients.
The anniversary of the Affordable Care Act should be a reminder of how far we’ve come in overhauling a broken health care system that too often doesn’t meet the needs of patients with heart disease or stroke. Let’s build on these accomplishments and continue to help all Americans gain access to quality, affordable care in their communities.
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