Tuesday, December 21, 2010

It’s that time again…time to make those New Year resolutions

*Guest blogger Kevin Harker, Executive Vice President, Midwest Affiliate

It’s that time again…time to make those New Year resolutions. I admit there’s something rejuvenating about taking down the old calendar and hanging up a new one. It’s like a fresh start, the perfect time to consider the potential that exists with a brand-new, blank slate. How do we improve ourselves – as parents, as spouses, as sons and daughters, as employees, as business leaders, as Americans?

At first, it may seem a daunting task to improve yourself in all those areas. It did to me. But then I started to think about what I could realistically do to get better in just one way and I had an amazing revelation. By changing just one thing, by making just one commitment to myself and sticking with it, I will get one step closer to my potential. I don’t have to be perfect, just…better.

That is the same philosophy employed by the American Heart Association when we announced our 2020 goal last January: to improve the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20 percent while reducing deaths from cardiovascular diseases and stroke by 20 percent. The association identified three categories of cardiovascular health – poor, intermediate and ideal – and then set out to help Americans make strides to move from one category to the next. How? Our science and research volunteers identified seven factors, called Life’s Simple 7, as the key elements to living a healthy life: get active, control cholesterol, eat better, manage blood pressure, lose weight, reduce blood sugar and stop smoking.

These measures have one unique thing in common: any person can make these changes, and even modest improvements to your health will make a big difference.

I encourage you to find out where you stand with the simple seven by taking the My Life Check assessment at mylifecheck.heart.org. In just a few minutes, you will know how you’re doing with each one of Life’s Simple Seven, and get your own personal heart score. Your results will include recommended areas of focus and an action plan customized to fit your lifestyle and health outlook.

As our past national president, Clyde Yancy, MD, said, “The last step is a promise: a resolution to make healthy positive changes step-by-step, for a long, healthy future.” And isn’t now the perfect time of year for that?

All the best for a joyous holiday season and a healthy 2011!

Monday, December 13, 2010

AHA Statement on Surgeon General's tobacco report

American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown says U.S. Surgeon General Report Stresses Importance of Cessation Strategies to Reduce Tobacco’s Deadly Toll

The U.S. Surgeon General’s report, “How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease,” sheds new light on the damaging effects of tobacco use on the health of all Americans. This comprehensive scientific report shows that even brief exposure to tobacco smoke can trigger acute cardiac events and potential sudden death. The evidence clearly states that tobacco products are lethal weapons capable of shortening the lifespan of smokers and nonsmokers alike. However, tobacco companies will stop at nothing to addict a new generation of smokers. They are ramping up efforts to fight regulations that restrict marketing campaigns and the sale of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products and designing new cigarettes to make them more addictive. This report provides more ammunition to fight their deceptive and deadly campaign.

We strongly believe the findings will support implementation of new federal tobacco regulations, including the development of graphic warning labels for cigarette packages. We also urge state officials to fund smoking prevention and cessation programs at CDC recommended levels, enact strong smoke-free policies and boost tobacco excise taxes. Policymakers must not allow complacency to rule in the fight against tobacco. Bold, aggressive measures are needed to save lives, reduce the burden of disease and improve quality of life.

For more information, visit www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/tobaccosmoke/index.html.