The American Heart Association's (AHA) mission is to build healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke. Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of men and women and the leading birth defect in Maine. Here are ten ways we are working in your community! Ten ways we are working for you in Maine!
AHA-funded research has led to the development of pacemakers, bypass surgery, angioplasty, clot-busting drugs and to the creation of guidelines for CPR and AED (Automated External Defibrillator) use. Our investment in heart and stroke research is second only to the federal government. Research - supported by 9 grants in Maine totaling $1,655,372 - is happening now at Maine Medical Center, the University of New England, and the Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory.
The AHA's legislative advocacy efforts focus on obesity prevention, heart disease and stroke research and prevention funding, tobacco control, and healthcare reform initiatives.Maine advocacy successes include some of the most progressive tobacco control laws in the country and the creation of the Fund for a Healthy Maine which supports 8 new Public Health Districts and 28 Healthy Maine Partnerships. Trained AHA volunteers are taking action, influencing elected officials and helping to change public policy. Go to www.yourethecure.org to become an advocate today!
3. DISEASE PREVENTION AND TREATMENT
Prevention efforts are coordinated throughout the state with public health officials during American Heart Month in February and American Stroke Month in May. Physicians, nurses, nutritionists, fitness experts as well as heart and stroke survivors and their families all serve as the AHA's voice in our community. By collaborating with the Maine CDC, area hospitals and EMS systems, the AHA ensures that patients are treated in a timely fashion from symptom recognition, to the importance of calling 9-1-1 at the onset of symptoms, to the care they receive through the EMS systems and hospitals - particularly in rural areas.
4. CHILDREN'S HEALTH
Jump Rope for Heart and Hoops for Heart are school-based fundraising programs that teach lifelong physical fitness and heart health education. In Maine, these programs are active in over 200 schools that together generated over $400,000 in donations during the last school year. The AHA offers guidelines and tools for schools to improve their nutrition and physical education offerings in order to meet AHA national evidence-based standards. The AHA and statewide partners are working to increase physical education in Maine schools and to improve school lunch/snack nutrition.
5. MAINE GOES RED
The AHA aims to educate women and their families about heart disease and stroke through a year-round awareness campaign called "Maine Goes Red". This educational, statewide initiative helps women learn how to reduce their risk and live longer, stronger lives. Our statewide champions for this cause campaign are Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and Martin's Point Health Care. Media partners include WGME 13, WPOR FM, The Forecaster, and The All New Bear radio station. The Go Red For Women Luncheon, held each winter in Portland, is our largest annual event devoted to this cause.
6. COMMUNITY HEALTH & SAFETY
The AHA offers several courses that teach CPR and how to use an AED, training approximately 35,000 Maine residents in CPR, First Aid, and Advanced and Pediatric Life Support each year. CPR Anytime is an at-home learning tool that teaches the basic skills of CPR in 22 minutes. In partnership with Maine CDC's Cardiovascular Health Program and Maine EMS, the AHA recognizes local efforts to provide strong emergency care for residents and visitors through the HeartSafe Communities program. Today, more than 789,000 Maine residents - 62 percent of the state's population - live in HeartSafe communities!
7. QUALITY IMPROVEMENT INITIATIVES
Get With The GuidelinesSM is the AHA's hospital-based quality improvement program, empowering healthcare provider teams to consistently treat heart and stroke patients according to the most up-to-date guidelines. In Maine, five hospitals have all achieved award status for their success in using this program, with many more in progress. The AHA also manages the Northeast Cerebrovascular Consortium, an 8-state group that addresses disparities in stroke care in our region. This group further strengthens the Northeast region's already proactive role in stroke care and has made great strides in improving patient outcomes. These include sharing treatment protocols among states, developing Tele-Stroke programs in rural areas, and designating stroke centers.
8. START! INITIATIVE
Start has four components: the Start! Heart Walk, the Start! Fit Friendly Companies Recognition Program, the Start! Walking Program and MyStart! Online - a free, Web-based fitness and nutrition tracker. The following companies are recognized nationally for creating a culture of wellness: Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield; Barber Foods; Cardiovascular Consultants of Maine; City of Auburn; City of Lewiston; Hannaford Supermarkets; Holden Agency Insurance/Employee Benefits Solutions; L.L. Bean; McCain Foods; MEMIC; and Mercy Hospital. Applications are available at: startwalkingnow.org. Area companies - as well as individuals who have made significant lifestyle changes - are recognized at the Start! Heart Walk events held in Portland, Lewiston/Auburn, Rumford, Brunswick, Bridgton, and Bangor.
9. PATIENT SUPPORT
Educational workshops and screenings are held at our Go Red For Women Luncheon and Start! Heart Walks. The AHA's website provides free downloadable patient information sheets on many cardiovascular-related topics such as cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes and obesity. On-line programs such as the Go Red BetterU 12-week fitness program, the Cholesterol Low Down, and the HeartHub provide helpful tips, recipes, and information to help people lead a healthier lifestyle. Mended Hearts, a national network for heart patients and their families, has two local chapters based in Portland and Lewiston. Support groups meet regularly to discuss cardiovascular-related topics and to coordinate members to visit heart patients about to undergo heart surgery.
10. PROFESSIONAL EDUCATION
The AHA's educational offerings provide continuing education credit for physicians, nurses, pharmacists and emergency medical technicians. National Scientific Session, which is attended by Maine physicians, draws 35,000 clinicians to learn about the latest in cardiovascular research. AHA medical journals, such as Circulation, and treatment guidelines are widely used by healthcare professionals throughout Maine.
For more information contact Gary Urey, Youth Market Director, Maine:
American Heart Association
51 US Route 1, Suite M
Scarborough, ME 04074