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, October 10, 2012

We’ve moved!

As you may have heard, we’ve recently redesigned our You’re the Cure website. The new site now contains our Minnesota blog as well as state advocate stories, state-specific facts and events all in one place! Be sure to bookmark our new address and continue to follow our advocacy work. Our new address is:
Thank you for your conversation here, be sure to bring that with us as we move – we don’t know what we’d do without you!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Upcoming Event: 12 Lunch Hours to Master the Affordable Care Act

Do you find the Affordable Care Act a little daunting? Are you wondering what it will mean for your organization and the people you serve? Over the course of 12 lunch hours, you can get the information you need to make sure that Minnesota makes health care reform decisions that are in the best interest of your community. Starting September 27, the 12 Lunch Hours to Master the Affordable Care Act series will give you the opportunity to hear from experts and ask your burning questions.

All lunch hour discussions will be held from noon to 1 p.m. at the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits conference room, located at 2314 University Avenue West Suite 20, in Saint Paul. Lunch hours are free and participants are encouraged to bring a lunch. This series is co-sponsored by the Minnesota Budget Project, Legal Services Advocacy Project, SEIU Healthcare Minnesota and TakeAction Minnesota. For more information or to RSVP, please contact Christina Wessel at

Minnesota Council of Nonprofits

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Minnesota obesity rate expected to climb

Kare 11 News

Minnesota's obesity rate is expected to climb significantly over the next 20 years, but to be fair, so is every other state in our nation.   Select to watch video.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Tax hike cuts tobacco consumption

By Dennis Cauchon, USA TODAY

A giant federal tobacco tax hike has spurred a historic drop in smoking, especially among teens, poor people and those dependent on government health insurance, a USA TODAY analysis finds.

President Obama signed the tax hike — the biggest to take effect in his first term — on his 16th day in office, reversing two vetoes by President Bush. The federal cigarette tax jumped from 39 cents to $1.01 per pack on April 1, 2009, to finance expanded health care for children. Since then, the change has brought in more than $30 billion in new revenue, tax records show.

Yet the tax hike and its repercussions remain mostly unknown to the non-smoking public. The tax increase's size and national reach lifted prices 22% overnight, more than all state and local tax hikes combined over the past decade when adjusted for inflation.

Result: The tax hike has helped restart a long-term decline in smoking that had stalled in recent years. About 3 million fewer people smoked last year than in 2009, despite a larger population, according to surveys by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The tax hits hardest on families who make less than $50,000 a year and account for two-thirds of smokers.

"The federal tax increase was the win-win that we thought it would be and the evidence shows that," says Danny McGoldrick, research vice president at the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

Teen smoking immediately fell 10% to 13% when the tax hike took effect, says researcher Jidong Huang of the University of Chicago at Illinois. "High prices deter kids from picking up cigarettes," he says.

Higher taxes aren't the only reason smoking has fallen dramatically among adults since the early 1980s and among teens since the mid-1990s.

Health concerns, smoke-free buildings and marketing restrictions have played a role. Tobacco companies have raised their prices, too, making money off fewer customers.

It's difficult to be specific about what influences individual adult consumer behavior, but taxes are one thing in the mix," says David Sutton, spokesman for Altria Group, maker of Marlboro cigarettes. He says taxes and fees are so high — 55% of Marlboro's retail price — that they unfairly burden adults who choose to smoke.

Taxes are the sledge hammer of anti-smoking efforts. The federal tax hike helped push tobacco use down to 18.9% in 2011, the lowest level on record, according to the CDC surveys. Even smokers who don't quit light up less. In the 1990s, one of every 20 high school students smoked 10 or more cigarettes a day. Today, one out of 71 students smoke that much.

Other findings:

•Who quit. The elderly and Hispanics slashed smoking most dramatically, each down more than 15% from 2008 to 2011, according to the CDC's National Health Interview Survey. Women quit more than men. Least moved: middle-age men, down just 1.2%.

•Health care for poor. About 1 million adults on Medicaid quit smoking, which could reduce future health costs.

•Tobacco industry. Consumer spending on tobacco rose from $80 billion in 2008 to $98 billion in 2011 in inflation-adjusted dollars — even though the amount of tobacco purchased fell 11% , Bureau of Economic Analysis data show. Higher taxes accounted for about half that spending increase. The rest went to tobacco companies and retailers

Friday, September 7, 2012

High blood pressure is out of control for too many Americans and Minnesotans

About one-quarter of Minnesotans have high blood pressure

High blood pressure is a nationwide concern and a costly health problem. Almost 67 million American adults have high blood pressure, and half of them do not have it under control. Uncontrolled high blood pressure is a major contributor to heart disease and stroke, two of the leading causes of death in the U.S. and Minnesota.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Tuesday released a report finding that nearly one in three adults (67 million) has high blood pressure and of those about half (36 million) have uncontrolled blood pressure. High blood pressure is defined as having systolic blood pressure (top number) greater than or equal to 140 mmHg or diastolic blood pressure (bottom number) greater than or equal to 90 mmHg.

The latest CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (pdf) did not include Minnesota specific numbers. However, data from a separate national survey released in August found that 26 percent of adult Minnesotans report being told that they had high blood pressure, according to the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Survey Data, from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2011.

As for treatment of the disease, in 2010 about 75 percent of Minnesotans aged 18-85 who received a diagnosis of hypertension and received treatment in a clinic had their blood pressure adequately controlled after diagnosis, according to Minnesota Community Measurement. This is an improvement upon Minnesota's 2008 rate of 69 percent.

"Though we're doing better than national averages in terms of preventing high blood pressure and treating it, we are really encouraging people to “know their numbers" and seek treatment in order to avoid a disabling stroke, heart attack, or even death," said Ed Ehlinger, Minnesota Commissioner of Health.

The Department of Health is combating high blood pressure by improving the quality of care in clinics and by encouraging healthy communities and healthy living. Minnesota has embraced team-based care in its clinics, which according to the CDC report, is one successful approach to controlling high blood pressure. In 2008, Minnesota passed legislation allowing primary care clinics to voluntarily be certified as health care homes, which is a team-based clinical model that is particularly effective for caring for patients with diseases such as high blood pressure. With this approach, doctors, pharmacists, nurses, dieticians, and community health workers can work together to identify and treat high blood pressure. About 2 million Minnesotans now receive care at certified health care homes.

In addition, the Minnesota Department of Health is combating high blood pressure by promoting changes in communities that promote healthy living, such as adding walking and biking paths, opening farmers markets, and adding smoking restrictions. The department also addresses high blood pressure with worksite initiatives that focus on helping employees “know their numbers." The goal is to make the healthy choice the easy choice, so Minnesotans can lower their risk of developing high blood pressure by eating fruits and vegetables, consuming less salt, exercising, maintaining a healthy weight and not smoking.

To learn more about high blood pressure in Minnesota visit, the MDH blood pressure page or Minnesota's state plan to combat heart disease and stroke. To learn more about national efforts, visit Controlling high blood pressure is also a key component of Million Hearts ™, a national initiative to prevent a million heart attacks and strokes by 2017


For more information, contact:
Scott Smith
MDH Communications

James Peacock
Disease & Stroke Prevention Unit
651 201-5405