A Look at the Latest Top Stories from the American Heart Association

AHAlogoThe American Heart Association (AHA) works to reduce death caused by heart disease and stroke. As part of these efforts, the organization partners with government agencies, lawmakers, and other nonprofit groups to inform public policy and create health-promoting initiatives that benefit people of all ages.

The AHA’s latest activities have been directed toward several specific groups, including young people, women, and Native Americans. Read on to learn about all the latest news from the AHA.

 

Warning against the Consumption of Sugary Drinks

In partnership with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the AHA recently released a joint policy statement endorsing a suite of public health measures aimed at reducing the consumption of sugary drinks among the nation’s youth. According to the statement’s authors, American children and adolescents consume over 30 gallons of sugar-laden beverages each year. The consumption of added sugars has been linked to numerous health problems, including diabetes, obesity, and heart disease.

To reduce children’s access to cheap sugary drinks, the AAP and AHA recommend several broad policy solutions to be implemented on the local, state, and national levels. These include recommendations to increase public education and decrease the marketing of sugary drinks to children and teens. The AAP and AHA’s joint policy statement also recommends raising the price of sugar-laden beverages via an excise tax.

 

New Cardiovascular Disease Prevention Guideline

CPRThe AHA and American College of Cardiology (ACC) recently outlined the key recommendations of the latest Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease guideline. The guideline, which was released during ACC’s 68th Annual Scientific Sessions, provides practical recommendations for reducing one’s risk of cardiovascular disease and associated issues such as heart attack, stroke, and heart failure.

The lifestyle recommendations outlined in the guideline include eating a heart-healthy diet, exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight, and avoiding tobacco products. The ACC and AHA also advise that clinicians use caution when prescribing preventative aspirin use to people without known cardiovascular disease.

 

Fighting to End Tobacco and Nicotine Use

For several decades, one of the major policy priorities of the AHA has been focused on drastically reducing tobacco use and exposure to second-hand cigarette smoke. Recently, the organization released a new policy statement that outlines what health care providers and the public health community must do to achieve what the statement’s authors call the “tobacco endgame.”

In addition to minimizing the use of combustible tobacco products, the statement calls for close examination of e-cigarette use, a trend which is particularly prevalent among youth. Specific actions highlighted in the statement include strengthening government oversight of tobacco and nicotine products. This includes enhancing the Food and Drug Administration’s regulations concerning the manufacture, design, and marketing of both combustible tobacco products and e-cigarettes.

 

Improving Heart Attack Care

As one of the nation’s top accreditation and certification organizations, the AHA oversees various initiatives to improve patient care. Many of these programs are based on AHA’s clinical guidelines covering various cardiac disease and stroke topics. Together with the health care evaluation organization The Joint Commission, the Association has developed new certifications for hospitals that treat stroke and cardiac patients.

Beginning in July 2019, hospitals can begin working toward the Primary Heart Attack Center (PHAC) and Acute Heart Attack Ready (AHAR) certifications. In addition to recognizing hospitals for providing consistent, evidence-based heart attack and stroke care, the PHAC and AHAR certifications support the AHA’s efforts to save lives by promoting health care excellence worldwide.

 

New Campaign Supports Native Nutrition

fruitSince 2015, the AHA has worked with the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC) to support efforts aimed at Native-led dietary health advocacy. As part of this work, the AHA and SMSC have recently partnered with First Nations Development Institute and the American Indian Cancer Foundation to launch the Policy Innovation Fund.

Focused on improving nutrition and reducing health disparities in Native American communities, the $1.6-million fund will provide grants that tribes and Native-led organizations can use for nutrition and health policy initiatives at the tribal, state, and national levels. Administrators of the Policy Innovation Fund are in the process of soliciting proposals for competitive grants ranging from $75,000 to $100,000.

 

Research Goes Red Initiative

Through its Go Red for Women movement and other initiatives, the AHA raises awareness and funds lifesaving research focused on ending heart disease and stroke among women. During American Heart Month in February 2019, the Association announced the launch of the Research Goes Red initiative, which aims to engage women in valuable scientific research in the area of heart health.

Launched in collaboration with Verily’s Project Baseline, Research Goes Red will leverage the AHA’s Go Red for Women community to invite women nationwide to share their health information and volunteer for clinical research projects. The initiative supports the overall goals of Project Baseline, which seeks to improve lives by driving health care innovation.

 

Disclaimer: This website contains general information about medical conditions and treatments. This information is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. No guarantee is given regarding the accuracy or validity of any statements or information provided on this website. Do not rely on this information as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or another professional healthcare provider. You should seek immediate medical attention if you think you are suffering from a medical condition. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website.

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This Is How Boys and Girls Clubs Prioritize Child Safety

boysandgirlsclubAs one of the country’s most well-known and trusted youth organizations, Boys and Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) takes its commitment to child safety in all of its programs extremely seriously. No individual or group is entirely immune from danger. However, BGCA has comprehensive protection measures in place to shield Club youth from anything that puts them at risk.

The organization also maintains a zero-tolerance policy that enforces its safety guidelines. This ensures that all Club staff, volunteers, and members adhere to the highest standards of ethical and safe behavior.

Moreover, BGCA advances programs and initiatives that focus specifically on protecting and supporting marginalized or overlooked kids and teens. Over the years, the group has taken an active role outside of Club doors to combat child abuse and promote safety within all youth organizations.

Its past work includes advocating for the passage of the US Protect Act and partnering with the FBI and other organizations on various youth-protection initiatives. Keep reading to learn more about BGCA’s commitment to child safety.

 

The BGCA Safety Plan

At the core of BGCA’s work to protect and support Club members is a multi-step plan that adheres to the latest best practices in youth safety. It was developed by BGCA’s Child and Club Safety Department. This provides local Clubs with support for issues ranging from physical and emotional safety to facilities management and emergency and disaster preparedness.

The plan starts by requiring that all staff members at its more than 4,300 Clubs nationwide undergo a comprehensive criminal background check. This includes screening through the National Sex Offender Registry.

The same checks are required of all BGCA board members and any volunteer who has direct contact with Club youth. Any potential employee or volunteer who has ever been convicted of a felony or recently convicted of a misdemeanor involving physical assault or battery, drugs, or animal cruelty is not eligible to work with BGCA on any level.

Another major component of BGCA’s safety plan focuses on providing ongoing child safety training for both staff and volunteers. The training is delivered through seminars, webinars, and conferences.

Each year, the organization takes a lead role in the National Child Safety and Protection Symposium. This event gives groups from across the United States the opportunity to share best practices for protecting the country’s youth.

Along with participating in regular safety training, all BGCA affiliates must maintain comprehensive safety policies and procedures. To ensure that the policies elevate safety to the highest level, each Club conducts annual assessments and oversees a board-led committee focused specifically on youth safety.

In addition to helping local Clubs carry out safety policies, these committees assist with critical incident reporting to local law enforcement and national BGCA authorities. The actions, strategies, goals, and objectives of the local committees are further managed by regional Board of Governors Safety Committees comprising BGCA staff members and other stakeholders.

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Additional Safety Resources

On the national level, BGCA provides access to a variety of additional resources to reinforce local policies and promote a culture of safety among all Club affiliates. This includes the National Child Safety Advisory Task Force.

The task force brings BGCA leadership and child safety experts together to advance safety initiatives and provide guidance to local Club leaders. All BGCA affiliates have access to an online tool that enables them to self-assess their own safety plans at any time.

Additional resources include the 200-page Keep Safe: The Club Safety Desk Reference manual. It offers tools and guidance for creating customized safety strategies in local Clubs.

BGCA also publishes a guide of safety awareness activities and maintains a 24-hour safety hotline. This enables Club staff members, volunteers, and youth to report concerns and/or receive confidential safety advice.

 

Boys and Girls Clubs’ Commitment to Vulnerable Youth

In its efforts to lead the way in child safety advocacy, BGCA places a special emphasis on protecting the most vulnerable youth populations. The organization’s work in this area includes several initiatives designed to give kids and teens in need a safe place to develop meaningful relationships while building the skills required to attain success.

One of these initiatives is Be There. It equips Clubs with the knowledge, skills, and resources to provide safe and supportive environments for grieving youth and their families.

Other BGCA initiatives are focused more specifically on inclusion. Through a combination of on-site and online training as well as ongoing coaching and counseling, the organization guides Club managers and staff members in providing a safe, positive, and inclusive environment for all children. This includes those living with physical, emotional, and developmental disabilities.

Additionally, BGCA works to ensure equity and inclusion for LGBTQ youth, who account for 16 percent of Club teens. The organization’s leadership considers its efforts in this area essential to its broader mission to give every child and teen access to an out-of-school environment where they can feel safe both physically and emotionally.

To learn more about BGCA’s commitment to youth safety, visit www.bgca.org.

 

Disclaimer: This website contains general information about medical conditions and treatments. This information is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. No guarantee is given regarding the accuracy or validity of any statements or information provided on this website. Do not rely on this information as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or another professional healthcare provider. You should seek immediate medical attention if you think you are suffering from a medical condition. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website.

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A Look at the Results of the Wounded Warrior Project’s Latest Survey

As part of its efforts to provide programs and services that meet the changing needs of veterans, Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) conducts an annual survey of service members who have sustained combat-related injuries. Now in its ninth year, WWP’s Annual Warrior Survey collects data on respondents’ physical and mental health, employment, health care options, and day-to-day challenges and successes.

The results of the most recent Warrior Survey were released during a special panel discussion held at The Brookings Institution in December 2018. Keep reading for an overview of the top takeaways that WWP will use to guide future programming.

 

About the Survey Respondents

In conducting its ninth Annual Warrior Survey, WWP reached out to over 98,000 of its veteran members between March 20 and May 14, 2018. The efforts resulted in completed surveys from 33,067 respondents, which is the largest group since the survey was first conducted in 2010.

Among those who completed the survey, 83.5 percent were men with an average age of just under 40 years old. The majority of respondents, (66.6 percent) were Caucasian followed by Hispanics (18.5 percent) and African Americans (14 percent). Other races/ethnicities represented in the survey included American Indians or Alaskan Natives (5.3 percent), Asians (3.6 percent), and Native Hawaiians or Pacific Islanders (1.7 percent).

Of the respondents, only 6.4 percent reported that they are currently enlisted in the military while nearly half (45.3 percent) stated that they were deployed three or more times during their military career. Over three-quarters of the respondents also reported that their previous military experience continues to affect their day-to-day lives in adverse ways.

 

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Physical and Mental Well-Being

One of the biggest takeaways from WWP’s 9th Annual Warrior Survey is that over 78 percent of respondents stated that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is their main health challenge. The other most commonly self-reported injuries and health effects from the survey included sleep problems (75.4 percent); back, neck, and shoulder issues (73.7 percent); and depression (70.3 percent). Over 32 percent of respondents reported that they required at least some assistance from another person because of their injuries or health issues, and approximately one-quarter of respondents stated that they needed 40 hours or more of assistance each week.

In addition to assessing their mental and physical health issues, the Annual Warrior Survey questioned respondents about how their health affects their daily activities. More than 7 out 10 of the warriors surveyed reported that their health limits them at least somewhat in their daily activities, and over 80 percent stated that they aren’t as productive as they’d like to be due to their physical health or emotional problems. The majority (89.8 percent) of those reporting physical injuries or emotional problems also stated that their health issues adversely affect their social activities with family and friends.

 

Access to Care

Fortunately, over 75 percent of respondents reported having health insurance through the VA. The number represents a steady increase over previous years. More than two-thirds of those with VA insurance stated that the organization is their primary health care provider. While one-third of the respondents stated that they had problems accessing physical and behavioral health care services through the VA, most of the reported issues were related to scheduling conflicts.

 

Social Support Snapshot

Along with obtaining care through the VA and other organizations, many veterans with mental and/or physical health issues benefit from the ongoing support of family and friends. In fact, over 80 percent of respondents to the Warrior Survey stated that they had people in their lives who are available to help when they need them.

Many warriors who took part in the survey also cited how beneficial it was for them to interact with other veterans, particularly those who share similar experiences related to post-9/11 military service. In addition to promoting social integration, these interactions helped veterans to address the mental health issues that they dealt with on a regular basis. Over 52 percent of the survey respondents stated that they relied on other veterans as a source for improving their well-being. Many of the respondents also used the survey comment section to encourage WWP to provide more opportunities for these types of interactions.

 

Building on Successes Going Forward

In addition to demonstrating that many veterans benefit from a strong social network, the results of WWP’s Warrior Survey highlighted other veterans’ successes that are worth celebrating. For one, the survey showed that the number of veterans with a bachelor’s degree or higher continues to increase. Approximately one-quarter of survey respondents reported being currently enrolled in a higher education program, and over 70 percent of them are pursuing bachelor’s, master’s, or professional/doctorate degrees.

Beyond their efforts to attain additional education, more warriors are finding employment. While there are still barriers that make it difficult for some to get a job, the unemployment rate among veterans has dropped considerably in recent years. Improved employment numbers are also translating to a higher percentage of homeowners. Among the veterans who responded to the survey, 60 percent reported that they are homeowners. This represents a 14 percent increase since 2014.

Currently, WWP is using the takeaways from its ninth Annual Warrior Survey to better meet the needs of the veterans and military families that it serves. To learn about how you can advance WWP’s mission, visit www.woundedwarriorproject.org.

 

Disclaimer: This website contains general information about medical conditions and treatments. This information is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. No guarantee is given regarding the accuracy or validity of any statements or information provided on this website. Do not rely on this information as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or another professional healthcare provider. You should seek immediate medical attention if you think you are suffering from a medical condition. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website.

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How to Support the Purple Heart Foundation

purpleheartfoundationLaunched over six decades ago, the Purple Heart Foundation is one of the four divisions comprising the Military Order of the Purple Heart (MOPH), a nonprofit focused on improving the lives of veterans and their families. While its main mission is to raise funds in support of MOPH programs and activities, the Foundation operates independently and directs funding to other initiatives outside of the Order. In fact, the group raises funds for various nonprofits working in the area of veterans’ services.

If you’re looking to advance the Purple Heart Foundation’s mission to support, counsel, and advocate for the nation’s military families, you have several options for becoming involved with the organization. Even those with limited resources can make an impact. Here are the top ways that you can support the important work of the Purple Heart Foundation:

 

Give Financially

Like all nonprofit groups, the Purple Heart Foundation relies on a combination of government support and private donations in order to continue operating. One of the easiest ways that you can join the Foundation’s group of supporters is by making a one-time or recurring donation through its secure online portal. The organization welcomes donations of any amount via credit card.

When you make a donation, you even have the option of giving in honor or in memory of a loved one. You can rest assured that your funds will be put to good use because the Purple Heart Foundation was recognized with the 2018 Bronze Seal of Transparency from GuideStar. To access the donation portal, visit www.purpleheartfoundation.org/donation-direct-support.

 

Support Purple Heart Cars

Do you have an unused car that is taking up valuable space in your driveway? You can free up the space while supporting a worthy cause by donating your vehicle to the Purple Heart Cars program. Donating your vehicle to the program is a simple process that starts with filling out a form with your last name, email address or phone number, and zip code. You can also call the Foundation at (800) 414-4483 to initiate the donation.

Once the Foundation receives and accepts your donation request, arrangements will be made to have the vehicle towed at a time that fits your schedule. All donors receive a donation receipt when their vehicle is picked up, and individuals whose vehicle are sold for more than $500 will receive an IRS tax receipt that can be used for a tax deduction.

 

Put Old Items to Good Use

In addition to accepting vehicle donations, the Purple Heart Foundation oversees a thrift store operation that raises money for military families by selling donated clothing and household items. As part of the thrift program, the Foundation and MOPH partnered with GreenDrop, an organization that collects donations on behalf of various charities.

Currently, the Purple Heart Foundation accepts thrift donations in several states, including Alabama, Delaware, New Jersey, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. Donations are also accepted in Virginia, New York, Wisconsin, Washington, DC, the Houston area of Texas, and the Detroit area of Michigan.

To donate in one of the service areas, you can simply pack your items in plastic bags or boxes and schedule a pickup. You can also drop the items off yourself at one of the many GreenDrop donation sites. Before packing your donation box, it’s important to take note of what is accepted.

The Purple Heart Foundation welcomes donations of gently used clothing and shoes; toys and games; and various household items, including kitchenware, bedding, small appliances, and home decor. While furniture is also accepted, the pieces must weigh less than 50 pounds each. A complete list of acceptable items is available at www.purpleheartpickup.org.

 

How Purple Heart Foundation Donations Benefit Veterans

Whether you provide a monetary donation or choose to donate physical items, you can rest assured in knowing that your contribution to the Purple Heart Foundation will provide support for a worthy cause. Much of the Foundation’s work is focused on the MOPH Service Program, which ensures that veterans and their families receive the government benefits and services they deserve. This includes pensions and compensation for medical care, education, and job training. Veterans whose benefits claims have been denied can also receive free legal representation through the program.

Other MOPH activities supported by the Purple Heart Foundation includes its grant initiatives. MOPH grants help to support research programs that aim to improve the lives of injured service members. In addition, the organization directs grant funds to provide scholarships for Purple Heart recipients and their families.

With the backing of its supporters, the Purple Heart Foundation also advances programs that operate outside of MOPH. This includes the NEADS Service Dogs for Veterans program, which provides highly trained service dogs at no cost to veterans with physical disabilities, hearing loss, and combat-related stress disorders, among other conditions. Foundation funding has also been used to support programs at nonprofits such as the Chapel of the Four Chaplains and the United Service Organizations.

 

Disclaimer: This website contains general information about medical conditions and treatments. This information is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. No guarantee is given regarding the accuracy or validity of any statements or information provided on this website. Do not rely on this information as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or another professional healthcare provider. You should seek immediate medical attention if you think you are suffering from a medical condition. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website.