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Good Deeds: Spotlight on the American Heart Association

FitnessDiseases and IllnessesHeart DiseaseNutritionAmerican Heart AssociationDiabetes

Nonprofit organizations abound in Howard County, and Howard Magazine highlights who they are, what they do and how you can help.

Name: American Heart Association
Who: Annette Fisher, senior director, marketing and communications, Mid-Atlantic region

What is your mission?
The American Heart Association’s mission is building healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke. Our 2020 impact goal is to improve the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20 percent, while reducing deaths from cardiovascular disease and stroke by 20 percent.

What kinds of programs and services do you provide?
We have an extraordinary impact through our wide range of lifesaving activities and programs.

• Improving patient care -- We’re improving the quality of health care by creating best practices for treating heart disease and stroke. Our Get With The Guidelines hospital-based quality improvement program helps heart and stroke patients get the best treatment consistently. Mission: Lifeline helps patients with the most severe kind of heart attack get the specialized emergency services they need to survive.

• Advocating for better health -- Our nationwide volunteer network, You’re The Cure, advocates for key issues at the national, state and local levels such as requiring physical education in schools, clean air legislation and making AEDs mandatory in public buildings.

• Reaching out to populations at risk -- Blacks have higher risk and higher death rates from stroke than whites. Our Power To End Stroke education/awareness initiative helps African Americans share information to reduce their risk of stroke. More than 23,000 key opinion leaders, including mayors, professors, ministers and celebrities, have been recruited to be ambassadors working within their communities with our Power to End Stroke program.

• Raising awareness -- Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women over age 25, but many women don’t make their own health a priority. Through Go Red For Women, we’re raising awareness among women about their risks and empowering them to protect their heart health. www.goredforwomen.org

• Protecting the future -- Nearly one in three children and teens in the United States is overweight or obese. As a result, more kids than ever before are developing high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol and type 2 diabetes. We are helping kids establish lifelong healthy habits and working to make sure that today’s children can grow up to be tomorrow’s healthy adults. Our program Recess Baltimore is designed to offer fitness and nutrition education to students 5 to 12 years old.

• Educating Americans -- We save lives every day by offering information and education. We pioneered CPR and millions of Americans use our patient education materials and online tools to help themselves and their loved ones live longer, healthier lives. Also, the American Heart Association is working to improve Americans’ health by changing the way they eat. A community kitchen is scheduled to open in April 2013. The goal is to help families learn about nutrition and cooking healthy meals at home.

How many volunteers are part of your organization, and what types of roles do they play?
We have thousands of volunteers in all facets of the organization from administration, medical and survivor spokespeople to fundraising. Their roles include volunteering for the mission and helping to raise awareness about heart disease prevention.

Any important dates or events coming up?
February is heart month, and we encourage supporters to “Go Red.”  Friday, Feb. 1 is National Wear Red Day. Find more information about the 10th anniversary of Go Red for Women at goredforwomen.org/wearredday.

The 2013 Howard County Heart Ball fundraiser is scheduled for Saturday, May 4 at Turf Valley in Ellicott City. For details about the formal affair, go to heart.org/howardmdheartball.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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