World Stroke Day – Oct. 29th

Did you know that your environment can affect your risk for stroke?

Watch the video.

How can your environment put you at risk for stroke?

Lack of easy access to fresh fruits and vegetables (food deserts) leads to poorer health outcomes:
The same groups that are less likely to live near a supermarket are also less likely to have an affordable, convenient way to travel to one. Residents of low-income communities who rely on public buses spend about an hour commuting to and from the grocery store (Bell & Standish).Hispanic families are less likely than non-Hispanic White families to live in neighborhoods where healthy food is available and sold at affordable prices (NCLR).

Poverty has a BIG effect on health:
The CDC estimates that when looking at the higher mortality rate among black adults when compared to white adults, almost 38% of the mortality increase is due to differences in income (Sanders, 2011).Poverty is the single biggest factor contributing to adverse health outcomes, and health outcomes worsen as poverty becomes more severe (Foege, 2010)

Lack of physical activity leads to higher rates of obesity:
In 2010, African Americans were 1.4 times as likely to be obese as non-Hispanic whites. African Americans were also 70% less likely to engage in active physical activity (Levi, Segal, St. Laurent, & Kohn, 2011).In 2010, Hispanic adults were 40% less likely to engage in active physical activity as non-Hispanic whites (Schiller, Lucas, Ward & Peregoy, 2012).

Stroke deaths are currently highest in Southeastern states of TX, LA, MS, AL, GA, SN, NC, TN, KY, AK, WV, and IN. This region of the U.S. is also characterized by historically elevated poverty levels, socioeconomic distress, and a large black population (NVSS, 2010) (USDA Economic Reserve).

Learn how to spot a stroke F.A.S.T.!


“Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhuman.”
— Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The day we celebrate the life and accomplishments of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., is a good time to highlight some of the health disparities that still exist in our country. Disparities are differences in health that are closely linked with social or economic disadvantages.

The American Heart Association believes that all Americans should have the same opportunity to improve their health and avoid deadly diseases. Learn more about how the AHA fights health disparities. The American Heart Association also works to:

  • Decrease sodium consumption in our communities;
  • Decrease the sugar-sweetened beverages consumed, especially among Hispanic and African-American children;
  • Increase physical activity in all communities;
  • Increase awareness of using 9-1-1 in case of heart disease and stroke;
  • Increase CPR training in Hispanic and African-American communities; and
  • Eradicate food deserts that are so prevalent in disadvantaged communities throughout the United States.

Today and every day, the American Heart Association works to promote a culture of health and decrease heart disease, the No. 1 killer of all Americans.

How to Avoid Caregiver Burnout

Caregivers are so busy caring for others that they can forget to take care of their own emotional, spiritual and physical health. Knowing the signs that point to caregiver burnout can help protect yourself and your love ones.

They include:

  • Excessive use of alcohol, medications or sleeping pills
  • Changes in appetite
  • Depression — a sense of hopelessness and lack of energy
  • Feeling like you want to hurt yourself or the one you’re caring for
  • Losing control physically and/or emotionally
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Difficulty concentrating

If you show any signs of caregiver burnout, it’s important to get help. Many caregivers feel guilty if they spend time for themselves, but you can’t take good care of anyone if you don’t take care of yourself. Start planning your day and prioritize your to-do list. Talking to your friends and turning to your support systems can help you deal with any overwhelming feelings.

For more information, visit

Power To End Stroke is EmPowering You To Serve!

Become even more active in your quest to improve your health and the health of your community!

For almost a decade now, the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association has helped leverage it’s mission of reducing stroke through Power To End Stroke, an initiative launched in 2006 dedicated to raise critical awareness within the African American population to educate and empower communities to live healthier lives, be more active, eat better, and transform social norms leading to better health outcomes.

Today, Power To End Stroke is a national source for African Americans in engaging individuals, communities and leaders to implement healthy, potentially life-saving, lifestyle changes and closing the gap on health disparities among African Americans across the country. But, there’s more to do as we strive to support you. So guess what? We’re growing! We’ve created a community that will allow you to become even more active in your quest to improve your health and the health of your community. Join us today! Learn more by logging on to

Let’s Make A Lasting Impact During National Minority Health Month!

Facing the Five Biggest Latino Health Challenges

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Discussing Latino health challenges can bring up strong political, cultural and medical debates. Why do Latinos have a higher prevalence of obesity, diabetes and risk of heart disease than some other cultural groups? Are Latinos receiving quality healthcare and taking preventive measures to stay on track with their health? Is American citizenship a factor in healthcare?

¿Why Health?
Why is health important? Enjoying life, embracing family and celebrating joy are constants among Latinos. Health is important to each of these areas, but it’s often overlooked. Health provides the foundation for living a full and enjoyable life for anyone of any culture. Families experience grief and loss when a member is in poor health, but it’s difficult to avoid the early onset of chronic health conditions unless there is a strong emphasis on healthy choices, diet and exercise.

There are five major issues facing the Latino community:

1. Communication

While there is a lack of Spanish-speaking medical professionals, the language barrier between Latinos and health care providers is not the only communication issue. Medical professionals should consider Latinos’ values, beliefs and culture when providing treatment. Religion may also play a role and can be the reason many Latinos do not seek treatment. Doctors need to be aware of Latino culture and know what a patient means when they are feeling ill and describe the reason as receiving “the evil eye” from someone they passed on the street or “bad air” while they were sleeping.

2. Family and culture values

Latinos are very protective of their families and cherish quality time spent together. The culture thrives on celebrations of life and love. Many Latinos look to their families and trusted friends for help before seeking medical attention. This relationship can create a gap between health care providers and Latinos. Some Latinos may not want to share personal health information. Doctors and patients should work together to establish open, honest communication.

3. Getting preventive care

Many people are reluctant to go to the doctor unless they are seriously ill or in pain. Parents, grandparents and other family members may not emphasize preventive health. Latinos need to see the benefit of regular doctors’ visits and health screenings and assessments so they can catch health issues before they become severe problems.

4. Immigrant status

With the number of Latinos in the United States growing rapidly, the number of immigrants who are undocumented increases as well. Many undocumented immigrants are fearful of seeking medical care for themselves or their families, even if their children are natural-born citizens. It’s estimated that more than 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States are uninsured. Most seek medical attention from hospitals, which is a higher cost than regular care. Some states, like New York, provide emergency Medicaid coverage to immigrants who aren’t eligible to receive care under public health insurance. Other options for undocumented immigrants include Federal Qualified Health Centers, which are available to various at-risk communities and provide preventive, primary, pre-natal care and counseling services regardless of insurance, immigrant status or ability to pay.

5. Latino health attitudes and perspectives

With any culture, there are misconceptions when it comes to health care. Some Latinos have seen their family members suffer with a chronic health condition and receive poor or little treatment, creating a stigma against a certain treatment, doctor or procedure. Making quality health information readily available will help empower family members to make educated health decisions.

The Latino community can take action to overcome these health challenges. A greater knowledge of health, culture and empowerment will help them get the care they need.

Keep Family Fun Healthy

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Looking for quality activities that will bring your whole family together? Finding fun, healthy activities the entire family will enjoy can be simple and help create lasting bonds. Teach your kids about health and to embrace their culture with these fun ideas:

1. Take family walks.

Walking with your family is a great way to get the family moving and talking. Head for a nearby park and play games like “I Spy” or “20 Questions” while you’re on the way.

2. Have your kids help with grocery shopping.

Teach them about nutrition and ask them to look at labels and pay attention to the vitamin, calorie, fat and sodium content to make healthier choices. Let them pick out fresh fruits and vegetables and make a game out of choosing foods with the best nutrition.

Teach kids about nutrition

3. Teach your kids about their culture.

What traditional foods are part of your family? Were there games family members loved to play? Where did your family live? Incorporate your culture in the kitchen and in play time with stories of your ancestors and relatives. Teach them to know their history and embrace their culture.

4. Practice Spanish.

Have your kids learn the names of foods in Spanish and English and have them quiz each other while putting away groceries or getting out the ingredients for dinner. Teach them basic greetings and commonly used words to help them increase their Spanish vocabulary.

5. Encourage health questions.

Encourage your kids to ask questions about health and to understand the importance of good nutrition and exercise. Talk with your kids about why it’s important to a healthy life. Teach them about their family health history and how living a healthy life can prevent certain conditions and diseases.

Family Health History


Caring for Caregivers and Busy Parents

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If you’re a caregiver, you may have little time left to care for yourself. But caring for yourself is important. When you are a mother or father, children and grandparents rely on your help and assistance; your life and your health can’t be overlooked. Your family is counting on you to be mentally and physically well.

Be your best with these tips:

Balance your time.

As a caregiver, your time is precious. Create a schedule and share it. A good balance includes time with your family and time for yourself. Try to stay well-balanced and consistent and don’t let caregiving take over. If having dinner as a family is a priority, make sure it happens.


Even though you’re caring for a loved one, don’t forget to enjoy the things you like to do. Spend some time reading a book, gardening, enjoying the outdoors or playing a family game. When you’re stressed, your body can react in a negative way. Keep your stress levels at bay with healthy activities that put a smile on your face.


Unfortunately, the first thing many caregivers cut from their schedule is exercise. The benefits of regular exercise, even for just 30 minutes a day, make a positivel impact on all aspects of your life — mental health, physical health, emotional health, life span and stress levels. Incorporate physical activity into your day and see the benefits of a healthier lifestyle.

Build a support network.

You’re not alone in caregiving. There are many resources for caregivers and your family. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Your relatives and friends can be a great resource for support. Talk about issues when they arise and know that you can rely on people you trust. A quick search or discussion with your doctor can help you find the right resources to help you live a balanced life.

Find more information and resources on caregiving at

Growing a Home Garden Can Be Simple

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Growing your own food is easier than you might think, even if you live in an apartment or don’t have much space. You’ll get a variety of produce year-round. And the convenience contributes to a healthy lifestyle by helping you eat healthier and save money.

Working with local community groups is a great way to create a garden with the support of your neighbors. And sharing it with your neighborhood is a terrific opportunity to learn more about food and establish healthy eating goals for the whole community.

If you don’t have access to open space for a large garden or if a rooftop garden sounds advanced, start with an indoor herb garden. It provides a great opportunity for your children to watch their hard work pay off when they watch those seeds grow into plants. Pick herbs that you use frequently in your cooking.

Many retailers offer affordable kits with planters, seeds and simple instructions on how to grow herbs right on your windowsill. Here are some tips to involve your kids:

Find an area that gets lots of sun.
Have your children help you plant the seeds and put the pots in the designated area.
Assign them the task of watering and taking notes on any changes in the herbs.
Ask them to note the differences in taste, smell and appearance of each herb.

Taking it to the classroom
Gardens in schools are great teaching tools to help children improve their relationship with food. The American Heart Association developed the Teaching Gardens program, which uses gardens planted in elementary schools across the United States to engage students in the process of growing food and what it means to be healthy. The association provides garden-themed lessons including hands-on activities such as cooking demonstrations and planting to get children excited about gardening. Interested schools can email Teaching Gardens for more information about the program.

A True Role Model

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After Andrea Ibarra moved to the United States from Ecuador she taught people in her community how to speak English. She also worked with Alzheimer patients and abused women. Serving those who need help most, she came to appreciate how important it is for patients to have someone who cares for and understands them. That’s when Andrea decided she would become a doctor.

Now, Andrea is a junior at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine, pursuing a career as an anesthesiologist. She is also one of 16 young women who received the 2014 Go Red™ Multicultural Scholarship. The $2,500 award from Macy’s goes towards their education in healthcare.

In her career, Andrea says she wants to help provide better healthcare to communities at need and to educate people about the benefits of leading healthy lifestyles through good nutrition and physical activity. “Prevention through education can make a positive difference in our communities,” said Andrea, whose family has suffered from heart disease.

For more information about applying for this year’s Go Red™ Multicultural Scholarship, please click here.

Live Interview: Our Heritage, Our Health

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Google Hangout on Thursday, October 9th at 12:00pm CST

We can’t change our family’s health history, but the decisions we make each day help us improve our health and and manage certain risk factors that we carry in our genes.

Join us for a Google Hangout on Thursday, October 9th at 12:00pm CST, with Paula Chavez (spokesperson for the American Heart Association, certified fitness instructor and professional health coach) and

The interview will be streaming live and you can watch it right here on this page. You can ask questions on Twitter using #mejorarmisalud during the chat. The video chat will be in Spanish.