American Heart Association - You’re the Cure

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  • Learn about heart-health issues
  • Meet other likeminded advocates
  • Take action and be heard
Chloe Sumrall Saves a Life

When Chloe Sumrall entered a restaurant last March, the senior high school student was looking forward to enjoying a celebratory lunch after a long season as president of the Sub-Debutante committee.

Chloe heard a scream of terror from across the restaurant and responded immediately.  Seeing a man's body laid out on the floor, apparently non-responsive, Chloe said firmly to those attempting to help, “I am CPR certified, are you?”  When no one responded, she hurried to begin hands-on chest compressions.  For the next several minutes, Chloe and her mother worked to resuscitate the stranger.

A doctor who was also patronizing the restaurant told Chloe that she could stop, that there was no chance of this man's survival.  While family members and onlookers huddled in prayer, Chloe continued performing CPR until the paramedics arrived.  Even then, things looked grim. 

Compelled to know whether the man had survived, Chloe and her parents went to find his family at the hospital.  This complete stranger to Chloe had suffered Sudden Cardiac Death, a condition that in Mississippi has less than a 2% chance of survival.  Because of Chloe’s immediate action, this man joined the 2% of survivors that day! 

Today, Chloe is a freshman at the University of Mississippi and the survivor is enjoying life with his family.

To find out more about local area CPR classes, visit

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You're the Cure Across the SouthWest!

The 2014 Legislative Session wrapped up earlier this year and it was a successful one for advocates in the American Heart Association's SouthWest Affiliate (AR, CO, NM, OK, TX, WY).  With your help, we promoted issues dealing with congenital heart defect screening for newborns, CPR training in schools, and ensuring more people have access to health insurance across our region. 

While state legislative sessions won’t begin again until early in 2015, we are already planning our agenda and gearing up for another successful year.  We will host volunteer trainings and issue update calls throughout the summer and fall and would love for you to be a bigger part of our team.

Please email Brian Bowser, our SouthWest Affiliate Grassroots Director, at if you would like more information about getting involved!

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A Heartfelt Thanks

Each year, we like to pause and give thanks during National Volunteer Week (April 6th-12th) for the amazing contributions of volunteers like you.  We know you have a choice when deciding which organization to dedicate your time and talents to and we’re honored you’ve chosen to contribute to the American Heart Association’s mission.  Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of getting to meet many You’re the Cure advocates in person to say ‘thanks’, but since getting together isn’t always possible, I wanted to share this special video highlighting the progress you’ve made possible.

(Please visit the site to view this video) 

You’ll see we are making strides to create smoke-free communities across the country, develop the next generation of life-savers trained in CPR, and ensure all students have healthy meal choices in schools.  The effort you’ve made to contact your lawmakers, share your story, and spread the word through your social networks have led to those successes and more. In fact, in just the last eight months, You’re the Cure advocates have helped contacted local, state, and federal lawmakers more than 140,000 times and it’s these messages that can lead to policy wins.

So take a moment to pat yourself on the back and enjoy a job well done!  I look forward to continuing our efforts to pursue policy changes that will help build healthier communities and healthier lives for all Americans. We couldn’t do it without you – thanks!

- Clarissa

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Mother, Daughter Pair Advocate for Heart

Suzie Chase Brown and Maggie Brown are two heart survivors who are passionate about advocating for change with the American Heart Association. 

Both born with Congenital Heart Defects they have told their compelling story to decision makers drafting rules for a bill that will improve how congenital heart defects are detected in newborns. 

They have attended state and federal Lobby Days, participated in the Survivor Fashion Show, spoken at the Go Red for Women Summit and helped raise money through the Heart Walks. Most recently, their testimony helped move lifesaving pulse-oximetry screening forward in Texas.

“The American Heart Association has provided so many volunteer opportunities for my family!” said Suzie. “My daughter started participating in the Heart Walk when she was in a stroller.  My mom spoke on behalf of the AHA in a public service announcement. 

My favorite volunteer event took place last year in Washington, D.C. when my 10 year old son, 5 year old daughter and I were asked to lobby members of Congress on behalf of the AHA.  We were given all the information we needed to ask for NIH funding and support for hypertension awareness programs.  We are the examples of how the American Heart Association can directly affect lives!”

May 2014 will mark 40 years since Suzie Chase Brown had open heart surgery at the School of Medicine at the University of Alabama, Birmingham by the legendary Cardiologist, Dr. John Kirklin.  Suzie was born with an atrial septal defect and mitral valve cleft, which were only discovered because her parents noted that Suzie wasn’t growing at the same rate as other children on the playground.  At the age of 4 1/2, Suzie’s congenital heart defects were considered a ‘fluke’ but her surgery was considered a success.

Thanks to advances in medicine, when Suzie’s daughter, Maggie, was born on October 1st, 2008, a pediatric cardiologist in Austin, Texas walked into the recovery room and told Suzie that her daughter had identical congenital heart defects, and asked who else in the family had heart disease. 

While the same two defects were not prevalent, Suzie discovered that her mom had been managing hypertension for 30 years, Suzie’s maternal grandmother, who was 100 years old at the time, had congestive heart failure, Suzie’s cousin was being treated for heart disease and her paternal grandmother had died in her mid-80’s following a massive stroke.  All of the women (4 generations) in Suzie and Maggie’s family have or had some form of heart disease!

April 21, 2014 will mark 4 years since Maggie had her successful open heart surgery by Dr. Charles Fraser at Texas Children’s Hospital.  Suzie, Maggie and Tiger (Maggie’s doting brother) consider it a personal mission to spread the word about

1. The need for all people to have a baseline cardiac check
2. Take care of their hearts through lifestyle and diet changes and
3. Raise awareness (and money) to support cardiac programs at schools and in communities so we can all live longer and healthier lives!

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Lunch & Learn Arkansas State Capitol

On March 5, 2014, the American Heart Association held a Lunch and Learn at the State Capital for You’re the Cure advocates.  Senator Linda Chesterfield, a supporter of the Association’s policies, addressed nine volunteers.  She applauded their efforts to support, advocate and involve themselves in the Association’s mission. 

Afterwards, volunteers enjoyed a Q & A session with Senator Chesterfield. 

Amanda Story, AHA contract lobbyist, spoke to the group about the State’ Private Option healthcare plan. She explained how it progressed through the legislative process during the 2014 Fiscal Session. Finally, Barbara Kumpe, Government Relations Director, reviewed the State Public Policy agenda.  She also spoke about how the networkers could help educate and recruit additional members to the You’re the Cure network.

Add a comment if you would like to be part of our next Lunch and Learn!

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Arkansas Passes Private Option for Healthcare Access!

On March 4th, just before the legislative session was set to close, members of the Arkansas Legislature voted to continue funding the State’s Private Option for Healthcare Coverage by a 76-24 vote – just one vote more than the three-fourths needed to approve this funding.  The importance of continuing the Private Option in Arkansas cannot be overstated, it serves as a model for other states that may seek an alternative to Medicaid expansion. 

We supported funding the private option because we know that improving access to healthcare, especially preventive services, reduces death and disability due to heart disease and stroke.  The Private Option allows over 100,000 Arkansans who previously went without health care coverage to access preventative services for heart disease, stroke and other chronic diseases. 

These individuals will now be able to receive healthcare services such as smoking cessation, high blood pressure and cholesterol screenings, and obesity interventions that will improve their quality of life, and in some cases save their lives.

Throughout this tough fight the American Heart Association worked with coalition partners, volunteers and advocates to seek support from key legislators who were either on the fence or not supportive. 

Volunteers such as Deborah Roush, Tammy Quick and Jennifer Ferguson personally made calls to legislators who ended up switching their votes and supporting the Private Option.  Thanks to all YTC advocates for taking action on alerts!

Governor Mike Beebe signed the Private Option Bill into law on Friday March 7th.

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Survivor Gallery Unveiled at State Capitol

On February 6 the Central Arkansas Survivor Gallery was unveiled at the State Capitol.  At this event 10 Heart and Stroke Survivors were honored in front of a group of over 60 attendees that included family members, local board members, Circle of Red, Red Tie Society, Advocacy volunteers, and members of the media. 

Each individual story is unique but with a common bond of being survivors.  The stories shared a common theme of overcoming health obstacles and showcasing their inspirational story for others to hear.  The survivors will be featured at the Central Arkansas Go Red for Women Luncheon held May 14th. The Survivor boards will travel the Central AR business area displayed in lobbies and high traffic areas to encourage people to join the Go Red Movement.

We would like to thank our legislative hostess Rep. Charlene Fite and Rep. Shelia Lampkin as well as First Lady Ginger Beebe for their attendance and comments regarding heart health. 

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Learn & Share Your Post-Stroke Tips

After a stroke, even the simplest tasks can be very challenging.  Survivors often face limb weakness, numbness or paralysis, communication challenges, and difficulty with their vision.  However, we know stroke survivors and caregivers across the country are persevering and discovering new, creative ways to carry out the daily tasks they need to.  Through their recovery, they find a 'new normal' and we want to help share these helpful tips far and wide. 

That's why the American Stroke Association created a volunteer-powered library- Tips for Daily Living- to gather ideas from stroke survivors, caregivers and healthcare professionals who’ve created or discovered adaptive and often innovative ways to get things done!  For example, do you have to put up a ponytail with one hand?  Watch Karen’s video!

(Please visit the site to view this video)

Help us grow the library!  Do you have something to share that could help stroke survivors?  Share your tips by completing the online submission form at  You’ll get a FREE AHA/ASA recipe book and Stroke Solidarity String for participating!

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Cold Weather and Cardiovascular Disease

This winter season will bring cooler temperatures and ice and snow for some. It’s important to know how cold weather can affect your heart, especially if you have cardiovascular disease.  People who are outdoors in cold weather should avoid sudden exertion, like lifting a heavy shovel full of snow. Even walking through heavy, wet snow or snow drifts can strain a person's heart.


How does cold weather affect the heart?
Many people aren't conditioned to the physical stress of outdoor activities and don't know the dangers of being outdoors in cold weather. Winter sports enthusiasts who don't take certain precautions can suffer accidental hypothermia.


Hypothermia means the body temperature has fallen below 95 degrees Fahrenheit. It occurs when your body can't produce enough energy to keep the internal body temperature warm enough. It can kill you. Heart failure causes most deaths in hypothermia. Symptoms include lack of coordination, mental confusion, slowed reactions, shivering and sleepiness.


Children, the elderly and those with heart disease are at special risk. As people age, their ability to maintain a normal internal body temperature often decreases. Because elderly people seem to be relatively insensitive to moderately cold conditions, they can suffer hypothermia without knowing they're in danger.


People with coronary heart disease often suffer angina pectoris (chest pain or discomfort) when they're in cold weather. Some studies suggest that harsh winter weather may increase a person's risk of heart attack due to overexertion.


Besides cold temperatures, high winds, snow and rain also can steal body heat. Wind is especially dangerous, because it removes the layer of heated air from around your body.  At 30 degrees Fahrenheit in a 30-mile wind, the cooling effect is equal to 15 degrees Fahrenheit. Similarly, dampness causes the body to lose heat faster than it would at the same temperature in drier conditions.


To keep warm, wear layers of clothing. This traps air between layers, forming a protective insulation. Also, wear a hat or head scarf. Heat can be lost through your head. And ears are especially prone to frostbite. Keep your hands and feet warm, too, as they tend to lose heat rapidly.


Don't drink alcoholic beverages before going outdoors or when outside. Alcohol gives an initial feeling of warmth, because blood vessels in the skin expand. Heat is then drawn away from the body's vital organs.


Learn more:


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Understanding the Guidelines

You may have recently heard that the American Heart Association recently released new guidelines on Heart Disease and Stroke prevention and treatment.  The guidelines (Lifestyle, Obesity, Cholesterol, and Risk Assessment) will impact millions of Americans and help them live healthier lives free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke.  


We want to make it easy for you to understand these guidelines, and we have a lot of resources to help explain them so you can be more informed. 


First, please see this link to Understanding the Guidelines.  This is a taped conversation our CEO Nancy Brown had with Dr. Sid Smith, Chair of the Guideline Committee; and Dr. Mariell Jessup, President of American Heart Association.  The video is about 25 minutes, and offers an inside look on how and why we published the guidelines, and how they’ll impact patients. 


Next, is a Video FAQ featuring our past president Dr. Gordon Tomaselli.  Gordon does an excellent job breaking down some of the most common questions we’ve received about the guidelines.  This video lasts about eight minutes.


Finally, Nancy Brown wrote a blog post on the Huffington Post separating the myths from truth in the media coverage regarding these new guidelines. 


These guidelines are an excellent example of our ability to save and improve lives in communities across the country.  Please let us know what you think of them!

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