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Research & Advocacy = Results

In the last decade, U.S. hospitalization and death rates for heart disease and stroke have dropped significantly!  That means our research and your advocacy are paying off!  Let's keep it going to reach the American Heart Association’s 2020 goal — to improve the heart health of all Americans by 20 percent while reducing deaths from cardiovascular diseases and stroke by 20 percent by 2020.  Learn more here:

http://blog.heart.org/study-finds-significant-drop-in-hospitalizations-deaths-from-heart-disease-stroke/

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Knowing CPR Saved My Son

A lifesaving event retold by Kristy Stoner, UT

In June 2014, my friend Erin and I planned a pool day together as we decided we would spend the afternoon together at her private community pool, where we could eat lunch and chat while the kids could swim. We both have 4 kids all under the age of 8. The day went pretty much as expected, perfect weather, kids got along and we were having a great time.

Towards the end of the day, I had a distinct thought “It’s quiet…” and in a home of 4 boys, quiet is NEVER a good thing, unless they are sleeping. I looked over and noticed only 3 boys, off to the side of the pool. And, after a quick scan of the pool I said “Where’s Max?” Almost immediately Erin yelled, “Kristy! He’s in the water!” I had noticed in the middle of the deep end a small, slightly darker area, all the way at the bottom. My heart dropped when I realized that tiny, hard to see figure was in fact my little boy’s body. What else could it be?!

I knew I had to get him out and I had to do it fast! All in a matter of seconds Erin had taken my 8 month old baby, Harry, from my arms and I jumped in the pool.  Mid jump I remember noticing how calm the water was. There were no signs of struggle on the water. Then I noticed his body-hunched over in an upside down U position, with his arms hanging down and his back at the highest point just like in the movies.

Once I grabbed him and made my way to the side of the pool, Erin called 911. When I got to the side, I tried to throw his body out, but again, I was brutally disappointed when I realized how heavy his lifeless body was.

Once I got him out of the water, I rolled him onto his back, I then realized the color, or lack thereof, of his face. His face, lips, and eyelids were completely bluish grey. All I remember thinking was, "Time to make him breathe.” So I took a large settling breath and proceeded with CPR techniques I learned 10 years ago!

I'm not sure how long I was working on him, we guess it was about 2 minutes, but I remember noticing when I would breathe for him, the color would come back to his face a little at a time.  At one point, Max's eyes flickered a little and I remember the sense of gratitude that rushed over me at that moment. Then all at once, his eyes opened as wide as they could possibly go. He tried to breathe, but he still couldn't, so I breathed for him a couple more times and then set him up to try and get him to breathe on his own!!

I could hear the water inside of his breath so Erin handed me the phone to talk to the 911 dispatcher. The dispatcher wanted me to calm him down, so his body would be able to throw up the remaining water in his lungs. Eventually, he threw up. It was 99% water.

The EMT's arrived a few moments later and started checking him. I'm so glad they brought a fire truck too, because that made Max happy and helped to cheer him up. He talks about it now when he tells the story. How he got to see a fire truck up close and ride in an ambulance!

In the ambulance, Max didn't want to talk much, but he did provide his explanation of events:  "I was swimming on the red floaty, my arms slipped off. I tried doing my scoops (swim strokes), got tired and then I sinked!” Once they knew he was stable they let him go to sleep.

At the hospital, I answered a lot of questions, but am still surprised how many people wanted to know "What did you do?" "How did you do it?" "How long did you do it?" Everyone was so encouraging, so positive, and so sweet to me. I consistently heard "Good job mom! You saved his life!"

Eventually, I was able to talk to the RN watching over Max. He told me "how lucky we were," and I asked him with a drowning like ours, what were the chances of full recovery. He replied with "It is a miracle he is alive." Alive?! A miracle that maybe he didn't have water in his lungs or any noticeable long-term damage, yes, but, a miracle he was alive? Really? Why wouldn't he be? I sat and thought about that for quite a while. Maybe I did do something right. Maybe, just maybe I did save his life! I had no idea! We later asked the doctor why people don't do CPR and the doctor said "either fear, panic, fear of doing something wrong and causing more problems, or the fact that it's gross." We were shocked! But, more importantly, I was so happy that the idea of not doing CPR had never even crossed my mind.

Truth is that 80% of sudden cardiac arrests (when the heart suddenly stops) happen out of a hospital setting, while only 40% of those victims receive CPR on the spot before EMT's arrive and only about 10% of sudden cardiac arrest victims survive the event.

Since the incident Max has made a full recovery; he even persuaded me to let him swim the NEXT DAY!! My lasting thoughts are that we cannot watch our kids 100% of the time. We can’t. We need to teach them to be smart and how to protect themselves. As parents, we also need to be prepared. Be prepared on how to respond in an emergency situation, learn CPR and first aid training that could save the life of a loved one!

If you want to refresh your knowledge of CPR techniques, please visit here.

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The Case for Hands-Only CPR Training

Written by Brittni Chicuata, Gov. Relations Director, Greater Bay Area

Here at the American Heart Association, optimal cardiovascular health for all is paramount. We have set a 2020 Impact Goal of improving the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20 percent while reducing deaths from heart disease and stroke by 20 percent. To reach our goals I am appealing to you, our volunteers, for input and advocacy.

Approximately 424,000 people in the United States experience Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) annually in places outside of the hospital, and roughly only 10% survive the event. Despite these devastating and sobering numbers, the majority of people who experience SCA do not receive the necessary assistance from bystanders, since 70% of Americans either do not know, are afraid, or have forgotten how to perform CPR effectively.

Since releasing our groundbreaking statement on Hands-Only CPR in 2010, which emphasizes the importance of preparing the general public with lifesaving skills, the American Heart Association has worked tirelessly to build awareness around the value of knowing how to perform Hands-Only CPR. Additionally, we have implemented Hands-Only CPR initiatives nationwide and committed ourselves to training 20 million Americans in CPR by the year 2020. To date, 18 states have passed legislation making Hands-Only CPR training a high school graduation requirement, which is incredible. Still, there is much work to be done in the remaining states.

The need for public education on the lifesaving skill of Hands-Only CPR is emphasized not only by the number of unprepared bystanders who will face an emergency, but also by the health disparities associated with survival and quality of life after SCA. There are cultural barriers to seeking and providing help for medical emergencies, variances in EMS response time depending on one’s zip code, and disparities in health outcomes following those emergencies. For example, African-Americans who experience cardiac arrest at home, work or in another public location at higher rates and younger ages than other ethnicities, yet their survival rates are twice as poor as those of whites.

Together we can increase survival rates following Sudden Cardiac Arrest. By advocating for Hands-Only CPR training in schools, by increasing outreach in faith and other community-based organizations, and by working with community stakeholders, we can grow awareness around this pivotal issue and prepare everyday people to help save a stranger or loved-one’s life. Tomorrow’s emergencies are unpredictable.

If you are interested in creating a generation of life savers via the training of Hands-Only CPR in your community, please contact your local Government Relations Director for volunteer opportunities.

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Amanda Lindsay

Amanda Lindsay

My name is Amanda Lindsay and I am excited to be interning for the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association this summer, so that I can gain hands on experience in the different areas of Public Health and become more involved in my community.

I currently reside in Oregon City, Oregon. I am in the process of completing my Bachelor’s Degree in Public Health with the option of Promotion and Behavior at Oregon State University. I am also in the process of completing a Psychology minor.

I have experienced loss in my family due to lack of education and motivation to seek help early and this is why I have chosen public health as a career. I have a passion for health promotion and disease prevention and this internship is paving the way for me to work towards a healthier and safer Oregon. The American Heart Association has allowed me to take charge and speak up in the community while working towards making Hands-Only CPR a graduation requirement in Oregon High Schools by 2015.

These past two months have been very busy as I have been working on the Hands-Only CPR in Schools campaign. I have been able to meet and connect with people from all over the state of Oregon as they have shared their success stories with me.

One of these inspiring people that I was able to meet with was EMS Officer Bill Conway of Clackamas Fire Department. He shared his input, passion, and knowledge, and is making a huge difference in our community. I was very honored to meet with him.

I also attended Representative Margaret Doherty’s Town Hall Public Safety Event in July where she was joined by Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue who taught Hands-Only CPR.

I am thrilled to be working with the American Heart Association on this exciting campaign for Hands-Only CPR this summer. I plan to take the knowledge that I have gained from school and the American Heart Association and continue dedicating my time to promoting healthy behavior in the community. 

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Avery Shappley, Mississippi

Avery Shappley Corinth, MS

Life changed forever for Avery Shappley on a cold, beautiful February afternoon in 2012.  Avery, a high school freshman in Corinth, Miss., was trying out for the tennis team.  She was cleared for tryouts through her athletic physical and had been running lines.  A nearby coach noticed that Avery began to lose her balance.  He ran over to help break her fall and as she collapsed, she went into cardiac arrest.

Luckily, the nearby coach was trained in CPR, and reacted immediately.  He instructed his assistant coach to call 9-1-1, and he delivered CPR to Avery for approximately 15 minutes.  He told the assistant coach he was not stopping until the paramedics arrived.  Once the paramedics were on the scene, they had to use an AED to revive Avery before taking her to the hospital.

Unfortunately, Avery’s story is not the norm.  Because most sudden cardiac arrest victims do not receive CPR within a few precious minutes, the survival rate is a dismal 10.4 percent nationwide.  If given right away, CPR doubles or triples survival rates.

Avery & Gov. Phil Bryant on Bill Signing Day

This is why the American Heart Association worked tirelessly with You're the Cure advocates during the 2014 Legislative Session to add CPR training to the curriculum of schools’ classes as a graduation requirement.  Due to the passage of the CPR in Schools bill, Mississippi will see on average 27,000 students graduate every year with this life-saving knowledge.    

“If you suffer sudden cardiac arrest, your best chance at survival is receiving bystander CPR until Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) arrive,” said Lisa Valadie, Community Educator/Paramedic with the Madison Fire Department.  “We want to create a generation of lifesavers by making sure students learn CPR before they graduate.  In less than the time it takes to watch a TV sitcom, we can give students the skills they need to help save a person’s life with CPR.  Teaching students CPR will add lifesavers to our community, year after year, and everyone benefits.”

Sudden cardiac arrest can happen to anyone, at any time.

Nearly 424,000 people have sudden cardiac arrest outside of a hospital every year.  Sudden cardiac arrest is most often caused by a heart attack, but can also be caused by trauma, an overdose or drowning. In sudden cardiac arrest, the heart stops beating, blood stops circulating, oxygen stops flowing to the brain, and the victim stops breathing. 

In Avery’s case, the high school student learned that she had a serious heart condition called Anomalous Left Coronary Artery from the Pulmonary Artery (ALCAPA).  ALCAPA is a very rare heart defect that occurs as a result of the left coronary artery forming abnormally. Instead of connecting to the aorta, as in a normal heart, it connects to the pulmonary artery.  Avery had to undergo one surgery and she has made a full recovery.

“CPR is the lifesaving solution,” Valadie said.  “Many people are alive today because individuals trained in CPR—including youth and adults who received that training in school—gave someone CPR until EMTs arrived.  We need to create a generation in which every brother, sister, son, daughter, friend and complete stranger is trained in CPR at school and is prepared to save lives.”

This life-changing event and its successful outcome is one of the many reasons Avery decided to dedicate her personal time as a volunteer for the American Heart Association.  She has set up a CPR initiative to share her story and encourage others to be trained in CPR.

“I believe that CPR is very important because it does save lives.  It saved mine,” said Avery.  “The need for people around me to know CPR was something that was vital to my survival, but no one knew that.  I was just lucky to collapse when and where I did.”

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Randi Clatchey, Maine

On Friday afternoon January 7, 2000, Joshua Peck passed away from a sudden cardiac arrest in the gym of his school. He was 17 years old, a fantastic basketball player and a senior who had already been accepted to two colleges. Josh performed in a skit at the school’s pep rally, changed his clothes and joined the other students to sing the alma mater. Then he collapsed. His basketball coach performed CPR, but was unable to save Josh’s life. No AED was available at the school and the nearest hospital was 20 minutes away.

Josh was a military kid and spent the ages of 8-11 at Loring AFB in northern Maine. Josh also spent many vacations in Maine and loved our state. His mom, Randi Clatchey was from Maine and after Josh’s death the family moved back.

Randi has dedicated her time to make sure what happened to her son does not happen in Maine. She started a foundation in his name that raises funds to purchase AEDs for local schools and colleges. The Josh Peck Foundation has placed 6 AEDs in the past year and is going strong. Randi has also joined the American Heart Association’s efforts to require all high school students be trained in hands-only CPR and told how to use an AED. That way, once her foundation buys an AED for a school, students will know to ask for it and won’t be afraid to use it if needed.

In his short life, Josh touched many people—his mom is making sure that she honors his memory through joining the American Heart Association’s You’re The Cure network and by purchasing AEDs for use in Maine communities.

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Robbie MacCue: He may not wear a cape but he's still a hero.

Robbie MacCue knows a thing or two about saving lives.  As a paramedic, Robbie knows firsthand that CPR buys time for victims until first responders arrive at the scene. That’s why Robbie volunteers at local schools to teach students CPR.  And this past month Robbie put his skills to good use by joining the American Heart Association as we talked with Governor Cuomo’s office about the importance of CPR.  Robbie showed the Governor’s staff how simple it is to perform hands-only CPR. 

Imagine how many more lifesavers we could have if all students learned how to perform hands-only CPR prior to graduation. 

Thanks Robbie!

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Saving lives is why...

Why fight for healthy hearts?  Why fight against strokes? Here in New York State, heart disease and stroke are the No. 1 and No. 4 killers.  Our family is why.  Our friends are why.  Why advocate for heart healthy policies?  Saving lives is why.

And while the state legislature is on break, we are continuing to monitor bills that will be sent to Governor Cuomo Cuomo.   The first is the CPR in Schools bill.  We made it past the first hurdle when the bill passed the Assembly and the Senate.  Now we are turning our attention to the Governor's office, the State Education Department and the Board of Regents.    We've met with Governor Cuomo's staff and the State Education Department...and we know we will need many voices to make sure CPR in Schools becomes a reality in New York.  Here are the next steps:

First: Governor Cuomo needs to sign the bill.

Second: The Commissioner of the State Education Department needs to issue a report regarding CPR/AED instruction in the curriculum.

Last: The Board of Regents must approve the recommendations.

Now, we need your help with the next step.  It's easy...just click below to tell Governor Cuomo it is time for NYS students to be CPR smart!

http://yourethecure.org/aha/advocacy/composeletters.aspx?AlertID=35278

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UPDATE: As Summer Winds Down, the Countdown to CPR in Schools is On!

With the start of the school year just weeks away for most students here in New Jersey, you may be curious about the status of the CPR in Schools bill that the Legislature passed in June, so here is a quick update. The bill has not been signed yet, but we have been in contact with the Governor's administration and they have indicated that a bill signing may be taking place in the near future. The deadline to sign the bill is when the Assembly goes back into session, which will likely be sometime in September.

Regardless of when it is signed, the law will require all students, starting with this year's 9th grade class, to receive hands-on CPR training as part of the health curriculum prior to graduating high school. Many schools that have been giving hands-on CPR training to students for years will likely continue to do so for students in 10-12 grade this year. By the time the high school Class of 2018 reaches their senior year, all public high school students should be receiving the training.

Recently, Utah became the 18th state to require CPR training for high school students. I look forward to celebrating our victory with you when New Jersey is added to this growing list!

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Susan Canning, Massachusetts

Sue Canning became an advocate because of her son Kevin. Kevin was born on April 8, 1992.Kevin was loved by everyone because he didn’t take life too seriously and was always trying to make people laugh. Kevin started playing sports very young, including hockey competitively from the age of 3 on as well as baseball, lacrosse, golf and was a member of the Springfield Rifle Rugby Team. As many of Kevin’s teammates would tell you, his motto was “No Excuses, Play like a Champion”. Off the ice or field, Kevin would live by another motto: “Live Every Day, Laugh Every Moment, and Love beyond Words.”

Kevin had a big heart, unfortunately on July 11, 2011, this physical “big heart” took Kevin’s life. After Kevin died his family found out he had a “Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM)." He had experienced no symptoms and the family never knew he had this condition.

According to the Center for Disease Control, 5,000 young people between 15 and 34 years of age die annually from “Sudden Cardiac Arrest." The leading cause of death is HCM, an abnormally enlarged heart muscle. Because of what happened to Kevin, Sue started KEVS Foundation to sponsor cardiac screenings for young people in our community and to bring awareness and education around CPR and AED information.

Sue’s goal has always been to help raise awareness of “Sudden Cardiac Arrest” through education, cardiovascular screenings for young persons and to provide state of the art Automatic Emergency Defibrillators (AED) and CPR in the community. Sue has become a tireless advocate around requiring coaches and students to know CPR. She has made phone calls, visits to her lawmakers, reached out to the press and has activated all her friends and family to do the same. She knows that Kevin could have suffered sudden cardiac arrest on a field or in a rink and she would have felt safer knowing that the coach was equipped with the knowledge of CPR. She also thinks about if Kevin’s friends had known CPR would they have been able to save them in that situation? She has become a strong voice around the issue of CPR and AEDs and I look forward to the day we can honor Kevin by passing these critical pieces of legislation.

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