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Intern Spotlight: Elizabeth Shaeffer

Written by Elizabeth Shaeffer

My name is Liz Shaeffer and I am an intern here at the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association in Sacramento, California.  I am a junior at University of Southern California in Los Angeles, and I came home for the summer looking for an internship that would teach me a little bit more about the lobbying and advocacy processes.  I became interested in Advocacy after taking a class on interest groups and elite behavior last spring.  In this class, a representative from a lobbying firm in Sacramento came to address to our class, and suddenly all of my course readings started to make sense.  From this experience, I became interested in interning for the American Heart Association because my grandfather has always been very active in the organization, so it was a familiar place to begin my first internship. 

On my first day of work I was thrown into the fire and was tasked to follow Callie Hanft (California’s Government Relations Director) around the Capitol building.  I learned first-hand how to successfully lobby against a bill.  It was a unique experience that taught me about the advocacy process that I wouldn’t learn from my classes at school or from an online seminar. 

I play lacrosse at USC, but my other interests include cooking and hiking.  I am currently double-majoring in both Sociology and Political Science. The first major I chose was Sociology because I have always been interested in the way people interact with one another and how we create social norms.  I then added the Political Science major after taking a few political science classes and realizing that I could use that background knowledge from my sociology courses on a bigger stage to help influence laws and government.

After I graduate, I hope to stay in Southern California for a few years and work in the government relations sector of a company, or anything else advocacy-related.  One thing I’ve definitely learned so far as an intern is that there is much more to advocacy than the lobbyist that actually goes in the Capitol.  But ultimately, I aspire to become a lobbyist in Sacramento. 

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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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What is all the fuss about e-cigarettes?

Written by Erica Phung, Sr. Government Relations Director, Southern California

Have you been to the movies lately or out at a café and noticed someone puffing on an e-cigarette and wondered – just what are those things?  Who’s making them? And what’s in that cloud coming out the end of it?

Since the Office of the Surgeon General released the first report on the dangers of tobacco use, smoking rates declined significantly across the United States.  As such, lower smoking rates have forced tobacco companies to seek new ways to appeal to a new generation of smokers, including through the manufacturing and marketing of e-cigarettes.

E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that have cartridges or refillable tanks that contain a liquid mixture primarily comprised of propylene glycol and/or glycerol and nicotine, as well as other flavors or chemicals.  Proponents argue they don’t expose the user to the same harmful toxins found in conventional cigarette smoke and could help people quit smoking.  However, the devices have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for smoking cessation or been proven to be safe.  

The AHA has concerns that e-cigarettes could fuel and promote nicotine addiction, and that their acceptance has the potential of re-normalizing smoking, especially amongst youth who are drawn to candy flavors.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that youth rates of e-cigarette use has skyrocketed, doubling from 2011 to 2012. The CDC estimated that by 2012, 1.78 million youth had tried e-cigarettes.  The AHA also has concerns of second or third hand exposure to e-cigarette vapor and constituents. 

Because of these concerns, the AHA believes that e-cigarettes should be included in existing smoke-free laws, taxed like conventional tobacco products and be included in laws that prohibit the sale and marketing of tobacco to minors.  We also promote educating health care workers, so they can adequately counsel their patients regarding comprehensive tobacco cessation strategies.  Further research and surveillance is also needed regarding the short, medium and long-term physiological effects of e-cigarettes.

In California, our AHA You’re the Cure Advocates have helped pass e-cigarette legislation in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and numerous other cities.  Does your city include e-cigarettes in its smoke-free laws? If not – contact us to help advocate for change! All Californians deserve to breathe clean air.

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Have a Heart Healthy Summer

Guest Blogger: Kami Sutton, Grassroots Advocacy Coordinator

Happy Summer, You’re the Cure Advocates! As the temperatures are rising and we are all preparing for the fun activities of summertime, I thought I would share with you my favorite low sodium summertime recipe! As a congenital heart defect survivor and someone who is in a constant battle against Congestive Heart Failure, I have learned how to eat a healthy low sodium diet.

Even for healthy hearts it is important to eat a well-balanced diet to prevent heart disease and that includes a diet low in sodium and processed foods. Choose and prepare foods with little or no salt. To lower blood pressure, aim to eat no more than 2,400 milligrams of sodium per day. Reducing daily intake to 1,500 mg is desirable because it can lower blood pressure even further.

With that in mind I present to you a delicious low sodium recipe to take to your next summer picnic or BBQ!

Black Bean Salad (or Salsa)

6 servings

 

About $0.84 per serving

 

1 15.5-ounce can no-salt-added or low-sodium black beans, drained

1 15-ounce can no-salt added or low-sodium kernel corn, drained or ¾ cup frozen corn, thawed

1 medium red bell pepper or 1 tomato diced

1/2 cup red onion, diced

1 teaspoon minced garlic from jar

2 tablespoon chopped cilantro

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

3 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

Juice of 1 lime

 

Toss all together, chill at least one hour.

TIP: Serve this as a side salad to a meal or warm in microwave and use as a filling for tacos!

For nutrition facts and links to more healthy recipes, visit: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/HealthyCooking/Black-Bean-Salad-or-Salsa_UCM_429539_Article.jsp

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Meet the Newest Member of the Advocacy Team: Violet J. Ruiz

Written by Violet R., Government Relations Director, Los Angeles

Hello YTC advocates! It is my pleasure to write this post as the new Government Relations Director in Los Angeles. It is an honor to serve the American Heart Association in building healthier lives free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke. I look forward to working with you in achieving our 2020 Impact Goal: to improve the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20% while reducing deaths from cardiovascular disease and stroke by 20%, by 2020.

I have made it my lifelong mission to help others achieve successful, productive, and happier lives. My career and passion to improve the health for all started with the death of my dear grandmother. She passed away in 2001 from sudden cardiac arrest due to small cell lung cancer. She was the most humble, giving, and caring person I ever knew. She exemplified the importance of giving back to the community and shaped the person I am today. Join me in taking a stand against heart disease-the number one killer of women.

Prior to joining the American Heart Association I worked as a Field Representative with the California State Legislature. During my time with the Legislature I was able to further develop my knowledge and passion for healthcare access to all communities. I helped the local district office educate constituents regarding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and how to access benefits. Most recently I served as a Grant Field Monitor, helping administer the Education and Outreach and Navigator grant programs for Covered California (California’s Health Benefit Exchange).

My dream job has always been focused on helping others and advancing the health of our community. I am thrilled to “hit the ground running” and work with you! YTC advocates are the most important and influential partners of the American Heart Association. I look forward to working with you in advocating for important public health policies. Please contact me, or Josh Brown - Grassroots Advocacy Director, if you have any questions or are interested in volunteering.

Thank you for your dedication, enthusiasm, and participation towards saving lives!

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Legislative Updates from the Capitol

Can you believe it’s June already? Time really flies when you’re having fun!  May and June are busy months at the Capitol, and things tend to change VERY fast.  In this post, I will provide a quick update on the status of AHA/ASA pending priority legislation.

The AHA/ASA is proud to sponsor SB 912 (Mitchell), and to work closely with the public health community supporting SB 1000 (Monning).

SB 912 (Mitchell) will maintain current nutritional standards in vending machines on state property by eliminating the sunset date on current law, set to expire January 1, 2015.  This modest, yet important measure, will ensure that state employees and visitors to state property will continue to have healthy options available for purchase in vending machines.

SB 1000 (Monning) requires that a warning label be placed on certain containers of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs).  SSBs are classified as beverages that have added sugar and contain 75 calories or more per 12 ounces (or the equivalent amount). Did you know drinking just one soda a day increases an adult’s likelihood of being overweight by 27%, and for children that likelihood increases to 55%? In California, 41% of children and 62% of teens drink at least one SSB drink every day. The average adult in the United States consumes 45 gallons of SSBs each year. California is in the midst of an obesity epidemic, placing many Californians at an increased risk of heart disease and other chronic illnesses.  

A warning label will allow consumers to make more informed purchasing decisions, and is just one of many important public health policies to address the obesity epidemic. 

SB 1000 passed off the Senate Floor on Thursday, May 29th on a vote of 21-13, and now awaits a hearing in the Assembly Health Committee on June 17th. SB 912 is scheduled for a vote in the Assembly Business, Professions, and Consumer Protection Committee on Tuesday, June 24th.

Please visit our Action Center to stay up-to-date on the progress of these two bills, and to find out ways in which you can help support the passage of these important public health policies with your action.

 You’re the Cure!

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One Million Milestone

Did you hear the big news?  We’ve reached an amazing milestone in our campaign to teach all students to be ‘CPR Smart’!  17 states now require CPR training as a graduation requirement, which adds up to over one million annual graduates who are prepared to save a life.  Congratulations to all of the You’re the Cure advocates and community partners who have spoken-up for training our next generation of life-savers.   

But with every advocacy celebration comes a new call to action.  33 states still need to pass legislation to make CPR a graduation requirement and you can help us get there!  Here are a couple simple things you can do right now to get the word out:

1) Watch Miss Teen International Haley Pontius share how a bad day can be turned into a day to remember when students know CPR.  And don’t forget to share this PSA on social media with the hashtag #CPRinSchools!

(Please visit the site to view this video)

2) Do you live in one of the 33 states that have not made CPR a graduation requirement yet?  Take our Be CPR Smart pledge to show your support and join the movement.  We’ll keep you updated on the progress being made in your state. 


 

 

We hope you’ll help keep the momentum going as we support many states working to pass this legislation into 2015.  Several states have already had success in securing funding for CPR training in schools, but now need to push for the legislature to pass the graduation requirement and in Illinois, the Governor recently signed legislation that requires schools to offer CPR & AED training to students. 

Bystander CPR can double or triple survival rates when given right away and with 424,000 people suffering out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) each year, this law is critical to helping save lives.  Thank you for being part of our movement to train the next generation of life-savers!


PS- Inspired to be CPR smart too?  Take 60 seconds to learn how to save a life with Hands-Only CPR.

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Recap: 12th Annual California Lobby Day

Wednesday, April 23rd was a big day for the American Heart Association! On this day, we hosted our 12th annual California Lobby Day at the Capitol in Sacramento to raise awareness about heart disease as well as advocate for heart healthy topics designed to make California a healthier place to live.  Specifically, these topics include: Senate Bill 912 (Healthy Food Options in vending machines), Senate Bill 1000 (Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Warning Label Act), and tobacco control and legislation.

If enacted, SB 912 will maintain current nutritional standards in vending machines by eliminating the expiration date on current legislation. SB 912 is a modest, yet important measure, and now is not the time to take a step backward in our efforts to reduce obesity.  Additionally, if enacted, SB 1000 will require that a warning label be placed on containers of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs), such as sodas, sports drinks, and energy drinks, which have added sugar and contain 75 calories or more per 12 ounces (or the equivalent amount). The text of the label is: “Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay.”

SB 912 and SB 1000 are two bills of a multi-pronged strategy to combat the obesity epidemic. Things change very fast at the Capitol, so we invite you to please visit here to stay up-to-date on recent developments!

Lastly, we raised awareness about the Surgeon General’s 50th Report on smoking in hopes to lay a strong foundation for future tobacco control and prevention legislation. For more information please visit here.

Thanks to the participation of more than 150 attendees (including high school students, You’re the Cure advocates, and staff), California’s 12th Annual Lobby Day was a huge success.  Highlights from the day start with a series of talented speakers and an advocacy training where volunteers and experts shared insight on our three topics as well as tips on how to meet with a lawmakers. Additionally, Joe Debbs served as our passion speaker where he shared the importance of volunteerism and why he continues to stay heavily involved with the AHA.  Attendees also participated in scheduled legislative meetings and a fun physical activity – the Cupid Shuffle!  Please see some of the photos here.

I am very fortunate to be a part of such an impactful event.  Thank you for your support: whether you joined us in Sacramento or took action online, your efforts are truly appreciated and they truly make a difference.  Please contact me if you are interested in future volunteer opportunities or if you have any legislative questions.

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Advocate Spotlight - Karen Dionne

Karen Dionne, Washington

At age 37, I envisioned my whole life ahead of me as I was planning my wedding to Michael, the man of my dreams.  I was successful at my job as a sales representative at a golf resort.  I was physically active, for fun I played co-ed softball, golf, and tennis.  My life quickly changed in an instant.  One quiet morning, I would leave my old life as I knew it behind and begin my life over struggling to survive as a stroke survivor.

Four months prior to my wedding, I had a hemorrhagic stroke causing paralysis on my left side. I had no known stroke risk factors. Blood pressure was normal, healthy cholesterol, didn’t do drugs, not on birth control pills, and was not overweight. 

On Friday morning March 2, 2007 while making breakfast with my fiancé Michael, I told him that I was feeling dizzy, light headed and I had a severe headache. It felt as if I could pass out.  Warning sign #1.    

As I sat on the couch, I started to feel immediate fatigue. My head was just not right. It started to hurt more.  Warning sign #2.  

I got up and started to walk again. However, this time I stop and just stood there.  I looked down at my feet in disbelief.  I described to Michael that I was looking down at my left foot but I could not feel it. Warning sign #3. 

The sensation quickly traveled up the left side of my body. I could not feel it. It was like it went to sleep without the pins and needles feeling.  Something was terribly wrong.  “Help me!” I exclaimed. 

Michael started putting all the pieces of the puzzle together. He looked at me and asked me to smile. He could see the left side of my facial muscles were not equal to my right side.  Warning sign #4.  

He said to me, “Karen, everything you’re telling me says you’re having a stroke!” This all took less than 5 minutes.

Michael SAVED MY LIFE that day by recognizing that I was having a stroke.  There was no doubt in his mind.  He wasted no time getting me to the emergency room.  A CT Scan revealed I was bleeding in my brain. I was having a hemorrhagic stroke. 

The stroke took many things from me including my lower left quadrant vision. It left me without feeling on my entire left side including in my left hand, I had to learn to walk again and I still have a small limp. With hard work, determination, and complete love and support from my husband Michael, I was able to walk down the aisle four months later on our wedding day. 

I later asked Michael how he knew I was having a stroke. He replied that he read it somewhere but he doesn’t remember where. Only that somewhere he remembered that lifesaving bit of information that he stored in his memory. I say that because everything we do to raise awareness about heart disease and stroke adds up. Even if it’s one person we touch, that one person could save a life someday.  And it could be YOUR life.  Or YOU could save someone you love.

Social media has been a great tool throughout my recovery efforts. During my journey on the road to recovery, I founded a support group for young adult stroke survivors called facebook.com/Reclaiming Ourselves.  Nearly a thousand of young adult stroke survivors from around the world encourage each other online with our goals and successes.  We are also available on Twitter @Stroke_Survior, and Pintrest. 

I volunteer as a Go Red For Women Ambassador with the American Heart Association. I do public speaking throughout my community educating others about the warning signs of heart disease and stroke and controllable risk factors in order to save lives.  As a Go Red For Women Ambassador is not just about heart, it's about stroke too.  Our goal as Ambassadors is to raise awareness about heart disease and stroke in order to reduce deaths from these diseases.  And the focus is not just about Heart month in February, it's about every month, for every woman, for every life.  

Being a voice for the millions of stroke survivors and their families is very important to me. That’s why I’m a You’re The Cure advocate. Recently, I met with our Washington state Governor and other elected officials to discuss tobacco prevention, childhood obesity, safe routes to schools and CPR in schools in order to save lives.  It’s easy to be an advocate and the American Heart Association makes it easy. 

I was honored to be asked to be on the Board of Directors in the South Sound.  It’s another way to give back to my community and support an organization that gives so much to help so many. 

Do I still work on my recovery?  Every day!! I stay very active with my gym membership.  My goal is to work out 4-5 times a week and do physical events such as 5K’s, 10K’s or even half marathons. This year was the second time I completed The Big Climb in Seattle up Columbia Tower (69 flights and 1,311 steps).  I believe there is no finish line.  I’m always looking for ‘what’s next’ and challenge others to join me. 

How do you recognize a stroke?  Remember F.A.S.T. 

F. Face

A. Arms

S. Speech

T. Time call 9-1-1 immediately

Please, make it your mission to educate yourself on the warning signs of stroke so you can be there for the ones you love. And make it your mission to educate the ones you love so they can be there for you. 

Karen Dionne, Stroke Survivor

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Take Control of Your Health

Did you know high blood pressure has also been called the “silent killer”? That’s because its symptoms are not always obvious, making the need for regular check-ups important.  As we recognize High Blood Pressure Awareness Month, here are the facts:

• High blood pressure (aka: hypertension) is one of the major risk factors for heart disease.

• It’s the leading risk factor of women’s deaths in the U.S., and the second leading risk factor for death for men.

• One-third of American adults have high blood pressure. And 90 percent of American adults are expected to develop high blood pressure over their lifetimes.

• More than 40 percent of non-Hispanic black adults have high blood pressure. Not only is high blood pressure more prevalent in blacks than whites, but it also develops earlier in life.
 
• Despite popular belief, teens, children and even babies can have high blood pressure. As with adults, early diagnosis and treatment can reduce or prevent the harmful consequences of this disease.

Now that you know the facts, what can you do to take control? The answer is a “lifestyle prescription” that can prevent and manage high blood pressure. A healthy lifestyle includes exercise, stress management, and eating a healthy diet, especially by reducing the sodium you eat. To learn more about taking control of you blood pressure, be sure to visit our online toolkit!

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