American Heart Association - You’re the Cure

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Last Reminder to RSVP for California's Lobby Day - April 23rd

California Lobby Day will take place on Wednesday, April 23rd on the West Steps of the Capitol building in Sacramento.  If you haven’t registered already, please RSVP here before it’s too late! 

This year’s 2014 Lobby Day highlights will include: an opportunity for you to connect with other AHA/ASA advocates, an advocacy training to ensure you are prepared for the day, motivational speakers and survivors connected to the AHA/ASA mission, the opportunity for you to directly communicate with your state legislators, and a heart-healthy lunch.

Additionally, we will be hosting a teleconference training for those interested about a week prior to the event.  Please keep an eye out for an action alert with more information!

We hope you will join us for this exciting and important day! Click here to visit our event page

Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have questions:

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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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Getting My First Stents

Part II of a Special Guest Series by Steve Irigoyen, a You’re the Cure Advocate who’s an 9-time heart attack survivor and 2-time stroke survivor

After the paramedics arrived and found me on the garage floor, they asked me “on a scale of 1-10 what’s your pain level?” and I replied “10+”!  With a 1-2-3 I was loaded on a gurney and hoisted into the ambulance by strong Paramedics and EMTs.  I’d never been in an ambulance before, and it was a rush.  I could feel us speeding along, and quick hands attached EKG leads on my chest.  They gave me three nitros, which didn’t work at all, and then gave me morphine, which barely seemed to dull the pain. Sirens were blaring and lights were flashing.  I winced, realizing that things were actually be pretty bad. 

Once I arrived at the hospital, I was quickly unloaded in the emergency room and seen immediately for treatment.  Cardiologists discovered two main arteries were blocked – one at 98%, and the other at 95%.  My Mom and Dad arrived, and I felt myself slipping away and could barely speak. “Mom, Dad, I’m so sorry but I’ve gotta go.  But don’t worry I’ll be by your side every day.”

They were sobbing, and my Mom pleaded, “No! No Steve we need you to stay with us!”

Consciousness started to drift away and I closed my eyes.  My parents watched my lips turn blue and thought I was dead.  A Cardiologist zipped in and explained, “We’re taking him in for an angioplasty. Don’t worry – he still has a chance! Hold tight!” and wheeled me away.

When I regained consciousness, I realized I felt immediately 100% better. What a difference!  I WAS ALIVE!!! Two stents were placed in my arteries, providing access to critical blood flow.  Two days later I was discharged and went to my parent’s house for a little extra care.

Those two stents saved my life.  Since my first heart attack, I discovered that the American Heart Association has funded lifesaving research – including important developments in stents – that saved me.  Years ago, I wouldn’t have had a chance at survival, and would have made good on my promise to my parents that I’d be by their sides in spirit. Thankfully, I am alive and am grateful to be an advocate for research. 

In addition to the lifesaving research of the American Heart Association – the National Institutes of Health research has provided critical advances in cardiac care.  Sadly, NIH continues to be woefully underfunded.  Heart disease and stroke remain our Nation’s No. 1 and No. 4 killers, respectively, but NIH invests only 4% of its budget on heart research and a mere 1% on stroke research.  Join me to advocate for research – and help improve the future of cardiovascular disease and stroke treatment.  Visit to learn more about our call on Capitol Hill and find out how to be further involved.

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Join Us for California Lobby Day on April 23rd

Where will you be on Wednesday, April 23rd? I’m hoping you’ll be able to join me at California’s Lobby Day.  We need to make sure our mission of building healthier lives free from cardiovascular diseases and stroke is heard by our leaders in Sacramento—and your voice matters!

This year we will focus on supporting policies that will directly improve the cardiovascular health of all Californians.  You will also have  an opportunity to connect with other AHA/ASA advocates, receive an advocacy training to ensure you are prepared for the day, hear from motivational speakers and survivors connected to our mission,  and meet directly with your state legislators.

Please RSVP today, registration is free but space is limited.

We hope you will join us for this exciting and important day!

Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have questions:

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I'm Too Young To Have A Heart Attack

Part I of a Special Guest Series by Steve Irigoyen, a You’re the Cure Advocate who’s an 8-time heart attack survivor and 2-time stroke survivor

The reason I advocate is because someone advocated for me and I want to give back.  It’s my turn to go out and save another life.  My first heart attack was in 1999, I was getting ready for my son Tristan’s open house at school and I had a bit of a headache, some chest pains and a touch of nausea.  My left arm started to hurt a bit but I was in a hurry to get out the door and just shook it off.  Must have been a touch of the flu or a cold I thought to myself. 

Honestly, I couldn’t tell you who was more excited for the open house – me or Tristan!  At 5 years of age, Tristan was very excited to be in kindergarten.  Although he was a bit of a mommy and daddy’s boy who loved being at either my ex-wife’s house or mine - he truly relished being at school and making new friends.  For weeks he’d been working on craft projects with his new teacher and really looked forward to showing them off.

On the way to the open house, my headache got worse.  I stopped off at 7-Eleven to pick up some Tylenol, and then was back on the road and shortly arrived at the school.  The open house was great – I enjoyed meeting Tristan’s teacher, and of course all the artwork Tristan had so lovingly made.  Tristan went home with his mom and I headed back to my condo. 

When I arrived home the headache and pain in my chest had not gone away, so I decided to call my sister Roberta, who knows all kinds of homemade remedies.  After telling Roberta my symptoms she said, “Steve! You’re having a heart attack!” and I didn’t believe her.  So she put her husband on the line and I reiterated my symptoms and he said, “Steve, you’re having a heart attack! Call 911 right now!”

I replied, “I’m 39 years old. There’s no way I’m having a heart attack.  But I’ll drive to the hospital and get myself checked out.” 

I walked to the garage to get back in the car – and hit the floor.  The crushing pain knocked me down.  Despite my protests, fortunately Roberta dialed 911.  Because of her quickness to call 911, and a robust emergency response system, I was saved.  

Since my heart attack, I’ve learned that sadly, where you have a heart attack matters in terms of the type of care you receive.  Where I lived in Rancho Cucamonga, there was a quick emergency response system in place ensuring that heart attack patients arrived to the right hospital with advanced cardiac equipment.  Part of my advocacy work now with the American Heart Association is advocating for timely emergency response systems.  Everyone deserves the best chance at quick, timely treatment!    Join me by taking action here on to help ensure that all cardiac patients get the best of care.



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Introducing Kami Sutton

Guest Blogger: Kami Sutton, Grassroots Advocacy Coordinator, Western States Affiliate

Hi there YTC Advocates! I wanted to take a moment to introduce myself, my name is Kami Sutton and I am the new Grassroots Coordinator for the Western States Affiliate of the American Heart Association. As someone living with a congenital heart defect, I have been a longtime Heart Walk team captain and volunteer here in Seattle and after I graduated from the University of Washington (Go Huskies!) I knew I wanted to make a career of giving back to an organization that has made me who I am today. It is because of the research and medical advancements that have been made by the American Heart Association to repair congenital defects, I am here today. I have spent the past year as the Office Coordinator here in the Seattle office working on office operations, finance and community outreach and I am so excited to be joining the Advocacy team!

After attending my first Lobby Day last January, I knew this is the direction I wanted to take my career. I was given the opportunity to share my story with my legislators and share my passion for this organization and that was all I needed to be hooked on Advocacy.

I always knew I wanted a job that meant something, where I could help make a difference. I really feel that is what the opportunity to work with the Advocacy department has given me. With the help of all of our amazing YTC Advocates, volunteers, board members and my fellow staff members, we are helping make the United States a healthier place to live, one city, county, and state at a time! Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions about our organization, the grassroots advocacy department and of course the You’re The Cure site! Thank you so much for sharing your passion with us! I cannot wait to work with you on our future advocacy adventures!

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Join Us for California's Lobby Day

RSVP for California’s State Lobby Day! On Wednesday, April 23rd dedicated advocates from across the state will meet with state legislators to encourage them to adopt policies that will make California a healthier place to live, including obesity prevention and tobacco control policies.

Please save the date on your calendars and keep an eye out for more details to come!  We would love for you to join us in Sacramento so please RSVP today, registration is free but space is limited.

If you have any questions please feel free to email Josh Brown at

We hope you will join us for this exciting and important day.

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Ready for the New Year?

As you know, the AHA and ASA aims to improve the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20% while reducing the deaths from cardiovascular diseases and stroke by 20% by 2020.  Thanks to advocates like you, we’ve made a tremendous progress towards our goals, but we still have a lot of work to do!  Are you excited to continue to save lives this 2014?

When’s the last time you visited  If you haven’t done so already, please take a moment to stop by and update the interests in your You’re the Cure profile to ensure that you receive timely alerts on topics that mean the most to you. 

When’s the last time you took action? Please take a moment to visit our action center to refresh yourself on recent legislative updates.  Your voice makes a difference! 

How has heart disease or stroke impacted your life?  Please share your story with us today by clicking here.  Our network is made of amazing individuals and we hope you take the opportunity to share your story so that the network can get to know you. 

Thank you for being a You’re the Cure Advocate and standing up for a heart-healthy future for yourself and your loved ones. Together, we’re making a difference to save lives!   

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Happy Holidays from Your Advocacy Team!

Thank you for partnering with us to promote heart and brain health in 2013.  Because of you we’re increasing opportunities for our children to be physically active, improving nutrition standards, creating stroke systems of care, and finding better outcomes for heart patients.  We’re excited to continue the momentum in 2014 and wish you and yours a wonderful Holiday Season!  

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Meeting the Mission at the Local Level

Guest Blogger: Brittni Chicuata, Government Relations Director Advocacy, Bay Area

With the holiday season upon us and the end of the year fast approaching, it feels only natural to take the time to reflect on the things for which I am thankful. This year has been quite remarkable, and I must say that I am most grateful for the community of family and friends in my life. The love and support that they give me to live happily and healthily is invaluable. Beyond personal success, my community has also always encouraged me to advocate for others to live happily and healthily. That motivation, coupled with my own calling to be a public advocate, has led me to the work I do today. 

These days we know that there are many ways to live a healthy life, including not being a smoker, incorporating exercise into our routines, and eating nutritious foods. For some, these lifestyle choices simply are not possible: they have neighbors or parents who smoke and, subsequently, expose them to secondhand smoke; they do not have safe routes to school or to work, much less accessible and safe parks to play and exercise in; or, they do not live in neighborhoods with grocery stores nearby, and perhaps are surrounded by convenience stores that do not offer the most healthful or affordable food options. Today, one-in-five children lives in poverty which, studies show, is a social determinant not only of one’s educational and professional attainment, but also of one’s health outcomes. While our economy continues to improve, these undesirable conditions are a reality for a very significant portion of our population. These qualitative health disparities of access are reflected in the quantitative inequities we see of chronic conditions associated with cardiovascular diseases and stroke.

So this holiday season, while I am thankful for my own community and health, I am also thinking of those who are not as healthy or happy and they can be. As previously stated, 2013 was a remarkable year, but I plan on making 2014 an even better one and I know that you’ll join me! Together we can confront secondhand smoke exposure and childhood obesity, among other initiatives, at the local level through our grassroots work. Our work will ensure that we continue to build healthier lives here in California and address preventable health conditions.


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