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Kentucky's CPR Bill Passes House, But Senate Leaders Block Measure

Despite Kentucky's CPR in Schools bill passing the House of Representatives unanimously and the overwhelming support and outreach to lawmakers from fantastic You're the Cure advocates like you, ultimately Senate leaders blocked the measure from being heard in the Senate. 

Each year, nearly 424,000 people suffer from sudden cardiac arrest outside of a hospital, and only a fraction of victims survive. CPR has been proven to double or triple the chances of a victim surviving cardiac arrest, and over time this bill would ensure that Kentucky has hundreds of thousands of individuals who know how to administer CPR. 

On behalf of the American Heart Association, THANK YOU for your support and dedication and we look forward to working with you over the next year to ensure passage of CPR training for Kentucky's high school students during the 2015 session! Urge those you know to show support for training Kentucky's high school students in CPR by asking them to sign up at www.becprsmart.org!

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Help Us Graduate a New Generation of Lifesavers in WV!

Sudden cardiac arrest is a leading cause of death in the United States and 88% of sudden cardiac arrests occur at home. For every minute that passes without CPR and defibrillation, chances of survival decrease by 7-10 percent. That's why it's important that we all learn how easy---and critical---it is to take action. In less than the time it takes to watch a 30 minute TV sitcom, students can learn the skills they need to help save someone's life with CPR. You can help ensure that this generation of students becomes the next generation of life savers. Click now to send a message to your legislators in support of CPR training for WV's students!

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Small Group Makes Big Impact at the Ohio Statehouse!

On March 25th, a small, but mighty, group of fantastic You're the Cure advocates gathered at the statehouse to meet with legislators in support of CPR training for Ohio's high school students.

More than 80% of sudden cardiac arrests occur at home so training our young adults in this lifesaving skill can potentially save thousands of lives--and takes less than one class period! Want to raise your voice in support CPR training for our high schools students and help graduate a new generation of lifesavers into our communities? Visit www.becprsmart.org today!

 

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Will Freeman, Kentucky

Will Freeman Kentucky

When his younger brother's friend nearly died at a birthday party, Will Freeman decided to take action--by teaching hands-only CPR to his peers at Henry Clay High School. In addition to recently training his entire class of over 500 students, the Lexington, Kentucky, senior has been working closely with the American Heart Association throughout the 2014 Legislative Session to gain support for a bill that would ensure all high school students in the state learn CPR before they graduate.

Read more about Will's efforts and how you can help create a new generation of lifesavers in your state by supporting CPR training for all high school students!

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Advocate Spotlight: Kathy Minx and Al Lessie

Kathy Minx and Al Lessie

My husband, Al, has very high cholesterol - around 450! It is from his mother's side of the family and no one on that side of the family lived past age 50. He had already had a major heart attack at age 31 and had open heart surgery at that time. He was actually one of the first to receive that surgery and the doctors told him he only had three years to live - they had never seen someone that young needing open heart surgery.

I knew he could have another heart attack but how do you prepare for that? He was in shape, had regular treadmill tests at his doctor's office and was receiving a clean bill of health. We decided to train for a 26-mile half marathon and we both ran the course in under two hours.

About one month after the race, we played 18 holes of golf and we walked the course (about 7 miles) as usual. We had a great evening, came home to fix dinner and relax. All of a sudden, my husband hit the floor and turned blue in the face. I was panicking but knew enough to call 911 first. I had been a lifeguard 25 years earlier and remembered my CPR training. I rolled him over and started breathing into his mouth and providing chest compressions. The ambulance arrived and gave him electric shock 5 times - the EMT told me he was so sorry for my loss. On the 6th time, he came back to life but had been unconscious for 9 minutes.

We rushed to the hospital and he was in a coma for four days. When he woke up, the doctor told me that the only reason he was alive was because I started CPR. Another man was brought in the same evening and was out for 9 minutes but did not have CPR. His outcome wasn't so good.

I am so thankful I had that training and have kept up my certification every two years.

By the way, my husband just turned 65 and has not had another incident. We showed that doctor who told him he only had 3 years!

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Advocate Spotlight: Mark Shacklette

Mark Shacklette

In February of 1967, my father, Dr. Charles L. Shacklette, died of a heart attack.  He was only 45 years old and I was only 14 months old.  In November of 2007, I also had a heart attack: a "widow-maker." And this still happened despite all the precautions I had taken.  I was very much aware of my family’s history of heart disease and wanted to ensure I didn’t suffer the same fate as my dad.  I ate right and I exercised regularly.  I maintained a very healthy weight.  I NEVER smoked.  I was, and still am, a fitness instructor at the YMCA.  And despite all of this I also suffered a heart attack, but a stent and a great cardiologist made all the difference.  Because of stents and the research dollars that helped developed them, I survived.  And 6 years later, I am doing very well. 

After my heart attack, I began to ask my mom more about what happened to my dad in February of 1967.  How did he describe the pain?  What were his symptoms?  My mom’s description of his symptoms matched mine – the feeling that someone had hit you in the chest with a sledge-hammer – so I’m convinced my dad also had a widow-maker heart attack.  Unfortunately for mom, it did make her a widow who had to raise five children on her own. 

My dad survived for two days after his initial heart attack.  If only he would have had access to stents like I did.  I’m sure it would have saved him, too, and it would have saved my mom from being a widow. It would have been nice to know my dad.

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Advocate Spotlight: Tony Lindeman, Ohio

Tony Lindeman Ohio

The morning of September ‎29‎, ‎2012, ‎started like all my previous ‎16‎,‎911 ‎days as I woke up before my alarm, jumped out of bed and was soon ready to take on the challenges of the day‎. ‎My first challenge that day ‎was completing my eighth marathon in Akron, Ohio‎. ‎I was ‎prepared to run the marathon after completing the same extensive marathon training I did each year since ‎2007‎.

My friends and I lined up at the starting line of the Akron Marathon and put together our plan to meet at the end of the race‎. ‎Running a marathon ‎was nothing new to anyone in the group so we all knew what to expect when the race started, or so we thought‎. ‎On our marathon training runs, we usually ran together about ‎5‎-‎10 ‎miles before we separated based on our different running paces‎. ‎As we approached the first mile of the race ‎it was a little unusual that my friends began to pull ahead but that was just the beginning of what would be a very different run‎.‎

‎I was approaching mile two on a very crowded street and next thing I remember I was on a hospital bed‎. ‎What is going on? What happened? ‎Why am I here? Those were just some of the questions that ran through my head‎. ‎A nurse entered my room and said, ‎“‎Today is the luckiest day ‎of your life‎.‎” ‎I was very confused not knowing what happened‎. ‎How am I lucky to be in a hospital bed and obviously injured? I was in pain with ‎cuts on my face, hand, arm, knee, and in a neck brace unable to move‎. ‎The nurse figured out I had no idea what happened and added, ‎“‎Once ‎you learn your story, you will understand how today is the luckiest day of your life‎. ‎“‎

While running my eighth marathon at mile ‎2‎, I went into sudden cardiac arrest ‎(‎SCA‎). ‎Lucky for me, I happened to be running in a group with quite a few nurses‎. ‎As soon as I fell down, two of those nurses who were running closest to me began ‎CPR after finding no pulse‎. ‎They continued performing life‎-‎saving CPR for over ‎10 ‎minutes until paramedics arrived and shocked me back ‎to life with a defibrillator‎. ‎As I heard my story, I realized the hospital nurse was right‎—“‎today was the luckiest day of my life‎.‎” ‎

There was no history of heart disease or heart related problems in my family‎. ‎I passed yearly physicals with great lab results‎. ‎My cardiac arrest took everyone off guard‎. ‎I ran over ‎1,000 ‎miles a year and thought I was taking good care of myself, so a cardiac arrest was not supposed to ‎happen‎. ‎While in the hospital, test after test indicated nothing wrong with my heart‎. ‎Doctors found no explanation for my sudden cardiac arrest ‎and they told me that my heart was good‎. ‎Despite the ‎“‎healthy‎” ‎heart, it was decided the Subcutaneous Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator ‎(‎S‎-‎ICD‎) ‎was needed since my heart obviously went into a strange electrical rhythm resulting in SCA‎. ‎I was soon the recipient of a S‎-‎ICD which ‎would shock me back if I ever had a repeat SCA‎.‎

Today I am good friends with the nurses who saved me, continue running races ‎(‎after doctor approval‎)‎, joined heart awareness athletic groups ‎(‎Cardiac Athletes and Ironheart Racing‎) ‎and work with the American Heart Association to promote CPR‎. ‎The AHA was instrumental in organizing ‎a CPR training event in my hometown where ‎150 ‎citizens were trained in Hands‎-‎Only CPR‎. ‎With the help of the AHA more people will know CPR, ‎which means more cardiac arrest survivors to tell stories like mine‎.‎

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Advocate Spotlight: John Pribanic

John Pribanic

At 104 years old, John Pribanic is an inspiration and a model of one who has lived and fought to maintain an active and heart-healthy life.  Several years ago, he was diagnosed with a heart murmur and high blood pressure and was supposed to undergo surgery to insert a pacemaker.  However, after fracturing his hip seven years ago, John moved from his home in Pennsylvania to Delaware for rehab.  The team at Kent General Hospital worked with John to improve his strength and allow him once again to enjoy one of his passions—walking.  After the rehab, John no longer needed that pacemaker.

John has always managed to stay physically active.  An engraver for Westinghouse Electric for 40 years and the township commissioner for 25 years, he was also a faithful member of the YMCA in his hometown of West Wilmerding, PA.  There, he walked and swam every day until his hip injury a few years ago.  Later, he added to his daily exercise routine by joining the Modern Maturity Center where he was able to walk and swim three times a week.

Born in Croatia, John came to the United States at the age of 3 and survives his sister, four brothers, and both parents, who lived until they were 89.  He has two sons, four granddaughters, and five great-grandchildren.  John has not only fought against his own cardiovascular problems, but his wife of 53 years passed away after a battle with heart disease when she was 76. 

He currently resides in Dover, Delaware, where he still walks about half a mile or more each day and inspires other residents in his assisted living facility to do the same.  He just celebrated his 104th birthday and is still determined to stay healthy to avoid future heart issues.

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Advocates in Action: Mr. Embleton goes to Washington

My experience in DC was one of the most uplifting and energizing experiences I have ever had. I hope to participate in future years.

Attending the Rally for Medical Research was important to me because my family has been impacted by heart disease. None of the males in the last four generations of my family have lived beyond 60 years. We lost my mother to heart disease. Six years ago, I suffered an unexpected heart attack that even 10 years ago would have required open heart surgery and the entire risk attendant with surgery. Fortunately, I was treated by a team of cardiologists at the Cleveland Clinic and was a candidate for medicated stents. I was in and out of the hospital in three days and playing golf a week later! My cardiologist received his first research grant many years earlier from the American Heart Association and for him, I am eternally grateful. My treatment would not have been possible without the research that was initially funded by AHA. As a volunteer with AHA, I have met so many doctors, researchers, and patients who have been directly impacted and benefited by the efforts of the dedicated staff and volunteers of AHA. I am committed to helping improve the cardiovascular health and treatment of others through the efforts of AHA.

I am asking you as a fellow advocate to please support AHA’s efforts by visiting our Take Action center to send your message in support of ongoing heart and stroke research funding today.

Jeff Embleton

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Cardiac Arrest Awareness Month: The Importance of AEDs

 This month is cardiac arrest awareness month.  Several posts have dealt with key issues related to cardiac arrests.  Now, let's focus on the importance of Automated External Defibrillators or AEDs.

An AED is a lightweight and portable device that delivers an electric shock through the chest to the heart.  The shock can stop an irregular rhythm and allow a normal rhythm to resume.  The devices are safe and easy to use.  Along with the quick use of CPR, AEDs increase a patient's chance of survival.  In fact, without such measures, a victim's survival rate drops 7 to 10 percent for every minute that passes.

The American Heart Association has been working since the late 1990s to address policy needs related to CPR and AEDs.  While there has been significant success, there is much work left to do.  Here are a few highlights:

Federal Policy - With the support of great advocates, airlines are now required to have an AED onboard commercial flights and staff are trained in CPR and AED use.

Federal Policy - Congress created the Rural and Community Access to Emergency Devices Program, which is administered by the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA). This competitively awarded state grant program allows communities to buy AEDs, place them in public areas where cardiac arrest is likely to occur, and train lay rescuers and first responders in their use. The program has been successful, but underfunded. In 2002, 6,400 AEDs were purchased, and 38,800 individuals were trained in their use.  However, In 2008, only 225 AEDs were purchased and 849 individuals were trained in their use and in 2009, less than 8% of applicants were funded.  In FY 2012, only 6%, or just eight of the approved applications, were funded. 

Federal Policy - The Cardiac Arrest Survival Act of 2000 encourages placement of AEDs in federal buildings and ensures federal liability protection for those who acquire or use an AED to help save a life.

State Policy - The American Heart Association and its advocates worked to address bystander Good Samaritan legislation in all 50 states.  This allows liability coverage for bystanders, regardless of training, to use CPR or an AED to save the life of another.

State Policy - States have worked to address the program needs and liability coverage for those placing an AED.  While the laws vary from state to state, efforts focused on removing barriers to placement. 

What Can You Do?

  • Learn CPR!  Most cardiac arrests happen in the home.  By learning CPR, you could be the difference for a loved one.  Visit www.heart.org/cpr to find a class or training solution for you.
  • Does your workplace have an AED?  AEDs should be placed in public areas where large amounts of people gather or where people at high risk for heat attacks are.  To learn more about AED placement, visit the American Heart Association AED Resource site.  Then, talk to your employer about placing an AED.
  • Finally, learn more about efforts to increase bystander CPR.  Visit www.becprsmart.org

 

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