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Lauren's Law Update

Schools across Illinois are making great strides towards implementing the Lauren Laman CPR and AED training law, passed earlier this year and signed by Governor Pat Quinn on June 5, 2014. The law makes quality CPR and AED training a required part of the existing, required-for-graduation health curriculum for all secondary school students in Illinois. AHA/ASA staff and volunteers have been proud to work with the Laman family in order to help create a fitting and life-saving legacy for their daughter, Lauren.

Check out this great article that ran in the October 5 Springfield State-Journal Register on the implementation of the law.

Defibrillator law less costly, not as difficult for schools than feared

School districts in Illinois for the first time this year are required to teach students how to perform CPR and use a defibrillator.

After early uncertainty about how to comply and what it might cost, area school officials said last week that it isn’t as difficult or expensive as feared.

"I think it’s one of the mandates that is good," said Rick Sanders, director of school support for the Springfield School District. "It’s not very expensive, and the payback could be potentially huge." Read more here.

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Montana October is Sudden Cardiac Awareness Month - Is Your Family Prepared for an Emergency?

Written by: Amanda (Andrews) Cahill, Montana Government Relations Director

Imagine this scenario: you’re at home with your spouse when suddenly he falls to the ground. Would you know what to do, what to look for, how to help him?  Of course, you’d call 911, but there is something else that is crucial to his survival: CPR.   Every single second that he lies on the floor without intervention his heart muscle is dying.  An estimated 70% of Americans do not know CPR and could not save their spouse, parent, child, or friend, could you?

Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) is a leading cause of death in the U.S., many victims appear healthy with no known heart disease or other risk factors.  4 out of 5 cardiac arrests happen at home, if called on to administer CPR in an emergency, the life you save is likely to be someone at home: a child, a spouse, a parent or a friend.

Let’s Do Something About It!

We live in a place where the closest ambulance may be 30 minutes or more away.  When ordinary people, not just doctors and paramedics, know CPR, a victim’s survival rate can double, or even triple. Schools across the country are adding thousands of lifesavers to our communities by training their students, faculty and staff in CPR. In fact, laws in 14 states require CPR training for high school graduation.  Why shouldn’t Montana be a state where thousands of young adults become potential life savers every year?

Let’s talk to our teachers, school boards, school districts, and legislators and let them know we need CPR to be taught in schools.  A simple 20 minute training is proven to teach a young person the skills they need to successfully administer CPR.  We need to start having this conversation and to start teaching our young Montanans CPR- your life might just depend on it. 

If you are interested in seeing how you can help our efforts, please contact Amanda Andrews at Amanda.andrews@heart.org  or contact Grassroots Director Grace Henscheid.

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Long Island Board Honors Longtime CPR/AED Champion

The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Long Island Board of Directors was honored to name Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg as Advocate of the Year. 

Assembly Weisenberg, the legislative champion of the CPR in Schools bill, made it a priority to increase public awareness of the importance of bystander training in CPR and the promotion of the Chain of Survival. Thanks in tremendous part to his support and dedication, the legislation successfully passed both houses and we have taken an important step toward implementing this statewide training. 

No other member of the state legislature has done as much as Harvey Weisenberg to assist victims of sudden cardiac arrest.   Assemblyman Weisenberg was elected to the New York State Assembly in 1989 and is the author of Louis’ Law, which ensures all schools have AEDs on site.  More than 80 lives have been saved thanks to Louis’ Law, named after 14-year old sudden cardiac arrest victim Louis Acompora.

 Assemblyman Weisenberg recently announced his retirement from the NYS Assembly.  Please join us in thanking him for his actions.  His voice has saved lives!

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Do You Live in a HEART Safe Community?

Its Sudden Cardiac Arrest Awareness Month. Do you know if your community is HEART safe?

The HEART Safe program recognizes communities that meet specific criteria that help increase the potential for saving the lives of individuals who have sudden cardiac arrest through the use of CPR and increased public access to defibrillation.

 Congratulations to Stowe, Bennington and St. Johnsbury for already achieving this distinction.  Designation as a HEART Safe Community represents a coordinated effort by emergency medical services, fire departments, and police departments, as well as other various town departments, schools, and businesses that have committed to saving lives.

Talk to your local rescue and town officials and you can email the Vermont Office of Emergency Medical Services at mike.leyden@state.vt.us for more information. By becoming a HEART Safe Community, your town officials, and citizens will be recognized for taking the time, and making the effort to become an invaluable link in the chain of survival.

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Greece Odyssey Academy Keeps the Beat!

Congratulations to Greece Odyssey Academy!  Recently the Rochester area school teamed up with the American Heart and Upstate NY Life Support to provide hands-only CPR training to all students in grades 6-12 and any interested staff members.   As a result, over 1000 people are now trained to be lifesavers!

It all started thanks to the work of Rebecca and Mark Knowles.  To look at their son, Cameron, you wouldn’t know the Greece Odyssey Academy eighth- grader has a heart condition. His own family was unaware until he suffered a pediatric cardiac arrest six years ago. Cameron’s life was saved by his fast-acting parents, who administered CPR until first responders arrived. Since then, Rebecca and Mark have been committed to increasing awareness and prevention of sudden cardiac arrests. 

Greece Odyssey trained all of their students in PE class – in just a matter of days.  Can you imagine how many lifesavers we could have if everyone followed their lead?

Do you know of a school district that is ready to teach CPR to their students?   To learn more about CPR in Schools and the status of the state legislation, contact Julianne.hart@heart.org

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Sharing Your Story Can Save Lives!

There is nothing that brings about public and legislative support for an issue more than a real-life story from someone close to home.

Your personal stories can make our advocacy issues real by putting a face to a cause. Please share your stories about how sugary drinks or obesity have impacted you, your family, students or patients. Just email me at tina.zuk@heart.org if you have a story to share.

 Sometimes hearing just one story is all it takes to build a champion for an issue. Take, for instance Kristi Soule who shared her story at the Vermont Heart Walk.

 My life was forever changed on August 16, 2012. While out running a familiar 4 mile loop with my partner Luke, I suffered sudden cardiac arrest. I was 35 years young and there is no history of heart disease in my family. With years of CPR and AED training, Luke responded quickly. Drivers passing by retrieved an AED from a nearby business and Luke performed CPR until the emergency responders arrived. His efforts and the care I received from the medical professionals on site and at the hospital couldn't have occurred more perfectly. It was a miracle. Being with someone who knew CPR, and having an AED close by saved my life. Please help support our efforts to get more people CPR trained and make AEDs more accessible across Vermont.

 How could you say no? You wouldn't, I wouldn’t, and neither would a legislator.

 You have a story to tell, and your story can make a difference. Please help us save lives by telling your story. Email me today or give me a call at 802-578-3466 .

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Malenda McCalister, Kentucky

Malenda McCalister Kentucky

On September 18th, more than 300 advocates from over 100 organizations gathered on Capitol Hill to rally in support of ongoing funding for medical research, and You're the Cure advocate and heart disease survivor, Malenda McCalister, was excited to be among them.

In October 2008, at just 30-years-old, Malenda's life changed forever as she collapsed on the living room floor after giving birth to her son just 10 days earlier. She was rushed to the hospital cath lab where they  discovered she had suffered from a spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD). She had a triple bypass and two stents placed, followed by 2 pacemaker/defibrillator surgeries and a lead revision surgery.

Today, Malenda (at right with singer/actress and congenital heart defect survivor, Laura Bell Bundy) is doing well, raising her two children alongside her husband, Jack, and speaking out wherever she can to raise awareness of SCAD and the need to listen to your body when you know something doesn't feel quite right. She was happy to share her story with her lawmakers on Capitol Hill to illustrate the need to adequately fund the type of research that ultimately saved her life.

Thank you Malenda, for taking time away from your family to share your story with lawmakers on Capitol Hill!

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Kids with Heart...

Kids with Heart...Do you know any kids that are working to make a difference?  We do!  Meet Molly Budzinski and Joey Mendrick.

Molly just started her senior year at Orchard Park High School.  Before heading back to school, Molly traveled from Buffalo to Albany to met with Governor Cuomo's Assistant Secretary of Education to ask the Governor to sign the #CPRinSchools bill.  After learning that CPR wasn't taught in her school, Molly spoke to school officials and started a CPR training program .  And now over 1700 students have been trained! Molly is passionate about CPR because she lost her grandmother to sudden cardiac arrest.

Joey is another student with Heart!  Just 14, Joey Mendrick recently wrote to Governor Cuomo to offer to teach him Hands-Only CPR.  Joey has already trained WNBA start Tina Charles - here's hoping Gov. Cuomo is next! Joey knows the importance of CPR - he's alive because someone knew CPR.  Why teach CPR in Schools?  #Joeyiswhy

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Renewed Call To Action for CPR in NH Schools

Schools across New Hampshire are back in session! And now is the time to renew our push to get hands on CPR training into school curriculums. Schools are the place we expect our children to learn not only the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic, but to become active members of their community. One thing we’d all like to see our children learning, is how to perform CPR should they ever witness someone who collapses in cardiac arrest. Whether it’s a family member or a friend, we know our kids are capable of saving a life if only they are trained to deliver CPR while waiting for an AED. Many high schools in NH teach students CPR, but not ALL students are receiving hands-on training even in those schools. The AHA wants New Hampshire to adopt the requirement that all students graduate high schools having been trained in CPR. When we do, Granite-staters will have ever-increasing odds that someone nearby will be able to respond with this life-saving skill. This school-year our decision-makers, from legislators down to local school boards, need to hear from advocates like you that CPR taught in schools will result in thousands of new lifesavers in our communities every year. If you know of anyone - a loved one, co-worker or yourself – saved because a bystander knew CPR, please share your story with us today!

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What is Pediatric Cardiomyopathy?

Did you know that one in every 100,000 children in the U.S. under the age of 18 is diagnosed with a diseased state of the heart known as cardiomyopathy?  While it is a relatively rare condition in kids, it poses serious health risks, making early diagnosis important.  As the heart weakens due to abnormities of the muscle fibers, it loses the ability to pump blood effectively and heart failure or irregular heartbeats (arrhythmias or dysrhythmia) may occur.

That’s why we’re proud to team up with the Children’s Cardiomyopathy Foundation this month- Pediatric Cardiomyopathy Awareness Month- to make more parents aware of this condition (signs and symptoms) and to spread the word about the policy changes we can all support to protect our youngest hearts.
 
As a You’re the Cure advocate, you know how important medical research is to improving the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of heart disease.  And pediatric cardiomyopathy is no exception.  However, a serious lack of research on this condition leaves many unanswered questions about its causes.  On behalf of all young pediatric cardiomyopathy patients, join us in calling on Congress to prioritize our nation’s investment in medical research.
  
Additionally, we must speak-up to better equip schools to respond quickly to medical emergencies, such as cardiac arrest caused by pediatric cardiomyopathy.  State laws, like the one passed in Massachusetts, require schools to develop emergency medical response plans that can include:

  • A method to establish a rapid communication system linking all parts of the school campus with Emergency Medical Services
  • Protocols for activating EMS and additional emergency personnel in the event of a medical emergency
  • A determination of EMS response time to any location on campus
  • A method for providing training in CPR and First Aid to teachers, athletic coaches, trainers and others – which may include High School students
  • A listing of the location of AEDs and the school personnel trained to use the AED

CPR high school graduation requirements are another important measure to ensure bystanders, particularly in the school setting, are prepared to respond to a cardiac emergency.  19 states have already passed these life-saving laws and we’re on a mission to ensure every student in every state graduates ‘CPR Smart’.
   
With increased awareness and research of pediatric cardiomyopathy and policy changes to ensure communities and schools are able to respond to cardiac emergencies, we can protect more young hearts.

Have you or a loved one been diagnosed with cardiomyopathy?  Join our new Support Network today to connect with others who share the heart condition.   

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