American Heart Association - You’re the Cure

LoginLogin with Facebook

Remember me Forgot Password

Be the Cure, Join Today!

  • Learn about heart-health issues
  • Meet other likeminded advocates
  • Take action and be heard
Stratis Health Awards Heart Disease and Diabetes

Check out this article featuring AHA's Justin Bell and advocate Albert Tsai, posted by the Minnesota Department of Health on Stratis Health's 2014 Building Healthier Communities Award.

Stratis Health, Minnesota’s state quality improvement organization, recently announced six recipients of their 2014 Building Healthier Communities award. This Stratis Health grant award supports creative community initiatives that promote a culture of health care quality and patient safety in Minnesota. Two of the recipients touch the Minnesota Department of Health.

MDH’s Diabetes Program and Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Unit are active members of the Minnesota Diabetes and Heart Health Collaborative. The Collaborative received the $9,500 award to continue the World Café-style Community Conversations for Diabetes Prevention and Care Action in the African American, American Indian, Hmong, Latino, and Somali communities. The conversations have been helping the communities in taking next steps in implementing their most important recommendations for reducing their burden of diabetes and health disparities.

The other award was given to the Minnesota Time Critical Care Committee, co-chaired by Albert Tsai, from the Minnesota Department of Health’s Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Unit and Justin Bell, from the American Heart Association, Midwest Affiliate. The $10,000 award will act as seed money to develop an online training learning management system for emergency medical service (EMS) providers to provide education on time critical care conditions. The intended audiences include first responders and EMS providers in and around Minnesota. See Article Here

Read More

Advocate Spotlight - Libby Char

Libby Char, Hawaii

Despite her extremely busy work schedule as an emergency physician, as the Medical Director for EMS and several of Hawaii’s first responder agencies and the  American Heart Association Hawaii Division Board President Libby Char, M.D. still finds time to support American Heart Association policy efforts to make Hawaii healthier.

She sees the value of using policy change as a way to more quickly and efficiently change public norms that will result in improved public health.  Dr. Char has supported our efforts this year to require all newborns to be screened for congenital heart defects, requiring all high school students to receive CPR training prior to graduation, and development of policy aimed at improving Hawaii’s stroke system of care.

Just one example of the great work Char has done was earlier this year when she, along with other AHA volunteer advocates, met with the Hawaii Dept. of Education assistant superintendent of the Office of Curriculum, Instruction and Student Support, Leila Hayashida, to propose changes to the high school health class curriculum that would require CPR instruction to be included. Completion of a health class is required for graduation.

AHA volunteers also worked with Hawaii Department of Health representatives to provide funding to the DOE to purchase CPR manikins and training equipment for health classes. AHA CPR trainers also taught the DOE’s health class resource teachers in how to implement simple “hands-only” CPR training, so that they can train the classroom instructors.

The AHA’s “hands-only” CPR can be taught in just one class period. Dr. Char believes that every student should receive that life-saving lesson prior to graduation. In places like Seattle where this type of policy has been mandated survival rates from cardiac arrest have risen to above 60 percent, while in Hawaii survival rates remain below the national average of approximately 30 percent. Imagine if every high school student going forward learned CPR in school how many more people in our communities could be prepared to save a life.

Read More

Happy New Year, New York City!

Say what?? That's's the new fiscal year for the American Heart Association. While much of our focus remained on the state-level opportunities, we have a lot to celebrate here in New York City! Let's take a look back as we prepare to move forward:

CPR in Schools legislation: Thanks to your help as dedicated advocates and Council Members Corey Johnson and Costa Constantinides, New York City Council introduced Resolution 193 which will require that the NYC Chancellor consider implementing the training requirement for city secondary schools. The resolution now resides in the Council Education Committee and is gathering speed! Is your Council Member a sponsor yet? If you haven't already done so, please take action on the most recent NYC action alert to make sure they know how important this curriculum standard is!

Hands-Only CPR Training at City Council Offices: On June 4th, the American Heart Association traveled downtown to train City Council Members and their staff on the life-saving skill of Hands-Only CPR. Thanks to Council Member Julissa Ferreras, who helped sponsor the event, our city resolution (Res 193) has now accumulated almost a dozen sponsors.

Hands-Only CPR Training at Foley Square Park: Thanks to a generous donation, the American Heart Association provided an all-day Hands-Only CPR training on June 5th in the shadow of the Tweed Courthouse – home to the NYC Department of Education. More than 200 New Yorkers were trained in Hands-Only CPR using the CPR Anytime kits. Despite the threat of rain, New York City proved that Hands-Only CPR training is in-demand and the CPR in Schools proposal is warranted.

New York City leads the way against Big Tobacco: As the Bloomberg administration looked to the conclusion of their term, the Mayor, Commissioner Farley and Speaker Quinn prioritized several policies aimed at further lowering our city’s smoking rates. The Sensible Tobacco Enforcement law improves the enforcement of the city’s tax laws while also establishing a new minimum price floor ($10.50) for all packs of cigarettes and little cigars – and requiring that inexpensive cigars be sold in packs no less than four and little cigars in packs of 20. At the same time, the city enacted a new law that dictates a minimum sales age of 21 for cigarettes, tobacco products and e-cigarettes.

Speaking of E-cigarettes: The American Heart Association is supportive of efforts to include electronic cigarettes in clean indoor air laws. As e-cigarettes didn't exist in the US when New York City approved our Smoke Free Air Act more than a decade ago, city lawmakers pursued a last-minute opportunity to close that loophole as the clock ticked down on the Council Session. Indeed, this was the final bill signed into law by Mayor Bloomberg before he left office in January.

Thanks to you, we've made great progress toward our goal of making New York City the healthiest city in America. We have a long way to go - but thanks to your dedication, we are in great shape as we build momentum with our new city decision-makers!

Read More

End of Session Wrap-up

The NYS Session has wrapped up and we're happy to report substantial progress in many areas.  Here's a quick recap.

CPR in Schools bill passes both houses:  Thanks to the help of our dedicated advocates and the bill sponsors, Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg and Senator Mark Grisanti, we took a major step to ensure NYS students learn CPR before graduation.  The CPR in Schools bill will now be sent to the Governor.  The new proposal specifically calls for the following:

  • The Commissioner of the State Education Department would have 180 days to make recommendations to the Board of Regents regarding the adoption of CPR/AED instruction in the curriculum.  
  • The Commissioner would need to seek input from interested parties – teachers, administrators, parents, students and other interested parties; and consider time and financial impacts.
  • The Board of Regents would then have 60 days to accept or reject recommendations.

CPR “So Many Reasons” Campaign launched:  This May, the American Heart Association launched a heartwarming campaign entitled “So Many Reasons.  Starting in May and until the CPR bill passed both houses, we sent a “reason” to our state lawmakers about why the CPR in Schools bill should pass. The reasons were real stories about real New Yorkers - people alive because of CPR and/or AED use; or people who are not alive because CPR wasn’t started, or not started soon enough.

Brianna’s Law passes NYS Assembly:  Legislation to ensure all police officers are certified in CPR every two years passed the NYS Assembly.  

Our first ever CPR Rally:  On June 3rd the Capitol was a sea of red at our first ever CPR rally!  Approximately 100 volunteers traveled to the Capitol to show lawmakers how to keep the beat.  Following a press conference, volunteers from throughout the state all performed CPR together to the beat of Stayin’ Alive.  Volunteers then spoke directly with lawmakers.

Physical Fitness and Activity Bill to be sent to the Governor: We know how important physical activity is for our heart health.  The American Heart Association supported legislation to create a New York State Physical Fitness and Activity Education Campaign. This campaign would encourage physical activity which will improve the fitness of the people of NYS and will complement existing programs administered by the department of health that develop and promote nutrition and wellness activities.

E-cigarettes:  The American Heart Association is supportive of legislation to include e-cigarettes in the state’s Clean Indoor Air Act (CIAA).  Why?  Electronic cigarettes didn’t exist when we enacted the CIAA and we don’t know the impact that long term exposure has on cardiovascular health. Bills moved in both houses this session however it did not come up for a full vote by the Senate or the Assembly.

Trans Fat:  Legislation to eliminate the use of sneaky trans fat in restaurants moved in both houses however the bill couldn’t compete with the many other priorities of legislators and didn’t pass this session.  We will continue to push to take this dangerous fat off the menu.

Protecting your health - Funding maintained for Obesity prevention and Tobacco Control:  Despite attempts to consolidate funding for chronic disease programs, we were able to garner support to reject this approach and maintain transparency.  And funding for programs designed to prevent heart disease and stroke was maintained.

Not one, but two successful Lobby Days! For the first time ever, we held two NYS State Lobby Days.  And the results speak for themselves.  Our volunteers are just the best!  We maintained funding for heart/stroke prevention and passed a CPR in Schools bill! 

Thanks for all that you do!


Read More

Jennifer & Joel Griffin

On June 8, 2012, Gwyneth Griffin, a 7th grader at A. G. Wright Middle School, collapsed in cardiac arrest.  Several critical minutes passed before her father, Joel, reached her. CPR had not been initiated. “There was no one else taking care of my daughter, so I had to,” said Joel. Gwyneth’s mother, Jennifer, stated “It was after the results of the MRI, 3 weeks later, that we decided no one should ever have to go through what we were going through. What became evident was the need for CPR training in schools."

While the couple immersed themselves in caring for Gwyneth at the hospital, friends and family were busy back home in Stafford learning CPR. Joel and Jennifer’s daughter, Gwyneth, passed away Monday, July 30, 2012, not from her cardiac arrest, but because CPR was not initiated within the first few minutes. Their home community mobilized, and the Griffins report that by the end of the summer of 2012 nearly 500 people had become certified in CPR.

Jennifer and Joel involved themselves in working with the American Heart Association and their legislators to establish legislation that would assure every student was trained in CPR before graduation.  Through their efforts and perseverance, and in honor of their daughter, Gwyneth’s Law was passed in Virginia in the 2013 General Assembly session.  The law has three components: teacher training in CPR, AED availability in schools, and CPR training as a graduation requirement.

Here’s a look at how the Griffin's determination led to success:

(Please visit the site to view this video)

Since passage of the Virginia law, the Griffins have continued to work to help other states accomplish the same goal.  They visited Maryland legislators during the 2014 General Assembly session, and were instrumental in getting a similar law passed there.  They hope their story will help inspire others to support CPR training in schools as well. 

The legacy that Gwyneth leaves behind is one that will save countless lives. Help honor her legacy. This quick video will help you become CPR smart (and might get you dancing too):


Gwyneth Griffin


Special thanks to You’re the Cure advocate/writer Karen Wiggins, LPN, CHWC, for help crafting this story.


Read More

Just a click away...

The CPR in Schools bill has passed the Senate!  It has passed numerous committees in the Assembly!  Next up: a full vote by the Assembly.  We're almost there...just click below to send a message to your Assembly Member and key leaders.  A simple click, that's all it takes!  Send a can be the difference today!

Read More

Player's Life Saved by CPR and AED at Basketball Game

Just days after Gov. Quinn signed Lauren’s Law , requiring all Illinois high schools to offer CPR and AED training in the curriculum, a Porta High School student’s life was saved when his coach and bystander performed CPR and used an AED after he collapsed during a basketball game. Check out the great story from WICS below.

On June 5, Gov. Quinn signed Lauren's Law, a requirement for high school students to learn CPR and how to use an automated external defibrillator. Two days after, a Porta High School student collapsed at a school event, and with the help of an AED, his life was saved.

"I've been around basketball and I played in college, watched it all the time, and I've never experienced anything like it," said Nick Rathgeb, varsity basketball coach at Porta High School.

Rathgeb was the first to reach his varsity player, Nick Atterberry, on the court after he collapsed seven minutes into a school basketball game.  Continue reading here

Read More

The Bottom Line Is: CPR Saves Lives

Dear Friend of Heart:

The story below couldn’t have been scripted any better if it were set in Hollywood. For one family in the small Minnesota town of Luverne, the series of events on the evening of May 14th brought everything in their lives full circle.

It was around 7 p.m. when Gene Cragoe drove his van down the busy, four-lane highway the short distance to his office to check on something. He suddenly began to feel dizzy and thought he might pass out, so he pulled over. He ended up in someone’s yard, on a retaining wall, confused and disoriented. He didn’t recall how he got there. There was a knock at the window, and a woman helped him out of the car. Fortunately, he’d crashed in front of the house of an off-duty EMT, who rushed to help.  Once out of the car, however, Gene collapsed.

Doctors think he had two cardiac events, one while driving and the other after being pulled from the car. The second event stopped his heart altogether. The off-duty EMT did CPR for about two minutes until police arrived. Here’s where the story comes full circle.

Gene’s daughters, Pam and Peggy, have both contributed to improving their community’s response to cardiac emergencies — Pam advocating for CPR training and other cardiovascular legislation as the grassroots advocacy director for the American Heart Association, and Peggy as a community leader who participated in the fundraising effort to equip local police cars with AEDs. That evening, their work lives and personal lives collided in the very best way.

It took just one shock from the AED to bring Gene back. He started talking, concerned that no one was hurt when he crashed his car. After being transported to the local ER, he was airlifted to a bigger hospital in Sioux Falls. That’s when the Sheriff called Gene’s wife, who let his daughters know what had happened.  

“When I got to the ER in Sioux Falls, my dad was awake and talking, and I still didn’t think it was that serious,” Pam said. “The physician’s assistant told me my dad had had a sudden cardiac arrest, and was lucky to be alive. I about fell over. I couldn’t believe it was that serious. Turns out, he’d had a very deadly arrhythmia — one that only five out of 100 people survive. That’s when it hit me how close a call this really was.”

If Gene hadn’t received CPR immediately, if the police officer hadn’t used an AED, the outcome would have been much different, and his three grandkids who graduated from high school the following weekend would have had a very different family gathering overshadowing their celebrations.

The bottom line is: CPR saves lives. Please visit and watch our Hands-Only CPR video, which demonstrates how easy CPR really is. Because 88% of cardiac arrests happen outside the hospital, the life you save is likely to be someone you love.

Warm regards,

Kevin D. Harker

Executive Vice President, Midwest Affiliate

Read More

Lauren’s Law Signed by Governor Quinn

On June 5, 2014, Governor Quinn signed Lauren’s Law! This law will require all Illinois secondary schools to include CPR and AED training in their curriculum starting with this upcoming 2014-15 school year. Below is an AHA news release on the new law. Check out photos from the signing on our Facebook page here.

Illinois firefighters and advocates from the American Heart Association applauded Governor Quinn for signing House Bill 3724 into law at the annual Associated Fire Fighters of Illinois convention in Bloomington-Normal. The legislation, which takes effect immediately, will require Illinois high schools to add Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and Automated External Defibrillator (AED) training to their curriculum.

"This legislation will create a new generation of lifesavers in Illinois," said Lynne T. Braun, PhD, Chair of the American Heart Association’s Illinois Advocacy Committee.

The bill was named for Lauren Laman, a 17-year-old in St. Charles, IL, who collapsed from sudden cardiac arrest during dance practice at school. CPR was not given before EMS arrived and no AED was used, even though there was one nearby. Lauren’s family members worked closely with Representative Dan Burke, Senator John Mulroe, and the American Heart Association to advocate for this new law.

"I am thankful for the support my family and I have received to make the Lauren Laman Law possible," said George Laman, Lauren Laman’s father. "Without Representative Dan Burke, Senator John Mulroe, President Pat Devaney of The Associated Fire Fighters of Illinois (AFFI) and Illinois State Fire Marshall Larry Matkaitis, Alex Meixner of the American Heart Association, Tom Lia of the National Sprinkler Advisory Board, Peg Paul – Publicist, Retired firefighter Steve Rose of Oak Park, and numerous proponents of House Bill 3724, we would not have required CPR/AED training in all Illinois High Schools for the 2014-2015 school year. This success is bittersweet because many lives will be saved in Lauren’s name. However, the cost of losing our daughter Lauren was a terrible price to pay. Lauren, we will love you forever!"

"We want to thank Governor Quinn for signing this bill into law, Representative Dan Burke for introducing it in the House and championing it throughout, and Senator John Mulroe for sponsoring it in the Senate," said Alex Meixner, Government Relations Director for the American Heart Association. "Most of all, we want to thank Lauren’s parents George and Mary and the entire Laman family for their unwavering commitment to building Lauren a permanent legacy in Illinois. We all know the math when it comes to CPR and AED training: the more people trained, the more lives saved, and both of those numbers are going to go up in years to come thanks to Lauren’s Law."

Approximately 424,000 out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrests occur in the United States each year, with an average survival rate of only 10 percent. Less than one-third of victims receive CPR from a bystander, and while AEDs are increasingly available, most people don’t know how to use them and are afraid to try.

However, bystander CPR can triple survival rates from cardiac arrest. If an AED is used in conjunction with CPR, the survival rate can jump to more than 50 percent.

"Studies show that trainees, including schoolchildren, can become proficient in CPR and AED use in 30 minutes or less," said Dr. Braun. "We have also learned that students who have practiced chest compressions on a CPR mannequin are more likely to use it during an emergency. We need a generation of people who won’t hesitate to act if someone near them collapses."

For more information on CPR and AED training, log on to, or learn how to perform hands-only CPR in less than one minute at

Read More

[+] Blogs[-] Collapse