American Heart Association - You’re the Cure

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Florida Advocacy Trainings

For the Florida advocacy team, August was a time for reconnecting with old volunteers and meeting with some new ones. During the week of August 25, David Francis, Government Relations Director, and Julie M. Howell, Grassroots Director, set out to host four advocacy trainings in three days in Southwest and South Florida.

Their first stop was Bonita Springs. Meeting early Tuesday morning, champion volunteers celebrated past successes in Florida and learned about the 2015 legislative priorities of the American Heart Association (AHA) and how they can help through You're the CureAfter an hour and half of active dialogue, discussing healthy food financing initiatives, teaching high school students CPR, and much more, attendees joined You're the Cure and signed petitions in support of CPR in Schools. After the successful training, David and Julie took their show on the road. 

Next stop - Miami, where they hosted two trainings on Wednesday due to the overwhelming interest of volunteers. At both trainings, volunteers shared why they're involved with the AHA and their desire to create policy change in their community to improve heart health. Such an inspirational group!  

David and Julie finished up their week of trainings in Ft. Lauderdale. On Thursday, many key volunteers familiar with the AHA's community events, such as Heart Walk and Heart Ball, gathered for the chance to learn about another way the AHA is working towards its mission to build healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke. They enjoyed speaking about their current involvement with the AHA and how they can help the organization even more through You're the Cure.

Overall the local market visits were very successful. David and Julie made some new friends and hopefully inspired some new champions for the AHA's advocacy efforts. Thank you to all Florida advocates - new and old alike - who took time out of their busy schedules to attend. We're counting on your continued support as we look forward to 2015.

Special thanks to Leslie Amick, Laurie Mahoney, Dan Thorpe, Jessie Spicer and Islara Souto for securing meeting spaces and inviting staff and volunteers to attend.

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CVS Quits Tobacco

The first national pharmacy chain to stop selling tobacco said all 7,700 stores had halted sales by Wednesday — about a month earlier than planned — and announced a name change from CVS Caremark to CVS Health to reflect its commitment to health.

CVS announced its tobacco-free plan in February, saying the profits are not worth the larger cost in public health. Smoking is the No. 1 cause of death in the U.S., killing 443,000 Americans and costing the nation $193 billion in healthcare expenses and lost productivity each year.

CVS Health also announced Wednesday a new “comprehensive and uniquely personalized smoking cessation program” developed by national experts.


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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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New Study: Hospitalizations, Deaths from Heart Disease, Stroke Drop in the U.S.

The rates of U.S. hospitalizations and deaths from heart disease and stroke dropped significantly in the last decade, more so than for any other condition, according to a study released Monday in the journal Circulation

A research team led by Harlan Krumholz, M.D., national American Heart Association volunteer and director of the Center of Outcomes Research and Evaluation at Yale-New Haven Hospital in New Haven, Connecticut, said the drop was mainly due to a steady increase in the use of evidence-based treatments and medications, as well as a growing emphasis on heart-healthy lifestyles and behaviors.

The study examined data on nearly 34 million Medicare Fee-For-Service recipients from 1999 to 2011 for trends in hospitalization, dying within a month of being admitted, being admitted again within a month and dying during the following year. Age, sex, race, other illnesses and geography also were considered.

Read the full article on

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Personal Stories Needed in Florida

One of the scariest situations any of us could find ourselves in is watching a friend, loved one, or even a stranger suffer a cardiac arrest. During the next Florida Legislative Session, we will work to establish CPR training in high schools and we need your help to make decision makers aware of this issue in advance!

Do you know a teacher, parent, high school student, first responder – ANYONE – who has either used CPR or had CPR performed on them?

We would love for them to share their story at

Their personal stories can help us spread the word about the importance of CPR in Schools – a new plan of attack designed to create the next generation of lifesavers.  

Nationally, nearly 383,000 people have sudden cardiac arrest outside of a hospital every year, and only 11% survive, most likely because they don’t receive timely CPR.   Sadly, only one-in-four out-of-hospital cardiac arrest victims nationally receive bystander CPR and in Florida more than 1 out of 4 deaths are due to heart disease.

These frightening statistics can change with your help. Visit to share your story and help us spread the word about CPR in Schools!

Together, we can create the next generation of lifesavers

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Mark Your Calendar for the EmpowerMEnt Challenge!

We’re gearing up for National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month and we want you to be in on all of the action!  Throughout September, we’re encouraging families across the country to take control of their healthy by participating in the EmpowerMEnt Challenge.  Each week, families and kids will pursue a different goal, including eating more fruits and veggies, limiting sugary drinks, reducing sodium intake, and increasing physical activity.  Each goal is fun, simple, won’t break the bank and can be done as a family.  And by the end of the month, families will be a step ahead on the road to a heart-healthy life. 

So mark your calendar for the challenge kick-off on September 1st!  Complimentary templates and activities, broken down into the themed weeks, are now available on  In addition, you're invited to join our EmpowerMEnt Challenge Facebook group, where you can make the commitment to take the challenge and share your progress with others.  

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AHA Looks at Healthy Food Financing Initiatives in Florida

The crunch of a celery stalk. The crisp sweetness of a red bell pepper. The warmth of a freshly baked loaf of bread. We don’t just eat healthy food because we know it’s good for us — we eat it because it makes us feel good too.

But for 29.7 million people living in the United States, enjoying healthy food is difficult at best and impossible at worst. That’s because they live in “food deserts,” the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s term for areas without easy access to grocery stores. And although the term “desert” conjures up faraway places, food deserts are all over America: in cities and in rural areas, from coast to coast.

Not having a local grocery store can have far-ranging impacts on people’s lives. Families who live in communities where they can’t find a bag of apples or a head of lettuce are at greater risk of becoming overweight and obese. Studies show that the closer we are to neighborhood supermarkets, the more likely we are to have healthier lives and lower body weight too.

We can’t sit back while tens of millions of people in America lack access to the kinds of foods that keep us all healthy. Now is the time for families, community leaders, health advocates, business owners and elected officials to come together and find ways to improve access to healthy, affordable foods.

Right now, in many places across the country, public-private partnerships that support healthy food financing initiatives are working to bring full-service grocery stores or supermarkets into the communities that need them most. These efforts are addressing the immediate need for quality produce, low-fat dairy, whole grains, lean meats and other nutritious foods, and they’re helping evaluate just how food access impacts the future for our children and our communities.

The American Heart Association will work to bring Healthy Food Financing Initiatives across the State of Florida. Please make sure to check your inbox for You’re the Cure alerts regarding more information on this topic and others.

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U.S. News Speaks with Experts about CPR in Schools

Last month, the American Heart Association achieved an exciting milestone in our nationwide campaign to teach all students to 'be CPR smart!' Thanks to the help of You're the Cure advocates, seventeen states now require CPR training as a high school graduation requirement, adding over one million annual graduates who are prepared to save lives. Thirty-three states, including Florida, still need to pass legislation to make CPR a graduation requirement.

Recently, U.S. News spoke with experts about CPR in Schools to address the four common questions parents have about the requirements, which are:

  1. Are teenagers strong enough to perform CPR?
  2. How long does the instruction take?
  3. How much does CPR training cost schools?
  4. What happens if you perform CPR incorrectly on someone in cardiac arrest?

Read full article here to find the answers!

Each year, 424,000 people suffer out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrest. Considering bystander CPR can double or triple survival rates when given right away, this law is critical to helping save lives. Stay tuned for future You're the Cure alerts on how you can be part of our movement to train the next generation of life-savers!

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Teaching Gardens = Learning Laboratories for Kids

Studies show that when kids grow their own fruits and vegetables, they’re more likely to eat them. That’s the idea behind the American Heart Association Teaching Gardens.  While 1/3 of American children are classified as overweight or obese, AHA Teaching Gardens is fighting this unhealthy trend by giving children access to healthy fruits and vegetables and instilling a life time appreciation for healthy foods.

Aimed at first through fifth graders, we teach children how to plant seeds, nurture growing plants, harvest produce and ultimately understand the value of good eating habits. Garden-themed lessons teach nutrition, math, science and other subjects all while having fun in the fresh air and working with your hands.

Over 270 gardens are currently in use nationwide reaching and teaching thousands of students, with more gardens being added every day.  You can find an American Heart Association Teaching Garden in your area here or email to find how you can get involved.


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Katie Seay, Florida

Sometimes staff can make great advocates for the American Heart Association. Take Katie Seay, Patient Market Manager, for example. Until recently, she worked as the communications director for Jacksonville, Florida and handled media advocacy efforts across the state. Katie's passion for the American Heart Association - and interest in advocacy - certainly came into play during the 2014 legislative session.

A bill was moving through the House and Senate with very good intentions. The bill, if passed, would prohibit minors from purchasing e-cigarettes and force retailers to sell the e-cigarette and other nicotine dispensing devices behind the counter like other tobacco products. So after the Senate had passed the bill, the House was moving along nicely when a bomb exploded in the form of a preemption amendment. The language would strike all existing local county and municipality tobacco ordinances from the books and prevent them from adding more as we went forward.

Enter the American Heart Association and its tobacco control partners. Through the collaboration of all the organizations involved, an action plan was created. Katie, along with several coalition partners, worked the highly successful media plan. First steps for the group were to create letters to the Editor (LTEs), Op Ed pieces, press releases, media event releases, talking points for volunteers and then coordinating all media outlets around the state. Katie, taking the lead, coordinated all the edits and changes to all the documents, made sure each organization signed off on the final product.

The kick off to the media campaign was to hold a press event at the capitol. Katie and fellow PR person, Lisa Hall, coordinated all the media outlets and we received massive coverage from the event. Once the press event was over, Katie released the hounds, so to speak, working with communications directors across the state to launch LTE after LTE with Op Ed’s and phone calls and interviews.

With Katie’s efforts we managed to rally around a press event in Tallahassee, publish over 90 online and print articles about the preemption language, garner massive public support around our issue and ultimately with her efforts in the media and working with our coalition partners, we were able to remove the bad preemption language from the bill.

While the successful campaign was a true team effort, we want to thank you, Katie Seay, for helping us protect our youth from the highly addictive drug nicotine.

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