American Heart Association - You’re the Cure

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An Update on SB 2194, testing all Hawaii Newborns for Critical Congenital Heart Defects

Guest Blogger: Don Weisman, Hawaii Government Relations Director

Thanks to AHA You’re The Cure advocates, SB 2194, the bill that would require Hawaii birthing centers to perform a pulse oximetry screening to check for critical congenital heart defects prior to discharge, continues to move toward final passage. The bill was passed by the House Finance Committee on April 3 with no major changes to the pulse oximetry screening section (a second unrelated section was added to the bill during the committee hearing on which the AHA took no position). The bill now heads to the House Floor for a vote before it moves presumably to a conference committee where differences between the House and Senate version of the bill will be worked out. If agreement can be achieved there, the bill will move to the Governor for final passage into law.

The AHA is also supporting two other tobacco-control related bills which continue to advance. SB2495 would restrict the use of electronic cigarettes to places where only regular cigarettes are allowed, thereby protecting non-smokers from being involuntarily exposed to the nicotine and other particles and chemicals emitted as part of e-cigarette aerosol. SB 2496 would increase the tax on “other” tobacco products (all tobacco products other than cigarettes) to a rate of 85% of wholesale cost. Other tobacco products are currently under-taxed in relation to cigarettes making them more appealing to youths. The CDC has reported a sharp uptake in usage of those products by youths as cigarette prices have increased. Increasing taxes has been proven to reduce usage by youths. An as yet undetermined portion of the revenue from the tax increase would be earmarked for the Hawaii Tobacco Prevention and Control Trust Fund to be used by community programs to reduce tobacco consumption.

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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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Advocate Spotlight: Gladdys Arboleda

Gladdys Arboleda

You’re The Cure advocate Gladdys Arboleda earned her first visit to the U.S. mainland when she and her high school team mate, Garrett Cho, recently placed first in the Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) state competition in Hawaii. She will be competing in the national competition scheduled in late June at Walt Disney World in Florida.

Gladdys, a high school senior, is a member of her school’s Health Academy and is planning college training to pursue a career in nursing. Throughout this year, as part of her required senior project, she has been active as an AHA volunteer focused on educating the public about the role that overconsumption of sugar-sweetened beverages play in obesity.

“For the HOSA competition we were tested on knowledge and skills related to CPR and first aid using the AHA’s guidelines,” Gladdys explained. “My partner Garrett and I competed against 15 other teams from throughout Hawaii. We dedicated time several times a week to prepare for the competition and received guidance from our HOSA advisor Shawn Mashino, who also teaches clinical health and directed health studies at our school. I’m really excited that our efforts paid off with a first place finish. I’m even more excited to be making my first trip to a Disney park.”

While her senior project is nearing completion, Gladdys has expressed interest in continuing as an AHA volunteer after high school graduation, noting that the AHA’s work aligns with her career goals.

Good luck Gladdys and Garrett at the national competition!

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Update from the Hawaii State Legislature

Guest Blogger: Don Weisman, Hawaii Government Relations Director

This year has been a very busy year for us at the capitol and we wanted to give you, our advocates, an update on what has been going on.

Pulse Oximety

Critical Congenital Heart Defects are the number one birth defect in newborns. They affect 1 in 100 babies and account for nearly 30% of infant deaths due to birth defects. Legislation that would require all Hawaii birthing centers to perform pulse oximetry screening on all newborns prior to discharge is back on track after surviving a rocky start. Pulse Oximetry is a simple screening involving a small strap that goes around the baby’s foot to measure their heart rate and blood oxygen.  The bill, SB 2194, SD1,  appeared dead until the AHA, with the help of our advocates and backed by representatives of Hawaii Pacific Health, urged Senate Health Committee Chair Josh Green to request a re-referral of committee assignments which helped give it second life.

When it was finally heard jointly by three Senate committees, it passed unanimously with no opposition in testimony. Thank you to You’re The Cure advocates who responded to the AHA’s action alert and helped bring attention to this life-saving legislation.

AEDs in Schools

Sudden cardiac arrest is a leading cause of death in the United States. Less than 8% of people who suffer cardiac arrest outside the hospital survive because people around them don’t know what to do. The AHA commented on legislation (SB 2610, SD2) that would require all Hawaii public schools to be equipped with an automated external defibrillator (AED).

As a result of our testimony, the bill was amended to include the formation of a state task force to develop recommendations for emergency response planning at schools and other related policy recommendations to state legislators prior to the start of their 2015 Legislative Session. The bill passed out of the Senate and will now be considered by the House.

Tobacco Issues

The AHA is also pursuing action on two tobacco-related bills moving through the state legislature. The first bill (SB 2493, SD3) would require wholesalers and retailers of e-cigarettes to obtain a state license similar to those needed to sell other tobacco products. We have argued that, following last year’s passage of legislation restricting the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, licensing is needed to determine who sells these products and allows for more effective enforcement of the sales to minors restrictions. The bill also restricts the use of e-cigarettes to places where cigarette smoking is allowed. This measure is needed to protect non-smokers from the nicotine and other toxic chemicals present in e-cigarette aerosol.

The AHA is opposing HB 1849 that would reduce the tax on premium cigars, which are currently taxed at a rate of 50 percent of wholesale cost (an estimated average of $2.50 per stick) to a much lower rate of 50-cents per stick. The bill passed with considerable opposition in the House and is headed for the Senate. The Centers for Disease Control reports that while cigarette use has declined among youths, use of other tobacco products, including cigars, has increased. AHA argued that any reduction in costs of tobacco products makes them more accessible to youths. We also pointed out that cigars are similar to cigarettes in the cardiovascular risks that they pose.

As you can see we are very busy this time of year. Thank you for all that you do and please keep an eye out for our emails!

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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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Learn & Share Your Post-Stroke Tips

After a stroke, even the simplest tasks can be very challenging.  Survivors often face limb weakness, numbness or paralysis, communication challenges, and difficulty with their vision.  However, we know stroke survivors and caregivers across the country are persevering and discovering new, creative ways to carry out the daily tasks they need to.  Through their recovery, they find a 'new normal' and we want to help share these helpful tips far and wide. 

That's why the American Stroke Association created a volunteer-powered library- Tips for Daily Living- to gather ideas from stroke survivors, caregivers and healthcare professionals who’ve created or discovered adaptive and often innovative ways to get things done!  For example, do you have to put up a ponytail with one hand?  Watch Karen’s video!

(Please visit the site to view this video)

Help us grow the library!  Do you have something to share that could help stroke survivors?  Share your tips by completing the online submission form at  You’ll get a FREE AHA/ASA recipe book and Stroke Solidarity String for participating!

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Are You Ready, Hawaii?

It’s hard to believe that Hawaii starts a new legislative session Wednesday, January 15. We have been working hard to pass lifesaving policies this year but you are critical to our success. 

The American Heart Association's legislative agenda will include the following topics below:

• Reduce obesity by adding a fee on sugar-sweetened beverages to generate new revenue to help prevent obesity. Beverages with calories added like soda, energy drinks and sports drinks account for 15% of the non-nutritious calories in Hawaii residents’ daily diets. They are a leading cause of overweight and obesity and increase an individual’s risk for heart disease.  Revenue generated by the fee would specifically fund comprehensive community obesity prevention programs.

• Screen all newborns for congenital heart defects. We would like to require that all birthing centers in Hawaii perform pulse oximetry screening on every newborn prior to discharge. Pulse oximetry is a noninvasive, inexpensive screening tool that can detect if a baby has a congenital heart defect and help save babies’ lives.

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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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Have a Heart-Healthy Holiday

This Holiday Season I would like to take this moment to thank you for being an engaged member of our You’re the Cure Network.  Thanks to advocates like you, we’ve made a tremendous difference on important legislation at the local, state and national levels. 

The holiday season is fast approaching, along with all of the wonderful foods and festivities that come with it.  However, it is important to remember that even during this time of year we need to be mindful of what we are eating.

Start the holiday season off right by trying one of our heart-healthy recipes this month.  Additionally, the AHA/ASA has also developed a Healthy Holiday Eating Guide which can be found here.

Thank you once again for all you do.  With the help of advocates like you, 2014 is going to be an amazing year.  The AHA/ASA could not be successful without your time and dedication to fighting heart disease and stroke.  Have a happy holiday!          

PS: If you haven’t done so already, please take a moment to 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. 

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