American Heart Association - You’re the Cure

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Judge upholds Indianapolis smoke-free air law

The smoke-free air law in Indianapolis was upheld in court recently.

On July 28th, a Marion County Superior Court judge upheld the smoke-free ordinance, that went into effect in 2012. It was passed by the Indianapolis-Marion County City-County Council. 

Click here to read the rest of the story and to see a statement from Katy Ellis Hilts, chair of Smoke Free Indy.

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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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E-cigarette market rises, health experts warn users

Check out this recent news report about electronic cigarettes from WISH-TV in Indiana, featuring quotes from Danielle Patterson, Government Relations Director for the American Heart Association.  

“There’s no sense in trading in one tobacco product from an industry that’s been deceiving us for years for another product from that industry,” Danielle Patterson said.

Patterson is with the American Heart Association and says e-cigarettes should not be considered an alternative to smoking tobacco.

“You’re still taking in carcinogens. You may be off traditional cigarettes, you may feel like you don’t smell like cigarette smoke, but you’re still taking in harmful products into your body,” Patterson said.

Click here to  Read the rest of the story.

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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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One Million Milestone

Did you hear the big news?  We’ve reached an amazing milestone in our campaign to teach all students to be ‘CPR Smart’!  17 states now require CPR training as a graduation requirement, which adds up to over one million annual graduates who are prepared to save a life.  Congratulations to all of the You’re the Cure advocates and community partners who have spoken-up for training our next generation of life-savers.   

But with every advocacy celebration comes a new call to action.  33 states still need to pass legislation to make CPR a graduation requirement and you can help us get there!  Here are a couple simple things you can do right now to get the word out:

1) Watch Miss Teen International Haley Pontius share how a bad day can be turned into a day to remember when students know CPR.  And don’t forget to share this PSA on social media with the hashtag #CPRinSchools!

(Please visit the site to view this video)

2) Do you live in one of the 33 states that have not made CPR a graduation requirement yet?  Take our Be CPR Smart pledge to show your support and join the movement.  We’ll keep you updated on the progress being made in your state. 



We hope you’ll help keep the momentum going as we support many states working to pass this legislation into 2015.  Several states have already had success in securing funding for CPR training in schools, but now need to push for the legislature to pass the graduation requirement and in Illinois, the Governor recently signed legislation that requires schools to offer CPR & AED training to students. 

Bystander CPR can double or triple survival rates when given right away and with 424,000 people suffering out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) each year, this law is critical to helping save lives.  Thank you for being part of our movement to train the next generation of life-savers!

PS- Inspired to be CPR smart too?  Take 60 seconds to learn how to save a life with Hands-Only CPR.

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Get Educated with our Interactive Library

This is cool!  Have you ever wondered what a stent is and how it works?  Want to know more about TIA (transient ischemic attacks)?  Visit our Interactive Cardiovascular Library for animations that help explain these topics, high blood pressure and many other cardiovascular diseases.

Click this link: to check out informative illustrations and animations about a variety of conditions, treatments and procedures related to heart disease and stroke.


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Share Your Story: Joel Robbins

Joel Robbins Lafayette, IN

My name is Joel Robbins and to quote the ER Doctor, I’m “one lucky dude”.  On Aug 25th, 2010, my life changed in a heart-beat….or rather, lack thereof.  As we would find out later, an unknown blood clot released from wherever it was hiding and I suddenly had a 100% blockage of the Left Anterior Descending Artery, known as the LAD.  The LAD delivers about 75% of the blood to your heart.  The result:  I had a massive heart attack.  This heart attack is known as The Widow Maker.  There’s a 5% survival rate.  Thank God…He spared my life.
I had felt some shortness of breath for about a month prior to having the heart attack.  On July 26th, I got an allergic reaction from some bee stings.  I was given some medication to fight the allergic reaction.  The very next day, I went to the nurses at work with very elevated blood pressure and very fast heart rate.  I was told it was the medication working and not to worry about it.  I sought help two more times, each time I was told it was the medication and not to worry.  So…I didn’t.   Over the course of the next 30 days, I had some periodic shortness of breath for a few seconds and then I was fine (or so I thought).  What we later learned was, the medication was also working on the blood clot I didn’t know I had!
As I came home from work on the 25th of Aug., my wife and kids were out working in the yard.  I was tired, so I lied down to rest a bit.  They called in through the window for me to help with something and I went on out.  I decided to do a few more things while out there and as I finished putting things away, I was knocked flat, face first to the ground.  I had no energy and I was extremely short of breath.  This time, however, the shortness of breath was not going away!  I remember thinking to myself, “I’m only 44, I can’t be having a heart attack.”  My wife and daughter came up to me and I said I was fine, I didn’t need to go to the doctor or hospital…it was nothing.   I finally stood up and wishfully determined I had just overheated.  So, I went inside to take a shower and cool off.
While in the shower, suddenly, an extreme pain in the center of my chest came upon me.  It was as if someone was pushing their heel down into the center of my chest and someone else was pulling up on my shoulders. I broke out into a cold sweat and both of my arms went numb.  I immediately knew I WAS having a heart attack now!  I got out and lied on the floor.  Everything around me was now gray, no color whatsoever.  I thought to myself, I don’t want to die here.  So, I got up off the floor and headed for the stairway.
It was at this point, I realized God was with me.  I was very unstable walking and the stairway was overwhelmingly steep looking.  I remember saying, please don’t let me fall.  Suddenly, the stairway appeared to be narrower and distant - as if I was lifted above it.  I truly believe it was at this point God was holding me and helping me down the stairs.  I had called out to Wendy a little earlier and she met me at the bottom.  While coming down the stairs, I noticed the Lord’s Prayer we have above the landing.  Now, the Lord’s Prayer was completely in color and in focus….while around it was still all gray.  God was telling me to PRAY!  As Wendy wrapped her arms around me and helped me to the floor, I whispered to her, arms numb, can’t breathe.  I then started gasping for every breath.  Wendy is immediately on the phone with 911 (she did a great job of staying calm – I think it helped she was in shock of what was really happening) and I can hear both of our kids crying.  I am praying for all I am worth at that point and I can safely say, that was the hardest I have ever prayed.
I felt some relief as I heard the sirens in the distance.  I couldn’t believe they were coming for me, but I was relieved at the same time.
The first responders came and then the EMTs.  The hardest part of this was looking at Isaac and Ashley as I was being wheeled out of our home, thinking this was going to be the last I saw of my family.  Fortunately, God was still there with me.  God worked through the EMT as three different times on the way to the ER, God and the EMT brought me back.  Standing over me, the EMT told me, God wasn’t done with me yet and not to leave him.  God had all the right people in all the right places for me that night.  When I got to the ER, the staff quickly started working on me.  The cardiologist had called the catheterization team in before I got to the ER, so they could be ready for me.  My senses were heightened as I could hear all of the conversations that night.  Even the one with the EMT speaking with the ER in the ambulance on the way there….saying, he needed to speak with THE cardiologist on duty as he had a 44 year-old, white male actively having a heart attack and of the three EKGs performed, none were good.  He needed everyone to be ready and we were five minutes out.  (That is really scary as you realize, it’s you they’re talking about!)  When we pulled into the ER, I was cold and my legs were now numb too.  I remember thinking, “I don’t have much time left…I’m slipping away.”  As the hustle and bustle of medical staff was everywhere within the ER room, I soon had this calmness that came over me.  The ER staff was really working on stabilizing me and trying to ease my pain, though it was the most excruciating pain I’ve ever felt.  I cried a little, but quickly knew I needed to fight instead.  It was great to see Wendy and my parents there in the ER with me.   Soon, the staff whisked me away to the cath lab.  I had briefly passed out but immediately came to when they removed the clot and inserted a stint.  I was warm and now could feel my arms and legs again and I had no more pain.  After I looked around and realized the big bright light was just the surgical light overhead, I thanked the nurses and said I felt wonderful.  I also thanked God for the first time that night.
So, a few hours after this whole thing had started, I was feeling great.  I was soon lying in my ICU bed, I was thankful to see my beautiful bride and my parents again.  I was able to speak with my kids on the phone and tell them Dad was ok and I would see them tomorrow.

I have learned very much about the heart and being heart-healthy since my heart attack.  I also learned a LOT about The American Heart Association and the valuable research they do.  I am here today because of that research.  When I survived, I knew I had to help the AHA in any way that I could.

I am a very active volunteer for the AHA.  I am one of a few people picked by the AHA to be a Social Media Diplomat for the AHA.  What does this mean?  It means I monitor their Facebook and Twitter pages and respond and encourage people who post of heart issues.  I am a National Mentor for Lifestyle Change. 

I walked in my first Heart Walk just 56 days after fighting for my life (2010).  I was asked to help on the leadership team the following year (2011).  That same year, I won the Lifestyle Change Award.  The next year (2012), I was honored to be selected as the Chair of the Heart Walk.   Last year (2013), I was again on the leadership team for the Heart Walk.  This year (2014), I am thrilled to be a part of the Indianapolis Heart Walk.

I have also been featured in the Indiana Affiliate newsletter for 2014, as well as the National mailer.  I am not afraid to share my story.  It is my extreme honor and my privilege to be associated with this great organization.  As I wrote earlier, I would not be alive today if it were not for the AHA.   The valuable prior research and the prior education and training all led to saving my life that night.

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Session may be over, but you can still get involved!

While the state legislature may not be in session right now, there are still ways we need your help!  Stay involved this summer by checking out all the current Action Alerts you can still take part in!


  • Urge Congress to participate in American Stroke Month!

May is American Stroke Month, which is the perfect time for members of Congress to stand up for stroke survivors! With stroke being America's 4th leading killer, we need our elected officials to join us in making the disease preventable, treatable, and beatable! Urge your members to participate in American Stroke Month today!

  • Let's Eliminate Health Disparities in Clinical Trials

As patients, women and minorities want to know that the prescription drugs or medical devices being recommended for their treatment are safe and effective.  However, current gaps in clinical trial participation by these groups have limited the data available for these patients and their doctors to make the most informed decisions.  The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) needs to create an Action Plan aimed at eliminating this health disparity and we're calling on Congress to push the agency to act now.  Will you ask your legislators to support this important action?    

  •  Tell Congress: Physical Education is vital for students

Our children should attend regular Physical Education (PE) classes throughout their day just like any other subject. Unfortunately for many children this is not happening. However, the Fitness Integrated with Teaching (FIT) Kids Act can help increase PE in our schools and create more active children. In order for this to happen, Congress needs to hear from you! Take action today!


If you're a survivor who'd like to share your experience on our Advocate Stories page, please send me an email ( and let me know!

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Take Control of Your Health

Did you know high blood pressure has also been called the “silent killer”? That’s because its symptoms are not always obvious, making the need for regular check-ups important.  As we recognize High Blood Pressure Awareness Month, here are the facts:

• High blood pressure (aka: hypertension) is one of the major risk factors for heart disease.

• It’s the leading risk factor of women’s deaths in the U.S., and the second leading risk factor for death for men.

• One-third of American adults have high blood pressure. And 90 percent of American adults are expected to develop high blood pressure over their lifetimes.

• More than 40 percent of non-Hispanic black adults have high blood pressure. Not only is high blood pressure more prevalent in blacks than whites, but it also develops earlier in life.
• Despite popular belief, teens, children and even babies can have high blood pressure. As with adults, early diagnosis and treatment can reduce or prevent the harmful consequences of this disease.

Now that you know the facts, what can you do to take control? The answer is a “lifestyle prescription” that can prevent and manage high blood pressure. A healthy lifestyle includes exercise, stress management, and eating a healthy diet, especially by reducing the sodium you eat. To learn more about taking control of you blood pressure, be sure to visit our online toolkit!

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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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