American Heart Association - You’re the Cure

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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: Kristin VanSingel

Kristin VanSingel Michigan

My name is Kristin VanSingel, and I am a heart survivor.  I was born on July 23, 1982 with critical aortic stenosis.  At one day old I had my first open heart surgery (valvotomy) at the University of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbor.  I was in the ICU for six weeks on a ventilator and then hospitalized on and off for the first year of my life.  I was never able to suck on a bottle because my cardiac output was insufficient.  I was fed through an NG tube until I was 18 months old and weighed 13 pounds.  During my first few years of life, I was given medicines round the clock.  At 18 months old I had my second open heart surgery.  The surgeons inserted a conduit with a pig’s valve inside.  It was then that I was able to start eating and gaining weight. 

When I was in the 6th grade, they replaced this conduit.  They removed the conduit and replaced my native aortic valve with my native pulmonary valve and then replaced the native pulmonary valve with a donor valve.  In other words, my pulmonary valve became my aortic valve and I now have a donor pulmonary valve.

Even though I did suffer anoxia at birth and the doctors thought that I might have learning difficulties, they were fortunately proven wrong.  I graduated from high school as a member of the National Honor Society and graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Michigan Dearborn.

To date I am doing well from a cardiac standpoint.  I see my cardiologist, Dr. MacDonald D ick, twice a year for check-ups and have been put on different types of holter monitors to keep an eye on palpitations that I have been having for the past seven years.  I see a pediatric cardiologist since my heart problem is congenital.  I can pretty much say I am one of the oldest patients in the department.

Living with a congenital heart problem has definitely made me appreciate life – knowing that when I was born they did not expect me to survive.  Technology today is so advanced and continues to advance each and every day.  I hope to be an example that parents of children who also have severe congenital heart problems can look to for hope.  I hope to be someone that young adults, especially girls, can look up to and learn to live with their heart problems.  They should be proud of their bodies and show their “zipper scars” without feeling embarrassed as if it were something that they should be ashamed of.  I also hope to be an example of living a healthy lifestyle for others with heart disease.  Everyone deserves to look and feel beautiful.  I truly feel that beauty comes from within and my scars are what make me stand out amongst others.  I have learned to live with my heart condition and carry on my life to the fullest within my restrictions.  I believe that God doesn’t give you anymore than you can handle.

Currently I have been married for over nine years to my husband, Brian, who is a full-time soldier in the Michigan Army National Guard.  We are in the process of adopting and just waiting for the baby that God has chosen for us.  I have been a volunteer with the American Heart Association for the past three years because I feel it is important to give back to an organization that has indirectly given me so much!

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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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CPR update - in case you missed it

Recently, Governor Pence signed House Bill 1290 into law.  This bill requires all high school students to be trained in CPR prior to graduation.  The American Heart Association would like to thank every volunteer who helped us advocate for this issue!  

So what are the next steps?  This law goes into effect on July 1st, 2014, which means schools will begin integrating this requirement into their curriculum next year.  The American Heart Association is working closely with the Department of Education to ensure schools have the resources they need to properly train the next generation of life-savers!  

If you'd like to learn more about CPR, please click here!


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Share Your Story: Isaak James Denton

Isaak James Denton Monticello, IN

In 2005 after a perfect pregnancy, Isaak James was born.  Immediately following the C-section, he was cyanotic and went to the NICU.  After some tests, it revealed that Isaak was born with multiple heart defects.  He was soon transferred to Peyton Manning’s Children’s Hospital when it was discovered that he was in very critical condition and would need open heart surgery.  After a very long and rough road and after open heart surgery he was discharged to home but has since had other heart surgeries and 14 other non-heart related surgeries.  As a mother, you want so badly to feel like you are making a difference for your child that is suffering.  My way of doing just that is to be a passionate advocate for the AHA.  Isaak was just 7 months old when we participated in our first Heart Walk.  This past walk was our 9th walk and we have been top walkers every year.  The AHA gives me place for my passion, and has been present through our journey.  They have been a great source for research and information, and a great source of support.  Some of my greatest relationships have been formed through the AHA and the wonderful people I have met.  I couldn’t be more proud now that Isaak is finally old enough to understand why we are doing what we do, and how the AHA has made such a difference in our lives.  Being an advocate for the AHA helps me know that I’m playing a part in not just awareness but the advancements in technology.  Isaak had severe pulmonic stenosis and it wasn’t until the 70’s (when I was born) that the technology was such to fix these defects.  The mortality rate in these babies before the 70’s was 80%.  But, because of what the AHA has done and from being in the forefront of paving the way to technological advancements, my son is alive!  I appreciate what they do in my own community and that the money that my community raises is given back multi-fold to places like Purdue University.  My goal is that with my passion for the AHA, there is another family that gets the blessing of holding their child like I get.

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