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Heave you heard: new law requires CPR training in schools

A new law passed this year in Indiana means high schools are now required to teach CPR. 

HEA 1290 requires school corporations and accredited nonpublic schools “include in the high school health education curriculum, instruction in CPR and the use of an automated external defibrillator (AED.)”

According to the American Heart Association, about 20 states now require the training for high school curriculum.  Read the story here.




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Share Your Story: Dan & Andrea Solero

Dan & Andrea Solero Mooresville, IN

19 years ago my dad, a physician, said my boyfriend would have a heart attack by the time he was 40.  Why would he scare me like this at 22 years old? Why would I care that was a life time away.  I’ve been married to that man for 13 years now. When he turned 40, my dad’s prediction came back to me. Would this really happen? He does have high cholesterol, but he is so active. We’re runners, we eat healthy. We’re already doing everything “right”.

Dan knew he was at risk, he even did a heart scan and met with a cardiologist when the scan showed some build up. The cardiologist ran some tests. Before we could even get the results on July 18, 2012, Dan came to me saying, "my jaw hurts will you take me to prompt med?" Tell me more about the pain I said. He snapped it just hurts, are you going to take me?  Dan is never sick and never agitated. Instantly in my head I hear my dads words and then I think oh my God, he’s having a heart attack.  Now I should have called 911, but I didn’t. We’re in between county lines and we don’t always get a quick response. I knew I could have him to the hospital, safely, in less that 15 minutes. It might take that long just to get a dispatch.  I drove him to St. Francis Mooresville.  On the way he said his back was hurting.  I said, babe, you’re having a heart attack, when did you last take an aspirin? "I am not, just drive!" he replied. (looking back I think he knew he was!) Pulling into the ER I said the words heart attack and he was instantly swarmed by a team of doctors and nurses. The monitors confirmed he was in the beginning stages of what would be a massive attack that didn’t fully hit him until he was in an ambulance to the Heart Hospital at St Francis Indianapolis.  The surgeon told me Dan had 100% blockage of his main artery and a 90% blockage of the secondary. “The Widow Maker” as it’s called.  He said I saved his life.   I saved his life. How did I come so close to being a widow at 39 years old? I called my dad hysterically thanking him for warning me so many years ago.   I can’t take all the credit. Dan knew he was at a high risk because he and nearly everyone in his family has high cholesterol.  He was on the right track, taking nearly every statin that’s been available for the last 15 years, he was doing the right things.  Everyone said, but Dan runs, he eats right, he’s young.   There isn’t a “look” you do not have to be an aging, over weight, sedentary person to have a heart attack.  We want people to know that. We want people to research their family history, to get heart scans, to have their cholesterol checked and to have their children’s checked as well.  We found out Dan has Familial Hypercholesterolemia , our son does too.  We recently celebrated his 2 year anniversary. It’s an anniversary I look forward to celebrating every year. Easily, the best and worst day of my life.  We are proud to be a part of the heart walk again this year.  Dan was one of the recipients for the Lifestyle Change award in 2013.  We are recruiting our friends and family to join our group, Jonnie’s Goodguys, which is a heart health focus running club we formed after losing a friend to an aortic dissection.  We are surrounded by people that are affected by heart issues way too young. We are trying to do our small part to give them the warning signs they need to take care of themselves!

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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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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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