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Dr. Ray Castle, Louisiana

Dr. Ray Castle has volunteered for the American Heart Association for many years.  He has been active with the Heart Walk and within the Advocacy Department.  In 2012, he joined the Louisiana Advocacy Committee.

As a member of the Advocacy Committee, he has worked tirelessly to help the American Heart Association pass policies surrounding AED liability, joint use agreements and ensuring that all schools have AEDs on campus.  He has testified before legislative committees as a subject matter expert and a strong voice for the organization.  He currently is the Athletic Training Program Director and Associate Professor of Professional Practice in the School of Kinesiology in the College of Human Sciences and Education at LSU.  He is also a Certified Athletic Trainer and CPR Instructor.

Dr. Castle has an extensive background in education, clinical practice and professional service. His clinical practice background includes experiences at the clinic, high school, college and international levels.  In 2013, he was recognized by the Louisiana Legislature for providing volunteer emergency medical assistance to the victims of the recent Boston Marathon bombing.  Most recently, in September 2014, he was invited to join the LSU Stephenson Disaster Management Institute as one of their Senior Fellows.

 

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Trick or Treat?

Candy Corn, Gummy Bears, Peanut Butter Cups, Swedish Fish, Candy Bar, Bubblegum and Cotton Candy… These may sound like treats the neighborhood kids are hoping to pick up when they go trick-or-treating later this month, but they’re actually the tricks used by companies to hook our kids on nicotine. These are flavors of e-cigarette liquid available for purchase today.

With alluring flavors like those and a dramatic increase in youth exposure to e-cigarette advertising, the rising popularity of e-cigarettes among youth shouldn’t come as a surprise. Still, it raises concerns. Strong regulations are needed to keep these tobacco products out of the hands of children. We’ve asked the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to prohibit the marketing and sale of e-cigarettes to minors, and we’re still waiting for them to act.

Meanwhile, CDC launched this week their #20Million Memorial. 20 million people have died from smoking-related illnesses since the 1964 Surgeon General’s report on smoking and health. Has smoking affected you and your family? Check out this moving online memorial, then share your story or honor loved ones lost too soon with the hashtag #20Million.  

AHA staff and volunteers across the country are preparing to fight the tobacco epidemic in upcoming state legislative sessions. They’ll ask for state funding for tobacco prevention programs and for increased tobacco taxes, a proven deterrent for youth smoking.

This Halloween, don’t let our kids continue to get tricked by the tobacco companies. Help end the tobacco epidemic for good. To amplify our message with lawmakers, ask friends and family members to join us, then watch your inbox for opportunities to act!  

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Where is Louisiana?

For the past 11 years, the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation have released The State of Obesity: Better Policies for a Healthier America (formerly F as in Fat) to raise awareness about the impact of the obesity epidemic through in-depth research and analysis.

According to the latest report, adult obesity rates held steady in all but six states - Alaska, Delaware, Idaho, New Jersey, Tennessee and Wyoming.  Every state's adult obesity rate is above 20 percent with 43 states having rates of at least 25 percent, and 20 states having rates at or above 30 percent.

In regards to state rankings, Colorado has the lowest adult obesity rate at 21.3 percent while Mississippi and West Virginia tie at first with 35.1 percent. But what about Louisiana?  Louisiana has the sixth highest adult obesity rate in the nation at 33.1 percent.  Click here to read more about The State of Obesity in Louisiana.

We know that Louisiana has a long way to go to become healthier and it will take all of us to get us on the right track!  In the coming months, you will learn about efforts being made that will do just that!!  We will need YOUR voice to make sure our lawmakers know what is happening and how they will make a BIG difference!

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A Puzzling August Recess

During the month of August, You're the Cure advocates across the country dropped by key congressional offices in support of strong nutrition standards in schools that are part of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act. 

Kay Eddleman (left) delivers the puzzled message to Senator Vitter's office. 

Advocates shared a clear message with members: healthy school meals "fit" into a successful school day for kids and we're "puzzled" by efforts to weaken or delay the important nutrition standards. To illustrate the message, advocates delivered four puzzle pieces that fit together to display a healthy school meal and one piece showing unhealthy food that doesn’t fit. Each puzzle piece contains a fact on the back.

A special thank you to Kay Eddleman, Louisiana Advocacy Committee Chair, and Christy Ross, Louisiana Advocacy Vice-Chair, for delivering our puzzled messages to the offices of Senators Landrieu and Vitter. 

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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.

Read more at blog.heart.org.

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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 blog.heart.org.

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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 www.heart.org/healthierkids.  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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We want to hear from you, Louisiana!

The American Heart Association is a volunteer driven organization and would not be able to accomplish its goals, fulfill its mission and make a difference in the health of our community without people like you.  As we prepare for the 2015 Louisiana legislative session, we want to know how you'd like to help. For example, are you willing to respond to action alerts or call your elected officials as needed?

Complete a brief survey to let us know how you want to help!

Your feedback is important, as we work together to build healthier lives free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke right here in Louisiana.

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Jeff Soileau, Louisiana

In an effort to improve grassroots efforts in Louisiana, the American Heart Association has created the Louisiana Grassroots Action Team.  We're pleased to announce that Jeff Soileau has accepted the role of chair for the team. As chair, Jeff will lead the team to develop a well-trained, motivated and readily accessible group of advocates throughout the state.

Jeff received his masters degree in Exercise Physiology from Louisiana State University in 2006.  Since then he has been working to find a way to reverse the childhood obesity epidemic through research and clinical work. 

Currently, Jeff is a Corporate Wellness Account Representative at Healthy Lives in Baton Rouge.  He also serves as the board chair of Girls on the Run of South Louisiana.  In his free time, Jeff volunteers with the RocketKidz Foundation, the Baton Rouge Youth Coalition, and the Mayor's Healthy City Initiative.  He managed the blog FitFamiliesBR and works privately as a Family Wellness Consultant.  He is also an avid runner who has completed 15 marathon or longer races and is currently training for the Louisiana Marathon.

Jeff's experience and passion for health and wellness certainly align with our mission.  We believe he will provide excellent leadership to the Louisiana Grassroots Action Team.

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