American Heart Association - You’re the Cure

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  • Learn about heart-health issues
  • Meet other likeminded advocates
  • Take action and be heard
Dr. Mitchell Lirtzman, Louisiana

Dr. Lirtzman received his undergraduate degree with honors from the University of Illinois, and his medical degree from Chicago Medical School in Chicago, Iliniois. Following a general surgery internship and residency at Rush Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center in Chicago, he completed a cardiovascular and thoracic surgery residency at Tulane University in New Orleans.

During his residency at Rush-Presbyterian, Dr. Lirtzman received the Fremont A. Chandler Award for Excellence in surgical research, and was made a member of the Owl Club Honor Roll for Excellence in Teaching while at Tulane. He is board certified in general and thoracic surgery and is a Fellow of the American College of Chest Physicians and the American College of Surgeons. In addition to cardiac and thoracic surgery, Dr. Lirtzman specializes in vascular reconstruction for limb salvage in diabetic patients, minimally invasive lung surgery and surgery in the treatment of reflex sympathetic dystrophy. Dr. Mitchell Lirtzman's background and experience as a cardiothoracic surgeon in Lafayette, Louisiana, makes him well aware of the fight against heart disease and stroke. He is especially interested in reducing tobacco use and obesity rates among youth, making him a perfect fit with the agenda of this year's State Advocacy Committee.

Dr. Lirtzman is a long time supporter of the American Heart Association and has an impressive history of fighting big tobacco in Louisiana. Dr. Lirtzman's You're the Cure advocacy story begins in 2005, when he accepted the organization's invitation to join its Louisiana Advocacy Committee and help lead efforts for a smoke-free Louisiana.  After several years of serving on the local board, this transition seemed to be a natural fit for Dr. Lirtzman.  In 2006, Dr. Lirtzman served on the Southeast Affiliate Board of Directors and in 2007 he received the Outstanding Advocate Award for Louisiana.  In 2009, Dr. Lirtzman was appointed Chairman of the Louisiana Advocacy Committee and helped reform the state's outdated Good Samaritan laws regarding AED liability.  He continues to be an active member of the state Advocacy Committee today.

At the federal level, Dr. Lirtzman has advocated on numerous heart and stroke issues such as women and heart disease, physical education in schools and heart disease and stroke research funding. His extensive knowledge of cardiovascular diseases, combined with his passion, enables him to be a strong You're the Cure advocate.

We would like to thank Dr. Lirtzman for his hard work and support in the past and we are looking forward to an excellent year! 

Photograph taken by Adam Lau, staff photographer at The Advocate (Baton Rouge, LA)

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Louisiana, Let Us Know...

Can you believe we're already planning our next campaigns? We can't either. It seems like the 2014 Louisiana Legislative Session just wrapped up and we successfully passed CPR in Schools legislation.

As we plan our next steps, we need to hear from you. How would you like us to communicate with you about our advocacy efforts? Also, how would you like to be involved? Maybe you're willing to call your legislators or submit a letter to the editor. Whatever it is, we want to know. Click here to tell us through our brief You're the Cure survey today!

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. We look forward to hearing from you!

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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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Louisiana Passes CPR in Schools Bill!

On June 6, 2014 Governor Bobby Jindal signed House Bill 542, the Burke Cobb Act, into law, making Louisiana the 17th state to require all high school students to learn CPR.  

Please join us in thanking Governor Jindal and your legislators for helping to create the next generation of lifesavers.

Starting with the 2014-2015 school year, high school students will receive CPR and AED training. These students will be ready and able to act whenever they witness an emergency at home or within the community. From the school perspective, the hands-on training can be incorporated at practically no cost thanks to opportunities to partner with local hospitals, firefighters and EMTs. Plus, teachers do not have to be CPR-certified, unless the course results in CPR certification for students.

Thank you to Rep. Tom Wilmott, our bill sponsor, the Living 4 Burke Foundation and all You're the Cure advocates throughout the state. Our hard work is resulting in over 35,000 potential lifesavers entering our communities every year.

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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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Louisiana Advocacy Update: Week 10

Only 2 weeks left of the Louisiana legislative session! Last week, legislators tackled issues with TOPS, E-cigarettes, and the State Budget. Also, Governor Jindal signed a new law that will classify cigarette butts as litter and allow higher fines to be levied against people who throw them out car windows in Louisiana. And CPR heads to the Governor's desk for signature!

Senate Victory! 
Last week, the State Senate voted 36-0 in favor of HB 542, CPR in schools. Because the bill was named the Burke Cobb bill, it has to return to the State House for approval of the new name. From there, it heads to the Governor's desk for signature. 

Thanks for making calls, writing letters, and TAKING ACTION! Stay tuned for more updates. 

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CPR in Schools Bill Heads to Governor Jindal

On Thursday, May 15 the Louisiana State Senate voted 36-0 in favor of House Bill 542, the Burke Cobb bill, which ensures all high school students learn CPR.   

One of the scariest situations any of us could find ourselves in is watching a friend, loved one, or even a stranger suffer a cardiac arrest.  Schools prepare students with essential life skills, so doesn’t taking time for a 30 minute lesson on how to save a life make perfect sense?  Soon the measure will head to the Governor for his signature.  We’ll keep you posted as we await Governor Jindal to sign Burke Cobb’s bill into law.   

Thank you to all Louisiana advocates for supporting our efforts all session to make Louisiana CPR smart.

To learn more about Burke Cobb, visit

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Louisiana Advocacy Update: Week 9

Only three weeks remain in the 2014 legislative session! In week 8, HB 542, CPR in schools, successfully passed the Senate Education Committee and the House Transportation Committee unanimously voted in favor of Sen. Heitmeier's Complete Streets bill.

One More Vote! 
On Thursday, May 8th, the Senate Committee on Education voted YES to HB 542, CPR in schools.
Which means we are only one vote away from making Louisiana CPR Smart!

Thanks for making calls, writing letters, and TAKING ACTION! Stay tuned for more updates. 
Complete Streets! 
Last week, Senator David Heimeiter's SB 527, Complete Streets successfully passed the House Transportation Committee. The bill is scheduled to be heard on the house floor next week.

Major Thanks!
Super thanks to Linzy Cotya for all of her work in preparation for the Senate Committee Vote. Linzy drove all the way to Gonzales to deliver "Flat Sallie" for the Senate debut of HB 542.

What To Expect in Week 10: 

HB 2The measure sets the capital construction budget for the upcoming fiscal year. 

 SB 568 - The bill would allow optometrists to perform certain surgeries and be labeled as optometric physicians.

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Thank you for making CPR in Schools a success!

Over the past two months, you and your fellow You're the Cure advocates have helped to make House Bill 542, CPR in Schools, a HUGE success in the Louisiana House of Representatives.  Let's take a look back at the progress we've made so far!

First, you sent letters to members of the House Committee on Education asking the committee to take a stand and make Louisiana CPR Smart - and they did!  The House committee unanimously voted in favor of House Bill 542.

From there, you asked the entire State House to take action to ensure that all high school students receive hands-on CPR training before they graduate.  The House of Representatives responded overwhelmingly by passing House Bill 542 with a vote of 97-0!  In addition, 28 legislators asked to join Rep. Tom Willmott as cosponsors of the bill. Whew! That’s a lot! 

Now it’s time to repeat that success in the State Senate.  On Thursday, May 8 the Senate Education Committee is scheduled to vote on House Bill 542.  This is the first of two votes the bill will face in the State Senate.

We're half way there and we're counting on you to help!

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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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