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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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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 teachinggardens@heart.org to find how you can get involved.

               

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