American Heart Association - You’re the Cure

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Fighting Obesity in Louisiana!

On Tuesday, March 25, the Senate Health and Welfare Committee voted 4-3 in favor of a bill requiring chain restaurants with 15 or more locations to list calories and other nutrition information on menus and menu boards. This essential legislation is authored by State Senator David Heitmeier of Algiers. 

Last year, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation named Louisiana the most obese state in the nation. Research shows the link between frequent eating out and obesity. As a result, it is important for consumers to have nutritional information available in order to make healthy food choices at restaurants, just as they do in grocery stores.

Thank Senator Heitmeier for making the health of Louisiana citizens a priority!

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Let's Make Louisiana CPR Smart!

House Bill 542, CPR in Schools, has successfully passed its first step in the legislative process.  The Louisiana House Committee on Education unanimously voted in favor of the bill on Thursday, April 3.  Committee members strongly voiced their support of CPR in schools.  State Rep. Cameron Henry, R-Metairie, asked that the American Heart Association host a CPR training day at the Capitol so legislators may receive hands on CPR training.  In the end, all committee members became coauthors of House Bill 542.

Click here to thank the House Education committee for their support!

Remember, this is only the first step in the process; we still have three CPR votes left.  Stay tuned for more You're the Cure alerts on how you can help Louisiana be CPR smart. 

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Kay Eddleman, Louisiana

Kay Eddleman, Louisiana

Kay is the new chair of the American Heart Association's Louisiana Advocacy Committee. The committee serves as the advisory body to Louisiana volunteers and staff and establishes the state’s public advocacy priorities each year.  As chair, Kay leads the committee in grassroots and lobbying activities to advance the public policy priorities of the American Heart Association.

For the past 15 years, Kay has been employed at Ochsner Health System as Supervisor of the AHA Community Training Center in New Orleans, LA.  She completed her Emergency Medical Technician training through the LSU Medical School of New Orleans.

Kay is a long time You’re the Cure advocate and an American Heart Association Basic Life Support (BLS) Instructor.  She currently serves as vice-chair of the American Heart Association’s Louisiana Emergency Cardiovascular Care Committee.  Previously, she was a member of the Automated External Defibrillator (AED) committee that was involved in passing key AED legislation in Louisiana.  She is a recipient of the American Heart Association’s Heartsaver Hero Award, presented to an individual who saves a life using CPR.

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Let's Make Louisiana CPR Smart!

The 2014 Louisiana Legislative Session began on Monday, March 10.  Our primary focus will be House Bill 542, CPR in Schools, sponsored by Rep. Tom Willmott.  This practical and bipartisan legislation will ensure that Louisiana high school students receive hands-on training in CPR before they graduate.  Now that’s smart!  

Rep. Willmott is a true champion of heart health!  As a registered nurse, he understands the importance of adding more lifesavers to our communities.  Three to five minutes is a matter of life and death for sudden cardiac arrest victims.  Yet, their chance of survival can double or even triple by having a CPR-trained bystander nearby to perform CPR until the EMTs arrive.

We're counting on you to take action on future You’re the Cure action alerts, so legislators know how important House Bill 542, CPR in Schools, is to the people of Louisiana.  Remember - when you take action, you urge your legislators to do the same.  Let's make Louisiana CPR smart!

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Big Changes in Store for Food Labels

After more than two decades, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is proposing sweeping changes to the nutrition labels on packaged foods.

The proposals would require food manufacturers to list added sugars, nutrition counts for more-realistic portion sizes and total nutrition information for multiple servings of food within a single package.  The government also wants to require potassium and vitamin D to be listed.

The changes are being released on Thursday during a critical time in the U.S. A third of all adults in the nation are obese, increasing the risk for high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Another third of Americans are overweight.

“Eating healthy is a habit all Americans need to have and the FDA’s new nutrition labels will help put that goal within reach,” American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown said. “By arming consumers with more knowledge about nutritional content, calories and serving sizes, the new labeling information proposed by the FDA takes an important step toward improving the health of all Americans.”

Despite the recent news from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that obesity has declined by 43 percent for children ages 2 to 5, it has not changed significantly for adults or the larger pool of kids ages 2 to 19.

Children who are overweight or obese are more likely to be overweight or obese as adults. And obesity in children is causing a health problems that used to be seen only in adults, like high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol.

Changes to nutrition labels will take time. The FDA will collect comments for 90 days on its proposed new rules from food manufacturers, the general public and nutrition and health advocates. It will consider clarifications or changes based on the comments, then give food manufacturers time to reprint their labels and replace existing inventory.

“These new labels will empower consumers with a valuable source of nutrition information, and the American Heart Association commends the FDA for proposing these changes,” Brown said.

Proposed changes include:

Added sugars: for the first time, added sugars will be on the nutrition facts panel. Previously, naturally-occurring and added sugars were combined into a single listing of “total sugars.” This will allow consumers to know how much sugar has been added by the manufacturer. The AHA recommends that women consume a maximum of 100 calories a day from added sugars, or 25 grams, and men consume 150 calories a day, or 37.5 grams.

“The addition of added sugars to the Nutrition Facts Panel is a giant step forward,” said Rachel K. Johnson, Ph.D., R.D., chair of the AHA’s nutrition committee and professor of nutrition and medicine at the University of Vermont in Burlington. “High intakes of added sugars are associated with many risk factors for heart disease including obesity, high blood pressure, inflammation and elevated triglyceride levels. A recent study demonstrated an association between high intakes of added sugars and death from cardiovascular disease. Consumers want to know how much sugar has been added during the processing or preparation of foods so they can make wise decisions about the foods they eat.”

Serving sizes: Adjusted for 17 categories of foods to better reflect what people are actually consuming. For example, ice cream will go from ½ cup to 1 cup; muffins and bagels will go from ½ to 1; and beverages will go from 8 ounces to 12 oz. This gives people a more realistic idea of what they’re actually consuming in a single sitting, so they can better monitor what they’re eating and make healthier choices.

Sodium: This will be adjusted slightly to reflect a 2,300 milligram daily value, which is the maximum amount per day recommended in the dietary guidelines for someone consuming a 2,000 calorie-a-day diet. The American Heart Association recommends that the ideal sodium consumption, especially for people trying to lower their blood pressure, is 1,500 mg. per day.  “There is strong scientific evidence that indicates lowering sodium reduction can result in significant reductions in blood pressure,” Brown said. ”Therefore, the association will continue to recommend sodium intake to be limited to 1,500 milligrams a day. We intend to work with the FDA, during this 90-day comment period and beyond if need be, to highlight the increased benefits from further sodium reductions and to advocate for stronger action.”

Package size: Like serving sizes, package sizes will be labeled more accurately. So a large muffin or bottle of soda will have nutrition information for the entire package.

Per serving and per package: If a package has 2-4 servings in it, the label will be required to show nutrition information per serving and per package. This helps make it clear when the package has multiple servings inside.

Calories bigger and bolder: Although the format of the label won’t change dramatically, calories and serving sizes will be emphasized with a bigger and bolder font. This may help people make healthier choices by knowing what they’re consuming.

Nutrient listings: The amount of potassium and vitamin D will now be required, calcium and iron will remain and vitamins A and C will be optional. When the nutrition label was last updated 20 years ago, health officials were more concerned about people getting enough of vitamins A and C, but attention now is on potassium and D.

Want to help inform friends & family about these changes?  Share this graphic on Facebook.

For more information:

FDA announcement

AHA CEO Nancy Brown's Statement

Understanding food nutrition labels

American Heart Association Nutrition Center 

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It's Time For Louisiana To Be CPR Smart!

Each year, nearly 424,000 people have sudden cardiac arrest outside of a hospital, and less than 11% of these victims survive.  Yet, when a CPR-trained bystander is near, they can double, even triple these victims’ survival rates by giving victims the help they need until the EMTs arrive.

During the upcoming legislative session, we will work to enhance CPR training in high schools.  We need your help to make legislators aware of this issue in advance.  Teaching our high school students the lifesaving skill of CPR before they graduate would put thousands of qualified lifesavers in our communities, year after year.

Let’s train the next generation of lifesavers. Let’s teach Louisiana’s students to be CPR smart. Let’s save more lives!

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Jeff Soileau, Louisiana

Jeff Soileau is the health educator for the Baton Rouge Children's Health Project, a collaboration between Our Lady of the Lake Children's Hospital and the Children's Health Fund to provide medical and mental health services to underserved communities in the Baton Rouge Area.  He also serves as a founding board member of Girls on the Run of South Louisiana.

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. 

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 avid runner who has completed 15 marathon or longer races and is currently training for his first 50 mile ultra marathon.

We are  pleased to welcome Jeff Soileau to the Louisiana State Advocacy Committee. Jeff's experience and passion for health and wellness certainly align with our goals and we believe he will serve the committee well.  Please join us in welcoming Jeff Soileau! 

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Learn & Share Your Post-Stroke Tips

After a stroke, even the simplest tasks can be very challenging.  Survivors often face limb weakness, numbness or paralysis, communication challenges, and difficulty with their vision.  However, we know stroke survivors and caregivers across the country are persevering and discovering new, creative ways to carry out the daily tasks they need to.  Through their recovery, they find a 'new normal' and we want to help share these helpful tips far and wide. 

That's why the American Stroke Association created a volunteer-powered library- Tips for Daily Living- to gather ideas from stroke survivors, caregivers and healthcare professionals who’ve created or discovered adaptive and often innovative ways to get things done!  For example, do you have to put up a ponytail with one hand?  Watch Karen’s video!

(Please visit the site to view this video)

Help us grow the library!  Do you have something to share that could help stroke survivors?  Share your tips by completing the online submission form at  You’ll get a FREE AHA/ASA recipe book and Stroke Solidarity String for participating!

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Louisiana's Newest Advocacy Committee Member

We are very pleased to welcome Christy Ross to the Louisiana State Advocacy Committee. Christy is the Executive Director of AAAneurysm Outreach, a Louisiana-based nonprofit dedicated to raising awareness of abdominal aortic aneurysms.  Her experience in health policy and passion for vascular health will definitely serve the committee well.

Christy Ross, MHA, is a motivated leader with over a decade of administrative expertise in the healthcare service sector. Prior to her involvement with AAAneurysm Outreach, Christy served as the Deputy Director of the Mary Amelia Women’s Center at Tulane University, where she managed a diverse staff and budget; built relationships with clinical stakeholders, policymakers and advocates; and secured funding from local and national foundations in support of Center programming and initiatives.

Prior to that, Christy’s five-year tenure with the Louisiana Public Health Institute involved collaborating with state leaders to mobilize resources to reduce chronic disease rates, developing strong relationships with key medical leaders along the way.

A native to Louisiana, Christy received her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Xavier University of Louisiana and a Master’s degree in Health Administration from Tulane University in New Orleans.

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Atley Sonnier, Louisiana

Atley Sonnier, Louisiana

Atley Sonnier was born on May 26, 2009 to Dusty and Heather Sonnier. He was born with Tetralogy of Fallot, a 4 part congenital heart defect. The main concern was an obstruction of flow through the pulmonary value causing oxygen-poor blood to be distributed through the body (commonly called Blue Baby Syndrome). We praise God that he didn’t have any other physical problems that are commonly associated with this heart defect!  

At 2 weeks old in New Orleans Children’s Hospital, Atley received a shunt to increase oxygen-rich blood flow.  Later at 9 months of age, he had open heart surgery to do a full repair. 

Today, he is a healthy little boy who enjoys playing with his big brother, playing baseball, working in the yard with Dad, and helping Mom cook. We are so thankful to the Lord for being by our side through all of this and for blessing our family!

Since our family has dealt personally with a Congenital Heart Defect (CHD) in our son Atley, we have realized the great need for donations and for more research in this field.  I know that the work the doctors did to repair his CHD was due to the donations and subsequent research that was done in the years before he was born.  We are so blessed to have had wonderful doctors at Children's Hospital New Orleans and God (The Great Physician) to bring this healing to Atley.  We plan to participate in our local Heart Walk and to give our time and support to the American Heart Association.

-  Written by Heather & Dusty Sonnier

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