American Heart Association - You’re the Cure

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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

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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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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 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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