American Heart Association - You’re the Cure

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Kingston Murriel, Mississippi

Kingston Murriel Jackson, Mississippi

On July 3, 2012, 5 weeks before my due date, I had an appointment for my 8-month checkup.  During the ultrasound the physician could not get a good view of the left ventricle of my son’s heart.  He thought it was due to the way he was laying, but wanted to have a pediatric cardiologist look to be sure.  Soon after, I visited the cardiologist and was told that my son had hypoplastic left heart syndrome.  I immediately tried to convince myself this was something minor and would be easily corrected.  Unfortunately the physician told me that Kingston would have to have heart surgery after delivery, a second heart surgery, 5 to 6 months later, and a third surgery a few years later.  I thought this was a death sentence.  I couldn’t imagine a baby going through something like this. 

The following week, we met with the fetal medicine team, the pediatric cardiology surgeon, and staff to prepare us for delivery.  My family and I spent a day with support nurses and asking questions of the physicians.  We received information on the advances in heart surgery, congenital heart defects, heart health and the success rate of infants that have the three heart surgeries.  On August 6th, Kingston was born and had a successful Norwood procedure for his first heart surgery.  Five months later Kingston’s Glenn surgery was successful as well.  We have been very fortunate to not have any complications and have a healthy, active baby today. 
The most interesting part of my family’s story is that we’ve always supported the American Heart Association through donations, walks and at their events for children.  Every year I participated in the American Heart Association’s Go Healthy Challenge, but I never thought the efforts, education and research of this organization would affect us personally until Kingston was born.  Often people think the AHA’s mission is adult specific and focuses just on the prevention of heart attack and stroke.  My work with the organization and having Kingston is a testament of how heart health starts at birth and how important it is to practice prevention every day, for all ages.  Kingston has made our family realize that often people take their heart for granted until their faced with a health scare or heart disease.  Maintaining Kingston’s health has encouraged each of us to eat better and live more active lifestyles so that we can be here to watch him grow up.  Although I was already an advocate for AHA, I am now an even stronger supporter and educator of their mission to prevent heart disease.

– Elizabeth Foster (Kingston’s Mom)

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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 Mississippi?

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

Click here to share the report with your state lawmakers today!

Together, we can continue to help Mississippi become healthier. 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 can make a BIG difference.

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The Bass Family, Hattiesburg: Pulse Ox Matters


Written by Amy Bass, Abby's mother

After a very difficult and unpromising pregnancy, by the grace of God, my daughter was born on February 9, 2004. We were told for months that she wouldn’t survive the pregnancy due to complications. However, upon delivery, Abby was placed in the well-baby nursery. We were on top of the world! A very grim pregnancy ended with a seemingly healthy baby girl, until the following morning. The doctor entered my hospital room, sat on the foot of my bed, and delivered the most devastating news any parent could hear. My tiny baby girl was diagnosed with coarctation of the aorta, a congenital heart defect. Due to the results of a pulse oximetry screening, additional testing was ordered that revealed her heart defect. Had the doctor not ordered this screening, Abby’s heart defect would’ve been undiagnosed which could have been fatal. It breaks my heart to think of all the undiagnosed heart defects that result in the loss of a life when a simple non-invasive screening could be done on every infant and would result in saving many lives.

Abby required open heart surgery when she was only four days old. The day after her surgery, Abby coded. The hospital staff were able to perform CPR directly on Abby's heart due to her chest being left open after surgery. She was then placed on a machine called ECMO, which literally pumped the blood throughout her body giving her time to heal. She remained on ECMO for eight days and then continued on the ventilator for five additional weeks. It was during these days and months that we fully came to understand God's grace. It wasn't until we were completely helpless that we realized how awesome God is. Abby later required a second open heart surgery at 18 months old. Once again, God watched over her and carried us through.

Abby is simply a walking miracle. She is now ten years old and is one of the most loving people you will ever meet. She is so kind hearted, and she has an inspiring love for people. Abby’s presence literally lights up a room. Through her sickness and now in her good health, she has already impacted many lives, including ours. Abby has the best HEART of anyone that we know!

To read more about Abby's story visit:

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Mississippi Wins Again!

In August, Mississippi received national recognition for taking local action to protect citizens from the health hazards of secondhand smoke.

Americans for Non-Smokers Rights (ANR) awarded Mississippi 1st place for passing nine local smoke free laws in 2013.  Alabama and South Carolina tied for 2nd place, with Missouri, Louisiana and California all tying for 3rd place. 


Cynthia Hallett, Executive Director of ANR, traveled to Mississippi to congratulate the first place award winners in person.  She said, "Believe it or not, this is the fourth time Smokefree Mississippi has received a Smokefree Challenge award for passing local smoke free laws.  Each time I return, I breathe a little easier knowing you are closer to protecting all workers and families in Mississippi from secondhand smoke exposure in public places and workplaces."

This makes 87 Mississippi communities with smoke free ordinances, but it only covers about 25% of the state’s population.  Despite the proven health and economic benefits, the state legislature still refuses to take action!  We will keep working hard to protect the people of our state. 

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Gulf Coast Heart Walk is Coming Up!

The Gulf Coast of Mississippi Heart Walk is just around the corner. The event will be held on Sat., Sept. 27, at Jones Park, located south of Hwy 90, between Hwy. 49 and 20th Ave. in Gulfport. Activities will begin at 7:30 am and the walk will start at 9 am.

Event Stats:

  • 8,000+ walkers will attend.
  • 383 teams will participate.
  • 92 businesses/ organizations/ corporations will be represented.
  • 8 staff and a minimum of 150 volunteers are working hard to put together this event.

This is always a premiere community event for the Gulf Coast, as come together to raise funds and celebrate progress in the fight against our nation's No. 1 and No. 4 killers, heart disease and stroke. For a personal perspective of this inspirational event, we interviewed Keesler Federal Credit Union Team Captain, Sally Bradshaw.

How long have you participated in the Gulf Coast Heart Walk? I’ve been supporting the Heart walk since I became an employee with Keesler Federal Credit Union in February of 2005; almost 10 years.

What is the most satisfying part of being involved in such a great awareness event in your community? That it’s very informative and educating to women. Since my mom passed it’s been a real eye opener on what the symptoms for a woman are and how you shouldn’t delay in going to get treatment when the signs first start.

What is an encouraging word you would give to others to prevent heart disease in their family? If you’re out of shape or overweight, work on eating more healthy – increase your lean meats and fruits and veggies – seek your doctor’s or a nutritionist’s help to develop a plan to get healthy and exercise daily. If you’re a woman and start feeling ill and experience any of the following signs seek medical help right away: the signs of a heart attack in a woman are so much different than a man. You might think you’re just getting the flu or an ear infection but in actuality, it may be your heart crying out that something is really wrong.  Had we have only know that my Mom was very sick we would have taken her when she first started showing the aforementioned symptoms. If this message can save just one person and their family from having to go through what my siblings and I went through, it will be well worth it.

Who do you walk for? My mom--she would have been proud to be a spokesperson for such a great cause. She was such a giving person in that when she passed away she still gave a part of herself as an organ donor. My dad also had a massive heart attack along with both my grandparents on my mom and dad’s sides of the family; all lost to such a terrible disease.

If you live in Gulfport, or will be in town on Sept. 27, we hope you'll join us, Sally and many others. Together we can walk toward our mission of building healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke.

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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.


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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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Braydee Clair Little, Mississippi

Braydee Clair Little: Pope, MS

One of the happiest moments in our life as a married couple was March 7, 2011, when our second daughter, Braydee Clair, was born. 

Two days later when we were getting ready to be discharged, the doctor examined Braydee Clair for her last full checkup.  At this time is when the physicians discovered that her organs were not all on the correct side.  Her heart is on the right side of her chest, her liver is midline, and she has multiple small spleens.  Her heart is like a "mirror image" of a normal heart.  The blood vessels bringing blood from her lungs were not connected to the heart properly.  She also had a hole between the two upper chambers of the heart, and between the two lower chambers of her heart.  Also, the valve inside the heart between the right upper and lower chambers was not normal. None of these things were detected during my pregnancy with the ultrasounds.  They did release her to go home, but we had to follow up with a cardiologist as soon as possible.

Once meeting with her cardiologist, it was decided that eventually over time she would need to have surgery on her heart.  At seventeen months of age, Braydee Clair, received her first open heart surgery.  The surgery took place in Philadelphia, PA at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.  The surgery was so complex that her physician near our home felt more confident sending us to do the surgery in Philadelphia.  While in Philadelphia, Braydee Clair ended up having two open heart surgeries and four bypasses.  We stayed in Pennsylvania for five weeks.  The surgeries corrected the way the blood came back to the heart and closed the holes between the chambers.  It was a very complex surgery, but  Braydee Clair has recovered from the surgeries, and she is doing amazingly well! 

She has future surgeries to come and takes medicine daily for her heart.  She still has an abnormality of the mitral valve on the right side of the heart that "leaks" because of the difficulty repairing it initially.  This is partially responsible for heart enlargement.  Braydee Clair still has no sinus node (internal pacemaker), so her heart rhythm is maintained by an internal "backup" pacemaker. 

All of this seems like a lot, but we know God has a special purpose and a specific plan for Braydee Clair.  We thank Him every day for blessing our family with her and her "unique" heart.  Anyone that meets her falls in love with her!  Braydee Clair is our inspiration, and we are just enjoying each day that the good Lord allows us to have with her. 

Braydee Clair is now three years old.  There is no set date for the next surgery because they want her to grow a little more.  She is doing extremely well with her current condition, and we are buying as much time as we can before she needs another surgery.  However, my husband and I are still praying that God will continue to heal Braydee Clair's heart completely without needing anymore surgeries.
In dealing with Braydee Clair's heart problems and surgeries, we have found comfort in this particular Bible verse. "I chose you before I formed you in the womb, I set you apart before you were born.  I appointed you a prophet to the nations."  Jeremiah 1:5.  It just gives us a sense of peace in knowing that God made Braydee Clair this way for a reason, and that He will use her and her special heart as a great testimony for other families. 
Braydee Clair's heart defects were undiagnosed before birth.  We are fully on board to join forces with the American Heart Association and raise awareness and approval of passing life-saving policies like a mandatory pulse ox screening across our state to find undetected congenital heart defects before a newborn leaves the hospital.  Join our family in striving to get pulse ox screenings required in Mississippi.  OUR BABIES ARE WORTH IT.

--Written by Lindsee Little, mother

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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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