American Heart Association - You’re the Cure

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Dr. Sohah Iqbal, New York City

Dr. Sohah Iqbal is the current president of the American Heart Association Young Professionals, an Interventional Cardiologist at NYU Langone Medical Center, and a staunch advocate for CPR education in our city's high schools.

Dr. Iqbal poignantly shares the story of two of her own patients who both presented with a cardiac arrest at their gyms. Both were under that age of 50, both were generally active but mildly overweight. Neither patient smoked nor saw a doctor regularly. Both were brought to the hospital by EMTs where Dr Iqbal was able to open up the blocked arteries to stop the damage to the heart. However, this is where the similarities stopped. One of the patients left the hospital alive a few weeks later and the other never woke up from the coma after his cardiac arrest, even though his heart was fixed. The difference is that the patient that lived had CPR initiated right away by another person working out at the gym while the other did not. He had to wait until EMTa arrived to start CPR, and by then it was too late.

Dr. Iqbal loves her job but the hardest thing is knowing the most crucial minutes happen before she ever sees the patient. Knowing that more New Yorkers need to learn how to do CPR so she can save more lives as a cardiologist, she is asking Commissioner John King of the NY State Education Department to recommend this curriculum standard for every high school across the state!

Photo: Dr. Iqbal at the Statehouse in Albany for the AHA's CPR Rally (June 2014).



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Did you hear the news re: NYC schools?

Mayor Bill de Blasio made a revolutionary statement today which addressed long-promised reforms regarding schools in NYC. Even though these reforms include a serious financial investment and the expansion of the school day for a significant number of schools, it misses the opportunity to prioritize the implementation of the state physical education. We know that physical activity affects not only long-term health, but also academic performance. If you review the American Heart Association's own Survey Report on Physical Education in New York City (January 2013) the two most prevalent obstacles for schools to comply with the state standards for PE were lack of space and lack of time. That's why we believe these new reforms are a great chance to highlight the need to improve PE compliance in NYC schools - for our children's health and academic success!

For more information about the Mayor's proposal, follow this link:

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NYC Smoking Rates Increase!

Scary but true - more New Yorkers are smoking today than they were just 4 years ago!  The New York City Department of Health & Mental Hygiene just released data from their Community Healthy Survey that shows that smoking prevalence has increased to 16.1% in 2013 from a low of 14% in 2010.  For the first time in 7 years, New York City is home to more than 1 million smokers!  While our city has done so much to try to curb smoking, Big Tobacco is addicting more New Yorkers every day.  What is causing this increase?  We know there are three main pillars for effective tobacco control - a Smoke Free Air Law (check); a high excise tax (check - although we're no longer #1 in that category); and a well-funded tobacco control program.  Unfortunately, over the past 7 years, New York City's tobacco control program has been reduced by 36 percent.  We can do better.  We must do more to protect New Yorkers' heart-health!  Perhaps it's time that we revisit these three strongest tobacco policy interventions to see what more we can do!

Ask your Councilmember and Mayor deBlasio why we’re going in the wrong direction...Ask them to recommit to the fight to end smoking...Click on the following link:

To learn more about the new smoking rates, visit the city's website:

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What are we feeding our kids?

NYC parents will soon gain support in the effort to feed healthy, nutritious meals to their kids once a newly introduced bill is passed.  The bill, sponsored by Council Member Ben Kallos and co-sponsored by Council Members Stephen Levin and Corey Johnson would require that kids’ restaurant meals that include toys as incentives meet specific nutritional standards. 

 “Parents in New York City are fighting hard for the welfare of our kids,” stated Dr. Tara Narula MD, FACC – member of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association NYC Advocacy Committee and Associate Director of the Cardiac Care Unit at Lenox Hill Hospital/North Shore LIJ.  “We fight for the best schools, the best programs, the best environment.  What we shouldn’t have to fight so hard for is healthy food in our restaurants.  As obesity remains a leading cause of heart disease and stroke, restaurants should make it easier for us, as parents, to offer healthy, nutritious meals to our children.  The healthiest option – one comprised of fresh fruits and vegetables and little unhealthy fat, sugar and salt – should always be the default option.  Unhealthy foods should be limited in their accessibility so that it’s easier for our kids to grow into heart-healthy adults.”

Send a message now to your Council Member:


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New York City Tackles Obesity!

Did you see the news?  New York City recently announced that they've achieved a significant drop in the rate of severe obesity among our city's kids.  A nearly 10% decline of this leading cause of heart disease and stroke is a tremendous achievement!  However, the thing I liked most about this announcement (linked below), is the city's eye to the future.  It's right there in Commissioner's Bassett top quote.  More needs to be done.  Chancellor Farina's quote is an important one as well.  If health and wellness are truly top priorities for this administration - let's work together to pass laws that will serve to protect more kids from the dangers of inactivity and poor nutrition!

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Arzhang Fallahi, New York City

Dr. Arzhang Fallahi is a well-versed advocate for CPR training.  While in medical school in Seattle, almost of the patients he saw would have received bystander CPR.  Victims of sudden cardiac arrest would be running in a park one moment, and the runner behind them would be pushing on their chest the next minute.  Coming to NYC, where he this past year he served as a cardiology fellow at Beth Israel Medical Center, he was struck at the drastic difference.  Now he sees patients who succumbed to cardiac arrest on a subway, surrounded by hundreds of people, and no one attempted CPR.  And he will tell you – someone who suffers cardiac arrest and doesn’t receive immediate CPR will likely not survive.

This past year, Arzhang served as the President of the American Heart Association’s Cardiology Fellows of Greater New York and inspired the group to become engaged as advocates on You’re the Cure.  Thanks to the Fellows, more lawmakers are hearing directly from clinicians about the vital need for CPR training in our high schools.  While the doctors individually have trained hundreds of New Yorkers at our events this year, they know that if they’re going to achieve their mission of changing the culture around CPR response - then our CPR in Schools bill has to be approved into law!

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Happy New Year, New York City!

Say what?? That's's the new fiscal year for the American Heart Association. While much of our focus remained on the state-level opportunities, we have a lot to celebrate here in New York City! Let's take a look back as we prepare to move forward:

CPR in Schools legislation: Thanks to your help as dedicated advocates and Council Members Corey Johnson and Costa Constantinides, New York City Council introduced Resolution 193 which will require that the NYC Chancellor consider implementing the training requirement for city secondary schools. The resolution now resides in the Council Education Committee and is gathering speed! Is your Council Member a sponsor yet? If you haven't already done so, please take action on the most recent NYC action alert to make sure they know how important this curriculum standard is!

Hands-Only CPR Training at City Council Offices: On June 4th, the American Heart Association traveled downtown to train City Council Members and their staff on the life-saving skill of Hands-Only CPR. Thanks to Council Member Julissa Ferreras, who helped sponsor the event, our city resolution (Res 193) has now accumulated almost a dozen sponsors.

Hands-Only CPR Training at Foley Square Park: Thanks to a generous donation, the American Heart Association provided an all-day Hands-Only CPR training on June 5th in the shadow of the Tweed Courthouse – home to the NYC Department of Education. More than 200 New Yorkers were trained in Hands-Only CPR using the CPR Anytime kits. Despite the threat of rain, New York City proved that Hands-Only CPR training is in-demand and the CPR in Schools proposal is warranted.

New York City leads the way against Big Tobacco: As the Bloomberg administration looked to the conclusion of their term, the Mayor, Commissioner Farley and Speaker Quinn prioritized several policies aimed at further lowering our city’s smoking rates. The Sensible Tobacco Enforcement law improves the enforcement of the city’s tax laws while also establishing a new minimum price floor ($10.50) for all packs of cigarettes and little cigars – and requiring that inexpensive cigars be sold in packs no less than four and little cigars in packs of 20. At the same time, the city enacted a new law that dictates a minimum sales age of 21 for cigarettes, tobacco products and e-cigarettes.

Speaking of E-cigarettes: The American Heart Association is supportive of efforts to include electronic cigarettes in clean indoor air laws. As e-cigarettes didn't exist in the US when New York City approved our Smoke Free Air Act more than a decade ago, city lawmakers pursued a last-minute opportunity to close that loophole as the clock ticked down on the Council Session. Indeed, this was the final bill signed into law by Mayor Bloomberg before he left office in January.

Thanks to you, we've made great progress toward our goal of making New York City the healthiest city in America. We have a long way to go - but thanks to your dedication, we are in great shape as we build momentum with our new city decision-makers!

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CPR in Schools Policy Gains Momentum in New York City!

Resolution 193 was introduced in City Council just a few weeks ago and if passed would require the NYC Department of Education to consider implementing the CPR in Schools training curriculum in all New York City high schools. CPR & AED Awareness Week provided multiple opportunities for city advocates to support the CPR in Schools curriculum proposal. In addition to the rally in Albany, two events were coordinated in Manhattan as well. On Tuesday, June 4th, NYC Advocacy Committee member, Dr. Matt Tomey, joined trainers from First Response Advantage to educate City Council Members and their staff about the life-saving skill of Hands-Only CPR. Council Member Julissa Ferreras, Chair of the Council Finance Committee, sponsored the event and spoke of the tremendous advocacy of the American Heart Association and of Melinda Murray, one of her constituents, who lost her only child, Dominic, to cardiac arrest when no one around him knew CPR.

The very next day, June 5th, the American Heart Association coordinated a public, outdoor Hands-Only CPR training in Foley Square Park, which is located just a block away from City Hall and the NYC Department of Education office. Altogether, more than 200 New Yorkers were trained to help save a life. The event was supported by several volunteers - including Advocacy Committee member Rachel Sica, cardiologist Dr. James Horowitz, survivor Danielle Denlien and several trainers from Train for Life training center. We were excited to once again motivate New Yorkers to support the CPR in Schools policy, as well as train more Council staff who couldn't make it to the event the day before.

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Why Everyone Should Know CPR!

I know most of you have a very keen awareness about the need for CPR training - why else would you be reading the American Heart Association's You're the Cure blog? I recently had an experience that really crystallized how important it is that we're all educated in this lifesaving skill. Last week, a colleague of ours who shares office space with the AHA here in Manhattan had a health scare. She sat down at her desk and almost immediately, her world went topsy-turvy. She became extremely dizzy, felt flushed, and had some back pain. Her office mates, ran over to where the AHA staff sit and asked if anyone knew CPR. I can't tell you grateful I was that I've been trained! I headed over and kept her company while we waited for EMS to arrive. Thank goodness she remained conscious the entire time; it gave us plenty of time to chat about our goal to improve CPR awareness in the city.

In this case, we were able to clearly track the timeline for EMS to arrive since she had looked at her computer's clock right before feeling sick. Her colleagues called 9-1-1 at 4:20pm. Guess what time EMS arrived to her side? 4:37pm. God forbid we had been dealing with a more serious emergency, like a cardiac arrest! For every minute that passes, your chance of surviving decreases by 10%. After just 10 minutes, if CPR isn't administered, you're in serious trouble!

The 9-1-1 dispatcher was told it was a possible heart-related situation which would put her in a Level 1 incident (most urgent). EMS would rush to the scene. However, our office is in midtown. Traffic is always a nightmare around here, but it gets especially bad around rush hour. And as we always like to remind's one thing to get to the curb in a short amount of time; it's another concern to get up to the 18th floor of our building with all the necessary equipment. This is why everyone - kids, adults, emergency personnel and every bystander on the street - should be trained in CPR. If someone suffered a cardiac arrest, would you know what to do? Would someone nearby know what to do if you were a victim?

I'm happy to report that our colleague is back in the office and doing well. She's gone through some tests but is still waiting for a diagnosis. I spoke with her today and she's keeping tabs on her blood pressure (which was extremely high during her incident.) I am grateful that she agreed to let me tell her story to all of you. I hope it inspires you to take action on our alerts in the "Action Center" so we can make sure we train all NY students in CPR before they graduate from high school!

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