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Cinny Kittle, West Virginia

Cinny Kittle West Virginia

To our You're the Cure advocates, August means Congressional August Recess meetings. In West Virginia, that often means Cinny Kittle will be busier than usual speaking out for improved health, and this August was no exception.

On August 4th, Cinny joined WV Government Relations Director, Christine Compton, in delivering "lunch" to Congressman Nick Rahall's Washington, DC office--a lunch sack filled with puzzle pieces that represent a healthy school meal. The message? Support the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act.

As the Director of Health Improvement Initiatives at the West Virginia Hospital Association for the past 17 years, Cinny works on various projects to positively impact the lives of West Virginians. In addition, she is the Director of the Tobacco-Free WV Coalition, the co-founder and director of the WV Breastfeeding Alliance, she serves of the steering committee for the WV Perinatal Partnership and founded the Day One program to help get newborn babies off to their best start.

Cinny is committed to improving the health of our fellow Mountaineers. She is a strong advocate for public health and a terrific asset to the groups she collaborates with on a regular basis. With her busy schedule and many commitments, we are fortunate to have her as a passionate You're the Cure advocate and outstanding member of the American Heart Association’s Advocacy Committee. Thank you, Cinny, for all you to do improve the health of West Virginia!

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My Story: Katie Krisko-Hagel

Katie Krisko-Hagel Eagan, MN

I am a registered nurse.  My Ph.D. is in nursing with a specific focus on heart disease, especially in women. My stroke story is about my mother who died from stroke and heart disease six years ago.

 
It was 1995 when she presented to an emergency room after having experienced dizziness, weakness, and loss of consciousness. She had a known history of high blood pressure yet she was admitted for an inner ear disorder. I was told later by the nurse that she was alert and oriented as evidenced by her ability to answer questions about where she lived, living relatives (who, in fact, were no longer alive), etc. Yet, nobody bothered to check to see if her answers were correct; because they weren't. My mother's memory was quite impaired and by this time, the window of opportunity had passed and brain damage had occurred. Her life was never the same since then. She lost her ability to live independently (she was only in her mid-seventies at the time) and eventually needed to live out her final years in a nursing home as she continued to suffer more strokes. Since 1995, much has improved about how people are assessed in an emergency room and treated by receiving tPA once ischemic stroke has been identified. Many brains have been saved; many lives have been uninterrupted and spared. Also, since 1995, a lot has been done about the prevention of stroke. This has all come about because of research. But, the battle isn't over because many people still suffer and die from stroke and heart disease every year. In fact, heart disease is still the number one killer of men and women in the United States. Research needs to continue in order to change these statistics. Without research, many lives like my mother’s will continue to be cut short or so drastically altered that they will never be the same again. Prevention and adequate treatment is key and can mean the difference between life (as well as quality of life) and death. Only through research can we have any hope to change the statistics. Only by continuing to fund that research, we can make it happen.

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Knowing CPR Saved My Son

A lifesaving event retold by Kristy Stoner, UT

In June 2014, my friend Erin and I planned a pool day together as we decided we would spend the afternoon together at her private community pool, where we could eat lunch and chat while the kids could swim. We both have 4 kids all under the age of 8. The day went pretty much as expected, perfect weather, kids got along and we were having a great time.

Towards the end of the day, I had a distinct thought “It’s quiet…” and in a home of 4 boys, quiet is NEVER a good thing, unless they are sleeping. I looked over and noticed only 3 boys, off to the side of the pool. And, after a quick scan of the pool I said “Where’s Max?” Almost immediately Erin yelled, “Kristy! He’s in the water!” I had noticed in the middle of the deep end a small, slightly darker area, all the way at the bottom. My heart dropped when I realized that tiny, hard to see figure was in fact my little boy’s body. What else could it be?!

I knew I had to get him out and I had to do it fast! All in a matter of seconds Erin had taken my 8 month old baby, Harry, from my arms and I jumped in the pool.  Mid jump I remember noticing how calm the water was. There were no signs of struggle on the water. Then I noticed his body-hunched over in an upside down U position, with his arms hanging down and his back at the highest point just like in the movies.

Once I grabbed him and made my way to the side of the pool, Erin called 911. When I got to the side, I tried to throw his body out, but again, I was brutally disappointed when I realized how heavy his lifeless body was.

Once I got him out of the water, I rolled him onto his back, I then realized the color, or lack thereof, of his face. His face, lips, and eyelids were completely bluish grey. All I remember thinking was, "Time to make him breathe.” So I took a large settling breath and proceeded with CPR techniques I learned 10 years ago!

I'm not sure how long I was working on him, we guess it was about 2 minutes, but I remember noticing when I would breathe for him, the color would come back to his face a little at a time.  At one point, Max's eyes flickered a little and I remember the sense of gratitude that rushed over me at that moment. Then all at once, his eyes opened as wide as they could possibly go. He tried to breathe, but he still couldn't, so I breathed for him a couple more times and then set him up to try and get him to breathe on his own!!

I could hear the water inside of his breath so Erin handed me the phone to talk to the 911 dispatcher. The dispatcher wanted me to calm him down, so his body would be able to throw up the remaining water in his lungs. Eventually, he threw up. It was 99% water.

The EMT's arrived a few moments later and started checking him. I'm so glad they brought a fire truck too, because that made Max happy and helped to cheer him up. He talks about it now when he tells the story. How he got to see a fire truck up close and ride in an ambulance!

In the ambulance, Max didn't want to talk much, but he did provide his explanation of events:  "I was swimming on the red floaty, my arms slipped off. I tried doing my scoops (swim strokes), got tired and then I sinked!” Once they knew he was stable they let him go to sleep.

At the hospital, I answered a lot of questions, but am still surprised how many people wanted to know "What did you do?" "How did you do it?" "How long did you do it?" Everyone was so encouraging, so positive, and so sweet to me. I consistently heard "Good job mom! You saved his life!"

Eventually, I was able to talk to the RN watching over Max. He told me "how lucky we were," and I asked him with a drowning like ours, what were the chances of full recovery. He replied with "It is a miracle he is alive." Alive?! A miracle that maybe he didn't have water in his lungs or any noticeable long-term damage, yes, but, a miracle he was alive? Really? Why wouldn't he be? I sat and thought about that for quite a while. Maybe I did do something right. Maybe, just maybe I did save his life! I had no idea! We later asked the doctor why people don't do CPR and the doctor said "either fear, panic, fear of doing something wrong and causing more problems, or the fact that it's gross." We were shocked! But, more importantly, I was so happy that the idea of not doing CPR had never even crossed my mind.

Truth is that 80% of sudden cardiac arrests (when the heart suddenly stops) happen out of a hospital setting, while only 40% of those victims receive CPR on the spot before EMT's arrive and only about 10% of sudden cardiac arrest victims survive the event.

Since the incident Max has made a full recovery; he even persuaded me to let him swim the NEXT DAY!! My lasting thoughts are that we cannot watch our kids 100% of the time. We can’t. We need to teach them to be smart and how to protect themselves. As parents, we also need to be prepared. Be prepared on how to respond in an emergency situation, learn CPR and first aid training that could save the life of a loved one!

If you want to refresh your knowledge of CPR techniques, please visit here.

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Intern Spotlight: Elizabeth Shaeffer

Written by Elizabeth Shaeffer

My name is Liz Shaeffer and I am an intern here at the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association in Sacramento, California.  I am a junior at University of Southern California in Los Angeles, and I came home for the summer looking for an internship that would teach me a little bit more about the lobbying and advocacy processes.  I became interested in Advocacy after taking a class on interest groups and elite behavior last spring.  In this class, a representative from a lobbying firm in Sacramento came to address to our class, and suddenly all of my course readings started to make sense.  From this experience, I became interested in interning for the American Heart Association because my grandfather has always been very active in the organization, so it was a familiar place to begin my first internship. 

On my first day of work I was thrown into the fire and was tasked to follow Callie Hanft (California’s Government Relations Director) around the Capitol building.  I learned first-hand how to successfully lobby against a bill.  It was a unique experience that taught me about the advocacy process that I wouldn’t learn from my classes at school or from an online seminar. 

I play lacrosse at USC, but my other interests include cooking and hiking.  I am currently double-majoring in both Sociology and Political Science. The first major I chose was Sociology because I have always been interested in the way people interact with one another and how we create social norms.  I then added the Political Science major after taking a few political science classes and realizing that I could use that background knowledge from my sociology courses on a bigger stage to help influence laws and government.

After I graduate, I hope to stay in Southern California for a few years and work in the government relations sector of a company, or anything else advocacy-related.  One thing I’ve definitely learned so far as an intern is that there is much more to advocacy than the lobbyist that actually goes in the Capitol.  But ultimately, I aspire to become a lobbyist in Sacramento. 

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Recognizing the Value of Quality P.E. Education

Amy Heuer and Lois Mauch North Dakota

Quality Physical Education (QPE) today is not recognizable as the physical education classes many of us remember from our schooling.  The focus has gone from the rules and regulations and play of specific sports, to the education of the physical abilities needed for play and care of the body.  Today’s QPE not only teaches our students how to move, but connects to the need our body has to move.  It encourages the importance of movement for our mental and physical health, stress reduction, and mental performance.

The definition of Quality Physical Education is the development of physically literate individuals who have the knowledge, skills and confidence to enjoy a lifetime of healthful physical activity. To pursue a lifetime of healthful physical activity, a physically literate individual:

  • Has learned the skills necessary to participate in a variety of physical activities.
  • Knows the implications and the benefits of involvement in various types of physical activities.
  • Participates regularly in physical activity.
  • Is physically fit.
  • Values physical activity and its contributions to a healthful lifestyle.  SHAPE America (2014).

The Society of Health and Physical Education (SHAPE America) has released newly revised National PE Standards that can be found at http://www.shapeamerica.org/standards/pe/index.cfm

Quality Physical Education is important in our schools for more than the physical and health related benefits we see from moving.  More research is coming out every day showing the connection between physical activity and the mental benefits we see.  By our students participating in Quality PE classes, we are giving them the tools they need to succeed in the classroom.  According to Dr. John Ratey in his book SPARK, The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, through exercise we are doing three things to the body to promote academic learning: 1) it optimizes your mind-set to improve alertness, attention and motivation, 2) it prepares and encourages nerve cells to bind to one another, which is the cellular basis for logging in new information, and 3) it spurs the development of new nerve cells from stem cells in the hippocampus. (p. 53) All three of these are necessary components for building memories, and what is learning if not building memories.

Unfortunately for many children, the only opportunity they have for activity is during PE class.  Quality PE is therefore a cornerstone for our students to learn to appreciate being physically active.  It will help them to live healthier, happier, and smarter lives.

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J. Antonio G Lopez, MD FAHA

J. Antonio G. Lopez, MD FAHA

The American Heart Association (AHA) has supported and played a pivotal role throughout my career in cardiovascular research, leading to my focus on the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease. Presently, I am the Director of Preventive Cardiology, the Lipid clinic, and LDL apheresis Program, and Hypertension Consultation Service at the Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise Idaho. Without the support for cardiovascular research, the understanding of disease processes that lead to important scientific advances would not be possible. Our current knowledge of risk factors (high cholesterol, low good cholesterol (HDL), diabetes, smoking, high blood pressure and family history of premature heart disease) leading to the development of atherosclerosis and coronary artery disease was based on epidemiologic research.  Advocacy is fundamental to continue our progress.

I support advocacy on behalf of the American Heart Association chiefly for the health of our communities. For example, the AHA supports coverage of preventive benefits in private and public health insurance plans and the implementation of policies that provide adequate resources and encourage healthy choices. Locally, the AHA as a member of the Smokefree Idaho coalition is working to make communities across our state smoke free, inspiring more Americans to live in an environment that supports a heart-healthy lifestyle. Moreover, through our education efforts the AHA is reaching at-risk populations with cause initiatives and online tools. Thus, strong advocacy, sustained efforts, and programs such as “You’re The Cure” will significantly impact the reduction of cardiovascular disease.

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Advocate Spotlight: Quality Physical Education - What is it?

Breon Schroeder Derby Spearfish SD and Chadron NE

Some individuals may remember a time where ‘gym’ class revolved around an unstructured chaos of playing dodge-ball, being picked last for teams, and sitting on the sidelines while the instructor focused on getting his or her athletes prepared for the big game. This ‘roll out the ball’ era is a stigma that continues to plague the field of physical education.

Having progressed well beyond ‘gym’ class, the field, as its name suggests, focuses on education; a continuous process that provides individuals with the knowledge, skills, tools, and resources necessary to enhance their well-being throughout their lifetime. Unlike other content areas, physical education focuses on the development of the whole child by emphasizing the three domains of learning: 1). Cognitive, 2). Affective and, 3). Psychomotor.

Physical education not only provides individuals with the opportunity to engage in physical activity, but it also offers a diverse, standards-based curriculum and a variety of quality assessment practices so that each student can find something they enjoy and will continue to participate in throughout their lifetime. In addition, the physical education environment fosters real-world skills essential to being successful in today’s competitive job market, such as teamwork, cooperation, and responsibility. Physical education also plays a crucial role when it comes to high stakes testing and financial gain for school districts, as several studies have shown a link between physical activity and academic success.   “Exercise improves learning on three levels: first, it optimizes your mind-set to improve alertness, attention, and motivation; second, it prepares and encourages nerve cells to bind to one another, which is the cellular basis for logging in new information; and third, it spurs the development of new nerve cells from stem cells in the hippocampus” (Ratey, 2008, p.53).  It has been proven that healthier students learn better (CDC, 2014a). Quality physical education can aid in student success by decreasing absenteeism, increasing fitness levels, and enhancing cognitive function.

However, despite the vast advantages physical education provides, including the education on the one thing people use every day, their bodies, it is often the first content area to be let go when school districts are faced with budget cuts.  With over $147 billion dollars spent annually on preventable, obesity-related illnesses, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers (CDC, 2014b), educating students on the importance of lifetime physical activity through quality, daily physical education could have a substantial impact on both the health and economic status of our nation. If people are truly concerned about the success and well-being of our students, our future, they will get informed and become an advocate for quality, daily physical education.

Breon Schroeder Derby has a B.S in Physical education with minors in health and coaching from Black Hills State University in Spearfish. She has a M.Ed in curriculum and instruction with an emphasis in PE from Chadron State College and is currently working on her dissertation to complete her Doctorate in Health Education from A.T Still University. Breon taught physical and health education at Lead Deadwood High School and for the past two years was an instructor in the HPER department at Chadron State College. She currently serves as instructor of HPER at BHSU.

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Spencer's Story - looks can be deceiving

Written by Amy Norton, Spencer's mom

You NEVER think “it will happen to you” but… “it” happened to my family, my son. At only ten weeks old my son was fighting for his life. This is his story…

Spencer was born at home, on 11/08/13, with a team of experienced midwives. He was a healthy 9.1lbs., and appeared completely typical. He was perfect. Absolutely perfect. Except he had a secret, Congenital Heart Disease. He kept this secret for a long time. Almost too long.

At 24 hours postpartum, our midwives came back to our house to check on Spencer. Again, everything appeared typical, no physical signs of distress. Therefore, no oximeter was ever placed on him.

On day 7 Spencer was seen by our family doctor. Again, he appeared typical. He was back to his birth weight. Latching on and eating well. His body was doing an amazing job at compensating for his lack of oxygen. Too good of a job. No one ever thought it medically necessary to check a “healthy” boy’s oxygen level. So, he continued to hold on to his secret.

December 21st, Spencer caught his first cold along with my husband, daughter and myself. We got better after a few days. Spencer stayed sick, in fact, he was getting sicker. Worry set in.

I took Spencer back to the doctor.  He was now 8 weeks old. At this appointment I expressed my concern about his cold. I emphasized that something didn’t seem right. I asked, “could it be allergies or asthma?” I didn’t know to ask if it could be heart disease, I wish I did. Spencer had only gained 6 ounces over his birth weight. STILL no oximeter was placed on him. I was advised to come back in two weeks. However, Spencer didn’t made it two weeks.

My husband and I had had enough. Spencer was still sick, his skin started to look dusky and we knew something was wrong. We called the local children’s hospital and spoke with a consulting nurse. She immediately said to call 9-1-1. The medics arrived. This was the first time an oximeter was placed on my son!  He was now 10 weeks old.

Trauma began. Things progressed from a phone call to an airlift in a matter of hours. Before we knew it, we were standing over our happy baby in an induced coma at Seattle Children’s Hospital. This is where, literally, at the eleventh hour, we learned of Spencer’s secret. Our sweet boy was born with Congenital Heart Disease.

Things quickly went from bad to worse! ONE day after getting our son to the hospital he was placed on life support. He remained in the hospital for 6 weeks. Fighting for his life.

If an oximeter was placed on Spencer at 24 hours old, he never would have got as close to death as he was. Yes, he still would have had heart disease. Yes, he still would have needed open heart surgery. But he never would have suffered the way he did. If my husband and I were not advocates for our son I am afraid his outcome would have been different. An unbearable reality.

An oximeter test is so simple. It saves babies lives! As a mother who has lived through the unbearable, I ask, why is it not a statewide requirement that every child not tested? No matter where a baby is born in Washington, it should be protected from a tragic story like Spencer’s. Spencer is a miracle. We are blessed he survived. NO baby should suffer like him, not when it is so simple to detect.

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Amanda Lindsay

Amanda Lindsay

My name is Amanda Lindsay and I am excited to be interning for the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association this summer, so that I can gain hands on experience in the different areas of Public Health and become more involved in my community.

I currently reside in Oregon City, Oregon. I am in the process of completing my Bachelor’s Degree in Public Health with the option of Promotion and Behavior at Oregon State University. I am also in the process of completing a Psychology minor.

I have experienced loss in my family due to lack of education and motivation to seek help early and this is why I have chosen public health as a career. I have a passion for health promotion and disease prevention and this internship is paving the way for me to work towards a healthier and safer Oregon. The American Heart Association has allowed me to take charge and speak up in the community while working towards making Hands-Only CPR a graduation requirement in Oregon High Schools by 2015.

These past two months have been very busy as I have been working on the Hands-Only CPR in Schools campaign. I have been able to meet and connect with people from all over the state of Oregon as they have shared their success stories with me.

One of these inspiring people that I was able to meet with was EMS Officer Bill Conway of Clackamas Fire Department. He shared his input, passion, and knowledge, and is making a huge difference in our community. I was very honored to meet with him.

I also attended Representative Margaret Doherty’s Town Hall Public Safety Event in July where she was joined by Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue who taught Hands-Only CPR.

I am thrilled to be working with the American Heart Association on this exciting campaign for Hands-Only CPR this summer. I plan to take the knowledge that I have gained from school and the American Heart Association and continue dedicating my time to promoting healthy behavior in the community. 

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Avery Shappley, Mississippi

Avery Shappley Corinth, MS

Life changed forever for Avery Shappley on a cold, beautiful February afternoon in 2012.  Avery, a high school freshman in Corinth, Miss., was trying out for the tennis team.  She was cleared for tryouts through her athletic physical and had been running lines.  A nearby coach noticed that Avery began to lose her balance.  He ran over to help break her fall and as she collapsed, she went into cardiac arrest.

Luckily, the nearby coach was trained in CPR, and reacted immediately.  He instructed his assistant coach to call 9-1-1, and he delivered CPR to Avery for approximately 15 minutes.  He told the assistant coach he was not stopping until the paramedics arrived.  Once the paramedics were on the scene, they had to use an AED to revive Avery before taking her to the hospital.

Unfortunately, Avery’s story is not the norm.  Because most sudden cardiac arrest victims do not receive CPR within a few precious minutes, the survival rate is a dismal 10.4 percent nationwide.  If given right away, CPR doubles or triples survival rates.

Avery & Gov. Phil Bryant on Bill Signing Day

This is why the American Heart Association worked tirelessly with You're the Cure advocates during the 2014 Legislative Session to add CPR training to the curriculum of schools’ classes as a graduation requirement.  Due to the passage of the CPR in Schools bill, Mississippi will see on average 27,000 students graduate every year with this life-saving knowledge.    

“If you suffer sudden cardiac arrest, your best chance at survival is receiving bystander CPR until Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) arrive,” said Lisa Valadie, Community Educator/Paramedic with the Madison Fire Department.  “We want to create a generation of lifesavers by making sure students learn CPR before they graduate.  In less than the time it takes to watch a TV sitcom, we can give students the skills they need to help save a person’s life with CPR.  Teaching students CPR will add lifesavers to our community, year after year, and everyone benefits.”

Sudden cardiac arrest can happen to anyone, at any time.

Nearly 424,000 people have sudden cardiac arrest outside of a hospital every year.  Sudden cardiac arrest is most often caused by a heart attack, but can also be caused by trauma, an overdose or drowning. In sudden cardiac arrest, the heart stops beating, blood stops circulating, oxygen stops flowing to the brain, and the victim stops breathing. 

In Avery’s case, the high school student learned that she had a serious heart condition called Anomalous Left Coronary Artery from the Pulmonary Artery (ALCAPA).  ALCAPA is a very rare heart defect that occurs as a result of the left coronary artery forming abnormally. Instead of connecting to the aorta, as in a normal heart, it connects to the pulmonary artery.  Avery had to undergo one surgery and she has made a full recovery.

“CPR is the lifesaving solution,” Valadie said.  “Many people are alive today because individuals trained in CPR—including youth and adults who received that training in school—gave someone CPR until EMTs arrived.  We need to create a generation in which every brother, sister, son, daughter, friend and complete stranger is trained in CPR at school and is prepared to save lives.”

This life-changing event and its successful outcome is one of the many reasons Avery decided to dedicate her personal time as a volunteer for the American Heart Association.  She has set up a CPR initiative to share her story and encourage others to be trained in CPR.

“I believe that CPR is very important because it does save lives.  It saved mine,” said Avery.  “The need for people around me to know CPR was something that was vital to my survival, but no one knew that.  I was just lucky to collapse when and where I did.”

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