American Heart Association - You’re the Cure

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Advocates Deliver "Lunch" and a Message

August was a busy month for many of our fantastic You're the Cure advocates as they met with members of Congress and their staff in their home districts to urge their support of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. Advocates from across the country, like Grace Oberholtzer of Pennsylvania, pictured at left with Congressman Dent, delivered special puzzles to lawmakers throughout the month to highlight that nutritious food 'fits' into a successful school day for every child.

Our sincere appreciation also goes out to the many other advocates who made "lunch" deliveries in the AHA Great Rivers Affiliate: Sandy Larimore, Cary Hearn and Malenda McCalister of Kentucky, Hilary Requejo, Elaine Bohman, Holly Boykin and Felicia Guerrero of Ohio, Theresa Conejo and Marlene Etkowicz (pictured at right ) in Pennsylvania, Dr. Dan Foster and Cinny Kittle in West Virginia, and Sarah Noonan Davis and Lynn Toth in Delaware.

It's not too late to raise your voice too. Speak-up for quality food in schools!

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Personal Stories Needed in Florida

One of the scariest situations any of us could find ourselves in is watching a friend, loved one, or even a stranger suffer a cardiac arrest. During the next Florida Legislative Session, we will work to establish CPR training in high schools and we need your help to make decision makers aware of this issue in advance!

Do you know a teacher, parent, high school student, first responder – ANYONE – who has either used CPR or had CPR performed on them?

We would love for them to share their story at

Their personal stories can help us spread the word about the importance of CPR in Schools – a new plan of attack designed to create the next generation of lifesavers.  

Nationally, nearly 383,000 people have sudden cardiac arrest outside of a hospital every year, and only 11% survive, most likely because they don’t receive timely CPR.   Sadly, only one-in-four out-of-hospital cardiac arrest victims nationally receive bystander CPR and in Florida more than 1 out of 4 deaths are due to heart disease.

These frightening statistics can change with your help. Visit to share your story and help us spread the word about CPR in Schools!

Together, we can create the next generation of lifesavers

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Kids Health Before Balanced Budgets

Is requiring snacks that are sold at school be healthy government “overreach?” Should schools be raising money by feeding children food that is high in sugar, fat and salt? Metro Atlanta Board President and cardiologist Dr. Paul Douglass shares his thoughts in an editorial scheduled to run in the Atlanta Journal Constitution on August 16, 2014.

How many times a week or month is your child buying snack food at school from a club or team raising money? Are those snacks healthy? Or are they full of sugar, fat, salt, and empty calories? Overweight children are at an alarming risk of being overweight or obese adults, which puts them at risk of developing chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

In an effort to address the childhood obesity epidemic the USDA issued updated guidelines for snack food sold in public schools last year that took effect July 1, 2014. The nutrition standards only apply to snacks sold on campus during normal school hours and up until 30 minutes after the last bell rings. It does not apply to concession stands at sporting events, fundraisers that occur off school property, or to food that a student brings from home.

State Departments of Education were granted some flexibility in allowing a set number of exemptions during the year for on-campus food fundraisers. Twenty-five states have chosen not to allow any deviation from providing only healthy snack options at school, unfortunately Georgia is poised to not be one of them. Last week, Georgia’s Board of Education recommended to allow 30 exempt fundraisers, each lasting 3 days. That equates to half the school year – 90 days – which could provide potentially unhealthy food options in the name of school fundraising. Is it wise or even responsible as adults and parents to balance school budgets on the backs of our children’s appetites?

Many school systems in Georgia have moved away from food-fundraising altogether and seen their revenues rise. Hall County Schools recently piloted a switch from sports drinks to water, despite anticipating a decline in revenue. When that didn’t happen, schools realized they truly didn’t need to depend on unhealthy food and drink to raise money when other avenues, like fun runs, were more profitable. Hall County also expected parent backlash after limiting outside food for school celebrations to twice a year. Instead, parents have expressed their gratitude. Most snack vendors offer healthy alternatives, and schools have found the switch to be seamless. Non-food fundraising also allow for higher profit margins.

Critics, including State Superintendent Barge, call the USDA guidelines “government overreach.” But children are getting over 50 percent of their daily calories at school. Some in lower income districts are receiving 100 percent of their meals from school. Should that food be laden with fat, salt and sugar? If all the available snack choices are healthy, then children will make a healthy selection.

Children can’t learn properly after consuming donuts and candy bars, and teachers can’t run an effective classroom under the physical influence of junk food. We have a childhood obesity epidemic locally and nationally that must be addressed through healthy food options for children, especially when the parents aren’t present to shepherd those decisions. Nearly one in three (31.8%) U.S. children (23.9 million) ages 2 to 19 are overweight or obese.

The American Heart Association calls on the State Board of Education to change the proposed policy to ensure that all school snacks are healthy and further guide schools to apply those standards to food fundraisers as well.

Dr. Paul L. Douglass

President, American Heart Association – Atlanta Advisory Board Cardiologist, Metropolitan Atlanta Cardiology Consultants, P.C.

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ND Mission: Lifeline Transition to ND Cardiac System of Care

The American Heart Association ND Mission: Lifeline grant funded program launched on August 1, 2011 and will be coming to a close on August 31, 2014 after 3 years of statewide STEMI system enhancement.   The AHA staff have worked diligently with Mission: Lifeline leadership, taskforce members, ND Department of Health and advocates to ensure a strong sustainability plan is in place to support the STEMI system.  One important element of the transition will be the movement of the STEMI program under a larger umbrella which will be known as the ND Cardiac System of Care.   The expanded focus will include NSTEMI, chest pain, and cardiac arrest system quality improvement with oversight by the ND DOH Division of EMS and Trauma.  Education models utilized for clinical continuing education of EMS and hospital personnel with the ND M: L program will continue in the upcoming year including a 2015 conference with grant funding provided by ND M:L to the ND DOH.

The 3rd annual M: L STEMI and Acute Stroke Conference was held August 5 – 6, 2014 at the Ramada Plaza Conference Center in Fargo with over 240 in attendance over the two days.   The first day was a stroke focus with a STEMI focus on day two.  The days were filled with continuing educational presentations, quality reports, survivor stories, GWTG quality award presentations, vendor displays, and stroke and STEMI simulation training scenarios provided by SIM-ND. CLICK HERE for news coverage. 

The conference highlighted the outstanding support, commitment and collaboration from every participating agency including EMS, Critical access hospitals and PCI hospitals. Huge strides have been made to improve the quality and consistency of STEMI care delivered throughout the state.  In a number of measures North Dakota is exceeding the national bench marks.   We are much closer to attaining the goal that where you live doesn’t determine if you live!   

While significant improvements have been made in the STEMI system of care from first medical contact to restored blood flow to the heart, two major challenges remains in rural North Dakota.   Only 26% of individuals experiencing a STEMI call 9-1-1 in rural areas of the state.   In addition, the time from first onset of heart attack symptoms to first medical contact can be over 90 minutes.  These delays in treatment increase the person’s chance of death or permanent heart damage.    We have plans to expand the public awareness campaign:  Your Life is on the Line: Dial 9-1-1.    Free materials are available for use in communities across the state at

While the grant support for Mission: Lifeline is at a close, be assured that the American Heart Association staff team will maintain an active and collaborative role in the cardiac system of care work in ND.   There is more work to be done to reduce death and disability from cardiovascular diseases in North Dakota. 

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Life is Why is the New Anthem of the American Heart and American Stroke Association

A celebration of life, Life is Why offers a simple, yet powerful answer to the question of why we do what we do.   At the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association, we want people to experience more of life’s precious moments. It’s why we’ve made better heart and brain health our mission. And together with our staff and volunteers we’ve made an extraordinary impact. But we are just beginning. Until there’s a world free of heart disease and stroke, we’ll be here, working to make a healthier, longer life possible for everyone.

I’d like to ask you to discover your life’s “Why”? Ask yourself this: what are those moments, people, or experiences that you live for? What brings you joy, wonder, and happiness? What is your why in life?

Whatever your why, we encourage you to share your “why” and like our Facebook page AHANorthDakota

As part of the American Heart Association family, we’ve provided you resources and tools designed to help you activate our new brand and clearly and consistently articulate who we are and why our mission is so important.  We encourage you to watch the video and explore:

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The Case for Hands-Only CPR Training

Written by Brittni Chicuata, Gov. Relations Director, Greater Bay Area

Here at the American Heart Association, optimal cardiovascular health for all is paramount. We have set a 2020 Impact Goal of improving the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20 percent while reducing deaths from heart disease and stroke by 20 percent. To reach our goals I am appealing to you, our volunteers, for input and advocacy.

Approximately 424,000 people in the United States experience Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) annually in places outside of the hospital, and roughly only 10% survive the event. Despite these devastating and sobering numbers, the majority of people who experience SCA do not receive the necessary assistance from bystanders, since 70% of Americans either do not know, are afraid, or have forgotten how to perform CPR effectively.

Since releasing our groundbreaking statement on Hands-Only CPR in 2010, which emphasizes the importance of preparing the general public with lifesaving skills, the American Heart Association has worked tirelessly to build awareness around the value of knowing how to perform Hands-Only CPR. Additionally, we have implemented Hands-Only CPR initiatives nationwide and committed ourselves to training 20 million Americans in CPR by the year 2020. To date, 18 states have passed legislation making Hands-Only CPR training a high school graduation requirement, which is incredible. Still, there is much work to be done in the remaining states.

The need for public education on the lifesaving skill of Hands-Only CPR is emphasized not only by the number of unprepared bystanders who will face an emergency, but also by the health disparities associated with survival and quality of life after SCA. There are cultural barriers to seeking and providing help for medical emergencies, variances in EMS response time depending on one’s zip code, and disparities in health outcomes following those emergencies. For example, African-Americans who experience cardiac arrest at home, work or in another public location at higher rates and younger ages than other ethnicities, yet their survival rates are twice as poor as those of whites.

Together we can increase survival rates following Sudden Cardiac Arrest. By advocating for Hands-Only CPR training in schools, by increasing outreach in faith and other community-based organizations, and by working with community stakeholders, we can grow awareness around this pivotal issue and prepare everyday people to help save a stranger or loved-one’s life. Tomorrow’s emergencies are unpredictable.

If you are interested in creating a generation of life savers via the training of Hands-Only CPR in your community, please contact your local Government Relations Director for volunteer opportunities.

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What is all the fuss about e-cigarettes?

Written by Erica Phung, Sr. Government Relations Director, Southern California

Have you been to the movies lately or out at a café and noticed someone puffing on an e-cigarette and wondered – just what are those things?  Who’s making them? And what’s in that cloud coming out the end of it?

Since the Office of the Surgeon General released the first report on the dangers of tobacco use, smoking rates declined significantly across the United States.  As such, lower smoking rates have forced tobacco companies to seek new ways to appeal to a new generation of smokers, including through the manufacturing and marketing of e-cigarettes.

E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that have cartridges or refillable tanks that contain a liquid mixture primarily comprised of propylene glycol and/or glycerol and nicotine, as well as other flavors or chemicals.  Proponents argue they don’t expose the user to the same harmful toxins found in conventional cigarette smoke and could help people quit smoking.  However, the devices have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for smoking cessation or been proven to be safe.  

The AHA has concerns that e-cigarettes could fuel and promote nicotine addiction, and that their acceptance has the potential of re-normalizing smoking, especially amongst youth who are drawn to candy flavors.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that youth rates of e-cigarette use has skyrocketed, doubling from 2011 to 2012. The CDC estimated that by 2012, 1.78 million youth had tried e-cigarettes.  The AHA also has concerns of second or third hand exposure to e-cigarette vapor and constituents. 

Because of these concerns, the AHA believes that e-cigarettes should be included in existing smoke-free laws, taxed like conventional tobacco products and be included in laws that prohibit the sale and marketing of tobacco to minors.  We also promote educating health care workers, so they can adequately counsel their patients regarding comprehensive tobacco cessation strategies.  Further research and surveillance is also needed regarding the short, medium and long-term physiological effects of e-cigarettes.

In California, our AHA You’re the Cure Advocates have helped pass e-cigarette legislation in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and numerous other cities.  Does your city include e-cigarettes in its smoke-free laws? If not – contact us to help advocate for change! All Californians deserve to breathe clean air.

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My Children are Why

By Nicole Olmstead, Gov. Relations Director, Arizona

The AHA/ASA recently launched a new campaign, “Life is Why.”  When you think about that phrase, “Life is Why” it brings to mind so many things.  For me, I think about my kids—Emily, William and Katherine. 

I work for the AHA/ASA because I want Emily and Katherine to know the importance of being physically active.  My hope is that they grow up into strong women who understand their risk of heart disease and stroke and the importance of living a heart healthy lifestyle.  Additionally, I work here because of the numerous medical advances that the American Heart Association has directly contributed to by funding research, especially in regards to cardiac care. Medical advances like pulse oximetry screening on newborns gives me hope that groundbreaking medical advances are on the way.  This really hits home as my son William is a critical congenital heart defect survivor who may have to have heart surgery again at some point in his life.  If that day comes, I hope that surgical procedures will have advanced to the point that they may be able to operate without stopping his heart to perform the surgery.  So for me: “Life is Why… my children are why.” 

I want to urge you to visit the You’re the Cure website and share your personal why with us.  Tell everyone you know that at the American Heart Association – “Life is Why.”

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Mission Lifeline: Improving Cardiac Care in Wyoming

Mission: Lifeline volunteers from across the state met the first week in August to discuss improving care for heart attack and stroke patients in Wyoming. The meeting was held in Casper and included representatives from Hospitals and EMS systems across the state.

The volunteers enthusiastically embraced the idea of creating a funding source to continue the great work that was being done through the Helmsley Grant which helped provide over $5 million for improving cardiac care in Wyoming.

After these discussions took place volunteers gathered with Advocacy staff, and expressed interest in getting involved in legislative activities. Advocacy will be planning a Mission Lifeline event at the Capitol early in the Session.

For details or to get involved with stroke and STEMI care, contact: Erin Hackett at

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Texas Heart Walks Coming to a City Near You

Heart Walk season is upon us and you are invited to join us at Heart Walks across Texas.  Whether you want to create a team and help fundraise or volunteer on the day of the event, we need your help!

Visit to find your closest Heart Walk and email about volunteer opportunities. 

Lace up your sneakers and we’ll see you out there!

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