American Heart Association - You’re the Cure

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Be the Cure, Join Today!

  • Learn about heart-health issues
  • Meet other likeminded advocates
  • Take action and be heard
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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Amy Edmunds

Amy Edmunds, South Carolina

Opening doors has been the most rewarding aspect of my volunteer experience. Since experiencing ischemic stroke in 2002, I have been an actively engaged volunteer throughout the Mid-Atlantic Affiliate.

Undoubtedly, the first door to open was my own! It has been an amazing transition to evolve from volunteer to spokesperson. But You're the Cure's comprehensive advocacy training helped hone my message and presentation to enable me to comfortably address the Rally for Medical Research last year to urge Congress to restore National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding. And, it was a treat to meet with AHA's CEO Nancy Brown and NIH's Executive Director Dr. Francis Collins!

Please, join me at hour 1, minute 15 to hear my message.

(Please visit the site to view this video)

For me, You're the Cure has afforded the opportunity to champion issues related to stroke among young adults from a local to national platform. Over the years, I have not only participated in numerous local Heart Walks, HeartBalls, and Go Red For Women events but also statewide lobby initiatives, national taskforces and Lobby Days. And, yes... even to the White House as a briefing attendee.??

So, go ahead and open the door to opportunity... for yourself as well as for those you love!

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Tell Us Who You Really Are!

Tailor your experience with us! Your profile on the You’re the Cure website is vital for us to convey our policy needs. Keeping our advocates informed and up-to-date on policy issues is the best way to guarantee that our advocacy partnership stays strong and when we need to make a move, we can reach you on the issues you are interested in.

When it comes to your personal advocate profile, we want to make sure you receive the information that you prefer and feel passionately about. It’s important that we know what policies most interest you.

CLICK HERE so we can make sure that you are presented with advocacy opportunities that truly speak to you.

It takes just a few moments to update your profile and interests, and those moments go a long way in ensuring that you hear the most current news and get action opportunities on issues that strike close to your heart.

As always, we thank you and appreciate you for what you have done, what you are doing now, and what you will do as a You’re the Cure advocate in the future.

Thank you for making a difference.


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CPR in Schools Two Year Anniversary Approaches!

Approaching the two year anniversary of HB 837 brings back vivid memories of the anxiety I felt with my very first State Lobby Day. Intimidation, fear, and angst were some of the emotions, but because I truly believe in promoting awareness related to sudden cardiac arrest I did what any good ole' southern girl would do--faced my fear! Most of the legislators were away from their offices in other meetings, so we met with their legislative assistants. However, some were available and we were able to share with them our passion of improving survival and how teaching CPR in high schools and making it a graduation requirement was an obvious starting point!

With Representative Carney on our side, after her most unfortunate cardiac event, we were destined for success.

Here we are two years later! I had the chance to meet her at this year’s State Lobby Day and hug her neck. I shared with her my seven year old’s YouTube video of her acting out a scene of Hands-Only CPR in our front yard with her dad.

  1. She shouts, "Hey, you Call 9-1-1!"
  2. "Hey, you get the AED!"
  3. She starts compressions. Hard part of the hand center of the chest. DO NOT STOP until EMS arrives.

You can watch the video here:

As the Heart Outreach Coordinator in Western North Carolina (WNC), I have instructed over 2,000 students and community members in Hands-Only CPR with the help of various volunteers. We have heard some pretty amazing stories of bystander CPR. Just last week in the Eastern part of NC a grandfather's life was saved by his granddaughter who was instructed at school how to perform Hands-Only CPR and how to use an AED.

With out of hospital cardiac arrest still leading the US as the #3 leading cause of death we have to be persistent in our efforts!

When I teach Hands-Only CPR I always tell the students about lifestyle modifications and the importance of prevention but I also tell them PLEASE spread the word about Hands-Only CPR.  Use social media for positivity! Stand for something! You never know whose life you could save. North Carolina must improve this <5% survival rate! Be creative! Tweet, post on Facebook, and use Instagram to share about Hands-Only CPR.

Every year we host an Annual CPR Olympics between local high schools in WNC designed to have students create a public service announcement by way of skit, song, or video on how they would teach their peers about recognizing STROKE and how to perform Hands-Only CPR. This year’s first place winners from Clyde A. Erwin High School HOSA from Asheville, NC, demonstrate with a quick relay on the track on performing effective communication during an emergency and CPR.

Many thanks to Dana Blake, Heart Outreach Coordinator for Western North Carolina at Mission Hospitals for writing this post.  Dana is a long time You’re the Cure volunteer and has attended two North Carolina You’re the Cure at the Capitol State Lobby Days.

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CPR Matters

Sometimes you just need a lifesaver. Quickly. The American Heart Association is creating a generation of lifesavers by making sure students learn CPR before they graduate from high school.  The goal is to teach lifesaving CPR skills to as many teens and young adults as possible in every state to help keep our communities safer.  Having a new generation of lifesavers will benefit everyone.  We have heard many stories about emergency situations where bystanders do not know what to do, but a CPR-trained person is the one to remain calm and save a person’s life.

The need is dire. Nearly 424,000 people have cardiac arrest outside of a hospital every year, and only 10.4% survive, often because they don’t receive timely CPR. Given right away, CPR doubles or triples survival rates. Teaching students CPR could save thousands of lives by filling our communities with those trained to give sudden cardiac arrest victims the immediate help they need to survive until EMTs arrive. Almost 90 percent of people who suffer sudden cardiac arrest outside of a hospital die, most likely because they don’t get CPR treatment within the first few precious minutes.

Sudden cardiac arrest can happen any place, at any time. If you suffer sudden cardiac arrest, your best chance at survival is receiving bystander CPR until EMTs arrive.  Teaching students CPR before they graduate puts thousands of qualified lifesavers on our streets every year.

In less than 30-minutes, students can learn the skills they need to help save someone’s life with CPR. With a short time investment, today’s students will become tomorrow’s lifesavers. Everyone benefits from having more lifesavers in our community.

Here in The American Heart Association’s Mid-Atlantic Affiliate, You’re the Cure advocates have helped us make great progress on this goal, by telling their legislators all students should be trained in CPR before they graduate:

DC:  We’re working on it… DC City Council is looking at establishing emergency medical response plans and training in DC schools.  AHA, through You’re the Cure, is working with the committee to include student training requirements for graduation. CPR training in DC schools would prepare roughly 3500 students annually to save a life. If you live in DC, watch your inbox for action opportunities to support this effort as it unfolds.

MD:  We did that!  Breanna’s Bill passed just this year and will soon become a reality for MD students. If you live in MD, take a moment to Thank Your Legislators for this big win.  Because of CPR training in MD schools, there will be over 58,000 new lifesavers in MD communities every year.

NC:  We did that!  We passed HB 837 in 2012 and its implementation is well under way.  Because of CPR training in NC schools, there will be close to 87,000 new lifesavers in NC communities every year.

SC:  The SC General Assembly adjourned without passing CPR in Schools, but we will introduce next year.  When we get this bill passed there will be over 39,000 new lifesavers in SC communities every year.

VA:  We did that!  Gwyneth’s Law passed just last year and is in implementation stages now. Because of CPR training in VA schools, there will be over 79,500 new lifesavers in VA communities every year.

Thanks to You’re the Cure advocate Karen Wiggins, LPN, CHWC, for developing this blog post!


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Advocates Stomp NC Issues at Lobby Day

On Wednesday, May 28 the North Carolina State Legislature saw a lot of red – in a good way. Over 50 of our passionate NC You’re the Cure advocates came together wearing their best AHA red and took over the halls of the Capitol buildings, using their powerful role as constituents to let their legislators know how passionate they are about issues that will build a healthier North Carolina from food deserts to tobacco control program funding to funding for the Stroke Advisory Council.

State Lobby Day was kicked off with a successful training on Tuesday evening. A special thanks to our presenters: to Pam Seamans, Peg O’Connell, Amanda Hodges, Jennifer Collins, Neil Dorsey, Michelle Ballasiotes, Mary Kay Ballasiotes, and Lee Storrow. After spending time learning the issues and how to share our story so it would resonate with legislators, we enjoyed dinner and fellowship time. Many new faces peppered the audience of advocates, and we were excited to welcome the newcomers as well as our seasoned veteran advocates. A special thanks to our incredible NC Advocacy Committee, who stepped in and led their groups with incredible knowledge!

State Lobby Day is successful every year because of our advocates. Many shared personal stories with their legislators about why we need a Joint Legislative Study Committee on Food Deserts, saying that since 1.5 million North Carolinians live in a food desert and everyone deserves access to healthy foods we need to do what we can to eradicate them. Others spoke to funding for tobacco use prevention, how vital the resources are to keeping our kids tobacco-free. Still others advocated about the work of the Stroke Advisory Council (SAC) and the importance of providing funding to the Council so their work can continue.

You’re the Cure is vital to the American Heart Association because it is our volunteers that put a face to issues that affect each and every one of us– and when they come together, their voice is amplified. Legislators listen.

Even if you missed lobby day, you are in a powerful position to make a difference. Right now, you can take action to ask your legislators for SAC funding. The SAC works to improve care for stroke patients along the full continuum of care from prevention to transitional management of stroke care.

Thank you to our North Carolina You’re the Cure advocates who joined us in person, and virtually, for State Lobby Day. Betsy Vetter, Kacie Kennedy, and Kim Chidester, your AHA team, thank you for your participation.

You are using your voice to build healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke.

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Take Control of Your Health

Did you know high blood pressure has also been called the “silent killer”? That’s because its symptoms are not always obvious, making the need for regular check-ups important.  As we recognize High Blood Pressure Awareness Month, here are the facts:

• High blood pressure (aka: hypertension) is one of the major risk factors for heart disease.

• It’s the leading risk factor of women’s deaths in the U.S., and the second leading risk factor for death for men.

• One-third of American adults have high blood pressure. And 90 percent of American adults are expected to develop high blood pressure over their lifetimes.

• More than 40 percent of non-Hispanic black adults have high blood pressure. Not only is high blood pressure more prevalent in blacks than whites, but it also develops earlier in life.
• Despite popular belief, teens, children and even babies can have high blood pressure. As with adults, early diagnosis and treatment can reduce or prevent the harmful consequences of this disease.

Now that you know the facts, what can you do to take control? The answer is a “lifestyle prescription” that can prevent and manage high blood pressure. A healthy lifestyle includes exercise, stress management, and eating a healthy diet, especially by reducing the sodium you eat. To learn more about taking control of you blood pressure, be sure to visit our online toolkit!

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Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Surgeon General’s Report

Recently lawmakers, health advocates, and citizens across the country celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Surgeon General’s report on the dangers of smoking.  You’re The Cure advocates have contributed greatly to the tobacco control movement.  Pam Seamans, Executive Director of the North Carolina Alliance for Health and You’re the Cure NC member, spoke recently about this historic anniversary.  Medical costs have risen to $3.8 billion in NC alone due to smoking related illnesses.  Pam points out that while yes, we have made progress, we still have a long way to go. Listen to Pam’s interview:

Want to know how you can help?

  • Take action and tell your lawmakers that NC needs to fund tobacco prevention and cessation programs.
  • Join us May 27-28 for the 2014 NC AHA You’re the Cure at the Capitol State Lobby Day.  Contact Kacie Kennedy ( to register. 

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Can You Spot a Stroke F.A.S.T.?


Tick-tock, tick-tock.  Every minute counts.  Every 40 seconds someone in the US has a stroke. Timely response saves lives and is critical to help those affected not only survive but thrive as well.

Approximately 700,000 Americans have a new or recurrent stroke each year, and stroke remains the third leading cause of death in the United States. Stroke also remains a leading cause of serious, long-term disability in the United States.  

With a possible stroke it is imperative that action is taken FAST.  If you notice Facial drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, it’s Time to call 911, F.A.S.T.

You’re the Cure advocates have worked hard to put policies in place to help people survive a stroke, like designation of qualified hospitals as Primary Stroke Centers (PSC).

Receiving treatment at a certified PSC can save lives.  At the PSC, CT scans of the brain, EKGs, chest X-rays and lab tests should be completed and results reviewed within 45 minutes of being ordered. Time is of the essence. TPA, a drug that breaks up clots that interrupt blood flow to the brain is the first line of defense.  PSC’s are required to keep this drug on site. It can be safely administered with positive results up to 4.5 hours after someone first notices stroke symptoms.  That makes it critical to note the time of onset of symptoms, if possible.

Being proactive in regards to your health can start by taking a few minutes to call your local hospitals to see if they are on the list of PSC’s.  

You can help be the cure:  Learn about heart-health issues. Meet other like-minded advocates. Take action and be heard.  You have the power.  Spread the news with your family and friends. Utilize all your social media accounts. Network for stroke health! 

To find all this and more CLICK the PIC:






Blog post by You’re The Cure Advocate Karen Wiggins, LPN, CHWC

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Look At All We've Done

In the hustle and bustle of life, it seems there is always something that needs our attention.  Maybe it’s a lunch appointment, a meeting after work – did you remember to call your mom to wish her a happy birthday?

With so many things monopolizing our time, it begs the question: “Why do we do what we do?”  How do we choose to prioritize what gets our few free moments?  As a You’re The Cure Advocate, why do you choose to align yourself with our mission?  Do you know all that we have accomplished?

Today, we are bragging on you. Each action you have taken: every email you’ve sent to your lawmakers, every meeting you’ve attended has helped propel forward many vital pieces of legislation.  We want to tell how you’ve shaped our Mid-Atlantic Affiliate over the past few years.

2012 Legislative Session: tax on small cigars and all smokeless products was raised. Legislation was also passed to require insurance carriers to cover and reimburse healthcare providers for services delivered through telemedicine.
2013 Legislative Session: hospitals in MD are required to test newborns for critical congenital heart defects with pulse oximetry before they are discharged from the hospital. 
Thank you.

North Carolina:
2012 Legislative Session: required all high school seniors to be proficient in CPR in order to graduate high school.  In addition, a total of $2.7 million in non-recurring funding was secured for tobacco cessation and prevention programs. 
2013 Legislative Session: hospitals in NC are required to test newborns for critical congenital heart defects with pulse oximetry before they are discharged from the hospital.   Also signed into law was a policy that ensures designation of Primary Stroke Centers - ensuring stroke patients receive appropriate & timely care. 
Thank you.

South Carolina:
2012 Legislative Session: advocates were able to preserve $5 million for the Smoking Prevention and Cessation Trust Fund. 
2013 Legislative Session: hospitals in SC are required to test newborns for critical congenital heart defects with pulse oximetry before they are discharged from the hospital. Additionally, the Senate passed legislation requiring all high school seniors to be proficient in CPR in order to graduate high school.  This legislation is headed to the House of Representatives, and our SC advocates will be vital in ensuring this becomes law.
Thank you.

2012 Legislative Session: Governor McDonnell issued Executive Directive 4, developing an implementation plan for pulse oximetry tests in hospitals. The House also required the Board of Education to develop PE guidelines for public elementary and middle schools.
2013 Legislative Session: Gwyneth’s Law was signed into law.  All high school students will be required to achieve proficiency in CPR for graduation – and all teachers must be proficient in order to achieve their licensure.  The state budget allocated $400,000 for 12-lead ECG’s for EMS, which helps to diagnose the most severe type of heart attack.
Thank you.

Washington, DC:
2012 Legislative Session: the DC City Council allocated $495,000 for tobacco control programs within the Department of Health.
2013 Legislative Session: the DC Telehealth Reimbursement Act of 2013 requires all payers to reimburse services rendered by telemedicine.
Thank you.

Advocates are driving more policies in the 2014 sessions!  Some say “It takes a village to raise a child.”  With You’re The Cure, it “takes a network to make a difference.” Each and every one of you has made a difference.

Thank you for giving your heart.


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