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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 people...it'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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Urge Congress to Participate in American Stroke Month!

Earlier this month, there was big news for stroke patients on Medicare. On April 1st, President Obama signed the Protecting Access to Medicare Act. Included in the law is a provision that extends the Medicare therapy caps exceptions process for the next 12 months. This means for the next year, stroke survivors on Medicare can rest assured that they will have access to the crucial rehabilitation needed to help in their recovery. Now decisions around therapy won’t be hampered by an arbitrary cap or coverage limits.

Even though this was a victory for stroke patients on Medicare, it is disappointing that these therapy caps were not permanently repealed and that stroke survivors might find their crucial therapy in jeopardy again a year from now.

Congress' failure to repeal the therapy caps shows how important it is that the voices of stroke survivors be heard on Capitol Hill. Luckily, with May being American Stroke Month, this is the perfect time to speak up in support of stroke patients. During those 31 days, we will be promoting awareness about stroke among lawmakers and how together we can make it preventable, treatable, and beatable. 

However, you do not have to wait until then to get your legislators involved!

Send a letter to your member of Congress today and tell them to make American Stroke Month a priority!

Your representative in Congress can participate in three simple ways to highlight the importance of American Stroke Month. They include:

  • Attend the American Stroke Association / National Stroke Association Congressional briefing on May 14th, which will highlight the issues and challenges facing stroke caregivers.

  • Speak on the floor of the House or Senate about the importance of American Stroke Month or highlight the month in a newsletter.

  • Join the Congressional Heart and Stroke Coalition. The Coalition, which is made up of more than 125 Members of the House and Senate, works to raise awareness of the seriousness of cardiovascular diseases and acts as a resource center on heart and stroke issues.

May is the month to focus our legislators on stroke awareness. Urge your legislator to participate in American Stroke Month today!

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RI Lobby Day May 7th - Register Today!

Please mark your calendar for May 7th and plan to join fellow You’re the Cure advocates at the State House for the American Heart Association’s Rhode Island Lobby Day. 

Click this link to register today: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/6WZMVGX

Rhode Island Lobby Day
May 7, 2014
State House – Providence, RI
3:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m


Lobby Day presents an excellent opportunity to meet with your representative and senator to promote the AHA’s lifesaving policy priorities.  This year we will focus on two important issues:

1) Securing state funding to help implement the 2013 CPR in Schools law that requires all high school students to receive hands-on CPR training and an overview of automated external defibrillator (AED) use prior to graduation as part of the health education curriculum, and

2) Prohibiting the sale of electronic cigarettes to youth and ensuring that e-cigarette vendors are licensed by the state and strong enforcement measures are in place.

Please use your voice and help us make a difference in the lives of Rhode Islanders! 

Register today at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/6WZMVGX

Training will be provided prior to the event.  If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact me at (401) 330-1708 or megan.tucker@heart.org.

We hope to see you at the State House!

Photo: RI Lobby Day 2013

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Improving Food Access in Alabama

On May 13, the American Heart Association will partner with VOICES for Alabama's Children to host a training for individuals and organizations interested in improving food access in Alabama.  During this free event, participants will have the opportunity to learn how healthy food financing can improve access to healthy foods; hear stories from folks who have worked on the issue in neighboring states; discuss next steps for healthy food access in Alabama; and join a community of advocates working for healthy change.  To learn more about the event, email the Alabama Advocacy team at gsa.advocacy@heart.org.

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Chloe Sumrall Saves a Life

When Chloe Sumrall entered a restaurant last March, the senior high school student was looking forward to enjoying a celebratory lunch after a long season as president of the Sub-Debutante committee.

Chloe heard a scream of terror from across the restaurant and responded immediately.  Seeing a man's body laid out on the floor, apparently non-responsive, Chloe said firmly to those attempting to help, “I am CPR certified, are you?”  When no one responded, she hurried to begin hands-on chest compressions.  For the next several minutes, Chloe and her mother worked to resuscitate the stranger.

A doctor who was also patronizing the restaurant told Chloe that she could stop, that there was no chance of this man's survival.  While family members and onlookers huddled in prayer, Chloe continued performing CPR until the paramedics arrived.  Even then, things looked grim. 

Compelled to know whether the man had survived, Chloe and her parents went to find his family at the hospital.  This complete stranger to Chloe had suffered Sudden Cardiac Death, a condition that in Mississippi has less than a 2% chance of survival.  Because of Chloe’s immediate action, this man joined the 2% of survivors that day! 

Today, Chloe is a freshman at the University of Mississippi and the survivor is enjoying life with his family.

To find out more about local area CPR classes, visit www.heart.org/CPR.

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Spring has Arrived - Time to Get Outside and Get Active

Did you know that Wednesday April 2 was National Walking Day? In most parts of the US, the weather is starting to warm up now that spring has arrived. After a cold winter it's always nice to be able to get out and enjoy the warmer temperatures.

In the spirit of National Walking Day we encourage you to lace up your sneakers and take at least 30 minutes out of your day to get up and walk.  National Walking Day is a great way to raise awareness of the importance of physical activity and also a wonderful way to get family, friends and co-workers started on the way to a healthier life.

Even though National Walking Day has passed, we still encourage you to take some time out of every day to walk and be physically active. Lack of physical activity is one of the major risk factors for heart disease and stroke.  The America Heart Association has even developed a website and an app that can help you find walking paths near wherever you are.  Check it out here to find a path near you.

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2014 Heart on the Hill a Success

April 2 was our Minnesota Heart on the Hill. We had 38 volunteers at the Capitol to meet with legislators. Our issues this year included asking for $6 million for Safe Routes to School infrastructure, AED registry, and comprehensive transportation funding that includes designated funding for active transportation. All told, volunteers had 58 individual meetings with legislators (that’s over ¼ of the Legislature!). Plus volunteers had many more contacts with staff and personal notes left where legislators were unavailable. Packets were dropped at the offices of all 201 legislators including more than delivered more than 700 petition cards in support of the SRTS and AED bills.

 We also held a walk as part of our Capitol Rotunda Rally to celebrate National Walking Day—we had over 60 participants including Sen. Senjem, Sen. Pappas, Sen. Kiffmeyer, Sen. Nelson, Rep. JoAnn Ward, Rep. Halverson, Sen. Franzen, Rep. Hortman, Rep. Clark Johnson, Rep. Bly, and delivering the keynote address was MnDOT Commissioner, Charlie Zelle.

Thank you to all of our great volunteers who attended and staff partners who helped make this a great Heart on the Hill day!  Make sure you check out photos from  the day on our Facebook page here.

Also check out the great media coverage of our event here in the media section.

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Results of Public Opinion Poll Show Illinoisans Support Daily Physical Education

Last month, advocates from across the state gathered in Springfield to draw attention to the importance of daily P.E. in Illinois schools. The American Heart Association participated in a press event on March 19 annoucing the latest polling results that showcase strong support by Illinois residents for daily P.E. Illinois Advocacy Committee member Beth Mahar spoke on behalf of the American Heart Association at the press event. Below is the news release from the event.

 A new poll shows the majority of Illinoisans support Physical Education (P.E.). Representatives from the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), the American Heart Association, the Illinois Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (IAHPERD) and the Illinois Alliance to Prevent Obesity (IAPO) gathered at the Illinois State Capitol today to discuss details from a public opinion poll commissioned by ACS CAN on physical education requirements in Illinois.

Results of the poll, conducted by FAKO Research & Strategies, show the majority of respondents believe physical educational requirements are a high priority at all grade levels, with four out of five (80 percent) expressing that P.E. should be required at every grade level and to graduate from high school.

Illinois health organizations agree. "Quality daily physical education that engages both the mind and body leads to enhanced academic performance," said Mark Kattenbraker, past president of IAHPERD.

The poll also showed that Illinois voters strongly support current physical education requirements. At this time, P.E. is required for all students in grades K- 12. However, the state permits substitutions, like team sports, Junior Reserve Officer’s Training Corps, etc., to replace the requirement. A school district can also apply for a one-time, two-year waiver for P.E., which can then be extended for up to six years.

"Physical education is key to our kids’ and our state’s long-term health," said Rhonda Pour, ACS CAN volunteer. "Obesity and inactivity already account for 1 in 3 cancer deaths in this country and at current rates, obesity threatens to surpass tobacco use as the number one preventable cause of cancer."

Poll participants were also asked about potential changes to P.E. requirements, which would limit waivers, prevent substitutions and require highly-qualified P.E. specialists as teachers. The majority of voters polled support the changes to the current P.E. requirements.

"Many of us who have been working on the issue of P.E. over a period of decades have noticed a positive shift in culture over the last few years. Even as some Illinois schools have mounted a campaign to cut P.E., people seem to value physical education more and more. These polling results only confirm that," said Elizabeth Mahar, a retired physical educator and a spokesperson for the American Heart Association. "In this age of 24-hour health clubs and personal trainers, adults increasingly see P.E. as an important life-long health issue for their children -- a sharp contrast with their own old-fashioned ‘dodge ball in gym’ experience. And as they begin to understand that quality PE is a way to immunize their kids against a life-long struggle with obesity and chronic disease, parents begin to see PE as necessary rather than an optional."

ACS CAN, the American Heart Association, IAPHERD, the Illinois Alliance to Prevent Obesity and other health officials throughout the state are calling on legislators to protect current P.E. standards and to make physical education a priority.

"We work with dozens of community coalitions around the state through our Healthy and Active Communities network, and they are making school programs like P.E. a critical priority for developing healthy kids, and thus, healthy adults," said Elissa Bassler, Executive Director, Illinois Alliance to Prevent Obesity, and CEO, Illinois Public Health Institute. "Our community partners are working with parents, advocates and school officials on strengthening P.E."

"Today’s P.E. standards are not enough to combat the current obesity epidemic and to teach our kids how to be healthy for a lifetime," said Pour.

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) recommends that states require all school districts to develop and implement a curriculum that adheres to national and state standards for physical education for a minimum of 150 minutes per week in elementary and 225 minutes per week in middle and high schools.

FAKO Research & Strategies, Inc., of Lisle, IL, interviewed a random sample of 600 registered voters in Illinois by both phone and mobile phone.

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April Update from Springfield

Below is a legislation update from Alex Meixner, Government Relations Director for the American Heart Association.

All – we have some good progress to report in Springfield on the systems-of-care front, as Illinois’ annual spring legislative session rolls on.  So without further ado:

First off, our stroke legislation (House Bill 5742) passed the House Human Services Committee on March 26, setting the stage for a vote on the House Floor in the coming weeks!  HB 5742 is the product of a collaborative effort between the AHA/ASA, the IL Critical Access Hospital Network, Stroke Survivors Empowering Each Other, and the IL State Stroke Advisory Committee (the official advisory body to the IL Dept. of Public Health on stroke care matters), and would serve to improve stroke care throughout the state.  Amongst other provisions, the bill would: allow the state to recognize Comprehensive Stroke Centers; bring IL’s Emergent Stroke Ready hospitals in line with the new national Acute Stroke Ready standards, and; institute a modest stroke hospital designation fee to pay for a statewide stroke registry and other stroke-related activities within the IL Dept. of Public Health. 

Yesterday’s successful vote was also the product of weeks negotiations with the IL Hospital Association which ultimately made the bill stronger. While we never want to count our legislative chickens too soon (especially since it’ll need to pass at least four more votes before being sent to the governor), things are looking good so far. I also want to take a moment to applaud the incredible work of our terrific stroke volunteers like Shyam Prabhakaran, Peggy Jones, Bob Biggins, Lisa Bartlett, Liz Kim, Jack Franaszek, and Lesley Cranick (just to name a few), our partner organizations like SSEEO, the Midwest Stroke Action Alliance, and the State Stroke Advisory Committee, and of course our terrific QI staff Kathleen O’Neill and Robin Hamann.

Second, the CPR/AED training in schools legislation (HB 3724) recently passed the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee. Specifically, HB 3724 would require all IL high-schools to include CPR and AED training in their base curriculum, representing a major step forward for CPR/AED training in Illinois. That said, even (hopefully!) with this bill’s eventual passage, there will still be additional work to do next year to get us our ultimate goal of ensuring that every IL high-school students receives CPR and AED training prior to graduation. 

 At the hearing, two Illinois families spoke out in favor of mandatory CPR training. The first, represented by George, Mary, and Matt Laman, spoke movingly about Lauren Laman (George and Mary’s daughter, Matt’s sister), a high-school senior from St. Charles, IL who went into sudden cardiac arrest during dance team practice in her school gym. While there was an AED in the building, no one knew how to use it, and by the time EMS arrived it was too late.  Next came Harry and Brigette Bell, who told the committee about the night earlier this year when Eric Bell (Harry’s father and Brigette’s husband) went into sudden cardiac arrest at home. Luckily, Harry had received CPR training during his freshman year of high-school, and knew exactly what to do. While his mother called 9-1-1, Harry began chest compressions, which ultimately saved his father’s life. According to Dr. Anand Ramanathan, who treated Eric upon arrival at Elmhurst Memorial Hospital, "the CPR kept him alive until help got there.  The hospital intervention was after the fact, frankly. The main reason he’s alive today is because of the CPR he received at home." Those twin stories made clear for committee members the incredible life-saving value of CPR and AED training (see the attached photo of the Lamans and the Bells along with bill sponsor Rep. Dan Burke). The support of AHA/ASA volunteers, partner organizations like the IL EMS Alliance, IL Heart Rescue, and various IL fire and EMS organizations was crucial to achieving this major step forward. 

Finally, it’s worth noting that the Illinois EMS Alliance which we and so many of our volunteers have worked hard to build over the last 18 months is starting to show some real muscle in the Capitol. In addition to helping us build both political support and (even more importantly) implementation capacity for the CPR/AED training bill, the Alliance and the various EMS stakeholders it represents are making themselves heard on a range of emergency healthcare-related issues in Springfield. To point out just one, earlier this week leaders from the IL EMS Alliance put out a call for EMS agencies and EMS professionals around the state to voice their support for SB 3414, a bill which will help bring IL’s EMS education, training and licensure systems up to national standards (which is crucial because the emergency medical care provided by EMTs is only as good as the education and training they receive). The IL Dept. of Public Health has been trying to pass this bill for several years without success, and it seemed all too likely that it would once again die a quiet death in the Senate Public Health Committee on Tuesday, with only a handful of witness slips filed in support of the bill as of Monday afternoon. Within just a few hours of the appeals from IL EMS Alliance leaders, however, 123 witness slips had been filed in support of the bill (compared to just 3 opposed), most filed on behalf of local EMS systems, hospitals, fire protection districts, and state-wide healthcare associations. Thanks in part to this overwhelming support, the bill passed easily through a committee.  This was a huge show of strength for EMS in Illinois, and a big step forward for the political credibility of the IL EMS Alliance. 

As always, thank you for signing those petition cards, filing those electronic witness slips, and taking those You’re the Cure action alerts!  It really does make a difference!

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An Update on SB 2194, testing all Hawaii Newborns for Critical Congenital Heart Defects

Guest Blogger: Don Weisman, Hawaii Government Relations Director

Thanks to AHA You’re The Cure advocates, SB 2194, the bill that would require Hawaii birthing centers to perform a pulse oximetry screening to check for critical congenital heart defects prior to discharge, continues to move toward final passage. The bill was passed by the House Finance Committee on April 3 with no major changes to the pulse oximetry screening section (a second unrelated section was added to the bill during the committee hearing on which the AHA took no position). The bill now heads to the House Floor for a vote before it moves presumably to a conference committee where differences between the House and Senate version of the bill will be worked out. If agreement can be achieved there, the bill will move to the Governor for final passage into law.

The AHA is also supporting two other tobacco-control related bills which continue to advance. SB2495 would restrict the use of electronic cigarettes to places where only regular cigarettes are allowed, thereby protecting non-smokers from being involuntarily exposed to the nicotine and other particles and chemicals emitted as part of e-cigarette aerosol. SB 2496 would increase the tax on “other” tobacco products (all tobacco products other than cigarettes) to a rate of 85% of wholesale cost. Other tobacco products are currently under-taxed in relation to cigarettes making them more appealing to youths. The CDC has reported a sharp uptake in usage of those products by youths as cigarette prices have increased. Increasing taxes has been proven to reduce usage by youths. An as yet undetermined portion of the revenue from the tax increase would be earmarked for the Hawaii Tobacco Prevention and Control Trust Fund to be used by community programs to reduce tobacco consumption.

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