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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:

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:

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

We hope to see you at the State House!

Photo: RI Lobby Day 2013

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Susan Young, Rhode Island

While attending a party celebrating the birthday of one of my closest friends, my life came to a screeching halt. As dinner was taking place, I started to feel ill and headed for the ladies room. Fortunately for me, my friend Brenda found me in the restroom where I had become violently ill. I felt as though I were speaking to her in a tunnel. She seemed far away and I let her know something was not right. I heard her call the ambulance and that is the last memory I have.

I had suffered a heart attack. Outside in the ambulance Brenda’s son witnessed what was my first sudden cardiac arrest and went to bring the news to Brenda that I was receiving CPR. On route to the hospital, I had my second cardiac arrest and was rerouted to a closer ER where they stabilized me, introduced the hypothermia protocol, and sent me to Brigham & Women’s cath lab. I received a stent placement, and 11 days later underwent coronary bypass graft surgery.

I am a survivor! I am truly blessed to have had everyone in the right place at the right time. My new and improved heart has given me a new lease on life. I am no longer a smoker. As I write this, I am 1 year, 17 weeks, 5 days, 15 hours and 37 minutes free of cigarettes. My “Since I Quit” app tracks that info for me as a reminder to stay healthy.  Intense fear grips you after a life and death experience and for me, cardiac rehab was the place that helped me work through those fears and rebuild my physical strength. Without the staff of the cardiac rehab program at Newport Hospital, I would have never had the courage to return to my passion of teaching ballroom & Latin dance. It was a difficult road back to the dance floor, but today that’s where you will find me enjoying each and every moment with my students.

Life is a dance…..where will the rhythm take you?

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Protecting Rhode Island's Kids from a New Threat

Legislation was recently heard at the Rhode Island State House that would prohibit the sale of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) to kids under the age of 18.  The bill would also require e-cigarette vendors to be licensed by the state and subject them to strong enforcement measures, including routine compliance checks and requirements for proof of age at point of purchase and delivery for online retailers.   

The tobacco industry and e-cigarette vendors are working hard to water down this bill and make it unenforceable.  Just like last year, they want to exempt e-cigarettes from the strict laws that apply to regular cigarettes and other tobacco products – laws that we fought for!  We need your help to STOP them in their tracks.   

Tell the House Judiciary Committee to pass a strong bill that will truly protect Rhode Island's kids from e-cigarettes.  Click the following link to take action today: 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published new data last year showing that the use of electronic cigarettes among middle school and high school students more than doubled from 2011 to 2012.  The evidence is increasingly clear that e-cigarettes are particularly appealing to children and youth, likely because they, unlike conventional cigarettes, are available in a wide variety of appealing flavors, including fruit, chocolate and candy.

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Teen Zombies Invade RI State House on Kick Butts Day

More than 100 high school students from throughout the state recently descended on the Rhode Island State House for Kick Butts Day.  This important day is an opportunity for kids to STAND UP to tobacco. And kids in Rhode Island did just that – zombie-style!  Teens dressed as zombies to show the devastating effects of tobacco and to help the living quit while they still can.   

Will you STAND UP to tobacco?  Click the following link to contact your legislators and make your voice heard today! 

The Kick Butts Day event was cosponsored by the Tobacco Free Rhode Island coalition.  The American Heart Association is a member of Tobacco Free RI and together we are promoting policies that will reduce tobacco use – the leading cause of preventable death and disease in our state.   

Our policy priorities include: securing adequate funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs to help Rhode Islanders quit and to prevent kids from ever starting this deadly habit; increasing the excise tax on cigarettes by $1.00 per pack; and, prohibiting the sale of electronic cigarettes to youth and ensuring that e-cigarette vendors are licensed and strong enforcement measures are in place.  

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It's Time for Rhode Island to Mandate Pulse Ox Screening

Massachusetts recently joined the growing list of states that require newborns to be screened for critical congenital heart defects using a simple, non-invasive and inexpensive pulse oximetry (pulse ox) test.  Congratulations to our fellow You’re the Cure advocates in the Bay State for making this happen.  Now it’s time for Rhode Island to act!

Several weeks ago, the American Heart Association and Mended Little Hearts met with Governor Chafee to stress the importance of pulse ox screening.  Our Little Heart Heroes donned their red superhero capes and asked for the Governor’s help.  Let’s put some pressure on and get this done!

Nearly 30 states mandate pulse ox screening for newborns.  Rhode Island has been working on a pilot program and we applaud the hospitals in our state for stepping up to the plate - now it’s time to join the large list of states that require this lifesaving test.  

Share the news with Governor Chafee - tell him that Rhode Island should follow Massachusetts' lead and require pulse ox screening for all newborns!  Click the following link to take action now:


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SAVE THE DATE: RI Lobby Day May 7

Please plan to join us at the Rhode Island State House on May 7 from 2:30 p.m. until 4:30 p.m. for our annual Lobby Day! This is a great opportunity to meet with your state senator and representative to share the American Heart Association’s policy priorities.

We will determine our target issue(s) as we get closer to the date. Priorities for the Legislative Session include:

Securing funding to purchase new CPR manikins for all high schools to assist with implementation of the "CPR in Schools" law;

Encouraging schools to share recreational facilities with the community to promote physical activity (by limiting liability for the school district);

Updating standards for competitive foods sold in schools to align with/exceed new federal guidelines; and,

Protecting kids from Big Tobacco and helping smokers quit for good by increasing the cigarette tax and adequately funding prevention and cessation programs.

Training will be provided prior to the event via conference call.

Stay tuned for details! If you have any questions, please contact Megan Tucker, Director of Government Relations, at (401) 330-1708 or

PHOTO: Lobby Day 2013

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Abby, Rhode Island

Before our daughter, Abigail Grace, was born, we had never heard of a CHD, a Congenital Heart Defect.  We didn’t know what it meant or just how prevalent (1/100 children) CHDs are.  Everything through pregnancy and her birth had been smooth.  We were filled with joy to finally meet our precious only child.  That same day, a nurse told us that she had “a heart murmur that sounds like a freight train.”   Little did we know, this would be the beginning of Abigail’s courageous, lifelong heart journey.  At four days old, she had her first echocardiogram.  But, it wasn’t until tiny Abby was eight days old, did we or the doctors know the severity of her heart condition.  We were sent to Children’s Hospital Boston urgently.  At age eight, Abby is our Heart Hero.  She lives her life with inner strength and determination.  She proclaims that her aorta is too large because “there is too much love in her heart.”  Every single day, her CHD is a part of her, is a part of us—the anxiety, wonder, hope, fear, faith.  What has been a true blessing to Abby and to us is the community of support that surrounds us.  Abby is not alone on her journey and we are not alone with our trepidations as her parents.

We had the honor to visit the State House and meet with Governor Lincoln Chafee to advocate for pulse ox screening at birth.  It was a wonderful experience to be among heart survivors and to advocate for a simple, inexpensive screening that could help so many children.  We are infinitely thankful that our daughter remained stable those first eight days prior to her diagnosis, but many children born with CHDs, undiagnosed at birth, are not so lucky.  Abby’s journey is uncertain but is full of hope.  It is powerful, for her and for us, to come together to help children born with CHDs and their parents through awareness, community, support, and advocacy.  We are thankful to the American Heart Association and to Mended Little Hearts of RI for this tremendous opportunity to do just this through our visit to the State House and meeting with Governor Chafee.

Elizabeth Byerlee and Bryan Byerlee

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Little Heart Heroes Take On the RI State House

The American Heart Association and Mended Little Hearts recently met with Governor Chafee to raise awareness of congenital heart disease and to discuss the importance of screening all Rhode Island newborns for critical congenital heart defects using a simple, non-invasive and inexpensive pulse oximetry (pulse ox) test.

Our Little Heart Heroes donned their red superhero capes and asked Governor Chafee for his support – now we need your help! Please urge Governor Chafee to expedite the rulemaking process and add pulse ox to the mandatory newborn screening panel - click the following link to take action today:

Nearly 30 states mandate pulse ox screening for newborns. Rhode Island has been working on a pilot program and we applaud the hospitals in our state for stepping up to the plate - now it’s time to join the growing list of states that require this lifesaving test.

Congenital heart defects are the most common birth defect in the U.S. and the leading killer of infants with birth defects. The evidence speaks for itself – wider use of pulse ox screening could help identify more than 90 percent of heart defects.

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New Study Finds SSB Taxes Won't Impact Jobs

Interesting news and tips from  While we probably won't see a sugar-sweetened beverage tax proposal in Rhode Island this year, the American Heart Association and our partners continue to educate lawmakers and build support for a future SSB tax campaign.

Study: SSB Taxes Won't Impact Jobs

Obesity advocates long have argued that implementation of a sugar-sweetened beverage tax will create a number of positive health outcomes. Now there's evidence that a SSB tax could have economic benefits as well. Click the following link to learn more:

How to Talk About SSB Taxes

Advocating for sugar-sweetened beverage taxes can be a challenge for even the most seasoned Leader. These helpful tips might make it a little easier to talk about why SSB taxes are vital to the effort to reduce obesity:

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Rhode Island House & Senate Recognize National Wear Red Day

Special thanks to State Senator Donna Nesselbush and State Representative Brian Kennedy for introducing resolutions officially proclaiming February 7 as "National Wear Red Day" in the State of Rhode Island.  AHA staff and volunteers Laurie Stephenson and Miriam Plitt were on hand as the Senate and House recognized National Wear Red Day during their floor sessions on February 6.  Senators and representatives wore red dress pins to show their support for the fight against heart disease in women. 

The State House Dome will be illuminated red February 7 through February 14 in recognition of National Wear Red Day and American Heart Month. 

Photo: AHA volunteer Miriam Plitt with Senators Elizabeth Crowley, Donna Nesselbush and Gayle Goldin. 

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