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Why Schools Should Be Prepared for Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Perhaps you know of an athlete who collapsed on the athletic field from a sudden cardiac arrest.  Or maybe it was a student in the classroom.  Or an adult spectator.  Or a coach.  Most often the person was thought to be healthy, with nothing to suggest an underlying cardiac problem.

Afterwards families and the community search for clues as to what the trigger was.  Often there were no warning signs, even in retrospect, and a medical explanation may be lacking as to why the heart rhythm suddenly became ineffective.

Click here to read full article written by Dr. Monica Gobel, who is a member of the Michigan Advocacy Committee for the American Heart Association.

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Ground-Breaking Illinois Stroke Bill Signed into Law

Thanks to dedicated volunteers like you, on Monday, August 18, 2014, Governor Quinn signed House Bill 5742, new stroke legislation into law taking a big step forward in emergency care for stroke patients in Illinois. HB 5742 was approved by the Illinois legislature on May 22, having been introduced in the House by Rep. Robyn Gabel (Evanston), and sponsored in the Senate by Senator Heather Steans (Chicago).

Now known as Public Act 098-1001, this landmark new stroke law makes Illinois the first state in the nation to formally recognize all three levels of stroke care hospital, including Acute Stroke Ready Centers, Primary Stroke Centers, and Comprehensive Stroke Centers. This three-tiered system of designated stroke care hospitals, coupled with existing requirements that EMS providers update their stroke treatment and transport protocols accordingly, will help medical professionals from EMS to the ER to the OR build a better, more cohesive, more efficient network of stroke care.  

"As a result of this law, patients who suffer a stroke in Illinois will be assured of getting the highest level of stroke care available in their area, whether they’re in downtown Chicago, rural Pope county, or on the side of a freeway anywhere in between," said Dr. Shyam Prabhakaran, Director of Stroke Research at Northwestern University Medical Center and a member of the Governor-appointed Illinois State Stroke Advisory Committee. The law also creates a dedicated funding stream for the creation of a state stroke registry, which will help the Illinois Dept. of Public Health and medical stakeholders across the state pursue quality improvement initiatives and more efficiently allocate resources.

HB 5742 traveled a long path from first-draft to signed-law, and benefited tremendously along the way from the input and expertise of American Heart Association/American Stroke Association (AHA/ASA) volunteers serving on the official Illinois State Stroke Advisory Committee, as well as the hard work of AHA/ASA staff, who teamed up to draft and pass a meaningful bill while ensuring that political exigencies never overruled scientifically-based medical best practices. The impassioned advocacy and political heft of You’re the Cure volunteers and partner organizations such as the Illinois Critical Access Hospital Network, the Illinois EMS Alliance, and Stroke Survivors Empowering Each Other was also key to overcoming significant opposition and ensuring the bill’s passage.  

"From the initial AHA/ASA scientific guidance, to the thoughtful leadership of volunteers on the State Stroke Advisory Committee, to the steadfast support of partner organizations, to the impassioned advocacy of You’re the Cure advocates, this new law was truly a team effort, and one that will help save and improve the lives of Illinois stroke survivors for years to come," said Lynne Braun, PhD, Chair of the American Heart Association & American Stroke Association’s Illinois Advocacy Committee. Braun continued, "while there are still rules to write and protocols to implement, this is a big step forward for stroke care in Illinois, and everyone who has felt the impact of stroke in their life can feel proud of our collective effort."


Don’t forget to say thanks to those lawmakers that supported this ground-breaking stroke legislation! Please send a message of thanks to your lawmakers. 

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Research & Advocacy = Results

In the last decade, U.S. hospitalization and death rates for heart disease and stroke have dropped significantly!  That means our research and your advocacy are paying off!  Let's keep it going to reach the American Heart Association’s 2020 goal — to improve the heart health of all Americans by 20 percent while reducing deaths from cardiovascular diseases and stroke by 20 percent by 2020.  Learn more here:

http://blog.heart.org/study-finds-significant-drop-in-hospitalizations-deaths-from-heart-disease-stroke/

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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 erin.hackett@heart.org.

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We've Come So Far Because of You, South Carolina!

The 2014 Legislative Session in South Carolina was a lively one, allowing us to advance some vital pieces of legislation while providing us room to continue in 2015.

Senate Bill 1094: School Nutrition Guidelines
This would have required stronger nutritional guidelines for competitive foods sold on school grounds during afterschool hours. Competitive foods include foods sold in vending machines, snack stores, and a la carte items in school cafeterias. The bill received a favorable report with amendments from the Senate Education Committee, but no action was taken by the full Senate once the bill was placed on the Senate calendar.

Senate Bill 160: CPR in Schools
This would have required all high school students to be proficient in hands-only CPR and AED awareness as part of the already required high school health education class. The bill received a favorable report with amendments from the House Education Committee, but no action was taken by the full House once the bill was placed on the House calendar.

This issue continues to be vital to residents of South Carolina, even during the summer months when the legislature is not in session. Please email your elected officials today and let them know you support CPR in schools.

Tobacco Control Funding
We advocated during the appropriations process for an additional $8 million in tobacco control funding from the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement. We were able to protect the $5 million in funding for tobacco control received yearly from cigarette tax revenue.

Smoke-Free Victories
Three more communities across the state adopted smoke-free ordinances, joining 55 other South Carolina municipalities, for a total of 58 cities/counties, covering 39% of the state's population!

As part of the You're the Cure team, you've helped us make GREAT strides this year toward improving the lives of South Carolina citizens. We will be revisiting each of these issues in 2015 and have no doubt we will see major victories in the Palmetto State!

From the bottom of our hearts, thank you for all you do. You are our hero.

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Our new anthem: life is why

School behavioral specialist Carla Leonard had her hand on her heart during the Pledge of Allegiance when a heart attack nearly killed her. Her doctor didn’t mince words with her family afterward: “If I didn’t have surgery, they should pick out a dress for my funeral,” she said. “Plain and simple.”

But Leonard wanted to live — to see her daughter graduate from high school — so after surgery she started on a new path that continues today. She kicked her soda habit, started visiting her doctor regularly and got healthy enough to experience many important milestones in her life.

Leonard exemplifies the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s new brand tagline, “Life Is Why.” The phrase, which began appearing with the logo on Heart.org on Aug. 1, is much more than a slogan. It’s the singular idea that stands behind all the lifesaving work the AHA has carried out for 90  years – and it’s the very basic idea that people should be healthier so they can enjoy their lives more.

“The work we do matters,” American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown said. “It has mattered to my family and I’m sure it has mattered to your family. Life is why.”

(Please visit the site to view this video)

Brown’s grandfather had a blockage of his carotid artery in the early 1970s. During surgery, he suffered a stroke, and his life was never the same — nor was his family’s. He died a few years later after another stroke. “I missed my grandfather then and I continue to miss him today,” Brown said.

But she pointed out that scientific research and treatment guidelines have led to much better outcomes for many others in the decades that followed. One of those survivors is Brown’s sister, who is thriving despite two recent strokes. She received treatment at one of the AHA’s primary stroke centers, helping her working through rehabilitation and regain her life.

“My sister is why, my grandfather is why — and all of you are why,” Brown told the organization’s volunteers and staff when announcing the adaptation of “Life Is Why” as a focal point of the AHA’s brand.

The American Heart Association is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary health organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke — the two leading causes of death in the world. The AHA fights these diseases through a wide variety of tactics, yet “Life Is Why” can be attached to every facet of the organization’s work.

Life is why the AHA helps people eat healthier foods and get more active — among the many activities the organization has to help people live healthier lives.

Life is why Roni Noone decided to lose weight so she could enjoy her life with her family.

Noone, a 38-year-old Baltimore mom who struggled with her weight in her teens and 20s, has lost a total of 70 pounds because she wants to be there for those special moments with her family. She has joined a gym and even run a marathon – saying she didn’t want to set a poor health example for her sons Ryan, 9, and Evan, 3.

Roni Noone is motivated by the special moments with her family.

“Last year I took Ryan whitewater rafting, and it was really emotional for me. Now I’m doing all the things I got healthy for,” said Noone, a fitness blogger who’s also writing a book. “I want to run a half-marathon with him when he’s 18. And I want to be able to do all these things that I’m doing in my 30s when I’m in my 50s.”

Life is why the American Heart Association has funded more than $3.6 billion in heart disease and stroke research, more than any other organization outside the federal government. Life is why the association works to develop treatment guidelines that help healthcare providers follow scientifically proven treatment standards.

Life is why the AHA is the nation’s leader in CPR training and science, and why the AHA has helped pass many laws and policies that have improved the public health. In fact, now that 17 states have passed laws requiring CPR as a high school graduation requirement, more than 1 million seniors will leave school every year with this lifesaving skill.

Leonard, 52, has gone on to be an AHA advocate for CPR in schools and screenings to detect heart defects in newborns. And she did get to see her daughter Yasmine finish high school, just one of many milestones she has experienced since her surgery eight years ago.

“The highlight of them all was when I heard that my child had used my life-and-death experience to write her entrance essay for college,” she said. “I want to be able to look back on my life and say that I did not waste the second chance I was given.”

And as 13-year-old Natalia Bascunan of Nutley, New Jersey, will attest, loved ones and special moments are the most important illustration of Life Is Why. Natalia made the Little League all-star team years after facing two open-heart surgeries for a heart defect.

“They loved it because she was the only girl in the state on an all-boys team,” said Natalia’s mom, Roe Corsi. “When they found out she had a heart condition, they loved her even more.”

Another person who has embraced life’s special moments thanks to better health is Bernie Dennis, a longtime volunteer with the AHA who is now the chairman of the board.

Dennis said he didn’t appreciate the risks he was taking with his health until he had three heart attacks in one month, followed by a quadruple bypass. While he recovered, he started realizing some of the things he’d taken for granted.

“I can remember the fact that I was sitting on my porch saying to myself, ‘this is the first time in my life I’ve appreciated the warmth of the sun in May,’” he said.

Getting healthier has meant Dennis has gone on to experience precious family time that he would’ve missed. A high school graduation. A wedding. Playing with his “two beautiful granddaughters.” And dressing up as Santa Claus at Christmas.

“There’s a choice you get to make about living or not living,” he said. “My wife’s hand gave me reason to live. My wonderful family gave me reason to live.”

Learn more at www.lifeiswhy.org 

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2 Days Left and So Much to Do!

With only two days left before the legislators break for the summer we need a last push to get some critical legislations to help our kids passed. The House still needs to take action on legislation that would require all coaches to know CPR, restricting the sale and use of E-Cigarettes, and requiring healthy vending in State Buildings and the Senate has a chance to pass legislation that would provide quality physical education in our schools. We also have a chance to get some language in around setting up a stroke system of care and we are waiting for final approval on fresh food financing.

Your legislators are hearing from all advocates in these last few days, it is crucial that your voices is being heard too so if you have not already taken action please do so today! Send an email or call your legislators today and let them know that these issues are important to you! I  appreciate your help and your continued advocacy we only have a few days to pass some important legislative priorities, and I hope to be passing along some good news on Friday!

 

  

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Stratis Health Awards Heart Disease and Diabetes

Check out this article featuring AHA's Justin Bell and advocate Albert Tsai, posted by the Minnesota Department of Health on Stratis Health's 2014 Building Healthier Communities Award.

Stratis Health, Minnesota’s state quality improvement organization, recently announced six recipients of their 2014 Building Healthier Communities award. This Stratis Health grant award supports creative community initiatives that promote a culture of health care quality and patient safety in Minnesota. Two of the recipients touch the Minnesota Department of Health.

MDH’s Diabetes Program and Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Unit are active members of the Minnesota Diabetes and Heart Health Collaborative. The Collaborative received the $9,500 award to continue the World Café-style Community Conversations for Diabetes Prevention and Care Action in the African American, American Indian, Hmong, Latino, and Somali communities. The conversations have been helping the communities in taking next steps in implementing their most important recommendations for reducing their burden of diabetes and health disparities.

The other award was given to the Minnesota Time Critical Care Committee, co-chaired by Albert Tsai, from the Minnesota Department of Health’s Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Unit and Justin Bell, from the American Heart Association, Midwest Affiliate. The $10,000 award will act as seed money to develop an online training learning management system for emergency medical service (EMS) providers to provide education on time critical care conditions. The intended audiences include first responders and EMS providers in and around Minnesota. See Article Here

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Scott Nevers, Maine

It was the hottest day of the summer—July 27, 2013. Scott had just finished up a few days of golf at Sugarloaf and was playing in a double-header softball game in Saco. Scott looped a single. The next batter hit the ball hard and Scott headed for home. After scoring, he said he did not feel well and went behind the dugout. Then, the 27 year old went down. 9-1-1 was called but since Scott had a pulse and was convulsing, his teammates thought he was having a seizure so no one administered CPR. Luckily for Scott, EMTs arrived in 5 minutes, recognized a sudden cardiac arrest and immediately began CPR and used their AED. They worked on him for 45 minutes in the field—shocked him 19 times and finally got enough of a pulse to get him to the local hospital. The local hospital was able to stabilize him and he was transported to Maine Medical Center where he was put into a coma to protect brain function. After a few failed attempts, they were able to bring him out of a coma after a few days and implant an

Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD). It took longer for his short term memory to return, but after a few days he could go home. Due to the memory loss and his healing body, Scott, who worked for Hannaford, was out of work for 3 months.

Twelve years earlier, Scott was a typical, athletic high school student. One day, during hockey practice, he had palpitations. He said something to his mom and she took him to his doctor, Dr. Linda Sanborn. The next day he wore a monitor during practice. The palpitations happened again and he was told "no more hockey". After further tests, it was determined that he had ventricular tachycardia. It was recommended that he get an ICD or limit his physical activity. Scott was worried about the ICD going off accidentally (he was told it would feel like a horse kicking him in the chest), so he opted to limit his physical activity. He could still play baseball, but could not do the full work outs. Hockey was not an option. Scott could also continue playing golf—something he continues to this day.

Scott’s ICD has gone off once, and yes it did feel like a horse kicking him in the chest, but it most likely saved his life. Luckily, this time, he listened to a co-worker, friend and fellow survivor and opted for the implant. Through all of his trials, Scott has found a new purpose—sharing his story in order to save lives. Scott has told his story at countless venues around the state for the American Heart Association—and is helping push for legislation that would require all Maine high school students learn CPR. He even went to Las Vegas to speak on behalf of the company who made his AED.

So, if you meet Scott on one of Maine’s many beautiful golf courses, or as he drives around the state for his new beer and wine distributing venture, please say hello and thank him for all he does for the American Heart Association.

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