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In MA Stroke is Preventable, Treatable and Beatable

Today, October 29th is World Stroke Day, which was established to help spread public awareness of the world's high stroke risk and stroke prevalence. It is also a good time to remind our legislators why we need to create a strong stroke system of care in the Commonwealth.

While stroke is the No. 4 cause of death and leading cause of disability in the U.S., many Americans do not think of stroke as a major health concern.  We have made a lot of progress, but we still have a ways to go and need your help! If you learn and share the F.A.S.T. stroke warning signs (F-face drooping; A-arm weakness; S-speech difficulty; T-Time to call 911) with your friends and family, you may save a life, possibly yours. Why? Because spotting the warning signs and calling 9-1-1 immediately can lead to quick stroke treatment and may even save a life.

Stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is interrupted. Without oxygen‐rich blood, brain cells die. Patients should seek immediate medical treatment by dialing 9‐1‐1 at the very first sign of stroke, even if the symptoms go away.  Stroke is a leading cause of long‐term disability in the U.S. and a leading cause of preventable disability. Every 40 seconds, someone in America has a stroke. On average, every four minutes, an American dies from stroke. But we know we can stroke is preventable, treatable and beatable, with your help!

Massachusetts has a chance to be a leader in stroke by ensuring that our primary stroke service hospitals are delivering the care that they have promised to do. When we make sure that patients are getting to the hospital in quickly after having a stroke, we need to make sure that we have a strong stroke system of care.

 

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You're Invited: Join Us to Learn More About Advocacy

We have a special opportunity from the NC Alliance for Health (NCAH), our statewide coalition advocating for obesity prevention and tobacco control policy change. The American Heart Association is a proud member of the NCAH.

NC Alliance for Health Healthy Food Access Training

You are invited to an interactive training on combating obesity and other chronic diseases by increasing access to healthy foods. There will be a discussion of food insecurity in North Carolina, and the many different ways people around the state are working to increase access to healthier foods.

You will how you can help make a difference. Attendees will have an opportunity to sharpen their advocacy skills, and learn tips to be more effective with media and decision-maker advocacy.

If you have questions or would like more information, please contact Sarah Jacobson at sarah@ncallianceforhealth.org.

Thursday, November 20, 2014
12:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Location: Forsyth County Health Department
799 N. Highland Avenue, Winston-Salem, NC 27101

Lunch will be served!

Register here by Thursday, November 6!

PS: Don't forget to post pictures of what you see in your food environment on your favorite social media with the hash tag #healthyonthegoNC!

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Advocating for Heart at Texas Capitol

On September 16 more than 20 Texas advocates met at the Capitol for an American Heart Association “Advocating for Heart Day.”

The day kicked off with an informative training and inside look at the ways hospitals utilize data for quality improvement. The team then split into groups and made visits to key legislative offices, but not before taking a moment to reflect on their own “why.”

For the AHA, Life is Why. We want people to experience more of life's precious moments. It’s why we do what we do. For us – “Life is why.” For volunteer Susan Patten, “research is why.” It was the years of research that potentially saved her life a few years ago when she received an emergency angioplasty.  For Marcie Wilson, her son is why. He was saved by CPR as a two year old.  For others, their friends, family, and community are Why.

This dedicated team of volunteers visited members of the House Appropriations and Senate Finance committees to thank them for appropriating $500,000 last session for STEMI and stroke statewide data collection and to ask them to maintain the funding next session. They also shared the importance of a well-organized system of care in Texas.

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Do You Live in a HEART Safe Community?

Its Sudden Cardiac Arrest Awareness Month. Do you know if your community is HEART safe?

The HEART Safe program recognizes communities that meet specific criteria that help increase the potential for saving the lives of individuals who have sudden cardiac arrest through the use of CPR and increased public access to defibrillation.

 Congratulations to Stowe, Bennington and St. Johnsbury for already achieving this distinction.  Designation as a HEART Safe Community represents a coordinated effort by emergency medical services, fire departments, and police departments, as well as other various town departments, schools, and businesses that have committed to saving lives.

Talk to your local rescue and town officials and you can email the Vermont Office of Emergency Medical Services at mike.leyden@state.vt.us for more information. By becoming a HEART Safe Community, your town officials, and citizens will be recognized for taking the time, and making the effort to become an invaluable link in the chain of survival.

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Medical Students Turned Advocates

Peter Evans, Christina Cahill and Lana Khuong know there is more than one way to save a life. They’ve organized CPR trainings, worked on tobacco cessation counseling protocols, coordinated cardiovascular research and fundraisers, and helped create healthy living lessons for adolescents.

They’re studying to become physicians at the University of Vermont’s Medical School, but they know that passing policy can also save lives. Lana said she was eager to become a part of a movement in which the government and civilians join to promote the well-being for all. So, all three have joined the American Heart Association’s Advocacy Committee.  

And we’re glad they did. Just recently, they talked about the dangers of sugary drinks and urged volunteers at the Vermont Heart Walk to sign petitions to Vermont legislators to pass legislation improving the availability and pricing of healthy food. They had a great time doing it and are eager to help us spread the word. Go team advocacy!

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Malenda McCalister, Kentucky

Malenda McCalister Kentucky

On September 18th, more than 300 advocates from over 100 organizations gathered on Capitol Hill to rally in support of ongoing funding for medical research, and You're the Cure advocate and heart disease survivor, Malenda McCalister, was excited to be among them.

In October 2008, at just 30-years-old, Malenda's life changed forever as she collapsed on the living room floor after giving birth to her son just 10 days earlier. She was rushed to the hospital cath lab where they  discovered she had suffered from a spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD). She had a triple bypass and two stents placed, followed by 2 pacemaker/defibrillator surgeries and a lead revision surgery.

Today, Malenda (at right with singer/actress and congenital heart defect survivor, Laura Bell Bundy) is doing well, raising her two children alongside her husband, Jack, and speaking out wherever she can to raise awareness of SCAD and the need to listen to your body when you know something doesn't feel quite right. She was happy to share her story with her lawmakers on Capitol Hill to illustrate the need to adequately fund the type of research that ultimately saved her life.

Thank you Malenda, for taking time away from your family to share your story with lawmakers on Capitol Hill!

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October is Sudden Cardiac Awareness Month

Do you know the difference between a heart attack and sudden cardiac arrest? 

People often use these terms interchangeably, but they are not synonyms. A heart attack is when blood flow to the heart is blocked, and sudden cardiac arrest is when the heart malfunctions and suddenly stops beating unexpectedly. A heart attack is a “circulation” problem and sudden cardiac arrest is an “electrical” problem.  Click here to learn more about the differences!

Do you know why it is important for schools to 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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