American Heart Association - You’re the Cure

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The 2014 Salt Lake City Heart & Stroke Walk & Run is Just Around the Corner

The Utah Heart and Stroke Walk & Run raises awareness and funds for the life-saving mission of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. Join us as we celebrate healthy lifestyles and honor those who have fought heart disease and stroke. This year we are celebrating September 20th at Sugarhouse Park.

But we need your help! Bring your energy, your passion and your stories. There are lots of ways to get involved:


  • Register your Community Team! There’s still time to recruit friends and family to walk with you and raise money for a great cause. Get started today!
  • Volunteer at the event! Dozens of volunteers are needed each year to set-up, cheer on walkers, and hand out water.

While you’re there, please don’t forget to stop by the Advocacy booth to sign a postcard in support of life-saving legislation.

If you have questions about any of our event volunteer opportunities, please contact the Heart and Stroke Walk & Run 5k Team at (801) 702-4420 or email Amelia O’Neill at

This year’s walk promises to be an inspiring and exciting event.  We hope you’ll join us!

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Back to School - Join Us As We Advocate for Healthy Policies for Our Children

written by Marc Watterson, Government Relations Director, Utah

Like many of you, I look forward to the fall season! Truth be told I’m not a huge fan of the heat and I have always loved Utah’s cooler fall climate. Fall brings with it many wonderful things – the excitement of professional, college, and high school football, little-league soccer, shopping sales, and the beginning of a new school year.

This year was a completely new one for me as a parent as our oldest daughter began kindergarten! It was a bittersweet moment as we helped her get ready that first morning and watched her board the bus for her first day of school. Her excitement was contagious as she anxiously got to her seat and began waving to us through the school bus window. We continued to wave as the bus pulled down the street and out of sight.

I can only imagine how many times this same scene played out across the state as many of you watched children or grandchildren leave for school.

As parents – or even relatives – to these young children, we want the very best for them. We want them to grow up in a world full of opportunities, where they can fulfill their dreams and aspirations. Whatever the situation, wherever they might be, we want to make sure that children are provided with the best, and safest, environment possible.

This became very apparent to me this past year as – like many of you – we heard tragic stories of young children who were hurt or killed on their way to and from school. The stories pull at our heartstrings as we realize how important safe routes to school are and just how fragile life can be. It is the recognition of the importance of life that fuels us as advocates for the American Heart Association. Together, we have done amazing things!

Just last year we rallied together to encourage the Department of Health to create a new recognition system that identifies those hospitals in the state who strive for the very best in patient care when it comes to treating those who suffer a stroke. Many of you joined with us at the state capitol for our annual Heart on the Hill day where we successfully lobbied our state legislators to restore funding to the CPR and AED in Schools Training Program. Because of you, every sophomore in Utah will have the chance to be trained in CPR and how to use an AED as part of their Health class! Together, we have laid the framework that will help create a generation of lifesavers for years to come!

And while it would be easy to sit back and count our victories, there is still so much more that can be done here in Utah. This year, we set our sights on improving the health of all Utahns – especially our children.

The American Heart Association|American Stroke Association is teaming up with the Utah Department of Transportation to encourage our state and local elected officials to ensure our children have a healthier, more walkable pathway to school. We are asking all of you to join us as we encourage policymakers to increase funding for the state’s Safe Routes to School program. This program provides funding for schools and local cities to come together and identify areas of need in their communities. The Safe Routes to School program helps improve sidewalks, create crosswalks, and provide signage that help to keep kids and drivers safe. The AHA|ASA supports the funding of this program because of the potential safety and health impact this could have on our children and communities – all in the goal of improving the cardiovascular health of all Americans!

As part of our efforts we will be hosting a booth at our upcoming Heart|Stroke Walk & Run 5K. We would love to have you stop by and sign a postcard in support of the Safe Routes to School program. We will be delivering these postcards to policymakers across the state! You can also click here to volunteer to help us at the event as we work to raise awareness of this issue amongst the thousands of Heart|Stroke Walk attendees!

As parents and those concerned about the children in our community we have many things that we worry about with our children; the last thing we should have to worry about is if our children have a safe route to travel to school. Please support us as we strive to create healthier, more walkable communities throughout the state!

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Knowing CPR Saved My Son

A lifesaving event retold by Kristy Stoner, UT

In June 2014, my friend Erin and I planned a pool day together as we decided we would spend the afternoon together at her private community pool, where we could eat lunch and chat while the kids could swim. We both have 4 kids all under the age of 8. The day went pretty much as expected, perfect weather, kids got along and we were having a great time.

Towards the end of the day, I had a distinct thought “It’s quiet…” and in a home of 4 boys, quiet is NEVER a good thing, unless they are sleeping. I looked over and noticed only 3 boys, off to the side of the pool. And, after a quick scan of the pool I said “Where’s Max?” Almost immediately Erin yelled, “Kristy! He’s in the water!” I had noticed in the middle of the deep end a small, slightly darker area, all the way at the bottom. My heart dropped when I realized that tiny, hard to see figure was in fact my little boy’s body. What else could it be?!

I knew I had to get him out and I had to do it fast! All in a matter of seconds Erin had taken my 8 month old baby, Harry, from my arms and I jumped in the pool.  Mid jump I remember noticing how calm the water was. There were no signs of struggle on the water. Then I noticed his body-hunched over in an upside down U position, with his arms hanging down and his back at the highest point just like in the movies.

Once I grabbed him and made my way to the side of the pool, Erin called 911. When I got to the side, I tried to throw his body out, but again, I was brutally disappointed when I realized how heavy his lifeless body was.

Once I got him out of the water, I rolled him onto his back, I then realized the color, or lack thereof, of his face. His face, lips, and eyelids were completely bluish grey. All I remember thinking was, "Time to make him breathe.” So I took a large settling breath and proceeded with CPR techniques I learned 10 years ago!

I'm not sure how long I was working on him, we guess it was about 2 minutes, but I remember noticing when I would breathe for him, the color would come back to his face a little at a time.  At one point, Max's eyes flickered a little and I remember the sense of gratitude that rushed over me at that moment. Then all at once, his eyes opened as wide as they could possibly go. He tried to breathe, but he still couldn't, so I breathed for him a couple more times and then set him up to try and get him to breathe on his own!!

I could hear the water inside of his breath so Erin handed me the phone to talk to the 911 dispatcher. The dispatcher wanted me to calm him down, so his body would be able to throw up the remaining water in his lungs. Eventually, he threw up. It was 99% water.

The EMT's arrived a few moments later and started checking him. I'm so glad they brought a fire truck too, because that made Max happy and helped to cheer him up. He talks about it now when he tells the story. How he got to see a fire truck up close and ride in an ambulance!

In the ambulance, Max didn't want to talk much, but he did provide his explanation of events:  "I was swimming on the red floaty, my arms slipped off. I tried doing my scoops (swim strokes), got tired and then I sinked!” Once they knew he was stable they let him go to sleep.

At the hospital, I answered a lot of questions, but am still surprised how many people wanted to know "What did you do?" "How did you do it?" "How long did you do it?" Everyone was so encouraging, so positive, and so sweet to me. I consistently heard "Good job mom! You saved his life!"

Eventually, I was able to talk to the RN watching over Max. He told me "how lucky we were," and I asked him with a drowning like ours, what were the chances of full recovery. He replied with "It is a miracle he is alive." Alive?! A miracle that maybe he didn't have water in his lungs or any noticeable long-term damage, yes, but, a miracle he was alive? Really? Why wouldn't he be? I sat and thought about that for quite a while. Maybe I did do something right. Maybe, just maybe I did save his life! I had no idea! We later asked the doctor why people don't do CPR and the doctor said "either fear, panic, fear of doing something wrong and causing more problems, or the fact that it's gross." We were shocked! But, more importantly, I was so happy that the idea of not doing CPR had never even crossed my mind.

Truth is that 80% of sudden cardiac arrests (when the heart suddenly stops) happen out of a hospital setting, while only 40% of those victims receive CPR on the spot before EMT's arrive and only about 10% of sudden cardiac arrest victims survive the event.

Since the incident Max has made a full recovery; he even persuaded me to let him swim the NEXT DAY!! My lasting thoughts are that we cannot watch our kids 100% of the time. We can’t. We need to teach them to be smart and how to protect themselves. As parents, we also need to be prepared. Be prepared on how to respond in an emergency situation, learn CPR and first aid training that could save the life of a loved one!

If you want to refresh your knowledge of CPR techniques, please visit here.

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Mark Your Calendar for the EmpowerMEnt Challenge!

We’re gearing up for National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month and we want you to be in on all of the action!  Throughout September, we’re encouraging families across the country to take control of their healthy by participating in the EmpowerMEnt Challenge.  Each week, families and kids will pursue a different goal, including eating more fruits and veggies, limiting sugary drinks, reducing sodium intake, and increasing physical activity.  Each goal is fun, simple, won’t break the bank and can be done as a family.  And by the end of the month, families will be a step ahead on the road to a heart-healthy life. 

So mark your calendar for the challenge kick-off on September 1st!  Complimentary templates and activities, broken down into the themed weeks, are now available on  In addition, you're invited to join our EmpowerMEnt Challenge Facebook group, where you can make the commitment to take the challenge and share your progress with others.  

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Have a Heart Healthy Summer

Guest Blogger: Kami Sutton, Grassroots Advocacy Coordinator

Happy Summer, You’re the Cure Advocates! As the temperatures are rising and we are all preparing for the fun activities of summertime, I thought I would share with you my favorite low sodium summertime recipe! As a congenital heart defect survivor and someone who is in a constant battle against Congestive Heart Failure, I have learned how to eat a healthy low sodium diet.

Even for healthy hearts it is important to eat a well-balanced diet to prevent heart disease and that includes a diet low in sodium and processed foods. Choose and prepare foods with little or no salt. To lower blood pressure, aim to eat no more than 2,400 milligrams of sodium per day. Reducing daily intake to 1,500 mg is desirable because it can lower blood pressure even further.

With that in mind I present to you a delicious low sodium recipe to take to your next summer picnic or BBQ!

Black Bean Salad (or Salsa)

6 servings


About $0.84 per serving


1 15.5-ounce can no-salt-added or low-sodium black beans, drained

1 15-ounce can no-salt added or low-sodium kernel corn, drained or ¾ cup frozen corn, thawed

1 medium red bell pepper or 1 tomato diced

1/2 cup red onion, diced

1 teaspoon minced garlic from jar

2 tablespoon chopped cilantro

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

3 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

Juice of 1 lime


Toss all together, chill at least one hour.

TIP: Serve this as a side salad to a meal or warm in microwave and use as a filling for tacos!

For nutrition facts and links to more healthy recipes, visit:

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Think Fast: Utah is the 18th State to Do What?

Utah has become the 18th state to require high school students to take CPR training, adding to the more than one million graduates Nationwide who will be equipped with this lifesaving skill every year.

Gov. Gary Herbert signed legislation into law in April that allocated $200,000 a year for hands-on CPR and automated external defibrillator training in high schools. A new provision of the legislation, formalized this month, requires students to receive CPR and AED training in 10th grade health class beginning in the 2014-2015 school year. That means nearly 35,000 sophomores will learn CPR techniques every year.

The American Heart Association encouraged lawmakers to include the training requirement, and worked closely with the Utah Department of Health, the State Office of Education, and the Utah Parent Teachers Association to make this happen.

Requiring CPR and automated external defibrillator training in high school is important.  A sudden cardiac arrest may strike at any time and bystander CPR can double or triple survival rates from cardiac arrest. Of the roughly 424,000 Americans who have a cardiac arrest outside of the hospital each year, only 40 percent get CPR from a bystander and only about 10 percent of these victims survive the event.

Utah joins 17 other states with CPR graduation laws: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia and Washington.

For the full story, please visit here.

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What are you actually drinking?

We all know that certain drinks have sugar in them but do you really know how much? Sometimes drinks that we think are healthy for us have sugar added and we don't realize it unless we read the label. This graphic from the Center for Science in the Public Interest illustrates how much sugar is in some of the most commonly consumed beverages. Make sure you know what you are drinking during these hot summer months. And remember a glass of cold water is not only refreshing but it is sugar free!

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Recap of CPR and AED Awareness Efforts in Utah

Guest Bloggers: Utah Division Board President Lilian Khor and Board Chair Bob Cash

With CPR and AED Awareness Week (June 1-7) recently passed, the American Heart Association would like to congratulate the Utah Legislature and Governor Gary Herbert for their efforts to save Utahns from the devastating effects of cardiovascular disease. This year the state legislature restored funding to the CPR Training Program in high schools. This funding will give teachers the resources they need to ensure our children are trained in this lifesaving technique before they graduate from high school. All Utah high school students will have access to CPR training as part of their curriculum for Health.

Do you know CPR? Learn Hands-Only CPR in less than two minutes here!

The funding will also go towards training students in the use of an automated external defibrillator (AED). In recent years, the Legislature has appropriated funds to help schools and districts place AEDs in their buildings. The response to these funds has been tremendous and the placement of these devices and the potential for saving lives is substantial. Equipping our children with the knowledge of how to perform CPR and use an AED will train a new generation of lifesavers that will be equipped with the knowledge to intervene if the situation arises and make a significant impact in their community.

Sudden cardiac arrest is the leading cause of death in the United States, claiming over 360,000 lives each year. While 80 percent of sudden cardiac arrests occur outside of a care facility, effective bystander CPR can double or even triple the chance of survival for a sudden cardiac arrest victim. Immediate CPR from someone nearby often means the difference between life and death. Currently, less than one-third of victims receive CPR.

During this past legislative session, both the House and Senate had an opportunity to honor individuals across Utah who used CPR to save the life of someone in the community. Many of these individuals learned CPR in their teenage years and were able to recall that knowledge when an emergency arose. The Legislature honored individuals like Ryan Fowles, a student at SUU who helped save the life of Professor Joe Baker when he suffered a heart attack; and Scott Hunt, an employee at VLCM who helped save the life of fellow employee Kent Carothers when he suffered a heart attack in their office warehouse. These “heroes”, and many others across Utah, were honored for their lifesaving work as “Heart Savers” in our community. 

The American Heart Association is working diligently to reach a bold goal: “By 2020, to improve the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20 percent while reducing deaths from cardiovascular diseases and stroke by 20 percent.” The Utah Legislature’s support will undoubtedly help decrease the mortality rate for sudden cardiac arrest victims and is a critical step towards meeting this goal. We express our sincere gratitude to the Legislature for their efforts to save lives.

Please visit here to see the full article in the Salt Lake Tribune.

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Declaring May as Stroke Month --- To Do or Not To Do?!

Guest Blogger: Christie Thompson, RN, MSN, Utah

I have been a member of the Utah Stroke Task Force since 2006. Often times, the Government Relations Director, Marc Watterson, has challenged the members to get involved in legislative issues surrounding stroke and heart disease, as well as reaching out to local government officials to recognize and increase stroke awareness.

I am not one for politics --- in no way, shape, or form! So, you can imagine that as I sat in the April Utah Stroke Task Force meeting, I pretty much decided to block the invitation from Marc from my mind to reach out to my local governing bodies, requesting that they honor the month of May to be declared as Stroke Month.

However, as I left the meeting that day - and in the days following - I continued to think about the request for spreading the message about stroke. I sort of felt a responsibility and a duty as a Stroke Coordinator to reach out; after all, who else was going to do it?! Whenever I know I should do something, but I don’t want to do it, I get that sort of sick, nervous, butterfly feeling in the pit of my stomach. Well, that is just how I felt!

Remember, I don’t care much for politics and I really didn’t want to get involved. It all seemed very scary to me and I didn’t know where to start, who to talk to, or what to say --- the list of excuses goes on and on. As I thought about it more, I convinced myself that it really couldn’t be that hard to do. And, it also dawned on me that this could be a very easy and inexpensive opportunity for educating the community about stroke awareness and prevention.

So, I began typing an email requesting help from Marc. He was very helpful and sent me an email with clear-cut instructions on how to request a spot on the agenda at the different council meetings.

Guess what I found out?! It was easy! I emailed my agenda request and the language for the Stroke Proclamation to my city and county councils. I received email confirmations about the agenda request and information about where and when the council meetings would take place. Then, I showed up. The government leaders seemed very pleased and happy to have me and my colleagues there at their meetings. As the proclamation was read, you could tell that they understood the importance of our request and unanimously voted to declare May 2014 as Stroke Month!

Declaring May as Stroke Month --- To Do or Not To Do?! It is a definite TO DO! Most government leaders may not even think about declaring May as Stroke Month, so it’s up to us to get out there and DO IT!

Maybe it’s not Stroke Month that you want recognized by government officials, but whatever it is, I’ve discovered that it’s really not as scary as I once thought, especially with the support and guidance of a supportive and encouraging Advocacy Director.

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May is Stroke Month: Act FAST!!!

Guest Blogger: Marc Watterson, Government Relations Director, Utah

FAST – can you name the warning signs or symptoms of a stroke?

If you’re like nearly one third of all Americans, the answer is no. Fortunately, the acronym FAST contains the answer:

  • Face droopiness, numbness and weakness
  • Arm numbness and weakness
  • Slurred speech or trouble speaking or understanding
  • Time to call 911 if these or other symptoms occur

Thankfully, You’re The Cure volunteers, like yourself, generally have a strong desire to get involved with their community in raising awareness for heart and stroke related issues.  Right now, volunteers from across Utah are hard at work to bring awareness of stroke signs and symptoms to their local communities!

For example, Bob Cash, Chairman of the local Board of Directors for the American Heart Association|American Stroke Association has been working with Lehi City Mayor Bert Wilson and the City Council to adopt an AHA|ASA approved Stroke Month Proclamation which will see that Lehi recognize May 2014 as American Stroke Month!

Les Chatelain, another member of our Board of Directors, has succeeded in receiving the support of Holladay City to formally proclaim May as National Stroke Awareness Month.

And Chrisi Thompson, a Stroke Program Coordinator with IHC in northern Utah, will be meeting with both Ogden City and Box Elder County next week to do the same!

In Salt Lake our local AHA|ASA staff has worked with the state and recently received the Governor’s support in declaring May 2014 as Stroke Month in Utah, encouraging all Utahns to be familiar with potential risk factors for stroke and learn the FAST signs and symptoms of a stroke.

These are just a few of the amazing activities that are going on right now, but there is still so much more that can be done! While one key to beating stroke is to avoid it by knowing the risk factors (high blood pressure, sedentary lifestyle, obesity, family history, etc.), another relatively unknown key to effectively treating stroke is to get to the hospital as soon as possible! This is not one of those “I’ll see if I feel better tomorrow” kind of things – time lost is brain loss! A delayed time in treatment can lead to irreparable damage to the brain and even death! That is why we encourage everyone to do their part in raising awareness of stroke warning signs and symptoms during this critical month.

Take a moment to brainstorm ideas that you can do to help promote knowledge of FAST within your family, group of friends, and neighbors. Talk to your kids about it after school, bring it up in the office and discuss it with your co-workers, or even talk to your local congregation about posting the FAST signs and symptoms on a church bulletin board.

Whatever it is that you do, let us know about it! We would love to hear all your amazing stories of raising awareness in your community – all in the hopes of saving someone’s life! Also, please let me know if you would like a copy of the Stroke Month Proclamations that cities are adopting. We would love to have you do your part so that your city or town is the next one to take action!

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