American Heart Association - You’re the Cure
WELCOME! PLEASE LOGIN OR SIGN UP

LoginLogin with Facebook

Remember me Forgot Password

Be the Cure, Join Today!

  • Learn about heart-health issues
  • Meet other likeminded advocates
  • Take action and be heard
SIGN UP
A Heartfelt Thanks

Each year, we like to pause and give thanks during National Volunteer Week (April 6th-12th) for the amazing contributions of volunteers like you.  We know you have a choice when deciding which organization to dedicate your time and talents to and we’re honored you’ve chosen to contribute to the American Heart Association’s mission.  Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of getting to meet many You’re the Cure advocates in person to say ‘thanks’, but since getting together isn’t always possible, I wanted to share this special video highlighting the progress you’ve made possible.

(Please visit the site to view this video) 

You’ll see we are making strides to create smoke-free communities across the country, develop the next generation of life-savers trained in CPR, and ensure all students have healthy meal choices in schools.  The effort you’ve made to contact your lawmakers, share your story, and spread the word through your social networks have led to those successes and more. In fact, in just the last eight months, You’re the Cure advocates have helped contacted local, state, and federal lawmakers more than 140,000 times and it’s these messages that can lead to policy wins.

So take a moment to pat yourself on the back and enjoy a job well done!  I look forward to continuing our efforts to pursue policy changes that will help build healthier communities and healthier lives for all Americans. We couldn’t do it without you – thanks!

- Clarissa

Read More

Look At All We've Done

In the hustle and bustle of life, it seems there is always something that needs our attention.  Maybe it’s a lunch appointment, a meeting after work – did you remember to call your mom to wish her a happy birthday?

With so many things monopolizing our time, it begs the question: “Why do we do what we do?”  How do we choose to prioritize what gets our few free moments?  As a You’re The Cure Advocate, why do you choose to align yourself with our mission?  Do you know all that we have accomplished?

Today, we are bragging on you. Each action you have taken: every email you’ve sent to your lawmakers, every meeting you’ve attended has helped propel forward many vital pieces of legislation.  We want to tell how you’ve shaped our Mid-Atlantic Affiliate over the past few years.

Maryland:
2012 Legislative Session: tax on small cigars and all smokeless products was raised. Legislation was also passed to require insurance carriers to cover and reimburse healthcare providers for services delivered through telemedicine.
2013 Legislative Session: hospitals in MD are required to test newborns for critical congenital heart defects with pulse oximetry before they are discharged from the hospital. 
Thank you.

North Carolina:
2012 Legislative Session: required all high school seniors to be proficient in CPR in order to graduate high school.  In addition, a total of $2.7 million in non-recurring funding was secured for tobacco cessation and prevention programs. 
2013 Legislative Session: hospitals in NC are required to test newborns for critical congenital heart defects with pulse oximetry before they are discharged from the hospital.   Also signed into law was a policy that ensures designation of Primary Stroke Centers - ensuring stroke patients receive appropriate & timely care. 
Thank you.

South Carolina:
2012 Legislative Session: advocates were able to preserve $5 million for the Smoking Prevention and Cessation Trust Fund. 
2013 Legislative Session: hospitals in SC are required to test newborns for critical congenital heart defects with pulse oximetry before they are discharged from the hospital. Additionally, the Senate passed legislation requiring all high school seniors to be proficient in CPR in order to graduate high school.  This legislation is headed to the House of Representatives, and our SC advocates will be vital in ensuring this becomes law.
Thank you.

Virginia:
2012 Legislative Session: Governor McDonnell issued Executive Directive 4, developing an implementation plan for pulse oximetry tests in hospitals. The House also required the Board of Education to develop PE guidelines for public elementary and middle schools.
2013 Legislative Session: Gwyneth’s Law was signed into law.  All high school students will be required to achieve proficiency in CPR for graduation – and all teachers must be proficient in order to achieve their licensure.  The state budget allocated $400,000 for 12-lead ECG’s for EMS, which helps to diagnose the most severe type of heart attack.
Thank you.

Washington, DC:
2012 Legislative Session: the DC City Council allocated $495,000 for tobacco control programs within the Department of Health.
2013 Legislative Session: the DC Telehealth Reimbursement Act of 2013 requires all payers to reimburse services rendered by telemedicine.
Thank you.

Advocates are driving more policies in the 2014 sessions!  Some say “It takes a village to raise a child.”  With You’re The Cure, it “takes a network to make a difference.” Each and every one of you has made a difference.

Thank you for giving your heart.

 

Read More

Jodi Lemacks

Jodi Lemacks, Virginia

In June of 2003, my third child, Joshua, was born via c-section.  Diagnosed with a Critical Congenital Birth Defect (CCHD) before birth, he was immediately whisked away to the hospital next door for his first of three open heart surgeries, without me even getting a glimpse of him.  The first time I saw Joshua the next day, it was hard to see the baby beneath the tubes and wires hooked up to him.  It felt surreal, like I couldn’t possibly be looking at my own baby. 

Joshua managed to survive the first surgery, but then struggled against infections and other complications for almost two months.  My husband and I, along with Joshua’s brothers and other relatives, stood by Joshua’s crib praying that he would make it, but mostly praying that this little guy would not suffer. Then one day, Joshua turned a corner—truly a miracle—and we finally got to bring Joshua home in August; he has made it through two more open heart surgeries since then.  Today, he is a happy, healthy nine-year old who loves baseball, golf, his family and life.

This scenario would have been entirely different if Joshua had not been screened for CCHD (in his case, before birth).  Working for Mended Little Hearts, a national non-profit that helps families who have children with heart defects, I know too well the devastating consequences of lack of screening for CCHD.  I get emails, and sometimes calls, from parents of babies who died or coded because their heart defect was not caught in time, and it breaks my heart. 

Joshua’s type of heart defect is 100% fatal if not caught—usually within a couple of weeks of life.  About half of the babies with this heart defect are not caught pre-birth, so screening soon after birth becomes vital and life-saving.  There are about 10,000 babies each year born with critical congenital heart defects that, like Joshua’s, can be caught through screening.  The sooner a baby is screened, the more likely the baby will get life-saving care.

Parents are looking to their hospitals and their states to help them.  Pulse oximetry screening, now mandatory in some states, is simple, non-invasive and inexpensive.   (For more information on pulse oximetry screening in states visit www.pulseoxadvocacy.org.  This website was created by Kristine Brite McCormick who lost her baby, Cora, due to lack of screening.)  Most states already conduct newborn screening, and many are working to include pulse oximetry screening in their standard newborn screening panel.   In New Jersey, such a law saved at least one life within 24-hours of implementation.  

As of April 2014, in AHA's Mid-Atlantic Affiliate, You're the Cure advocates and Mended Little Hearts have helped make pulse oximetry screening for all newborns the standard of care in MD, VA, NC, and SC, and I am proud to have been able to support the process.

Live in VA?  Thank VA legislators for making this happen for our littlest citizens and their families!

 

Read More

Celebrating Big Win for Babies

These are exciting times in VA!  Governor McAuliffe has signed House Bill 387 and Senate Bill 183 into law, and pulse oximetry screening of all newborns will soon be the standard of care in Virginia.  This new statewide policy will guarantee that each newborn in Virginia is tested for Critical Congenital Heart Defects (CCHD), and that the testing is done in a consistent, scientifically proven manner.

Newborns whose CCHDs go undetected can be discharged from the hospital before their condition is identified and treated. These infants are at risk for serious complications within the first few days or weeks of life, and often require emergency care.

New research suggests that when all infants are screened using pulse oximetry in conjunction with routine practices, CCHD can be detected in over 90% of babies. When identified, these babies can be seen by specialists and receive care to prevent death or disability.

Please take a moment to thank the Commonwealth’s elected officials for unanimously acting to help to save the lives and protect the health of all newborns in Virginia.

See a lucky baby and his mom in the news about this issue on CBS affiliate WUSA9 Feb 21, 2014. 

Read More

Advocates and Legislators Support Breanna’s CPR Bill at MD Lobby Day

The American Heart Association, the Maryland Women’s Legislative Caucus, and the American College of Cardiology hosted our 2014 Maryland Legislative Event and Lobby Day on February 6th in the House Building in Annapolis. It was a very successful event and greatly appreciated by all those who attended.

More than 145 legislators and staff attended the legislative heart healthy event where they were offered CPR training, a heart healthy breakfast, screening by Dare to Care, and health consulting by the American College of Cardiology. Over 30 You’re the Cure advocates attended the event and met with their legislators.

The focus of this year’s lobby day was Breanna’s Bill, which proposes making CPR training a high school graduation requirement. The bill is named after Breanna Sudano, a sixteen-year-old girl from Perry Hall, Maryland. Three years ago, Breanna went into cardiac arrest after playing field hockey. Her coaches and a few parents at the game saved her life by performing CPR until the paramedics arrived.  Breanna and her mom have lobbied strongly for this bill.

A Virginia couple helped too. The Griffin’s lost their twelve-year-old daughter, Gwyneth, in 2012 when she went into cardiac arrest and suffered severe brain damage because she did not receive CPR until medical personnel arrived. Last year, the Griffin’s helped to introduce and pass a similar law, Gwyneth’s Law, in Virginia.  Through their loss, they have committed to helping the AHA in passing similar laws across the nation and were ready to share their story in Annapolis.

The legislative event and lobby day received substantial news coverage. A number of media stations, including WBAL-TV 11, ABC2, WUSA 9 DC, WJLA TV ABC7, Associated Press, 99.1 News Radio, Capital News Service, and WPOC, attended the press conference. Their stories and clips from the press conference can be viewed at: WBAL-TV 11 – Baltimore News, ABC2 News – Baltimore, WUSA 9 DC, and WJLA TV ABC7 News DC.

Our many partners helped make this event possible including: the Maryland Women’s Legislative Caucus, the American College of Cardiology, the Chesapeake Training Center and Baltimore County Fire Department which provided CPR training for the legislators and advocates, The Medicine Company which generously provided CPR Anytime Training kits for the legislators, and Dare to Care which provided on-sight cardiovascular screening. 

Click here to view photos from the event.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to the success of the event and who supported Breanna’s Bill!

(Pictured above left to right: Senator Pugh, Breanna Sudano, Rebecca Sudano)

Read More

How to Love Yourself for National Nutrition Month

If a full commitment to healthy eating seems too tough to swallow, then start with a taste test.  March is National Nutrition Month, a great time to love yourself a little more by trying some new habits that just may stick. 

Little by little, you’ll start to see a difference in how you feel and look.  And those small steps can lead to bigger payoffs.

“We know from research that being exposed to healthy food means you will develop a preference for that food over time. For example, once you become accustomed to eating lower-sodium foods, you will find that foods you used to eat taste very salty,” said Rachel K. Johnson, Ph.D., MPH, RD, chair of the American Heart Association’s nutrition committee and professor of nutrition and medicine at the University of Vermont in Burlington. “By adopting a healthier diet you will not only add years to your life but you’ll improve the quality of the years you have.”

Here are some tips to try this month, and any other time of the year: 

  • Slow down on the sodium: Did you know Americans eat more than double the daily amount of sodium recommended by the American Heart Association? Too much sodium increases your risk of heart disease, stroke and other health problems, but this excess isn’t just from salting your food. Americans get most of their sodium — 77 percent! — from processed foods. If you choose these foods, compare the labels and look for lower-sodium versions.
  • Pile on the fruits and vegetables: Choose all kinds of fruits and vegetables — fresh, frozen, canned, juiced and dried. All fruits and vegetables contain vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. Load your shopping basket with fruits and vegetables of many different colors. Then try the “slender sauté” using a small amount of liquid to cook vegetables. Need a quick, healthy weeknight dinner? Try a salad. The American Heart Association has tasty recipes packed with everything from bacon to broccoli to tofu to mushrooms and much more.
  • Get the skinny on fats: Learn how to substitute good fats (mono and polyunsaturated fats) for bad fats (saturated and trans fats). For example, try canola oil or olive oil instead of butter. Choose lean meats, poultry without skin and fish instead of fattier cuts of meats. Enjoy heart-healthy fats in moderation and remember this tip: 1 teaspoon equals 1 serving.
  • Save your waistline and your wallet by cooking at home. Cooking at home is not only a great way to make sure the ingredients that go into your recipes are healthy, but it gives you control over your portion sizes too. (Not to mention your budget.) Try using a smaller salad-size plate for your main meal instead of a big dinner plate.

“Achieving a healthy weight is essential to living well,” Johnson said. “Adding fiber-rich, low-calorie foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains will help you feel satisfied on fewer calories.”

For more healthy eating tips, recipes and a guide to products with the Heart Check mark, visit heart.org/healthyliving.

Read More

Use the Press to Push Policy Forward

 

 

 

 

 

 

The press influences people.  As You’re the Cure grassroots advocates, we need to influence people.  Put 2 and 2 together, and You’re the Cure advocates can use the press to influence people.  Let’s do it!

Here’s a down and dirty guide to pushing a policy forward through a simple letter-to-the-editor:

  • Gather American Heart Association (AHA) fact sheets on the issue.  (Ask us!)
  • Choose target publication from your area and check their guidelines and word-count limit online.
  • In the first sentence, state the need and why it’s important to the public.
  • In a new paragraph, add two or three sentences about why it’s important to you personally. 
  • In a new paragraph, include a sentence or two with supporting data from our fact sheet(s).
  • Summarize by stating what you want, what readers should do, and/or what legislators should do.
  • Check to be sure you’re within the word-count limit (just the letter itself, not the salutation and signature).
  • If you wish, send to your AHA staff contact so we can provide a little polishing.
  • Once finalized, submit online per their rules, including your full contact information.
  • Connect to tell us you’ve submitted your letter.
  • Watch for publication!  

Note: If you can reference a related recent article from the same publication in your opening it could raise the chances of getting your letter published.

That’s it!  Not complicated, but highly impactful.  Not only can we educate the public about our policy issues this way, but we can reach legislators as well.  They and their staff comb newspapers that serve their districts for relevant content.  You can even name a legislator you want to influence in your letter, so it comes up in their Google searches. 

Would you like to write a letter-to-the-editor on a current You’re the Cure issue in your area?  Ask your local American Heart Association advocacy staff for information to get you started!  

 

Read More

Kendra Meiklejohn

Kendra Meiklejohn, Virginia

My husband and I were so excited at the ultrasound to find out the sex of our second child. We had our son with us. We were joking and talking with the tech. She suddenly grew quiet. When the doctor came in and viewed the ultrasound, he was also very quiet. It didn’t really sink in until they told us, “There is something wrong with your baby’s heart.”

They couldn’t elaborate. They made an appointment for a fetal echo. We had to wait and wonder and worry for 4 days until we got her diagnosis. She had tricuspid atresia. One of her valves hadn’t formed so one ventricle didn’t develop. Without surgical intervention, most babies with this defect will not live to their first birthday.

We were terrified and worried, but also hopeful. I began to share her story to educate others. Before this time I didn’t realize that babies could have heart defects, but I learned that 1 in 100 are born with some sort of heart defect. It is the MOST common birth defect.

Iryl (rhymes with spiral) was monitored closely during my pregnancy. A birth plan was put in place for her. We toured the NICU and PICU at our hospital and we were scheduled to meet with the pediatric cardiac surgeon when Iryl decided to come early- at 34 1/2 weeks.

She was born via an emergency c-section.  She had a few other surprises for us, too. She also has sacral agenesis (no sacrum), heterotaxy (means differently arranged and usually effects the heart, intestines and spleen but can affect other visceral organs), asplenic, duodenal atresia (intestinal blockage) malrotation, pulmonary stenosis and atrial septal defect.

Despite all of this, she is amazing. She is currently 22 months and doing really well. We still check her pulse oximetry reading daily. This simple test, “pulse ox,” is what can save newborns with undetected congenital heart defects. The device is like a band aid with a light that measures the oxygen saturation. Most people have oxygen saturation near 100%. If a newborn’s is a lot lower, more testing needs to be done right away to check for critical issues.

This screening test is NON-invasive, it’s cheap and it’s quick. It can save lives. For as long as there are congenital heart defects, parents and the medical community need to do everything they can to save these kids. Pulse ox screening should be provided for every baby before going home from the hospital.

 

Read More

Learn & Share Your Post-Stroke Tips

After a stroke, even the simplest tasks can be very challenging.  Survivors often face limb weakness, numbness or paralysis, communication challenges, and difficulty with their vision.  However, we know stroke survivors and caregivers across the country are persevering and discovering new, creative ways to carry out the daily tasks they need to.  Through their recovery, they find a 'new normal' and we want to help share these helpful tips far and wide. 

That's why the American Stroke Association created a volunteer-powered library- Tips for Daily Living- to gather ideas from stroke survivors, caregivers and healthcare professionals who’ve created or discovered adaptive and often innovative ways to get things done!  For example, do you have to put up a ponytail with one hand?  Watch Karen’s video!

(Please visit the site to view this video)

Help us grow the library!  Do you have something to share that could help stroke survivors?  Share your tips by completing the online submission form at www.StrokeAssociation.org/tips.  You’ll get a FREE AHA/ASA recipe book and Stroke Solidarity String for participating!

Read More

What's on Tap for VA Session

 

 

 

 

 

  

 Happy New Year!  The new state General Assembly session (beginning Jan 8), promises to be an important one for VA citizens.  With a number of key issues expected on the docket, You’re the Cure advocates will have opportunities to help drive significant advances critical to cardiovascular diseases and stroke. 

Here’s a quick look at several policy areas already on tap:

  • Expand Critical Congenital Heart Defect Screening in Newborns – advocate to ensure that every newborn in Virginia receives a pulse oximetry screening from a birthing facility before discharge.  It’s fast, inexpensive, noninvasive, and saves babies lives.

Tell your legislators every baby deserves this life-saving diagnostic test.

  • Promote Access to Health Coverage – Support Medicaid coverage of cessation services for current tobacco users.  Virginia’s Medicaid program spends more than $401 million annually on smoking related illnesses.  Every dollar spent for Medicaid cessation results in $1.25 in savings in health care cost for the state.   

We also anticipate working on healthy food procurement in state agencies, availability of healthy foods in VA communities, and monitoring opportunities for health reform.  As always, new issues could emerge that we will engage in or follow, and we’ll keep you posted about those we need your voice on.   

Want a little more scoop?  It’s not too late to register for our short call scheduled for Friday Jan 10 from 12:30 to 1:00pm to discuss what’s unfolding for your state session.

Click here to register for the call!

Call-in information will be provided to those registered before the call. 

Take action NOW to urge support for pulse oximetry screening for babies.

 

Read More

[+] Blogs[-] Collapse