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Will you advocate for stroke victims?

The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association will be holding our first ever Stroke Awareness Advocacy Day in Albany on May 27th to raise awareness of stroke.  ASA will set-up meetings and provide a training for all.  Participants will then meet with lawmakers and staff to discuss:

  • Stroke Incidence and Mortality
  • Stroke Disparities
  • Stroke Warning Signs and Treatment                   

If you would like to attend, register here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/T6GGPZX

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New Leadership in Albany

This week we saw a major shift in leadership at the state's Capitol. Senator Dean Skelos stepped down as New York State Senate Majority Leader amidst rising pressure from lawmakers and good government groups.

New York State Senator John Flanagan was selected by his colleagues as the new Senate Majority Leader.  Senator Flanagan was first elected to represent part of Suffolk County in 2002.  Prior to serving in the Senate, he served for 16 years in the New York State Assembly.  The American Heart Association worked closely with Senator Flanagan in our efforts to get students trained in CPR prior to graduation.  And we look forward to working with him to combat heart disease and stroke, the state's No. 1 and No. 5 killer of New Yorkers.

Please join us in welcoming Senator Flanagan to his new position and ask him to help in the fight against heart disease and stroke by clicking below:

http://yourethecure.org/aha/advocacy/composeletters.aspx?AlertID=36732

 

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#StepUp4HeartHealth

Hundreds of You’re the Cure advocates are in Washington, D.C. today!   And we have a great group of NYers making the trip!  So what's everyone talking about?

Advocates will be telling lawmakers to support healthy school meals - Kids don't need junk food in schools. 

And we'll also be fighting for funding for medical research - it has the power to save lives.

You can help our advocates gathered in Washington, D.C. today in delivering a strong message to Congress – we can’t afford cuts to National Institutes of Health research. Take action here: http://p2a.co/9aEU5aY

Lets all #StepUp4HeartHealth

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A Winning Game for School Lunches and Research Funding!

At You’re the Cure on the Hill 2015, more than 380 AHA advocates and staff from all 50 states, plus DC —and thousands more back home—stepped up to the plate for healthy school lunches and medical research funding. This year, our Hill day theme was built off the great American game of baseball, something that could resonate with advocates and lawmakers alike and give them a rallying cry for the event: Step Up to the Plate! It was an invitation from advocates to lawmakers, asking them to get off the bench and into the game. And they knocked it out of the park.

It was one of our most exciting days on the Hill with a combination of passionate advocates meeting face-to-face with their lawmakers and thousands of supportive voices from around the country who backed them up with phone calls, emails, tweets and Facebook posts. Together, our voices hit a home run for healthy school meals and heart and stroke research funding.

Advocates conducted 293 meetings with lawmakers, asking them to protect the progress made by the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act and support school nutrition standards. At the same time, advocates asked lawmakers to make heart disease and stroke research a national priority by increasing the budget of the National Institutes of Health.

Meanwhile, advocates back home around the country jumped in as pinch hitters to call and email their members of Congress and ask them to Step Up to the Plate. Capitol Hill received over 6,218 messages from constituents back home.

Throughout the day, we had so many all-star advocates who made the views, passions and needs of constituents known to their lawmakers in new and compelling ways. On top of that, we had two Congressional Award Winners who rounded out the team: Sen. Crapo (R-ID) and Sen. Mikulski (D-MD). They received the American Heart Association’s National Public Service Award, which has been granted biennially since 1982 to members of Congress who have actively promoted our mission. We are so thrilled to have their support!

Below is a snapshot of our day!

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Pulse Oximetry is Two Years Old!

While to some, May 8 may just seem like any other day – to North Carolina advocates, this is a day to celebrate an anniversary. On May 8, 2013, the Pulse Oximetry bill was signed into law by Governor McCrory.

Even though the policy journey is never easy, knowing that lives will be saved make it all worthwhile.

Valerie King, NC Advocacy Coordinating Committee member, YTC advocate – and most importantly, mom to 7 year old Greta who, shown here, was born with a congenital heart defect, shared her thoughts on this two year anniversary: "The Pulse Ox bill was not the easiest to convince our legislators to work for but we have some persuasive stories. These little heroes go through so much in their small lives how can we not fight for them?  Two years ago today, 2 dear friends and parents of CHD warriors got to stand with Gov. McCrory and watch him sign this bill into law. I have spoken to a number of families that are thankful for the work that was put forth by a wonderful team. I am simply proud to have been a part of it, and have the opportunity to know that these babies will have a better chance of survival by these defects being detected sooner!"

Kathryn Rose, another NC resident and parent, wants others to know how much of a difference this law has made in her life and to her family: "Even after having great prenatal care, high-tech ultrasounds, an uneventful delivery and perfect newborn assessment, our son had absolutely no sign of health concerns. He was a healthy baby boy ready to go home after twenty-four hours, but the pulse oximetry test results sent him to the NICU. … This simple pulse oximetry check bought him time to grow a little stronger and gave the doctors two days to observe all of his little parts. Thanks to this legislation, more North Carolina newborns with heart defects will be identified early and interventions started under the care of great medical staff. Our son has had a chance to grow up into a strong and courageous toddler!"

While at times the policy process can seem long and drawn out, as we celebrate May 8th all across North Carolina, we want to take this opportunity to thank our advocates for helping us save lives. Your advocacy is making a difference. Thank you for being a lifesaver.

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Evidence Shows Stroke System Working on Hemorrhagic Strokes

Check out this great article from the AHA / ASA Newsroom, our Stroke System work is so focused around ischemic stroke (because it’s more common), but the evidence is starting to show that the same approach improves outcomes for hemorrhagic strokes too.

People with hemorrhagic strokes (brain bleeds) are more likely to survive if they are treated at a comprehensive stroke center, according to research published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Hemorrhagic strokes, which account for about 13 percent of all strokes, are caused when a weakened blood vessel in the brain ruptures and bleeds in the surrounding brain.  Comprehensive stroke centers typically have the specialists and trained personnel to deal with patients with these ruptures or other types of bleeding in the brain.  They also can provide neurological intensive care and 24-hour access to neurosurgery.  The American Heart Association, in conjunction with the Joint Commission, accredits Comprehensive Stroke Centers that meet standards to treat the most complex stroke cases.

" Clinicians, especially emergency-room physicians, need to be aware of the severity and potential implications of hemorrhagic stroke and try to transfer patients to the hospital most capable of providing the full complement of care.  When a person is diagnosed with a hemorrhagic stroke, loved-ones should ask about the possibility of a transfer, " said James S. McKinney, M.D., lead author and assistant professor of neurology at the Rutgers-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Continue reading here

 

 

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Thank You for Everything You Do!

It’s National Volunteer Appreciation Week this week (April 12 – 16) – and with that thought on our minds, we wanted to tell you how much we appreciate you, and all that you do for You’re the Cure initiatives all across the East Coast.

We appreciate every single alert response, every call, every visit you have made to your lawmakers and elected officials. We appreciate you joining us in conference rooms across our division as we train you on different state policies and how to be an engaged advocate. We appreciate those who serve on our Advocacy Committees, putting in long hours in meetings and on calls as you help us shape our grassroots plans.

We appreciate you, and we appreciate your time and all you do as a partner of the American Heart Association. In case you ever forget, every little thing – both large and small – makes a difference!

Every Little Thing you do

as a You’re the Cure advocate helps,

and we appreciate you!

 THANK YOU for all you do.

Just a note: If you haven't joined our advocacy network yet, it's never too late! Just visit us at www.yourethecure.org and become a You're the Cure member. It only takes a few moments to sign up, but you'll help make a difference that will last through the years!

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We Haven't Given Up on Healthy Utah

Guest Blogger: Marc Watterson, Utah Government Relations Director 

The 2015 Legislative Session has finally come to end and while there are important issues that have yet to be resolved, we can be proud of the efforts we have engaged in and the results we were able to see.

Top of mind for many people the past few months has been the status of Healthy Utah. In the years I have spent following and being a part of the political scene here in Utah I have never witnessed a more important – yet politically galvanizing – issue as this. And while the result at the end of session was not what any of us were hoping for (nothing was passed) the important thing is that this issue is far from over. As long as the “coverage gap” continues to exist there will be a need to help those who most need affordable access to healthcare.

Over the next 4 months a group comprised of Governor Herbert, Lt. Governor Cox, Senate President Niederhauser, Speaker Hughes, Senator Shiozawa, and Representative Dunnigan will hammer out the details of a compromise that will address the “coverage gap” here in Utah. I am hopeful that by the end of this summer we will have a bill passed by the legislature that finds the delicate balance between providing for those Utahns who are in need while ensuring that our financial obligations are taken care of now and into the future.

A bright spot this legislative session was a bill that we hadn’t reported on before. Early in the session Senator Vickers proposed and ultimately passed legislation that dealt with the construction of new schools here in the state. I was drawn to this legislation in light of the work we have been doing with UDOT’s Safe Routes to School program. They indicated that they receive many applications each year from schools asking for financial help with infrastructure projects around their schools (sidewalks, crosswalks, safety zones, etc.).

A surprisingly large amount of these applications actually come from newer schools because they had failed to adequately prepare for the pedestrian traffic coming in and out of the schools and surrounding neighborhoods. The legislation passed by Senator Vickers ensures that all proposed school construction projects must plan for pedestrian traffic around these schools before they open their doors on the first day of school. Our hope is that the pre-construction planning will ensure new schools are built with the school child in mind – both in the classroom and as they travel to and from school each day!

Lastly, but certainly not least is an update on E-cigarette legislation we have been working with Representative Paul Ray on for the past few years. I am happy to announce that after years of working on this issue the state legislature unanimously passed legislation that ensures that e-cigarettes are now treated like other tobacco products here in the state. That means that those that create and/or sell e-cigarettes will now have to obtain a tobacco license. This will ensure that existing laws regarding youth access will be better enforced and will also ensure that manufactures and retailers meet high quality control standards for how these products are made and where they are sold. The ultimate aim of this legislation was to ensure that Utah’s existing laws restricting these products from minors was strengthened. I am happy to announce that this legislation met that goal!

I express my sincerest thanks to those of you who have helped us in our advocacy efforts this session and throughout the years. With your help we are well on our way toward our 2020 goal of improving the health of all Americans by 20% while reducing deaths from cardiovascular diseases and stroke by 20%. As always, for heart disease and stroke in the state of Utah, You’re the Cure!

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If You Build It, They Will Come: Relationships with Lawmakers

There’s a saying often used when referencing the act of sales which can also be applied to advocacy: It all comes down to relationships.

As an advocate, building relationships with elected officials is the number one way you can ensure that lawmakers across your state are educated on the issues most important to you. You’re the Cure advocates are given opportunities to strengthen their skills at building relationships with decision makers through the various advocacy activities offered while promoting AHA’s policy goals.

One key to building relationships with legislators is to understand their preferred method of receiving information. What are the best ways to reach out to them, communicate with them, and follow up with them? Sometimes, the timing of communication can be one of the more important variables. VA Delegate Christopher Peace [R – New Kent] suggests that getting in touch with him at his local office is best: "Usually, setting a meeting in my Mechanicsville District Office prior to session sets a more relaxed environment in which a citizen advocate may express to me their thoughts on issues of importance to them and about legislative matters that may arise during the impending session."

Not sure what your legislator prefers? Make a call to their legislative assistant—not only will they be able to direct you, but developing a relationship with this "gatekeeper" can also help you form a better relationship with your lawmaker!

Additionally, sometimes your elected officials will be the ones to reach out to you directly.  NC Representative Becky Carney [D-Mecklenburg] said that in her opinion, the best way to communicate with her constituents is for them to "set up a meeting to talk about the issues that people have, or their concerns.  I prefer talking with people – communicating with me through email is a great way, [including] phone numbers so that I can call them back. Personal dialogue is sometimes better than written dialogue."

Your legislators know that advocates are vital for them to keep a finger on the pulse of their communities back home.

Councilmember-At-Large David Grosso [I-District of Columbia] shared his perspective: "Advocates are a major driving force in the legislative process. They are boots on the ground and know intricately those issues that impact different populations and communities. I want to know what their specific concerns are. As a member of the legislative body, sometimes we have a 30,000 ft. view of issues, but the advocates help us to focus on the nuance and intricacies of various matters. Having that perspective is invaluable because it enables us to tailor laws and regulations to the specific needs of the communities that we serve. Through our relationship with advocates, we are able to identify the areas where we can have the greatest impact, ensuring that we are serving a wide demographic in the most effective and efficient ways possible."

Through the voice of their constituents, elected officials are in a much better position to stay updated with a focused view of what's happening in their communities.

From DC, Maryland, Virginia, and into the Carolinas, our legislative bodies may look different; however, at the end of the day we are all people, one and the same. Our elected officials have important jobs where they represent us by making decisions that ultimately affect our daily life – but their main focus is their constituents.

If you’re up to it today, we would like to challenge you to use this information and take action. Send an email, make a phone call, or schedule a time to meet with your legislator today! Your elected officials are ready and willing to get to know you and what is important to you and your community!

A special thanks to Councilmember-At-Large Grosso [I-District of Columbia], VA Delegate Christopher Peace [R – New Kent], and NC Representative Becky Carney [D-Mecklenburg] for their contributions to this piece.

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Carla Leonard Has a Second Chance...

Thanks to Louis' Law, Carla Leonard is alive and can watch her daughter grow.

As a school crisis intervention aid, Carla  had grown to hate one part of her morning routine: bumping her head on the AED situated right near her desk.   Ironically, CPR and that AED saved her life.  She was 43 when she went into sudden cardiac arrest during the morning pledge.  The school nurse quickly started CPR and used the AED.  This gave Carla  a fighting chance at survival until EMTs arrived.

Carla knows she is one of the lucky ones.   About 90% of sudden cardiac arrest victims do NOT survive.  As a survivor, Carla is now doing everything she can to help change this grim statistic.  New York put safety put by requiring schools to have AEDs.    Now, Carla has personally contacted each member of the Board of Regents to urge them to take the next step -  to require CPR and AED instruction for students.

We're getting closer...will you join Carla by contacting the Board of Regents today? 

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