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Emilie Singh

Emilie Singh, Virginia-District of Columbia

"When Chloe Saved Gracie’s Life"

It was a busy Sunday in 2013 and no one realized my 8 year old daughter Gracie wasn’t feeling well.  She woke up late and asked to take a bath but we told her we wanted to go to Costco first.  We went out to Costco and ran a few other errands.  June in Arizona …it was a hot day. 

When we got home Gracie again asked if she could take a bath. She’s old enough to take baths on her own, and she got it started by herself.  I was upstairs while she was in the tub for a bit, but then went downstairs to change the laundry, and I would occasionally yell “Grace are you ok?” and she would answer “yes”.  My other daughter Chloe (age 11 at the time) was in her room next to the upstairs bathroom watching a show. 

On my way back upstairs with the laundry I again yelled “Grace are you ok?”  But this time she didn’t answer.  I just had a weird feeling, I dropped the laundry, raced into the bathroom and found Gracie blue under the water not breathing.

I started screaming at the top of my lungs “Call 911, call 911!”  As I grabbed Gracie and pulled her out of the tub and put her on the floor, Chloe pushed past me and started performing CPR, pushing on her chest hard with both hands. 

By the time my husband got upstairs with the phone and 911 on the line, Gracie was coughing and spitting up water.  In a few minutes we had her on her bed, covered with a towel and there were 10 firemen and police men in her room.  She was disoriented but thank God she was breathing. 

Gracie lost consciousness so she really doesn’t remember what happened, but she has heard us talk about it.  We just call it “When Chloe Saved Gracie’s Life.”  It seems like the best way to describe the event. 

It turned out that it had been a febrile seizure because, unknown to us, she was already sick and then went into a hot bath. It just made her fever go up higher.  Gracie spent 3 days in the hospital, and Chloe didn’t want to leave her side.  

I can’t even express how grateful I am that Chloe learned CPR in her classroom.  I wish every kid would…you just never know when it could turn them into someone else’s hero.  Chloe was certainly Gracie’s.

See the family retell the gripping story here

 

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Oregon 2015 Legislative Session Wrap Up

Guest Blogger: Sarah Higginbotham

When our state leaders head to the capitol for the six month legislative session, they have a lot on their minds—not the least of which is the health of Oregonians. It’s the job of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association and our allies in public health to ensure that decision makers know the most effective ways to improve the health of all Oregonians, and how to protect them from Oregon’s number one cause of death, cardiovascular disease, and our number one cause of preventable disability, stroke.

Oregon’s 2015 Legislative Session was a busy one for the AHA and our advocates. Here are the highlights:

  • CPR in Schools Passes: The AHA and a team of remarkable advocates led the charge to make Oregon the 23rd state to pass CPR in Schools legislation. Thanks to Senate Bill 79, all Oregon students will be trained in CPR before graduating, ultimately adding over 45,000 new lifesavers across every Oregon community. Thanks to all of the Oregon Legislature for unanimously supporting CPR in Schools, and a special thanks to Sen. Arnie Roblan, Sen. Mark Hass, Rep. Carla Piluso, Rep. Margaret Doherty, and Rep. Jeff Reardon for their leadership.
  • Improvements for Oregon’s School Food: The AHA supported continuing Oregon’s legacy as a leader in school nutrition by aligning our state’s school nutrition standards with the updated federal guidelines. House Bill 2404 will help ensure kids get the healthy food they need for a healthy future.
  • Funding for Tobacco Prevention: We helped to protect $4 million for fighting the harms of tobacco in Oregon. Tobacco use remains the number one preventable cause of death in Oregon, and our tobacco prevention programs have been effective at reducing consumption.
  • Funding for Physical Education: We helped to protect $4 million for PE in schools that will help schools hire teachers and get more active minutes into their day. This generation of kids is the most inactive in history, and it’s more important than ever that schools support healthy active living.
  • Increasing Access to Health Care: We helped pass a bill, House Bill 2468, that will put Oregon’s Insurance Division to work trying to make insurance plans more transparent and to help consumers access the care they need when they need it.

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Every Idahoan Deserves Access to Affordable Healthcare

Right now in Idaho, approximately 78,000 individuals fall into what is known as the coverage gap. These are Idaho workers, veterans, and others who do not have access to affordable healthcare because they earn too much to qualify for Medicaid programs, but not enough to receive tax subsidies to purchase their own insurance. This coverage gap must be closed and that is what the Healthy Idaho Plan wants to do.

The Healthy Idaho Plan was created as a collaborative effort based on recommendations from the Governor’s Health Exchange Working Group. This consisted of a diverse array of individuals and organizations including physicians, legislators, business owners, and non-profit organizations to ensure hardworking Idahoans are able to seek care and receive the necessary services they need in order to stay healthy.

Currently, Idaho is failing to take advantage of federal dollars that could go towards covering healthcare costs, while at the same time continuing to spend millions of dollars in catastrophic and indigent care. In 2015, it is calculated that by not accepting federal dollars, Idaho forfeited $173 million in savings.  Just think of the investment we could make in Idaho’s future with that money.

Under the Healthy Idaho Plan, federal dollars would be used to help Idahoans purchase affordable health care coverage in the private insurance market, while others would gain coverage through a new Medicaid plan focused on personal responsibility and accountability. This plan saves taxpayer dollars, eliminates redundant government spending, maintains our autonomy to make healthcare decisions, and addresses our state’s needs.

The American Heart Association supports these efforts to ensure all Idahoans have access to affordable health care. If you are one of the 78,000 without access to affordable care, we want to hear from you.  If you are living in the coverage gap, we want you to share your story. You can call 1.844.HELP78K (1.877.435.7785) or visit www.closethegapidaho.org/stories. You can also join Close the Gap Idaho on Facebook, or follow on Twitter, @closethegapID, and help show your support with #78000cantwait and #healthyID.

To learn more, visit www.closethegapidaho.org. Your support of American Heart Association and our coalition partner’s efforts will help us secure affordable, accessible health care for all Idahoans.

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Critical Stroke Funding Saved!

We were able to secure $500,000 in critical funding for stroke data collection, prevention, and awareness. This is a great first step in ensuring that we are providing access to high quality of care for all stroke patients in the Commonwealth. This has not been an easy budget process and we know that if it wasn't for our dedicated advocates we would not have seen this funding included. We can't thank you all enough and look forward to continuing to work together on improving the stroke system of care in Massachusetts.

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Dana Powell

Dana Powell, Mid-Atlantic Affiliate

On January 1, 2012, our family began the year with the birth of our second son, Asa Heard Karchmer. Like all babies, Asa delivered love and wonder into our lives. But those dreams were abruptly shattered on day two of Asa’s life. We came home from Watauga Medical Center in Boone, North Carolina and very soon realized Asa was struggling to breathe. We rushed back to the ER, then a few hours later, my husband and I followed the NeoNatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) transport team as it rushed Asa to Brenner Children’s Hospital in Wake Forest, NC. In the ambulance, Asa received oxygen, IV infusions of antibiotics and antivirals for a possible infections, and prostaglandins to treat a possible cardiac condition. No one was sure what was causing our baby’s medical emergency. Asa was in a state of shock when he arrived at the NICU at 2:00am on January 3 and we were uncertain whether or not he would survive the rest of the night.

By late morning, Asa’s clinical picture started to become clearer. A pediatric cardiologist confirmed that Asa was born with a very special heart – one which, anatomically speaking, worked just fine in utero but couldn’t make the transition to this world without serious medical intervention. His diagnosis was a congenital heart defect known generally as coarctation of the aortic arch (or more specifically as an interrupted aortic arch): a severe constriction of the main artery leading from the left ventricle of the heart and delivering blood to the entire body. It is among the more common types of cardiac defects among newborns and is often accompanied by other cardiac defects (in Asa’s case, a ventricular septal defect, or VSD, and a bicuspid valve). The cardiologist explained that this particular defect was not a problem in utero where there is a bypass shunt (called the PDA) between the pulmonary artery and the aorta, connecting below the arch and the coarctation. This duct began to close a day or two after birth, as it does in all babies. Yet in Asa’s heart, as the PDA closed, the coarctation prevented blood flow to most of his body, putting him into severe crisis.

We sat anxiously for a week with Asa in the NICU, enduring what seemed like an endless battery of tests on his fragile body (spinal tap, EEG, extensive blood work, MRI, etc.) until he was stable enough for heart surgery. So when he was just one week old, Asa underwent open heart surgery to repair the coarctation and VSD. His chest was left open for four more days to accommodate internal swelling but otherwise, Asa pulled through like a superstar. A miracle. In another three weeks, he was nursing well and we finally took him home to his older brother, and friends, in the mountains where we live.

Our experience with Asa’s newborn cardiac crisis gave us emotional and spiritual resources that we would draw upon again, six months later, when he developed Infantile Spasms, a fairly rare and frequently devastating form of childhood epilepsy. Although Asa’s epilepsy remains a daily battle, he is now a lively 3 ½ year old, with a strong and caring heart. He is now the middle of three brothers, each unique, yet Asa’s more difficult journey has deepened and strengthened our own hearts, along with the hearts of everyone who knows him.

Blog content provided by Dana Powell, mother of Asa, and You’re the Cure Advocate

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Looking Back at Our Year Together!

The 2015 Legislative session in South Carolina was a lively one, allowing us to advance some vital pieces of legislation into 2016. Thank you for your advocacy efforts this session!

Senate Bill 320 & House Bill 3265: CPR in Schools
This requires all high school students to be proficient in hands-only CPR and AED as part of the already required high school health education class. The bills received favorable reports with amendments from both the House and Senate Education Committees, and each bill passed its respective body with unanimous support. However, no further action was taken once each bill passed into the opposite body.

Senate Bill 484: School Nutrition Guidelines
This ensures schools are meeting nutritional standards set by the USDA and that standards are regularly updated with USDA guidelines. It also helps parents understand how schools are meeting nutrition standards by reporting compliance in existing school health improvement plans. S 484 passed the Senate during the last week of May and will be ready for consideration by the House next year.

Send a letter to your Representative to urge them to support Senate Bill 484

Tobacco Control Funding:
We advocated during the appropriations process for an additional $6 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:
Two more communities across the state adopted smoke-free ordinances, bringing us to 60 South Carolina municipalities enjoying- smoke-free air!

As part of the You’re the Cure team, we made GREAT strides this year toward improving the lives of South Carolina citizens. We will be revisiting each of these issues in 2016 and have no doubt we will see major victories in the Palmetto State!

Thank you, sincerely, for all you do. You are our hero.

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Supreme Court Rules For the Affordable Care Act

We live in exciting times. While most of the time, the American Heart Association works with our You’re the Cure advocates on legislative issues, recently the AHA (with several other non-profit health organizations) was able to inform Americans across the country that their access to health care had been upheld by the Supreme Court through a ruling on the Affordable Care Act, directly through the court case King v Burwell.

In January, the AHA and other organizations (including the American Cancer Society & ACS Cancer Action Network, the American Diabetes Association, and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society) submitted a brief that urged the Supreme Court to rule the original intention of Congress had been to make tax credits for health insurance available to all, not just residents of states that decided to participate in a state health insurance exchange.

The King v Burwell ruling means that residents of states which had previously opted to participate in a federal health insurance exchange will be able to continue to benefit from tax credits for the health insurance they have chosen. Consequently, Americans who participate in the insurance exchange and are eligible will be able to expect tax credits for their policies [this does not affect those who currently receive insurance through their employers].

What does this mean for cardiovascular and stroke? Two facts worth noting for those who are uninsured:

  • Uninsured patients with cardiovascular disease experience higher mortality rates and poorer blood pressure control than the insured.
  • Uninsured people who suffer the most common type of stroke have greater neurological impairments, longer hospital stays and up to a 56 percent higher risk of death than the insured.

American Heart Association President Nancy Brown had this to say in her statement reflecting on the court’s ruling: "We commend the Court for not halting premium tax credits in the federal marketplaces, enabling an estimated 6.4 million people in 34 states to keep the assistance that makes their health insurance affordable. As a result, these patients can continue to focus on their healing and recovery, instead of worrying about losing their coverage and care. Now that the Affordable Care Act has survived two major Supreme Court challenges, it’s time for our nation to concentrate on improving the law and enrolling as many uninsured Americans as possible so everyone can receive the quality health and preventive care they need."

History is made every day, and we are thankful for our advocates who help us change our communities for the better.

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Illinois Legislative Year End Wrap-up

As we close the books on the American Heart Association’s fiscal year and inch closer to the end of the General Assembly’s 2015 overtime legislative session. Let’s take a look back at the progress we’ve made on systems of care in Illinois. We’ve made huge strides, but there’s plenty left to do and we’ll need your help.

Stroke System of Care

On August 18th Governor Quinn signed landmark stroke legislation. Currently, we are on track to have the final Administrative Rules for the 2014 stroke law approved by this fall. The rules will allow for the state designation of Comprehensive Stroke Centers and Acute Stroke Ready Hospitals, as well as the creation of a state stroke registry. 

Lauren’s Law: CPR in Schools

Efforts to implement the 2014 Lauren Laman CPR and AED training law have also progressed. We continue to work with the IL State Board of Education on their promised, though not yet released, Advisory Document to help ensure schools comply with the new law. 

STEMI Heart Attack Legislation: HB 4121

This legislation is on hold in the House pending further negotiations, we hope to move forward soon as this fall during the annual legislative veto session. 

Strengthening Illinois EMS

We have continued our work with the Illinois EMS Alliance to help fight potentially devastating cuts to the EMS Medicaid reimbursement rate. These cuts would put emergency medical care for heart attack and stroke patients at further risk.

Physical Education

There were numerous threats to Illinois’ daily physical education requirement this year. But, because of our strong network of advocates we were able to stop each attempt! There were four bills that threatened the health of Illinois’ kids, including; allowing waivers for students who enroll in AP classes and proposing to eliminate physical education completely. We won another battle on the P.E. front, but will continue to need your voices to fight and protect the long-term health of all Illinois kids. .

Tobacco Control Policies

This year we worked hard to defend Illinois’ Comprehensive Smoke-Free Indoor Air Law from drastic changes. Thanks to our advocates and strong partner organizations, we were able to keep the law intact. Additionally, we worked to support the IL Smoke Free Campus Act which took effect on July 1, making all state campuses smoke free!

HEAL Act: Sugary Drinks Tax

With the legislature in overtime and no budget in sight, our proposed penny-per-ounce sugary drinks tax is still in play as a popular way to raise revenue for the state, restore Medicaid funding and help fund health programs. According to a recent public opinion poll, 65 percent of Illinois voters support a proposal to enact a penny-per-ounce tax on sugary drinks and to use the proceeds to improve Illinoisans’ health. The voters of Illinois are willing to pay a tax on sugary drinks in order to curb obesity-related chronic illnesses. This would be a BIG WIN for health and a HUGE LOSS for diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer. These chronic diseases cost Illinoisans over $6 billion a year in unnecessary health care costs. A penny-per-ounce sugary drink tax is expected to generate more than $600 million dollars a year. These dollars could be used t in communities across the state to expand opportunities for healthy eating, physical activity and restoring Medicaid.

There are many ways you can lend your voice to this campaign TODAY! Please take a minute and complete each action:

1. Sign our petition here:

https://www.change.org/p/support-a-sugary-drink-tax-as-part-of-illinois-budget-solution-and-help-illinois-kids-be-healthier

2. Call key legislators or the Governor and ask them to support the sugary drink tax. Dial 844-325-5900 and you will be connected with the key lawmakers or governor to express your support for the tax!

You can stay up-to-date on the campaign by visiting

www.HEALtheBudget.org

 

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Vermont Heart Walk to Highlight the Team Effort that Saved a Local Coach!

Vermont advocates pushed for passage of legislation in 2012 that required schools to teach students Hands-only CPR and the importance of an AED (automated external defibrillator). Its efforts like these that have raised awareness to the need for public access to defibrillation and a strong chain of survival. Many schools now have AEDs on hand, including at sporting events.

It’s a good thing. The American Heart Association’s Vermont Heart Walk on September 26th will highlight the successful effort that saved the life of Rice High School Girls’ Basketball Coach Tim Rice from a cardiac arrest during a game against CVU this winter. The CVU team had the foresight to bring their AED to the game with them. That AED, along with many quick actions from bystanders and EMS enabled the coach to give a thumbs up as he left the game instead of much worse outcome.

We’ll honor Cardiologist Ed Terrien, who performed CPR on Coach Rice that day. Join Dr. Terrien and hundreds of others walking at the Vermont Heart Walk at Oakledge Park in Burlington on September 26th to raise funds for life-saving research.

There will also be Heart Walks on September 12th in Swanton and September 19th in Berlin. You can register for any of the walks at www.vermontheartwalk.org. Do it today and make a commitment to save lives. Get your friends and family together for a great day and a great cause!

You can also ensure that your community and school have a strong chain of survival by contacting your local high school and asking if the school has an AED and making sure students are CPR-trained.

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The Fight for the NH Health Protection Program Continues into 2016

Providing low income residents access to affordable health insurance is a key to prevention of heart disease and stroke. The New Hampshire Health Protection Program which went into effect in 2015 has enabled 40,000 previously uninsured Granite Staters to gain access to preventive healthcare and has reduced uncompensated care in our hospitals’ emergency rooms. The NHHPP needs to be reauthorized by NH lawmakers prior to December 31, 2016, when the program funded by federal Medicaid dollars is due to sunset. While this was not accomplished during the recent state budget process, lawmakers have heard our calls for support and have vowed to bring forth legislation this coming January to address continuation of the program. The American Heart Association will continue the fight for reauthorization of this successful and critically needed insurance program this coming fall. Thanks to You’re The Cure advocates who have contacted their legislators in support of the NH Health Protection Program!

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