American Heart Association - You’re the Cure

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Nutrition On the Go Can Be Easy!

On November 4th, we celebrated National Eating Healthy Day to encourage everyone to resolve to eat healthy. We know eating healthy meals in an on-the-go lifestyle can be quite the challenge.  So how can we make sure we are making smart choices? 

With holiday parties around the corner and all of the other great things that come between Thanksgiving and the end of the year, is it possible to keep the resolve to eat healthy? Did you know the American Heart Association has heart healthy recipes on our website that you can enjoy? For instance check out this tailgate chili recipe for the next time you are planning that ballgame viewing party!  What a way to make your next gathering more nutritiously delicious.

This is just one example, and you can find more in our heart healthy guide to seasonal eating here!

Finally, we have an idea for you!

We often say that you should be building the relationship with your lawmaker. Consider inviting your lawmaker to join you in the journey to overall better health. Simply take a moment to send them your favorite AHA recipe, and add a few sentences about your why you are making healthy eating a priority. Maybe your lawmaker will feature that recipe in an upcoming newsletter!

If you need help to find your lawmakers, contact your Grassroots Director and she will be happy to share that information with you! If you are in DC, Maryland, or Virginia, contact Keltcie Delamar, and if you are in the Carolinas, email Kim Chidester!

We wish everyone happy, heart-healthy eating!

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Anne Efron

Anne Efron, Maryland

Following a long day at work Anne Efron and her husband Dave were getting set to grill for dinner.  After making a quick trip to the store Dave returned to find Anne unconscious and without a pulse, in full cardiac arrest. She had a history of what had been diagnosed as benign cardiac dysrhythmia. Dave, who is Director of Adult Trauma, and Chief of the Division of Acute Care Surgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital, immediately began CPR and dialed 911.  One of the questions that rang in his mind was this: how long had her brain and other organs been without oxygen before he arrived?

Dave continued performing CPR until EMS arrived about 10 minutes later and took over.  Only after transport to St. Joseph’s in Towson, the closest facility, and eight attempts at “shocking” did Anne’s heart resume “normal rhythm.”  Her heart was badly stunned and her condition continued to worsen.  Her medical team determined that the care Anne needed to survive was beyond the scope of St. Josephs. To stabilize her enough to make the trip, the Interventional Cardiologist at St. Joe’s skillfully placed a balloon pump in her heart. 

Once arriving at John’s Hopkins, Anne spent sixteen days in the Coronary Care Unit.  After the extraordinary care of the first responders, the care she received at St. Joe’s and the cutting-edge mechanical support techniques and critical medical care she received in one of the top hospitals in the world, she was able to walk out of the hospital and returned to work just five weeks after her cardiac arrest. 

Anne got involved with the American Heart Association’s You’re the Cure grassroots network, and advocated actively for a Maryland Bill which would make CPR and defibrillator training a graduation requirement in Maryland public high school.  That bill became law in 2014.   Anne states “CPR is a simple lifesaving skill and one that gives those with this skill a “sense of empowerment.  Learning CPR will save many lives.” 

Click here to Be CPR Smart:









<Thanks to YTC advocate/volunteer writer Karen Wiggins, LPN, CHWC, for helping craft this story>

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Come & Get it: "Hands on Heart" CPR Training for DC Residents

Along with AHA and other partners, Washington, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser launched the “Hands on Hearts” initiative on October 27, which aims to train 5,000 District residents in hands-only CPR and the use of automated external defibrillators (AED) by September 2016.  

“With the right training, anyone can save a life,” said Mayor Bowser. “That is why the District is committed to training residents in life-saving, hands-only CPR.  A 20 minute training could make the difference between life and death for a friend, family member or stranger who needs care before emergency medical services are able to respond.”

DC Department of Fire & EMS Sgt. Mike Forrest, a You’re the Cure advocate and FEMS CPR Training Coordinator, expressed at the launch event that he is “so excited” about hands-only CPR. “I love this stuff, I just love teaching CPR.” For Forrest, CPR is very personal. Last year, his grandfather went into cardiac arrest, and the person that was with his grandfather didn’t know CPR. Forest wants DC to be the safest place. He envisions a community where “any citizen, passer-by, [visitor] or [traveler] will stop, call 911, and do hands-only CPR.” Forrest emphasized to the mayor and DC Council that “if you don’t get anything else out of the day, just remember that doing good compressions is what’s [going to] save someone’s life.”

Hands-only CPR is a technique promoted by AHA that involves chest compressions without artificial respiration. Studies indicate that hands-only CPR performed immediately can double or triple a cardiac arrest victim’s chance of survival. Following the launch presentation, Sgt. Forrest and his FEMS colleagues provided hands-only CPR training to Mayor Bowser, all 13 members of the DC Council, and other governmental leaders.

In addition to this event, DC Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie and his staff recently received CPR training. At the Hands on Hearts launch, he encouraged his fellow Councilmembers to do the same. CM McDuffie chairs the Council’s Judiciary committee, which is considering a bill that would require every school in Washington, DC to have at least 1 AED on site, along with CPR/AED training for certain staff. (View the bill, which AHA recommends be amended to require CPR training for all high school students).

Equipping citizens to save a life makes sense.  As McDuffie said, “…every second matters” during a cardiac arrest.

CPR is an essential life skill, and it saves lives!  Send a quick message to your legislators and tell them to join more than half the country by teaching CPR in DC Schools.
















Mayor Muriel Bowser, DC Council and advocates discuss the need for CPR training

<Special thanks to our DC YTC intern Sydney Nelson for developing this blog post> 

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I'd Do It in a Heartbeat

What would you do in a heartbeat? Travel? Shop?

How about save a life?

The American Heart Association is committed to saving countless heartbeats through CPR training in schools and communities. Teaching all of our students CPR could save hundreds of lives each year by filling the DC community with more lifesavers – young people trained to give cardiac arrest victims the immediate help they need to survive until EMTs arrive. Hands only CPR training can be taught in less than 30 minutes—that’s less time than it takes to watch the evening news!

On October 1, 2015 the DC Council Committees on Education and Judiciary held a hearing on legislation that would require every school in Washington, DC to have at least 1 AED on site, along with CPR/AED training for certain staff. (View the bill here). Advocates representing AHA and other organizations rallied to testify that while it is an admirable goal to place AEDs in schools, without CPR training for all students, the bill’s intent may not be achieved. They recommended that CPR should be a requirement for high school graduation, as is the case in 27 states, including Maryland and Virginia. Teaching students CPR could be the difference between life and death.

Jennifer Griffin, a passionate advocate for CPR in schools, told the emotional story of her daughter’s tragic death. On June 8, 2012 Gwyneth Griffin went to school like any other day. But around 10 AM, Gwyneth collapsed on the outdoor track. Her friends and fellow students ran to get help, yet no bystanders knew what to do – nobody gave Gwyneth immediate CPR. As a result, Gwyneth’s brain was dying due to lack of oxygen that CPR could have provided. She was transported to the hospital in a coma. Tragically, Gwyneth passed away on July 30, 2012. 

Before the hearing Jennifer said, “had CPR or an AED been available faster, her life might have been saved.” She then called on the DC Council to act by amending bill B21-243 to include CPR as a high school graduation requirement in Washington, DC. By joining Maryland and Virginia, this will create 145,000 lifesavers across the national capital region.

So what would you do in a heartbeat? How about urging that at least 5,000 new lifesavers are trained in our nation’s capital each year by supporting CPR in schools?

Send a quick message to your legislators and tell them to join more than half the country by teaching CPR in DC Schools.



<Special thanks to You’re the Cure intern Sydney Nelson for development of this blog post>

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It Feels Good to be a Quitter

More DC residents are quitting tobacco use every year—and you can too! During the week of Sept. 21-25, 2015, the DC Tobacco Free Coalition partnered with more than 40 local organizations in the District of Columbia, including the American Heart Association, to sponsor DC Calls It Quits! Week, a public awareness campaign aimed at informing residents about the importance of quitting tobacco.

Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the U.S., and smoking kills more than 700 District of Columbia residents each year, as well as leads to a significant decline in quality of life,” says Charles Debnam, Chair of the DC Tobacco Free Coalition, and You’re the Cure advocate. “More than 14 percent of adults in Washington, DC are smokers. Our main goal is to educate and inform residents about the resources available to help them quit.”

On Tuesday, September 22nd members of the DC Tobacco Free Coalition and AHA advocates met at the John A. Wilson building and were presented with a ceremonial resolution from the DC Council before their legislative meeting. Presented by Council Committee on Health chairwoman Yvette Alexander, the resolution proclaimed that the week of September 20th is “DC Calls it Quits Week”—a week to raise awareness about the dangers of smoking and receive help by accessing local cessation services.

As part of the week's events, AHA hosted a Twitter Chat to discuss this public health issue as well as to share tobacco cessation tips and resources. There were more than 900 tweets using the #DCquits hashtag, by more than 160 users, with a potential reach of 1,670,225!

 Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt, Director of the DC Department of Health encourages “all residents who smoke to call the DC Quitline – 1 (800) QUIT NOW (784-8669) – which provides smoking cessation services,  including counseling sessions with certified tobacco treatment specialists, free nicotine patches and a local number for Spanish-speaking residents.”

 It feels good to be a quitter! Call the DC Quitline (1-800-QUIT NOW) to quit for good!












<Thanks to You’re the Cure intern Sydney Nelson for help developing this blog post!>

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Sing to End Stroke

One in three Americans can’t recall any stroke warning signs. What if singing a song could help people recognize a stroke and give someone the power to save a life?

On World Stroke Day, October 29th, the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association is using music to help people remember the common warning signs of stroke, F.A.S.T. (Face drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, Time to call 9-1-1).

Why learn the F.A.S.T song? The quicker you recognize the stroke warning signs and call 9-1-1 for stroke, the better the chances of recovery. 

Here is how you can participate:

So get your vocal cords ready and let's sing to end stroke!


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Francee Levin

Francee Levin, Mid-Atlantic Affiliate

The last thing I remember of my poetry residency at Colleton County Middle School was getting an elevator key.  The next thing was seeing a strange ceiling, which turned out to be in an intensive care unit, over a week later.  I was told I was talking to a teacher when I flat-lined.   The diagnosis:  idiopathic asymptomatic sudden cardiac death. 

In fact, I died twice, but I’m still here.  Two incredible school nurses and a resource officer used CPR and an AED to somehow keep me alive.  I was air-lifted to a major medical center, where I was unconscious and on life support for over a week, given no chance for survival. I made the medical journals, because against all odds, I had a miraculous recovery.  

My heart failed and left me with a low ejection fraction.  I now have an implanted defibrillator, and I’m continuing cardiac rehabilitation.  I did not have a heart attack; in fact, my heart cath showed my arteries are perfect.  And I had no risk factors of any kind.  Without the AED and CPR, I wouldn’t be here. 

I was an American Heart Association (AHA) red dress volunteer before, and I’ve been a crusader and You’re the Cure advocate ever since.   Through AHA’s You’re the Cure, I’ve been able to serve as a survivor/spokesperson to provide testimony about the pending CPR bill that will assure every student gets trained before graduating, and had an Op-Ed I wrote ("A School Saved My Life”) published to help educate the public on the issue.  I'm in close contact with my legislators, who have been wonderful, and I've also contacted my county council, as well as the school board in Richland 2, my home district. I try to respond to all the You’re the Cure alerts and customize the legislator letters with my story. 

Colleton County (where I collapsed) School Board and County Council voted to put defibrillators in every school in the county (including some small rural schools) in my honor.

I'm on a mission now. My cardiac event happened on February 1, 2012, on AHA’s National Wear Red Day.  In 2013, my cousins had a party for me on my “heart-iversary.”  A few days later, I learned that on 2/2/13, the school principal, who’s now in another district, was having a robotics tournament on the athletic field when a woman collapsed and was revived with an AED.  

Every school should have an AED and trained people teaching CPR.  The cost is minimal, and the rewards are priceless.  It’s called LIFE.

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On Your Mark...

You’re the Cure is in busy preparation for our upcoming General Assembly sessions, and work on local policy issues at the City or County levels as well.

Take two quick steps now to be sure you are ready to engage and can stay up to date on the issues in your area: 

1.  Make sure you are registered on our web portal at so you can see content relating to where you live, and check to be sure your profile information and email address are correct. 

2.  Visit the Key Issues page on our website and take a moment to mark the check-boxes for the all issues you feel are important.  We use this information to help streamline communications and assess the strength of our grassroots network on policy issues.

Want to find out what policy issues are expected on the docket for your area?  Shoot us a note and we’ll share the list specific to you. 

We’re ready to be off and rolling towards the finish line! Thank you for standing with us as a You’re the Cure advocate, on our mission to improve the lives of all Americans.  We need you and appreciate you!


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Save a Life? Our Students Could...

Saving someone’s life…how would that impact you? Are you capable of becoming a lifesaver? The answer could be as simple as learning Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR). Although the scientific term may sound intimidating, it is a simple life-saving measure that can be learned in less than 30 minutes.  If our students are taught CPR in school they could become the next generation of lifesavers.

Sudden cardiac arrest can happen at any time, and in any place. Over 326,000 people in the US suffer out-of-hospital cardiac arrest every year, including 550 in Washington, DC alone.  Less than 10% survive, often because they don’t receive timely CPR from a bystander. For every minute that someone is down from cardiac arrest, their chance for survival drops 10%.

We can change this!  To improve cardiac arrest survival in the District, legislation has been introduced in DC Council that would place at least 1 AED in all schools. Although AED’s are a vital asset in case of an emergency, they are not enough by themselves.

Receiving CPR from a bystander can triple someone’s rate of survival. Sadly less than 30% of victims receive CPR from a bystander.  Training all our residents, especially high school students is essential to improving the chain of survival.

Many might think that learning a lifesaving skill like CPR requires a lot of time. However, hands-only CPR training can be taught in under 30 minutes - less than the time it takes to watch a sitcom on TV!

Ensuring that all students are CPR-trained would result in thousands of potential lifesavers in the District each year – ready and able to perform CPR at school, at home, and in the community. 24 states have laws ensuring that all students receive hands-only CPR training prior to graduation. It’s time for Washington, DC to join Maryland, Virginia, and nearly half the country in creating a culture of health and ensuring that every student can be a lifesaver.

We must spread the message NOW – the bill is about to be heard by DC Council

Tell your Councilmembers that you support training all District students in CPR before they graduate!


<Thanks to AHA You’re the Cure intern Lauren Spencer for help developing this blog post>


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Don't Miss A Beat! September Is AFib Awareness Month

Happy September, Advocates!

As we head into the fall, there are many exciting things happening. Football is starting, the weather is beginning to grow cooler, and the holidays will be here before you know it. Additionally, as you may or may not know, September is AFib Awareness Month!

So, what does AFib mean?

AFib, short for atrial fibrillation, occurs when the heart’s two small upper chambers (atria) of the heart don’t beat the way they should: Instead of beating in a normal pattern, the atria beat irregularly and too fast, quivering like a bowl of gelatin. This can lead to several rhythm problems, chronic fatigue, heart failure, and even stroke – a 5x greater risk.

Unfortunately, this condition actually affects many more Americans than you might think: 2.7 million! Approximately 40% of individuals with either AFib or Heart Failure will develop the other condition – which is a lot of people.

Several of our Mid-Atlantic Affiliate volunteers have personal experience with AFib. Their experiences bring them to the AHA and You’re the Cure. Many of our policies, such as the importance of funding the NIH and their research, are the reasons why our advocates are passionate about the work of You're the Cure. You can encourage our lawmakers to continue NIH funding by taking action at the community site.

Join us here to learn more about AFib and AFib Awareness Month!


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