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Stroke System of Care Act Passes in Washington DC

 

 

 

 

 

 

We are happy to announce the Stroke System of Care Act became official law in Washington, DC on March 10, 2015! This important law establishes a coordinated system of care for stroke patients by:

   !!!   Recognizing three tiers of stroke facilities – Comprehensive, Primary, and Acute Stroke Ready

   !!!   Requiring EMS authorities to develop and implement transport protocols for acute stroke patients

   !!!   Requiring creation of a centralized stroke registry where all facilities will report data

Stroke is one of the leading causes of death and disability in DC. While not all strokes are the same, they do have one thing in common: the race against time. The moment a stroke hits, the clock starts. Each minute a stroke patient is left untreated, two million brain cells die. This destruction of brain cells contributes to disability including paralysis, memory loss, vision and speech impairment, and sometimes death.

Since every stroke patient is different, it’s essential that government, hospitals, and emergency responders work together to coordinate care. Pre-hospital care protocols including assessment, treatment, and transport of stroke patients, will be implemented to ensure patients are taken to the hospital with the best available care, not necessarily the closest. In doing this, stroke patients will receive the best care at the right hospital. A registry will be established to evaluate care, enhance quality, and improve outcomes.

The American Heart Association thanks hundreds of its You’re the Cure advocates for working so hard to make this law happen. Special thanks to Dr. Amie Hsia, Dr. Richard Benson, and Survivor Lori Greene.

The American Heart Association supports policies that improve health and wellness in Washington, DC.   Learn more about advocating with You’re the Cure and how you can make a real difference.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

<Thanks to YTC intern Kassie Crook for development of this blog post>

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Help secure funding for this life-saving AED program today!

This is a critical time in Congress. Lawmakers are deciding on their funding priorities and the next round of budget negotiations are beginning. Even in this difficult economy, there are several federally-funded programs that are vital to the heart community, and we need to let our lawmakers know they must be a priority.

One such program helps buy and place automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in rural communities. The program also trains first responders and others in the community to use and operate these devices. The Rural and Community Access to Emergency Devices Program ensures those who live in rural areas or small towns have access to the tools they need for the best chance of surviving a cardiac arrest. Unfortunately, the program currently only has the resources to operate in 12 states.

Please contact your lawmaker today and ask them to prioritize funding to save lives from cardiac arrest!

People in every state should be given the best shot at surviving a cardiac arrest. Communities with aggressive AED placements have increased survival rates from about 11% to nearly 40%, which is an incredible improvement. But 38 states are still waiting for funds for this life-saving program.

Deadlines in Congress are looming, so please contact your elected officials TODAY!

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It's Nice to Share

  

Sharing is nice, we learned in kindergarten, and here’s where it can really count.  It’s super-easy to share our grassroots network with your friends and family, so their voices can help support CVD legislation too. 

We seriously need to reach the people who understand something about cardiovascular diseases and/or stroke – and, think about it, who do you know who does not have a connection somehow to someone directly impacted?  The people in your social networks care about you, and you can help inspire them to care about our mission.    

Simply post our video on your social media with this text, or something similar of your own:

Please help me build healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke, through grassroots advocacy.  It’s for us and our loved ones.  Please join and support the cause – I’ll appreciate it personally.  You could easily wind up helping someone you know.  It’s fast, and it’s easy to be an active part of the American Heart Association’s You’re the Cure network: www.yourethecure.org

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And you know how quickly a post disappears down the queue …please bookmark this and consider re-posting periodically so more of your network has a chance to respond. 

You can also click the Share button that pops up on our website after you’ve taken action on an alert to effortlessly push the message to social media. Every time!

Please don’t think this is not important just because it’s not driving a particular policy.  Our impact as a grassroots network is only as strong as its number of active voices: the people willing to take the time to help drive messages to their legislators. 

Share to help our mission!  This act helps significantly to make our network a force to be reckoned with. 

  

 

<Picture credit: https://www.flickr.com/people/76535310@N00>

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Juddson Rupp

Juddson Rupp, Mid-Atlantic Affiliate

I didn’t remember anything from my week in the hospital, but when a friend brought in a copy of the six o’clock news from October 27, 2000 I quickly realized that either that was a slow news day or that I was one lucky miracle survivor with an important story to share.

"Being at the right place at the right time and near the right equipment may have been a real life saver for a man working out at the YMCA,” the TV anchor began. Her co-anchor added, "Judd Rupp, not your typical heart attack victim - he's in his 30's and was at the gym.  Thanks to some people who knew exactly what to do, he's alive today."

Reporter Steve Litz brought the story to a close saying: "Two important notes to add- It was difficult identifying Judd Rupp as he was not wearing any kind of I.D.  Everything worked in Rupp's favor at the YMCA because so many know CPR there.  Another note, Juddson Rupp is an employee here at WSOC-TV.  We all wish him well in his recovery."

After getting choked up watching news clips like the one above a decade ago, I knew that internally and externally my life had changed.  I could no longer be a just a private citizen.   I had to share my story publicly for several reasons.  I now strongly believe that being and advocate and sharing your story is an important duty as a survivor.

The American Heart Association approached me to ask if they could use my story for the upcoming Heart Ball.  The Marketing Director told me that sharing my story could help save hundreds, if not thousands of lives through the years.  Then the publicity became a 'no-brainer' for me.  Why wouldn't I help save others by informing people to learn CPR or by encouraging them to purchase AED's and stop cardiovascular disease with added research and funding?

After the initial Heart Ball work in 2001, I was asked to be in a Public Service Announcement (PSA) that ran on Charlotte TV stations and throughout the Carolinas in a commercial also featuring my wife and two children urging people to 'Learn CPR...it can save lives!'  I became the poster boy for the American Heart Association, as my wife had joked.  She also knew that I was honored to do this and practically anything to help AHA grow its cause...and be the cure.

My volunteer time and work became even more empowering after meeting Betsy Vetter in 2004.  She asked me to join You’re the Cure, and become an advocate for AHA.  My initial role had me traveling to Washington, DC and visiting with Federal Legislators on Capitol Hill.  I am proud to say that I have not missed an AHA Federal Lobby Day since.

Since then I have held multiple roles including communications/media chair for the NC AHA Advocacy Coordinating Committee, a member of the AHA Charlotte Mission Committee, and co-chair of the Smoke-free Mecklenburg Advocacy Committee. I have also been active with Emergency Cardiovascular Care and the Heart Ball, and attended numerous state lobby days at the General Assembly in Raleigh where I share my personal experience with state lawmakers to help them better understand the importance of supporting strong public health policies.

Speaking with countless legislators and their staff to put a face on heart disease, and fight for so many who are not with us anymore is the most empowering reason I do this.  

*On December 14, 2013 Juddson was the recipient of the 2013 Dr. Robert Blackburn Award for Advocacy Excellence which honored all of his advocacy work at the American Heart Association.

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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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Pulse Oximetry Hearing Wows

Everyone in the chamber for DC’s pulse ox hearing listened incredulously as parent after parent shared heart wrenching stories of newborns diagnosed with critical congenital heart disease (CCHD) and how use of a simple test called pulse oximetry saves lives. Every year, more than 6,000 babies are born with some form of a critical congenital heart defect. In the District of Columbia alone, up to 10 infants may die or go undiagnosed every year due to a lack of screening.

“Every baby deserves the best chance of survival,” said mother Hilary Mehrkam, who testified in support of the Healthy Hearts of Babies Act of 2015 in the DC Council Committee on Health and Human Services on February 2.

Young CCHD survivors stole the show as they expressed their thankfulness for the use of pulse oximetry, without which they might not be alive today. Eleven-year-old Mirabel told Councilmember Yvette Alexander because of pulse ox she can now grow up to be an animal nutritionist. Tristan expressed his excitement about doing well in school and participating in cub scouts. Several others, too young to talk, were silent witnesses supporting the lifesaving assessment.

DC Bill 21-6, the Healthy Hearts of Babies Act of 2015 appeals to both parents and medical practitioners since, according to You’re the Cure Advocate Lisa Hom of Children’s National Medical Center, “No doctor wants to be the one who sends a baby home undiagnosed.”

Pulse ox screening is simple, painless, inexpensive, and non-invasive. Research suggests that by pairing this test with already routine prenatal measures, over 90% of newborn CCHD cases can be detected. Over 40 other states have already passed legislation mandating the use of pulse oximetry screening.

This legislation was co-introduced by the majority of the DC Council, but it is still important to write, call, or email your Councilmembers and tell them you support pulse oximetry screening. There are many benefits of this bill, but according to mom Amy Shalawylo, “the peace of mind is priceless.”

Click here to tell your legislators how important this bill is! 

 Pictured are invested parents and their children who testified before the DC Council at the hearing for pulse ox screening.

Take a moment and view this video our team put together from the day of the hearing.

<Special thanks to You’re the Cure Intern Kassie Crook for help developing this blog post>

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The American Heart Association's Go Red For Women Red Dress Collection 2015 Livestream

Join us for this exclusive virtual event where top designers and celebrities demonstrate their support for women's heart health during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. Heart disease is not just a man's disease. Each year, 1 in 3 women die of heart disease and stroke. We can change that--80 percent of cardiac events can be prevented with education and lifestyle changes. Help break barriers against heart disease and stroke by joining us for the Go Red For Women Red Dress Collection 2015 live online at GoRedForWomen.org/RedDressCollection on Thursday, February 12 at 8 p.m. Eastern. See you there!

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Want To Make A Difference? Here's How!

With 2015 legislative sessions underway, it’s a wonderful opportunity to reflect on ways that advocates can make a difference.

How Can You Make an Impact? Here are some examples:

Take Action (and make it personal): When you receive an action alert quickly take action! It’s important to respond when an alert enters your email box; often-times, they contain opportunities to reach out to your legislators on an important issue, and may involve a time sensitive committee hearing or legislative vote – so we recommend that you take action without delay! Don’t forget to let your legislators know why the issue is important to YOU in your communication - that is what they want to hear, why this issue is important to their constituents! Then take that next step, share the alert on social media, and encourage others to take action. Let your friends and family know what you’re up to – and that you’re saving lives with You’re the Cure.

Build the Relationship: Your local contact with lawmakers is critical to ensuring they have information about why issues are important to you and their district. You help draw the connection between state policy choices and local impacts. How can you do this? Think about which of your elected officials you may know – can you cultivate that relationship to make it stronger? Send a personal note with thoughts on the issues you care about. This can really get a lawmakers attention.  Request a meeting and work with your state Grassroots Director to identify others from your community to join (we suggest no more than 4) so that you can provide education on the AHA issues. Consider inviting your elected official to speak to your church or other civic group to share their insights on the policy process.

Above all, it is important to always be respectful, helpful, and clear about what your perspective is and how you hope your elected official can help. We are always available to provide you talking points and guidance.

Attend Advocacy Events: Your state advocacy team will offer trainings, both in-person and via teleconference, which provide a great opportunity to not only learn more about the hot button issues in your state and community, but also offer you the opportunity to meet other great advocates like yourself! Want to know if there is an event coming up in your state? Reach out to your state Grassroots Directors, Keltcie Delamar if you live in MD, DC, or VA or to Kim Chidester if you live in NC or SC, to learn more about what is going on in your area!

Update Your Profile: We want to send you action alerts about issues you want to hear about. Please take a moment and make sure to update your profile. Go to www.yourethecure.org, log in to your account, and click on your name in the top right corner of the screen to access your profile information. Here, you can also select your interests on the "my interest" tab to make sure you are getting emails about the issues that are important to you!

In addition to indicating the issues you are interested in, you can update your contact information so we stay in touch.

Stay in the Know: Watch for our blog posts and updates—they are full of information about what is going on currently, and be sure to share on social media and comment when there is an opportunity. Be sure to stay in touch with your state Grassroots and Government Relations Directors. As your AHA staff partners, your Grassroots and Government Relation Directors are a resource to you and will help provide you with key information—so keep in touch!

Make 2015 the year when you take your advocacy work one step higher – pick one of the ideas and try it out! You will make a difference.

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AHA Awarded Resolution Declaring Friday as National Wear Red Day

“I have a family tradition and it’s not one you look forward to like cookies at Christmas,” began National Go Red Spokeswoman Gail Mates, “it’s heart disease.” Heart Disease is not just a man’s disease. Heart disease kills 1 in 3 women every year. That is more than all cancers combined.

There is no better way to start off Heart Month than with a ceremonial resolution from the DC Council declaring the first Friday of February as National Wear Red Day in the District of Columbia. The DC Council chamber was a blur of red on February 3, as You’re the Cure advocates in red dresses, hats, coats, shoes, ties, and pins displayed their support of Heart Month and the efforts to raise heart disease awareness. AHA thanks the DC Council and especially Councilmember Yvette Alexander, for recognizing Go Red for Women with a ceremonial resolution.

You’re the Cure advocate Gail Mates accepted the resolution by sharing her personal struggle with heart disease. “I was digging my grave with a knife and fork,” she continued.

Although depressed and out of control, Gail decided she would not die from heart disease. “Small, simple changes add up to really big results,” she testified. Gail began walking around her house 5 minutes a day. Today she is proudly preparing to run her first 10K.

If she can change her life, so can we! Change starts with awareness. Mothers, sisters, and friends are dying at the rate of one per minute because they don’t know what you know: heart disease kills. “Speak up and speak out about heart disease,” Gail encouraged. “We all have to band together, wear red, and be powerful, and save the women in our lives.”

Make it your mission to stop the number 1 killer. Show your support by going red! Get started by signing up at GoRedForWomen.org/WearRedDay to check out helpful resources, tools, and tips to help you celebrate in your own unique way.

We want to see your Wear Red photos, so upload them at Facebook.com/GreaterWashingtonAHA using hashtag #GoRedDC or email them to meredith.may@heart.org.

 

<Special thanks to You're the Cure intern Kassie Crook for crafting this blog post>

 

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Gail Mates

Gail Mates, Mid-Atlantic Affiliate

I spent most of my life watching heart disease strike family members. Both grandfathers died of heart attacks, my father suffered from several and even my mother had an enlarged heart and hypertension that made her susceptible. When my father had a stroke, I witnessed firsthand the depression and fear that he felt.  It was heart wrenching to watch.  

In my own life, health issues were mounting. High cholesterol, high triglycerides, diabetes, sleep apnea, esophagus surgery and a metabolic syndrome were just a few of the hurdles I faced.   I was digging my grave with a knife and fork!
 
I knew my life was going downhill, but nurturing was something I did for others, not myself. It wasn’t until my daughter pled with me to make a change that I finally listened.  My daughter told me through tears that I was killing myself and that she wanted me to be here for her children.  

Diet was the first area I tackled. I began eating ‘live’ foods, shopping on the outside of the grocery store instead of the inner aisles of canned and boxed foods. Exercise came slower, but it was the pace I wanted to set because I knew that doing too much, too soon would backfire. I started with 5 minutes of exercise a week and was soon able to fulfill my dream of completing a 5k run. 

Almost 60 pounds lighter, I am changing my heart every step of the way. My diabetes, high cholesterol and triglycerides, sleep apnea, and esophagus are all great now!   I don’t make excuses; I just do what I need to do.  If it’s snowing outside and I can't get to the gym, I simply walk around my living room and bedroom.  If you can make it easy, you can find a way.

There’s one thing that keeps me going – the smile on my daughter’s face.   I plan to be here for a long long time. 

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