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Students in Connecticut Will Learn CPR before they Graduate

Thanks to our advocates hard work and dedication Governor Malloy signed a bill on June 23rd requiring all schools to include CPR as part of the health and safety curriculum. Connecticut students will now have direct access to sensible and affordable training that will equip them with the lifesaving skills necessary to administer CPR if they encounter someone experiencing sudden cardiac arrest. So far, 23 states across the country have passed laws requiring every high school student to be CPR-trained before graduation, and it’s paying off. Graduates from just one school in Long Island, N.Y., have saved 16 lives since being trained. Congratulations on making Connecticut the 24rd state to require CPR training before graduation. I’m proud of all your hard work and you should be too.

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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 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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A New World Record!

The American Heart Association took over Times Square in New York City to set a new Guinness World Record - for the longest running set of consecutive chest compressions in a CPR Relay.  It was a powerful day highlighting the real reasons why CPR training matters.  The designation as a new Guinness World Record required that at least 250 people had to perform quality chest compressions in the relay. In the end, over 700 participated including survivors, clinicians, paramedics, teachers, students, families impacted by sudden cardiac arrest and more! 

The American Heart Association hosted the event in New York City as part of National CPR & AED Awareness Week. Relay participants each took a turn performing at least 60 chest compressions at 100 beats per minute on a single mannequin, with five seconds or less between turns.

Lawrence Phillips, M.D., director of nuclear cardiology at NYU Langone Medical Center and the visionary leader of this event, was No. 250 in the relay, officially setting the world record.  In true New York fashion, we then obliterated the record by achieving 700 total participants!

The AHA also presented its New York Region Heartsaver Hero Awards at the event. The distinguished awards are presented to those who have directly attempted to rescue a victim of cardiac arrest or otherwise helped to strengthen the Chain of Survival.

Congratulations to each of our award winners:

Jim Palmer

Marcy Syms

Patti Kenner

Jerry Kertesz of the Anthem Foundation

KKR & Co., LP

Karen and John Acompora

Joe Mendrick

JJ Pesany

Annette Adamczak

Sue Denis

Consulado General De México en Nueva York

Jody Scopa Goldman

James M. Horowitz, MD

Steve Tannenbaum

Lynne Strong-Shinozaki

Dave Gill

Tommy Watson

Fire Department of New York

Brandon Johnson, MD 

Nicholas Farber, MD

Lawrence M. Phillips, MD

*Photo by Angie Harrison

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We Are One Step Closer to Creating a Generation of Lifesavers in CT!

We have made it to the final step to requiring all students in Connecticut to know CPR before the graduate! The Senate and the House both passed the bill in late May and now it goes to the Governor! Your advocacy has truly made a difference!  Effective CPR training takes less than the amount of time to watch a typical 30 minute TV sitcom.  We can help add hundreds of trained rescuers across the State every few years by training all middle and high school students. Those students will be ready, willing and able to act and save lives for years to come, if they witness an emergency within their community. We are excited to ensure that the Governor signs this critical lifesaving legislation. If you want to reach out and help, please email me at and we can give you everything you need!

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Rich Greene, A Stroke Survivor with Heart

On January 14, 2009, Rich got up bright and early as usual -  5:00 a.m.  When he left for work, he felt something was off and thought perhaps it was dehydration. Soon after he had a headache. Then tired. He went to a walk-in clinic and was told it was a migraine.  That night, he began thrashing around. Just 48, Rich was having a stroke.

The  right side of his body was paralyzed.  His mouth was drooping.  At the hospital, doctors were not sure Rich would survive. Now, this stroke hero is sharing his story with others and advocating for the best care for stroke patients.  Recently, Rich traveled to Albany for the first ever Stroke Awareness Advocacy Day at the Capitol.

Rich knows why immediate care is critical for stroke patients - he had to fight to learn how to walk, how to dress himself and how to speak again.  His voice is back - and he's using it to help others.  Rich shared his story with media and lawmakers.  And he urged lawmakers to support legislation that will establish three tiers of stroke centers in New York because all stroke victims deserve the best care.

Now that's a hero! 

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Setting a World Record During CPR Awareness Week

What better way to celebrate National CPR Week than to help set a world record on this life-saving skill in Times Square?!

Tommy and Julie Watson of Williston, VT traveled to NYC on June 4th to help the American Heart Association set a Guinness Word Record for Most People in a CPR Relay

Tommy, as an 8th grader in 2011, set a goal of training 100 people in Hands-only CPR. Since then, he helped the American Heart Association officially launch the Hands-only CPR Campaign, and has personally trained 1,532 people in this life-saving skill.

It only made sense to have this shining star join the AHA in the Big Apple again to set the Guinness Record. To do this, the AHA had to achieve at least 250 consecutive people successfully performing at least 60 proper compressions each on a single mannequin.  There couldn’t be any repeated participants and no more than 5 seconds between each turn. 

Congratulations Tommy and Julie for joining numerous other volunteers and staff to spread our mission at this important event. Tommy, who previously receive the American Heart Association’s National Youth Advocate of the Year Award, was presented with the AHA’s Heartsaver Award for his outstanding commitment to saving lives.

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Mary Cushman and Michelle Johnston Emphasize Research and Nutrition

Vermont AHA board members Mary Cushman and Michelle Johnston joined the American Heart Association at our 2013 DC Lobby Day and enjoyed the effort so much, they made a return trip last month. And what a duo these two ladies are!

Dr. Cushman, a professor of medicine and researcher at the University of Vermont, and Johnston, a cardiac arrest survivor, let our congressional delegation know how important it is to continue the improvements made in school nutrition made by the Healthy and Hunger Free Kids Act.  Cushman stressed the need to fund National Institutes of Health research to encourage young researchers to begin a career in possible life-saving research. Johnston stressed that this important heart and stroke research is why she is here today.

Congrats ladies on a job well done!

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Stroke Heroes Storm the Capitol!

Rich thought it was just a headache.  Erik felt dizzy and queasy. Denise had a headache and neck pain.  Paula collapsed. Turns out, each of them had a stroke.  On Wednesday, May 27th, they joined with volunteers from across the state at the Capitol for the first ever American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Stroke Awareness Day.

Stroke survivors, neurologists and advocates met with their elected officials to stress the importance of stroke care. They asked lawmakers to make stroke a priority by supporting legislation creating a three tiered system of stroke centers. Time is brain for stroke victims.  A three tiered system will help ensure stroke victims get the care they need quickly. Thanks to their efforts, our first ever Stroke Awareness Advocacy Day was a tremendous success with visits to over 40 lawmakers' offices!  Even more exciting, many lawmakers have since signed as co-sponsors of the STROKE legislation!

Assemblyman Michael Simanowitz, D-Queens, introduced A7610 to create the three-tiered system which recognizes:

  • Acute Stroke Ready Hospitals
  • Primary Stroke Centers
  • Comprehensive Stroke Centers

“I was surprised to learn that stroke is the No. 5 killer of all Americans,” Simanowitz said. “The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association is doing a good job educating people about the symptoms of stroke and the importance of acting quickly. I’m proud to introduce legislation that will make sure the next step gets proper care for victims of stroke.” 

“We have made great improvements in stroke care, and I am honored to join American Heart Association/American Stroke Association advocates in asking for legislation that will further improve that care,” said Dr. Dana Leifer of Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City. “When a person suffers a stroke, time is brain. By implementing a tiered stroke care system in the state, we will ensure patients go to the most appropriate facility to receive treatment rapidly, improving outcomes.”

“My stroke surprised me, and I waited three days before going to the emergency room,” said Eric Jackson of Schenectady, who will be at the Stroke Awareness Day. “I want everyone to recognize the symptoms and get good – and prompt - care. I have made a good recovery. I want it to be easy for the right treatment to be given, so I hope the New York Legislature creates this three-tiered level of stroke care.”

In addition, a stroke survivors gallery was unveiled and blood pressure screenings were available to all. High blood pressure is a risk factor for stroke.

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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:


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Advances in Stroke Treatment Just in Time for Stroke Month

Check out this great article from the Chicago Tribune on the advances in stroke treatment, just in time for Stroke Month. Based on findings from recent studies, stroke patients will benefit from advanced treatment offered by comprehensive stroke centers across the nation.

Hospitals in Illinois and across the country are changing the way they treat strokes after a battery of recent clinical trials found that swift surgical intervention improves the odds that patients will function normally again.

Instead of trying to break up the clots that cause strokes using only intravenous medicine, hospitals are increasingly offering a surgery along with the medicine while also speeding up treatment to reduce brain damage.

In the most recent of a half-dozen studies published in the past six months, 60 percent of patients who received both the surgery and the medicine regained the ability to walk, talk and live independently, while just 35 percent who received only the medicine recovered to the same degree, according to an article published last month in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Continue reading here

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