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AHA Supports Increasing Access to Healthcare for Floridians

Ensuring all Floridians have access to affordable, quality health care, in order to prevent and treat cardiovascular diseases is essential to the mission of the American Heart Association.  That is why we supported the Florida Senate’s FHIX Bill during the 2015 Special Session. 

Unfortunately, on June 5, 2015, the FHIX Bill died on the House floor.  If passed, the legislation would have increased health care for individuals and families earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. That means an additional 800,000 low-income Floridians would have received access to health insurance!

Healthcare coverage improves the overall health of Floridians.  It allows greater access to testing and diagnosis of heart disease and stroke,  and better control of risk factors such as high blood pressure and cholesterol. Plus, it prevents financial devastation after heart attack or stroke.

Floridians can take preventative action against heart disease and stroke when they have insurance,  and can receive consistent medical advice, afford medications and access coaching resources for lifestyle changes.  Emergency coverage for uninsured or underinsured individuals when they are facing declining health or an emergency is much more expensive than preventative and consistent care. 

We applaud the efforts of the Florida Senate to pass meaningful legislation to increase access to Floridians who fall through the cracks.  We're excited to continue working with them to ensure Florida’s most vulnerable have access to affordable, quality healthcare.

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Jacksonville Residents Thank Superintendent Vitti

Guest Blogger: Christine Henderson, Government and Community Relations Director for the American Heart Association

On Friday, May 29th, I attended the Jacksonville Go Red for Women Luncheon an event where  hundreds of women gathered together to help break down the barriers against heart disease and stroke for our mothers, sisters, daughters and friends. It was such an empowering experience!

I set up a You're the Cure table focused on the need for CPR as a graduation requirement. As attendees stopped by the table, they saw a map of 22 states that have passed CPR in Schools legislation - and Florida wasn't highlighted,  However, neighboring states were, such as Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. Conversation after conversation highlighted that people were confused on why Florida has failed to implement this lifesaving policy and were annoyed that legislators failed to see the importance of such a law.

A proud parent boasted, “My child learned CPR in their high school, somebody is doing something right.”  The parent was right. Here in Duval County, we owe much of our “thank you's” to Superintendent Vitti. As Superintendent of Duval County Public Schools, the nation’s 16th largest school district serving over 125,000 students, he understands the benefits of educating and empowering our students; our future community leaders. This year, Duval offered the opportunity to participate in the Hands-Only CPR™ program to high schools and middle schools and even included 4th and 5th graders from a handful of their elementary schools.

Duval is doing its part in creating the next generation of life savers. At the Jacksonville Go Red for Women Luncheon, over 65 attendees signed thank you cards applauding Superintendent Vitti for his leadership and continued support of CPR in schools; many of whom joined our You’re the Cure network to help support implementing this policy in all school districts throughout our state.

Although CPR is not a graduation requirement in Duval county, we are proud that the district's leadership understands the importance of CPR in Schools, and their continued support will help the state of Florida to get it right!  As an advocate, I was moved by the many supporters encouraging me to keep working on implementing this policy for all children in our state.  As a parent myself, who has taught my 8 year-old son Hands-Only CPR, CPR as a graduation requirement just makes sense.  Can’t have it no other way.

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Lobby Day MVPs in the Spotlight

There were SO many amazing stories surrounding this year’s Hill Day that it was hard to narrow down our annual lobby day award winners. Not a bad problem to have! Please join us in congratulating these You’re the Cure MVPs, and then learn more about their stories in this video.

  • Science Advocate of the year – Dr. David Yu-Yiao Huang

Dr. Huang has been involved with AHA advocacy since 2003. From submitting expert written testimony and attending in-district meetings, to speaking before lawmakers, his passion for policy and his belief in the positive change policy can achieve has contributed significantly to big wins in North Carolina.

  • Volunteer Advocate of the Year – Theresa Conejo

Theresa has been one of the key proponents of Pennsylvania’s comprehensive smoke-free law. Last year, she signed a smoke-free op-ed which was picked up by major news outlets across the state. She also aggressively advocated for the proposed Clean Indoor Law. In addition, she recruits new You’re the Cure advocates at every opportunity. In fact, just recently, she signed up an additional 35 volunteers to join her in Pennsylvania’s smoke-free fight.

  • Survivor Advocate of the Year – Jim Bischoff

Jim’s own struggle with heart disease, as well as his experience with his son-in-law’s stroke, gives him a unique perspective to share during state and federal lobby days and meetings with lawmakers. His family history inspired him to provide leadership on stroke systems of care legislation. He also dedicates his time to tobacco issues, and attends in-district meetings with his lawmaker to discuss both of these important issues.

  • Youth Advocate of the Year – Cassidy Collins

Cassidy uses her story as a congenital heart survivor to illustrate the importance of AHA’s policy issues. At the age of 16, her resume is already quite impressive – she’s met with U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin to advocate for tobacco control funding; she has been a top fundraiser for the Roanoke Heart Walk for two years; and she has applied to work as a youth advocate for the Alliance for a Healthier Generation.

Check out this video below highlighting the award winners!

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How to Keep the Winning Game Going

You're the Cure on the Hill isn’t the only opportunity to connect with members of Congress! As their constituents, you have the power and the RIGHT to tell them at any time to step up to the plate on the heart and stroke issues you care about most.


Here are some tips for getting your lawmaker off the bench and into the game:

 

  • Follow them on social media and send them messages on issues you care about.
  • Sign up for their e-newsletters on their websites. This is a great way to learn about events where you can meet the lawmakers in person and stay informed.
  • Work with your local AHA advocacy staff to schedule an in-district meeting. Members of Congress come home throughout the year on recess breaks, so they use this time to meet with constituents back in the district. Take advantage of their time at home and schedule a meeting to discuss the heart and stroke issues that matter to you and your family.
  • Most importantly, take action year round. Watch your inbox for calls to action from You’re the Cure and continue engaging your lawmaker through emails, phone calls and tagging them in your social media posts.

We had a real impact this week, but we need to keep the momentum going. Let's keep reminding our members of Congress that they need to step up for heart health all year round!

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May is American Stroke Month

Anyone can have a stroke and everyone should be ready.

Every 40 seconds, someone in the U.S. suffers a stroke and every 4 minutes, someone dies from a stroke. That is why The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association is inviting all Americans to become Stroke Heroes by learning and sharing the warning signs of stroke, F.A.ST. (Face drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, Time to call 9-1-1).

Recognizing and responding to a stroke emergency immediately can lead to quick stroke treatment and may even save a life. Be ready!

Here is how you can participate in American Stroke Month

  • Share the F.A.S.T. acronym with your friends, family and loved ones throughout American Stroke Month.
  • Share our F.A.S.T. Quiz to test your stroke knowledge.
  • Download our free Spot a Stroke F.A.S.T. mobile app to prepare you in case of a stroke emergency and to have easy access.

Go to StrokeAssociation.org/StrokeMonth to learn more about how you can get involved.

 

 

 

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From the Bottom of our Hearts - Thank You!

National Volunteer Week (April 12-18) is right around the corner and we couldn’t let it pass without saying how much we appreciate all your contributions as a You’re the Cure advocate. It’s advocates like you who give their time, energy, and passion to help create healthier communities across the country.  We are deeply grateful for your commitment and talent as an advocate.

Since staff can’t always shake your hand and say thank you in person we’ve got a brief video to share. When you watch I am sure you too will be moved by all the great work happening in your states and communities and we look forward to more success in the future. Take a moment to check out the video and then encourage other to get involved and join in the fun.

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Brittany Nelson, Florida

You never know when you will need someone to save your life. Brittany Nelson, 24, was recently saved by bystander CPR. In December 2014 she was in NYC on vacation with her family. They were at a restaurant in Times Square when Brittany went down. No one knew she had any heart condition and the family screamed for anyone who knew CPR. Two eye doctors came to her rescue and began doing Hands-Only CPR until paramedics arrived. Had it not been for Hands-Only CPR, Brittany would not have survived. Her heart had stopped beating. Once in the hospital she learned that she had an undiagnosed condition called Long QT Syndrome (LQTS).

LQTS is a heart rhythm disorder that can potentially cause fast, chaotic heartbeats. These rapid heartbeats may trigger a sudden fainting spell or seizure. In some cases, the heart may beat erratically for so long that it can cause sudden death. You can be born with a genetic mutation that puts you at risk of long QT syndrome. In addition, certain medications and medical conditions may cause LQTS.

Recently, WTXL in Tallahassee interviewed Brittany about her ordeal and you can see the interview here on WTXL.com. Also, the New York City Fire Department will be flying her family to New York in May to attend the Second Chance Brunch where Brittany will get to meet her rescuers!

Learn more about Hands-Only CPR on heart.org.

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Florida Pushes for CPR in Schools

The 2015 Florida Legislative Session kicked off on March 3, and for the fourth year in a row the American Heart Association has introduced legislation that would integrate Hands-Only CPR training into the curriculum for all graduating high school students. Sen. Thad Altman, R – Melbourne, and Rep. Chris Sprowls, R – Clearwater, have sponsored our bills - Senate Bill 328/House Bill 1311 respectively.

Since we first introduced CPR in Schools legislation in 2012, twenty states have passed this language, including Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Tennessee. To illustrate the need for CPR in Florida's high schools, two families traveled to Tallahassee on March 5 to share their personal stories with legislators. Kaycee Teets and her husband Steven from Hillsborough County and Jim Cobb and his sister Kristen from Louisiana both suffered the unimaginable when a sudden cardiac arrest led to the deaths of their children. They met with legislators to ask for their support of our bills and most of the members were very open to supporting our efforts.

The American Heart Association asks that you support our efforts to ensure that Florida graduates generations of lifesavers by calling, emailing or writing to your State Representative or Senator and asking them to support Senate Bill 328/ House Bill 1311.

 Click on the image to see the Cobb family’s story. 

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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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Sen. Altman Sponsors CPR in Schools Legislation

We’re thrilled that Senator Thad Altman from Melbourne has agreed to sponsor our CPR in Schools legislation. Senate Bill 328 is now ready to move through the committee process. Please call or email your Senator, asking for his or her support so we can train generations of life savers in Florida.

Click here to find your Senator’s name and contact information.

Nearly 424,000 people experience cardiac arrest outside of the hospital every year, but only 10.4%survive, most likely because CPR is not administered soon enough. Isn't it time for the Florida Legislature to make sure all high school students learn CPR before they graduate? It’s one of the best ways to add more lifesavers to our communities.

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