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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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Quantina Connely, GA

Quantina Connely Shawnee, GA

“Grandma, grandma, wake up”. That fateful morning I was a nine-year old rushing to be ready for my rural school bus, when in an instant my life changed. In her seventies, grandma Bessie sat down to rest and catch her breath, and never got up again. Her heart gave out.

Born to a young teenage mother not able to care for me, I was taken in by my great-grandparents as a baby. Grandma Bessie had been a pillar of her church, and beloved by everyone in the community.  A retired school bus driver, I wasn’t the only child comforted by her words of wisdom. Her good works were so compelling that the TV show Extreme Makeover had just selected us as a finalist for a new home.

Change was in the air, but it wasn’t the change we thought might be coming our way.

A diabetic, her blood pressure had become harder to control. Frequent trips to the doctor, and changes in medicines, didn’t seem to be working. Looking back to that day, I know how vitally important it is to have equal, and accessible, medical care in rural areas. It can often mean the difference between life and death.

Granddaddy Paul was left to raise me alone. We were quite the twosome, an old man and a girl child. Diabetic himself, I learned to give him his daily injections at a young age. He has had numerous hospital stays, and I am always the one by his bedside, night and day. Last count, he has had seven pin strokes.

I’ve had to grow up fast. Heart and vascular conditions are not easy to deal with, especially for a teenager who is the primary caregiver. It changes your lifestyle.

Recently granddaddy said, “I just want to live long enough to see you graduate high school." The day I turned eighteen, I was blessed to learn I had been accepted into a college that offers the degree I want to pursue, nursing. If I accept their offer I will have to move away and live in a dorm. I care about the elderly, and I want to make taking care of sick people my life’s work.

I’m excited, but I’m scared. My great-granddaddy is 83 and hopes to remain in his lifelong home. Follow-up care, and rehabilitation, are so needed for victims of heart attacks and strokes. Putting a cap on stroke therapy doesn’t make sense. I love my granddaddy, and I pray he will always receive the care he deserves. I pray that the legacy of caring that my great-grandparents taught me, I will be able to pass on someday as a nurse.

Dare I go after my dreams? Will my granddaddy be okay without me?

Written by Cynthia Arnsdorff, State Advocacy Committee Member

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Easy as 1-2-3

The Georgia General Assembly is in the thick of its legislative session. As expected, the budget remains the biggest sticking point for both the House and Senate. Transportation needs $1.5 billion to shore up Georgia’s failing highways and bridges, Health needs $500 million to shore up rural hospital finances and Education needs $200 million to eliminate teacher furlough days and to fund public schools.

The current tobacco tax of 37 cents raises only $180 million. Yet tobacco-related health care claims for Medicaid alone, according to Georgia’s Department of Community Health, cost taxpayers $567 million annually. An estimated 18 percent of Georgians currently smoke cigarettes.

By raising the tobacco tax by $1.23, Georgia not only falls in line with the national average, but an additional $585 million in annual revenue would be generated. Raising this tax does put a barrier on kids starting to smoke, and some adults will stop using tobacco due to cost. Over five years, however, the estimated revenue would still be at $464 million.

We can’t afford the price tag of tobacco-related illnesses, and it’s as easy as 1–2–3 for Georgia to have a cigarette tax that’s in line with the national average.

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Does Your Voice Matter? Proof It Does!

American Heart Association Ambassador and long-time You’re the Cure advocate, Kimberly Goodloe, attends as many events as possible at the Georgia Capitol to advocate for the wide variety of policies that improve heart health.

Early in January, You're the Cure advocates in Georgia received an alert welcoming their legislators back to the State Capitol for the start of the legislative session. Shortly thereafter, Kimberly attended a Day at the Capitol that focused on advocating for the funding of rural hospitals. She was able to meet with her senator, who is brand new to the legislature. He immediately remembered her name from the alert she sent, and she was able to share both the advocacy message of the day and her own personal survivor story with her senator.

A few weeks later, Kimberly attended the National Wear Red Day event at the State Capitol and once again met with senator. She thanked him for his support of raising awareness of heart disease in women. He remembered her from both the action alert and her visit, and recounted her survivor story.

So if you ever wonder if your voice is truly heard, the answer is YES! And alerts are only one way to have communication with your lawmakers. Most of them now have Facebook pages, Twitter handles, and Instagram accounts. These also are important media from which you can share your advocacy efforts!

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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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Stephanie Dempsey, Blairsville

Stephanie Dempsey, an American Heart Association volunteer from Blairsville, Georgia, who testified before the Senate Finance Committee in July about the devastating toll of heart disease on her and her family, has died. She was 44.

Dempsey was diagnosed with hereditary coronary artery disease at age 21. She had quadruple bypass surgery at 30, and later had another bypass. Along the way, Dempsey — who also dealt with lupus, a seizure disorder and arthritis — lost her job, her home and so much more.

Dempsey told lawmakers that the strain caused by her chronic health conditions also ruined her marriage and that she had no choice but to move in with her parents. They became her caregivers, often driving her to appointments several hours away.

To read the entire article on our beloved volunteer advocate, click here.

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Meet the New Surgeon General

Dr. Vivek Murthy was confirmed by the U.S. Senate in December to serve as the next surgeon general of the United States. The surgeon general is America’s top public health official, and his responsibilities range from managing disease to promoting prevention and a healthy start for our kids.

At 37, Vivek Murthy is the youngest person and the first Indian-American to hold the post of Surgeon General.

Since this position was created in 1871, just 18 people have held the job. Dr. Murthy, the 19th, replaces an Acting Surgeon General who has filled the role since 2013. Dr. Murthy’s confirmation was delayed for nearly a year due to political issues, but in that time he received the endorsement of more than 100 public health groups, including the American Heart Association.

Dr. Murthy has both business and medical degrees from his studies at Harvard and Yale. He completed his residency at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, where he most recently served as an attending physician. He has created and led organizations to support comprehensive healthcare reform, to improve clinical trials so new drugs can be made available more quickly and safely, and to combat HIV/AIDS.

His resume is remarkable, and we look forward to working closely with Dr. Murthy to improve the health of all Americans.

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Georgia Secures Win for Tobacco Cessation Coverage for Medicaid

On November 14, 2014, the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) approved the Georgia Department of Community Health’s Medicaid State Plan Amendment (SPA) 13-026 that expands tobacco cessation coverage to all adults, includes private counseling coverage, covers cessation products as identified by the U.S. Preventive Services Guidelines, and has minimal cost-sharing. The SPA retroactively went into effect to January 1, 2014.

This expansion will save lives and money in Georgia. Each year, smoking claims approximately 443,000 lives prematurely and costs the U.S. economy more than $301 billion. In Georgia alone, 42% of the Medicaid population smokes and the state Medicaid program incurs $372 million per year in tobacco-related health care costs, according to the CDC.

To garner this win, the American Heart Association partnered with several organizations, namely the American Lung Association, American Cancer Society - Cancer Action Network, the Department of Public Health, and the Department of Community Health. The AHA also worked closely with Medicaid officials through the arduous CMS approval process to provide them with best practices and current data. What in theory could be a 90-day approval process ended up taking 11 months. Upon approval of the SPA, You’re the Cure advocates thanked Clyde Reese, Commissioner for the Georgia DCH, via email.

Thank you to Georgia You’re the Cure advocates for supporting this very important advancement in reducing tobacco use in Georgia!

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You're the Cure Year End Successes, Let's Celebrate!
It was another banner year for You’re the Cure advocates championing heart and stroke policy change across the country. Year end is a time to look back at what we achieved in states, think ahead to the work still to do, and celebrate the power of volunteers.
 
What did we accomplish last year?
 
 
Below are just three of many victories that made 2014 so successful.  

 

  • 35 states now have laws protecting our littlest hearts. Pulse oximetry, a simple detection screening for heart defects gives newborns a chance to survive thanks to early detection.
  • We reached a major milestone in ensuring all students learn CPR before graduating from high school. Now more than 1 million students, in 20 states, will graduate each year with this lifesaving skill.
  • 6 states increased funding for heart disease and stroke prevention programs.

 

Want to see more accomplishments? Check out the video below.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
These are just a few highlights and for the full story be sure to check out the state by state wrap-up online. We couldn’t achieve these great accomplishments without the power of YOU our advocates. Your work to educate lawmakers, recruit family and friends, and share your story and expertise are what makes change happen. So from your AHA staff partners a big, Thank You!
 
P.S. – You can help inspire others to join the movement by sharing our accomplishments highlight video.

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You're the Cure on the Road: Macon, GA

On November 12, 2014, the American Heart Association hosted an advocacy training at the Coliseum Northside Hospital in Macon, Georgia for new and veteran volunteers.

Approximately 15 volunteers attended, varying in age and background, but unified in their passion about building healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke. Everyone shared their personal advocacy story and remained engaged over the course of lunch as they learned about the 2014 legislative outcomes and what is coming down the pipeline in 2015. Folks inquired about policy priorities, providing suggestions to help our cause and overall goals. 

Thank you to the volunteers who attended, the staff who helped organize the training, and Coliseum Northside for hosting us.

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