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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 a video highlighting our award winners below.

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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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Spring is in the air, and that means many exciting activities at the AHA

Guest Blogger: Erin Bennett, Idaho Government Relations Director

The legislative session will wrap up any day but we are happy to announce the Governor signed the appropriations bill for the Millennium Fund, with $4.7 million dedicated to tobacco prevention, cessation, and treatment. That is an increase of over $1.5 million from last year’s funding. During session we were also able to discuss with Legislators the importance of physical education and nutrition in schools, and will work during the interim with Legislators, the Department of Education, and other organizations to improve the health of all Idaho students.

Another big spring event for the American Heart Association is our annual Heart and Stroke Walk. We are in the middle of preparations for the walk, which will take place on Saturday, May 16, 2015 at Julia Davis Park in Boise. We have a number of teams signed up but it’s not too late to register if you are interested in participating in this great event. We are excited to have people join us at this free community event promoting heart health.

Make sure to swing by the Advocacy booth to learn more about what we will be working on in the upcoming months. We will be spreading the word on our efforts to help cities go smoke free, helping eliminate the harms of second hand smoke on workers throughout Idaho. We will also be educating people on the high amount of sodium in most of our diets and how it effects our heart health. Be sure to sign the sodium pledge and commit to reducing your sodium intake in an effort to love your heart.

I encourage you to join us for the Heart Walk, gather your own team, or join a friend’s and register here: Boise Heart Walk. Stop by our booth and learn about all the exciting things we’ll be doing over the next few months to advocate for the health of all Idahoans.

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Help us Take 5 for the Pledge

 

Thank you for your continued support of the American Heart Association’s lifesaving mission.

Recently, we developed a full and robust campaign to help us drive sodium awareness and reduction efforts, featuring the tagline: “I love you Salt, but you’re breaking my heart.”



The goals of the campaign are:

  • increase awareness of how much sodium we eat and the impact excess sodium has on our health
  • build a base of supporters who will actively engage with decision makers to effect policy changes that reduce sodium in the food supply
  • inspire behavior changes to reduce the amount of sodium people eat

The American Heart Association’s goal is to build a movement to change America’s relationship with salt. We ask that you take the pledge to reduce your sodium consumption.  We plan to use these pledges to urge the FDA and food manufacturers to reduce sodium in the food supply. Why the food supply? Currently, the average American consumes more than twice as much sodium than the American Heart Association recommends, and nearly 80 percent of it is coming from pre-packaged and restaurant foods. Plus, when you take the pledge, you will receive information, tools and tips as to how you can personally reduce your sodium intake – break up with salt and save your heart a potential lifetime of heartache! 

We need your help in extending our reach significantly beyond our current base of supporters.

To do this, we set up a simple “Take 5 for the Pledge” process for you to follow:

Visit the website: www.sodiumbreakup.heart.org/pledge

  • Take the pledge
  • Send an email to 5 of your friends, family members or contacts and ask them to take the pledge

Please email Cherish Hart at Cherish.Hart@heart.org or Josh Brown at Josh.Brown@heart.org if you have any questions or need additional information. I truly appreciate you taking the time to help drive our sodium awareness efforts. Together, we can make a difference.

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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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Amber Johnson

Written By: Sara Stout, Business Development Director

Heart disease hits close to home for Missoula’s Johnson family. Amber, a mother of three beautiful and creative children survived 32 years and two normal pregnancies only to find out while eight months
pregnant, she had been born with not one but two potentially life-threatening congenital heart conditions: Long QT Syndrome (a Sudden Cardiac Arrest electrical disorder) and Junctional Bradycardia (an arrhythmia disorder).

As the cardiologist who diagnosed her explained, Amber defied the odds for three decades, simply by staying alive. In 2013, Amber underwent surgery to have a pacemaker implanted which takes just seconds to shock her heart back to life when her heart malfunctions. Amber shares her story of survival to inspire others to take charge of their heart health and is thankful that she thrives today because of the research developed by the American Heart Association.

Unfortunately Amber’s eldest daughter, Laurelei, has the same potentially life-threatening congenital heart disease. Ten-year-old Laurelei shares her mother’s passion and energy for life knowing that one day she will be able to receive the same surgery as Amber. Until then, Laurelei will continue to carry her portable AED with her wherever she goes because it will save her life.

Amber and Laurelei shared their powerful story at the Go Red For Women Luncheon in Missoula on February 13th, reminding the 170 people in attendance that life is precious and to live every moment to the fullest. The Johnson family devotes their time to learning, creating, dancing, supporting each other and advocating for the American Heart Association.

Nearly 1 out of every 100 births a child is born with some form of heart disease.  Join the Go Red movement for families like the Johnson’s and in support of friends, family and other loved ones in the community who battle heart disease. www.goredforwomen.org

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February was a Busy Month

Guest Blogger: Erin Bennett, Idaho Government Relations Director

February was a busy month for the Idaho AHA, with the first annual Go Red Week taking place. February 3-7, 2015 had the AHA team, volunteers and community partners teaching hands-only CPR across the Treasure Valley and we now have over 2,000 new trained lifesavers. We also had a successful Stroke Education workshop for health care professionals and several wonderful opportunities to spotlight our amazing volunteers, survivors and sponsors.

We’ve also been busy in the Legislature, working with the Time Sensitive Emergency Council on creating rules and standards for approval. The Time Sensitive Emergency Council was formed in 2014 to create a more comprehensive system of care dealing with medical emergencies where time to treatment is critical, specifically trauma, stroke and heart attacks. The rules and standards for trauma have been approved by both the House and Senate Health and Welfare Committees.

In 2015 we’ll continue to work with the Council to develop the standards for Stroke and STEMI (ST segment elevation myocardial infarction, a particular type of heart attack that affects a large area of the heart muscle). These rules will be amended to include the standards for STEMI and Stroke designation criteria after the Legislature adjourns for the session. These designation standards will help improve the health care system statewide by improving the coordination between emergency responders, hospitals and other health care elements critical during an emergency.

We’ve also seen the recommendation for tobacco and substance abuse prevention and cessation funding from the Joint Legislative Millennium Fund Committee, with 18 programs receiving requested funding, and over $5 million going specifically toward tobacco cessation and abuse prevention. This represents an increase over previous years funding by over 25% toward the CDC recommended funding goals.

We have many other activities in progress and will continue to reach out to our volunteers and supporters as we move forward, working to improve heart health, decrease risk factors, and prevent heart disease and stroke.

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Idaho Youth Lobby Day 2015 - What An Amazing Day

Guest Blogger: Erin Bennett, Idaho Government Relations Director

On January 29, 2015 the American Heart Association created a buzz in the Idaho State Capitol with the 5th Annual Youth Lobby Day. The AHA Youth Lobby day brings together student advocates with legislators to discuss what can be done at the local level to improve heart health, and how we can work with younger audiences to focus on prevention efforts.

With approximately 40 students and volunteers, youth advocates were able to meet with over 25 legislators at the Capitol, focusing on physical education standards and requirements in school, as well as introducing legislators to new ideas regarding nutrition and Smart Snacks in schools. During a breakfast reception student lobbyists taught legislators, capitol staff, and visitors easy physical activities they could do throughout the day to help improve their own heart health, as well as teaching them hands-only CPR.

The students were also given recognition on the floor of the Idaho House of Representatives, for their commitment to the American Heart Association and dedication to improving health and reducing risk of heart disease and stroke. Youth advocates were able to have great discussions with many legislators and helped build support for AHA priorities in Idaho. The students were well received and provided insight to many legislators new to the Capitol as well. The 5th Annual Youth Lobby Day at the Idaho Capitol was a great event that helped further the mission of the AHA thanks to the amazing students and fantastic volunteers!

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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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