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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 on Thursday, February 12 at 8 p.m. Eastern. See you there!

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An update on One of Our Youngest Advocates - Coulter Cross

You might remember our littlest advocate Colter and his mom Bobbie from last year. With Congenital Heart Defect Awareness week upon us (February 7-14) we wanted to give you an update on how he is doing.  This message was written by his mom, Bobbie:

Colter celebrated his 3rd birthday in November as well as his 3rd Heart-a-versary! Colter's busy as ever playing with all of his favorite superheroes, Batman in particular! Colter's been perfecting his football moves as he wants to be just like his favorite football player, Russell Wilson. It's been such an honor to be a part of his journey to living a healthy life.

Medically, Colter is doing very well, he had a stent placed in his conduit this last August. Due to some complications during the stent placement, the routine angioplasty wasn't done on his pulmonary arteries. So we've had monthly checkups with his Cardiologist to monitor him very closely until June, when he'll have another catherization to open those arteries back up. I still can't believe some days that there's anything wrong with his heart, the amount of energy that boy has is incredible! He plays football from sun up to sun down. We look forward to 2015 and all the year has to bring!”

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Smokefree Idaho Poll Results are In

Guest Blogger: Erin Bennett, Idaho Government Relations Director

The Smokefree Idaho coalition is doing great work encouraging cities across the state to go smokefree, and recent polls show we have a good deal of support in our efforts. The American Heart Association is working with the American Lung Association and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, along with other partner organizations to help implement strong smokefree policies across Idaho. Our goal is to ensure workers do not have to choose between their job and their health.

We recently conducted a poll in three cities, Meridian, Pocatello and Idaho Falls, to gauge support of our efforts, and found that in each city, over 65% indicated they would support laws prohibiting smoking in all public places, including bars, offices and other workplaces. With over 87% agreeing that exposure to secondhand smoke is a health hazard and over 82% believing workers should be protected from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke, it is clear that smoke free policies are urgently needed. Respondents were also more likely to support local candidates for office who support laws prohibiting smoking in public places, and results were generally consistent across ideological party lines, age, gender income, and education.

These polls show us that voter support is strong and now is the time for cities to enact smoke free ordinances. The AHA/ASA will continue working with Smokefree Idaho to implement policies that create healthier environments for all workers across Idaho. We are excited to gain this momentum in the new year, and believe 2015 could be one of the best years yet for helping more Idaho cities go smoke free!

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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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Advocate Spotlight: Kami Sutton

As a survivor, volunteer, advocate and staff member – I wanted to share my story. 

I was recently featured on a Children’s Health Link special on our local NBC affiliate, KING5, with a story that highlights me as an 11 year old volunteer and fast forwards to where I am today. Please take a look and how far I have come and what the future holds!

Twenty-six years ago, I was born with a severe congenital heart defect (CHD). My parents were told that I might not survive the 30 minute ambulance ride from Everett to Seattle Children’s Hospital. As would become my goal in life, I did my best to prove the doctors wrong and to this day I still try to prove them wrong in the way I accomplish things they never believed possible. And always by my side, helping me achieve this was medical research and technology.

It seems that over the years, technology has always been one step behind me, as soon as I would need a new repair, it was found to be possible for pediatric use right in the nick of time. I have always been in the right place and the right time of technology and my next procedure is no different.

As I transition from pediatric to adult care at the University of Washington Medical Center, we are looking at my condition with fresh sets of eyes and new technology possibilities in hopes of avoiding a heart transplant which I have been awaiting for the past five years. A new pacemaker to improve my heart function could be the answer, but with my complex anatomy, my doctor thought it might be more difficult to place a new wire to the opposite side of my heart.

I had recently heard about research using patient-specific 3D heart models to practice cardiac ablations, so I asked the doctor if it might be helpful in my case. He was quite excited that I had suggested this and about a month ago, I underwent a cardiac CAT scan to start the process. I should be receiving my new pacemaker sometime early next year once he masters the procedure.

This technology and the possibility of me having better heart function and quality of life has been eye-opening and I again realize just how important the work we do at the AHA is. I have always had a passion for our cause but knowing that advances in medicine every day could lead to a better outcome for patients like me is what drives me.

Thank you to each and every one of you for supporting our mission, it means the world to me and every other CHD, heart and stroke patient out there!

For the full story, please click here.


Kami Sutton

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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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The 2015 Legislative Session is Just Around the Corner

Guest Blogger: Erin Bennett, Idaho Government Relations Director

The upcoming 2015 Idaho Legislative Session promises to be another busy one at the American Heart Association. The recent elections have given us some fresh faces on familiar committees, as well as changes to a few key positions in leadership.  These changes provide new opportunities to talk to lawmakers about the important issues we are working on, and why we advocate for them.

Our focus in 2015 will be to continue our work on the Time Sensitive Emergencies rules and standards.  We have been working on this issue with the Governor’s TSE Council and hope we can make some real progress on this important issue. This will help create a more comprehensive approach to our quality systems of care to ensure that in an emergency, every patient receives the appropriate care in the timeliest manner.

We will also continue working on physical education requirements in schools, Medicaid expansion, increasing funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs, and working on the local level for smoke free cities.

With the changes at the Legislature, we are sure to be busy educating new lawmakers on all the great things the American Heart Association is doing across Idaho, including implementation of our CPR graduation requirement passed last year. Volunteers will be crucial to our advocacy efforts, and we look forward to working closely with you to advocate for programs that improve health and reduce risks of stroke and cardiovascular disease throughout the year!

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Welcome Erin Bennett

Guest Blogger: Erin Bennett, Idaho Government Relations Director

I’m excited to join the American Heart Association/ American Stroke Association as the new Government Relations Director in Idaho, and to continue the great work we are doing to further our mission here.

The AHA/ASA has been advocating to improve the health of all Idahoans, and I’m looking forward to working with the fantastic volunteers to keep the momentum going strong. We recently secured CPR training as a high school graduation requirement, adding thousands of trained rescuers to Idaho’s population every year. I hope to continue this emphasis on Idaho’s youth by focusing on physical education standards and introducing healthy food initiatives in schools.

Recently, I joined the Governor’s Time Sensitive Emergency Council to improve quality systems of care throughout the state to ensure every Idahoan facing a medical crisis such as a heart attack or stroke receives the right care, in the right time, at the right place. I look forward to working with coalition groups to encourage smoke free cities and expand health care access. I’m also open to new ideas and opportunities to improve the health of Idahoans across the state.

Before joining the AHA, I served as an independent government and public affairs consultant, specializing in health care, education and non-profit issues. I have worked with the Idaho Legislature since 2005, as well as working in Oregon and on the Federal level. I have worked in campaigns, polling, strategic planning and development for various organizations in Idaho, Oregon and Washington, DC, and look forward to using my experience to further the mission of the AHA/ASA in the policy arena.

When I’m not working on public policy issues, I’m usually at the pool playing water polo, or at the park for a game of flag football with friends, traveling whenever possible, and annoying my dog tremendously. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to work with everyone involved in the AHA/ASA, and to continue making our community more awesome!

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Giving Thanks for a Great Year!

As fall draws to a close, we are taking the time to thank all of our volunteers and celebrating a great year. Together, You’re the Cure advocates, like you, successfully advocated for heart healthy and stroke smart policies in their communities and states. We could not achieve the positive change in our communities without each and everyone of you. We are truly thankful for all that you do!

Below are just a few of the accomplishments we are thankful for this year: 


  1. Six new states require CPR as a graduation requirement. That means over 1.1 million students will be trained in life-saving CPR every year! With your help, we can add even more states to this list!
  2. Twelve new states require newborn screening for congenital heart defects before they leave the hospital. The earlier we can detect an issue with these little hearts, the better chances at a healthy life. Thirty-two states now require this screening.
  3. A half-a-dozen states increased funding for heart disease and stroke related programs.
  4. Advocates from all over the country made their voice heard in Washington D.C. on issues from more physical education in school to increasing funding for more heart and stroke research.

Once again, thank you for all the work you have done this year and for years to come! We cannot wait to see what the next 12 months brings us, but with your help, we know we will improve the lives of heart and stroke patients across the country.

Want to learn more about what we do? Check out the video below and share it with others!

(Please visit the site to view this video)

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