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Take the You're the Cure Advocate Survey

2015 was a great year for You're the Cure advocates and the many policy efforts that you work on. We have big plans for 2016, and we want to hear from you and what you want to see in the future for You're the Cure.

So take the survey now and let your voice be heard.

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Be Good to Your Heart this Heart Month!

February is American Heart Month and what better time to make simple, heart-healthy lifestyle changes?  Want to incorporate more physical activity into your day? Need healthy, low-sodium recipes? Would you like more information on controlling your blood pressure? It’s as easy as a click!

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Grace Firestone

Grace Firestone Delaware

Grace Firestone was given an incredible gift--a second chance at life. Just days after her high school graduation, her brother saved her life by performing CPR until EMTs arrived and what she’s done since is extraordinary. Grace understood that her story had the ability to inspire and worked with American Heart Association staff to convince decision-makers that teaching every student hands-only CPR was not only feasible, but necessary. Thanks to her dedication and a two-year effort, all Delaware students will now graduate with the skills to save a life.

In addition to her health advocacy work, Grace is preparing for Fall 2016 entry into medical school, serves on the patient advisory board of Christiana Care Health System and is captain of her club soccer team, a sport she wasn’t sure she could return to. For a woman barely in her 20s, Grace has already left a lifesaving legacy and her work is just beginning.

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Join us on National Wear Red Day, Friday, February 5

The American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women are asking for your support by participating in National Wear Red Day® on Friday, February 5, 2016 and donating to help fund research during American Health Month.

Why Go Red? Heart disease and stroke cause 1 in 3 deaths among women each year, killing approximately one woman every 80 seconds.  Fortunately, we can change that because 80 percent of cardiac and stroke events may be prevented with education and action. That’s why this year we are asking that you wear red on National Wear Red Day® and donate to Go Red For Woman. By doing so you help support educational programs to increase women’s awareness and critical research to discover scientific knowledge about cardiovascular health. 

And don’t forget to make your heart health a priority. Schedule your Well-Woman Visit, a prevention check-up to review a woman’s overall health so her doctor can measure blood pressure, check cholesterol and look for signs of heart disease, stroke and other illnesses. Then encourage others through your social channels to do the same.

We couldn’t make positive changes without the support and donations by individuals like you.

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Christi Nelson, Ohio

Christi Nelson Ohio

I was 29 years old and completely healthy. October 18, 2006, was just like any other day at Akron Children’s Hospital where I was completing my internship to be a Child Life Specialist.

I went out to a bridge that connects the hospital to a parking garage to make a phone call, and that is when my life changed. I collapsed and my heart stopped - I died on that bridge. Security caught my collapse on camera and called a code blue. I went five minutes before my first responder arrived and began administering CPR and AED shocks. Staff from the E.R. at Akron Children’s arrived at the scene and took over my treatment and after approximately 20 minutes of working on me, they decided to transport me to Akron General Medical Center.

I was without a heartbeat for 62 minutes and received 13 shocks with an AED before doctors at Akron General were able to revive my heart but I was not out of the woods yet. I was put in a hypothermic coma in an attempt preserve any possible remaining brain function and my family was given a less than 5 percent chance that I would ever wake from my coma. However, after almost a week, I did wake up. I spent a month recovering in the hospital where I had to relearn to how walk, talk, and eat. I received a defibrillator/pacemaker and underwent dialysis as I also experienced kidney failure. 

I have since been diagnosed with Primary Electrical System Disease which means I have a severe arrhythmia in my heart that tends to put me in Ventricular Fibrillation (V-Fib), which is the most serious type of cardiac rhythm disturbance. My defibrillator will save my life.  I have also received two heart ablations since my cardiac arrest. 

Seventeen months after my cardiac arrest I gave birth to an amazing little girl who is the light of my life and I thank God each and every day for my second chance at life and the chance to fulfill my dream of being a mom.

There is something important to note about my story. In the security footage, you can observe individuals who passed me on the bridge and left me laying there, not attempting to help me before my first responder came on the scene. Once she did arrive and started CPR, nobody attempted to help her either. It is evident that people do not always know what to do in an emergency situation; therefore, they do nothing. This is why passing CPR in Schools legislation in every state is so important. The more individuals we can train with bystander CPR, the more lives we can save. While I am a story of survival, there are too many stories that are not.  Let’s work together to make a difference.

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Get Social With Your Members of Congress

Will you be on Facebook or Twitter today? Your Members of Congress and their staff will be, and it's a good place to reach them according to a report released in October by the Congressional Management Foundation (CMF).

The CMF report, #SocialCongress, says Congressional offices are listening to social media chatter and it takes relatively few posts or comments to get their attention. That's good news for us!

So, how can you use the Facebook newsfeed or Twitter timeline to get the attention of lawmakers and help pass heart healthy policies?

  • Follow your members of Congress, as well as state and local elected officials on Twitter. ‘Like’ and ‘Follow’ their pages on Facebook.
  • Tweet about our health policy issues, tagging the appropriate legislators by using the @ sign and their Twitter handle. For example: I’m from Pennsylvania, so I’d tag my U.S. Senators by including @SenBobCasey & @SenToomey in my tweet.
  • If they allow it, you can post about our issues directly on the Facebook pages of elected officials. Frequently, that feature is disabled but you are able to comment on their posts. According to #SocialCongress, Congressional offices typically monitor those comments for a limited period of time. Your best bet is to comment within the first 24 hours after a post.
  • Rally your friends and family members to tweet, post or comment about an issue on a single ‘day of action’. CMF’s survey data shows just 30 or fewer comments can be enough to make a legislative office pay attention.
  • Be sure to use the campaign hashtag if one has been created by your advocacy staff partners. The #hashtag allows all the relevant posts to be woven together to tell our story, and makes your post searchable by others interested in the issue.    

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Charlotte and Rachel Richey, Kentucky

Charlotte and Rachel Richey Kentucky

On May 28, 2015, four-year-old Charlotte was diagnosed with an electrical heart condition called Catecholarminergic Polymorphic Ventricular Tachycardia (CPMVT). The diagnosis came after she had two incidents in which she lost consciousness and had to have CPR performed to save her life. After follow-up appointments and many tests, Charlotte was diagnosed with this condition that has no cure, but right now is maintaining very well with preventive measures. Charlotte is always at risk of v-tach, either from too much physical activity or from emotional stimulus that raises her heartbeat. She is on medication, but many preventive measures have been put into place, including CPR recertification for her parents, ensuring that other caregivers are CPR certified, and the purchase of an AED that stays in the home or travels with her.

Charlotte is a very lively little girl who does not meet a stranger and is full of personality. It is hard to slow her down, but it is necessary at times because of the possible risk of v-tach. She did not exhibit any symptoms prior to her first incident, which at that time was diagnosed as a concussion. Luckily, with persistence and recommended testing, we were able to find answers, even if it was difficult to process. We are very confident in her care and the precautions that we are taking, but it would offer great peace of mind if more individuals were CPR trained and could offer a quick response if a problem did present itself.

--Rachel Richey, mom to Charlotte

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2016 Is the Year We Make KY No. 28: Join Us Feb 9th for KY Advocacy Day!

Now is the perfect time to register and make plans to join us for Kentucky Advocacy Day: You're the Cure at the Capitol. Join others from across the state as we meet with lawmakers in support of heart-health policies, like ensuring all Kentucky students are trained in lifesaving hands-only CPR.

Twenty-seven states now have policies in place to ensure all students are trained in hands-only CPR. Your voice on February 9th can help make Kentucky No. 28!

AGENDA
Arrival/Check-in: 8:30-9 am in Capitol Annex (Room TBD)
Issue Overview/Q&A: 9-9:30 am
Scheduled Meetings With Lawmakers: 9:30 am - 1 pm (Lunch in Capitol Cafeteria at your convenience)
Media Event in Capitol Rotunda: 1-1:30 pm

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER TODAY and then watch your inbox for more information as the event nears!

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We're Feeling Grateful

As AHA Advocacy staff, we get to work alongside the most remarkable volunteers- like YOU! We get to see lives improved and lives saved as a result of the work we’ve done together, and for that, we're grateful.

As You’re the Cure volunteers, you share personal stories of loved ones lost too soon, of survival, or of triumph over heart disease or stroke- all because you know your stories will make a difference in someone else’s life. It is often those stories that convince lawmakers to pass the policies making our communities healthier.

Because of you, more babies are being screened with Pulse Ox and having their heart defects corrected before it’s too late. Because of you, people in communities around the country have been saved by students who learned CPR in school. Because of you, people are getting better stroke care, families have safe places for active play, fewer people are smoking, and kids are eating healthier food at school.  The impact you’re making is incredible, and our communities are better places- because of you.

You make us cry. You share your joy. You inspire us. You amaze us. And we’re just so grateful for all you do.

We’re including YOU as we count our blessings this month, and we wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends!   

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Michael Flynn, Pennsylvania

Michael Flynn Pennsylvania

On March 23, 2015, Michael Flynn was working in the city of Philadelphia when he went into full cardiac arrest at the VA Administration Building. A co-worker secured the site and they found a nurse in the building that started CPR. An AED was used on Michael two times. Medics quickly arrived and transported him to Temple University  Hospital. Michael had just turned 35 at the end of February, has a 3 year old daughter, Della, and his wife Julia was pregnant and due in May. He said he didn’t feel well, but other than that, there were no signs or symptoms. 

Michael awoke at Temple University Hospital. Doctors did a heart catheterization and found 100% blockage on the lower left side. He spent his first week in the hospital heavily sedated while on a breathing machine before his stent went into place. Among his visitors at the hospital was his supervisor who told him that, “everyone should be trained in CPR.” 

Michael was released from the hospital approximately two weeks later, has finished six weeks of cardiac rehab and is now back to work. There was damage to his heart and he is still working to get his heart rate up to where it should be. In the meantime, he welcomed his son, Cade, into the world in May 2015, and he is committed to a healthy lifestyle so that he will be around a long time for his family.

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