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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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It's Nice to Share

  

Sharing is nice, we learned in kindergarten, and here’s where it can really count.  It’s super-easy to share our grassroots network with your friends and family, so their voices can help support CVD legislation too. 

We seriously need to reach the people who understand something about cardiovascular diseases and/or stroke – and, think about it, who do you know who does not have a connection somehow to someone directly impacted?  The people in your social networks care about you, and you can help inspire them to care about our mission.    

Simply post our video on your social media with this text, or something similar of your own:

Please help me build healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke, through grassroots advocacy.  It’s for us and our loved ones.  Please join and support the cause – I’ll appreciate it personally.  You could easily wind up helping someone you know.  It’s fast, and it’s easy to be an active part of the American Heart Association’s You’re the Cure network: www.yourethecure.org

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And you know how quickly a post disappears down the queue …please bookmark this and consider re-posting periodically so more of your network has a chance to respond. 

You can also click the Share button that pops up on our website after you’ve taken action on an alert to effortlessly push the message to social media. Every time!

Please don’t think this is not important just because it’s not driving a particular policy.  Our impact as a grassroots network is only as strong as its number of active voices: the people willing to take the time to help drive messages to their legislators. 

Share to help our mission!  This act helps significantly to make our network a force to be reckoned with. 

  

 

<Picture credit: https://www.flickr.com/people/76535310@N00>

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Juddson Rupp

Juddson Rupp, Mid-Atlantic Affiliate

I didn’t remember anything from my week in the hospital, but when a friend brought in a copy of the six o’clock news from October 27, 2000 I quickly realized that either that was a slow news day or that I was one lucky miracle survivor with an important story to share.

"Being at the right place at the right time and near the right equipment may have been a real life saver for a man working out at the YMCA,” the TV anchor began. Her co-anchor added, "Judd Rupp, not your typical heart attack victim - he's in his 30's and was at the gym.  Thanks to some people who knew exactly what to do, he's alive today."

Reporter Steve Litz brought the story to a close saying: "Two important notes to add- It was difficult identifying Judd Rupp as he was not wearing any kind of I.D.  Everything worked in Rupp's favor at the YMCA because so many know CPR there.  Another note, Juddson Rupp is an employee here at WSOC-TV.  We all wish him well in his recovery."

After getting choked up watching news clips like the one above a decade ago, I knew that internally and externally my life had changed.  I could no longer be a just a private citizen.   I had to share my story publicly for several reasons.  I now strongly believe that being and advocate and sharing your story is an important duty as a survivor.

The American Heart Association approached me to ask if they could use my story for the upcoming Heart Ball.  The Marketing Director told me that sharing my story could help save hundreds, if not thousands of lives through the years.  Then the publicity became a 'no-brainer' for me.  Why wouldn't I help save others by informing people to learn CPR or by encouraging them to purchase AED's and stop cardiovascular disease with added research and funding?

After the initial Heart Ball work in 2001, I was asked to be in a Public Service Announcement (PSA) that ran on Charlotte TV stations and throughout the Carolinas in a commercial also featuring my wife and two children urging people to 'Learn CPR...it can save lives!'  I became the poster boy for the American Heart Association, as my wife had joked.  She also knew that I was honored to do this and practically anything to help AHA grow its cause...and be the cure.

My volunteer time and work became even more empowering after meeting Betsy Vetter in 2004.  She asked me to join You’re the Cure, and become an advocate for AHA.  My initial role had me traveling to Washington, DC and visiting with Federal Legislators on Capitol Hill.  I am proud to say that I have not missed an AHA Federal Lobby Day since.

Since then I have held multiple roles including communications/media chair for the NC AHA Advocacy Coordinating Committee, a member of the AHA Charlotte Mission Committee, and co-chair of the Smoke-free Mecklenburg Advocacy Committee. I have also been active with Emergency Cardiovascular Care and the Heart Ball, and attended numerous state lobby days at the General Assembly in Raleigh where I share my personal experience with state lawmakers to help them better understand the importance of supporting strong public health policies.

Speaking with countless legislators and their staff to put a face on heart disease, and fight for so many who are not with us anymore is the most empowering reason I do this.  

*On December 14, 2013 Juddson was the recipient of the 2013 Dr. Robert Blackburn Award for Advocacy Excellence which honored all of his advocacy work at the American Heart Association.

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Advocates Converge on Annapolis to Support Healthier Kids’ Meals

It might be cold outside, but things are heating up in the Maryland General Assembly! You’re the Cure advocates from across Maryland gathered in Annapolis on February 5 for the American Heart Association’s 2015 Lobby Day to support legislation to improve the nutritional quality of kids’ meals.

Advocates spent the morning enjoying a heart healthy breakfast and networking with legislators, staff, and partner organizations. Through displays, participants saw first-hand the amount of sugar that lurks in many popular drinks (18 tsps in a 20oz bottle of Mountain Dew!), and had the chance to experience what it’s like to carry around 10 extra pounds of weight.

The major focus of the day was on urging Maryland legislators to support a bill that would make restaurant kids’ meals healthier by positioning water, 100% fruit juice, and low-fat milk as the default beverages offered on dedicated kids’ menus. Many advocates had the chance to meet one-on-one with their legislators to educate them about the bill and the importance of making the healthy choice the easy choice in Maryland.

A big thank you to everyone who participated in this year’s event, and a special shout out to our wonderful event partners, The Maryland Chapter of the American College of Cardiology, the Women Legislators of the Maryland General Assembly, and Sugar Free Kids, Maryland.

P.S. If you missed this year’s event, you can still ask your legislators to support healthy kids meals by taking action here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

<Special thanks to You're the Cure Intern Hannah Jones for help crafting this blog post> 

 

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Want To Make A Difference? Here's How!

With 2015 legislative sessions underway, it’s a wonderful opportunity to reflect on ways that advocates can make a difference.

How Can You Make an Impact? Here are some examples:

Take Action (and make it personal): When you receive an action alert quickly take action! It’s important to respond when an alert enters your email box; often-times, they contain opportunities to reach out to your legislators on an important issue, and may involve a time sensitive committee hearing or legislative vote – so we recommend that you take action without delay! Don’t forget to let your legislators know why the issue is important to YOU in your communication - that is what they want to hear, why this issue is important to their constituents! Then take that next step, share the alert on social media, and encourage others to take action. Let your friends and family know what you’re up to – and that you’re saving lives with You’re the Cure.

Build the Relationship: Your local contact with lawmakers is critical to ensuring they have information about why issues are important to you and their district. You help draw the connection between state policy choices and local impacts. How can you do this? Think about which of your elected officials you may know – can you cultivate that relationship to make it stronger? Send a personal note with thoughts on the issues you care about. This can really get a lawmakers attention.  Request a meeting and work with your state Grassroots Director to identify others from your community to join (we suggest no more than 4) so that you can provide education on the AHA issues. Consider inviting your elected official to speak to your church or other civic group to share their insights on the policy process.

Above all, it is important to always be respectful, helpful, and clear about what your perspective is and how you hope your elected official can help. We are always available to provide you talking points and guidance.

Attend Advocacy Events: Your state advocacy team will offer trainings, both in-person and via teleconference, which provide a great opportunity to not only learn more about the hot button issues in your state and community, but also offer you the opportunity to meet other great advocates like yourself! Want to know if there is an event coming up in your state? Reach out to your state Grassroots Directors, Keltcie Delamar if you live in MD, DC, or VA or to Kim Chidester if you live in NC or SC, to learn more about what is going on in your area!

Update Your Profile: We want to send you action alerts about issues you want to hear about. Please take a moment and make sure to update your profile. Go to www.yourethecure.org, log in to your account, and click on your name in the top right corner of the screen to access your profile information. Here, you can also select your interests on the "my interest" tab to make sure you are getting emails about the issues that are important to you!

In addition to indicating the issues you are interested in, you can update your contact information so we stay in touch.

Stay in the Know: Watch for our blog posts and updates—they are full of information about what is going on currently, and be sure to share on social media and comment when there is an opportunity. Be sure to stay in touch with your state Grassroots and Government Relations Directors. As your AHA staff partners, your Grassroots and Government Relation Directors are a resource to you and will help provide you with key information—so keep in touch!

Make 2015 the year when you take your advocacy work one step higher – pick one of the ideas and try it out! You will make a difference.

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Gail Mates

Gail Mates, Mid-Atlantic Affiliate

I spent most of my life watching heart disease strike family members. Both grandfathers died of heart attacks, my father suffered from several and even my mother had an enlarged heart and hypertension that made her susceptible. When my father had a stroke, I witnessed firsthand the depression and fear that he felt.  It was heart wrenching to watch.  

In my own life, health issues were mounting. High cholesterol, high triglycerides, diabetes, sleep apnea, esophagus surgery and a metabolic syndrome were just a few of the hurdles I faced.   I was digging my grave with a knife and fork!
 
I knew my life was going downhill, but nurturing was something I did for others, not myself. It wasn’t until my daughter pled with me to make a change that I finally listened.  My daughter told me through tears that I was killing myself and that she wanted me to be here for her children.  

Diet was the first area I tackled. I began eating ‘live’ foods, shopping on the outside of the grocery store instead of the inner aisles of canned and boxed foods. Exercise came slower, but it was the pace I wanted to set because I knew that doing too much, too soon would backfire. I started with 5 minutes of exercise a week and was soon able to fulfill my dream of completing a 5k run. 

Almost 60 pounds lighter, I am changing my heart every step of the way. My diabetes, high cholesterol and triglycerides, sleep apnea, and esophagus are all great now!   I don’t make excuses; I just do what I need to do.  If it’s snowing outside and I can't get to the gym, I simply walk around my living room and bedroom.  If you can make it easy, you can find a way.

There’s one thing that keeps me going – the smile on my daughter’s face.   I plan to be here for a long long time. 

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Thirsty for Change

With the 2015 Legislative Session well underway, the American Heart Association is working on an exciting campaign to improve the health of Maryland children.

As most parents are well aware, many restaurants offer menu items just for kids. Given the high rates of childhood obesity in Maryland, it’s important to ensure that kids’ meals include healthy options. Unfortunately nearly 80% of the top chain restaurants offer soda as the automatic beverage in kids’ meals.

Please join us in asking lawmakers to support a bill to reduce sugary beverages in kids’ meals.

Did you know that one 12-ounce orange soda has 12 teaspoons of sugar? That’s 3-4 times what the American Heart Association recommends a child consume in one day! Drinking just one 8-ounce sugary drink each day increases a child’s risk of obesity by 60%. Obesity has a negative impact on nearly every part of our bodies, and it’s a risk factor for many diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers. Obesity also leads to billions of dollars in financial costs each year. Today, 21% of all health care costs are due to obesity-related conditions.

While there are many factors that contribute to obesity, improving the nutritional quality of kids’ meals is one step towards turning this epidemic around. Studies show that people are more likely to select the item that’s listed on the menu rather than request an alternative. If kids’ meals include healthy beverages—like low-fat milk or water—then that’s what kids are likely to drink.

Please take action today to let your lawmakers know that you support healthy beverages in kids’ meals.

Listen to some inside scoop on why this effort is so critical:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

<Special thanks to You're the Cure intern Hannah Jones for help crafting this blog post>

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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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MD Session Prep

We are getting ready to rumble!  We expect the 2015 MD General Assembly session to be eventful and productive.  Get a load of the issues we are preparing to work on, and join us, if you’d like, for a short call January 26th to learn details and how you can help.  RSVP for the Jan 26 Session call: rebekah.mcdonald@heart.org 

Obesity prevention in children - Eliminate sugar sweetened beverages from kids’ restaurant menus and restrict meal-included beverages to water and low fat milk.  Soda, juice drinks, sports drinks, and other sugary drinks are the largest source of calories in children's diets, providing nearly half of children's sugar intake.  A Harvard School of Public Health study found that for each additional serving of soda or juice drink a child consumes per day, the child's chance of becoming overweight increases by 60%.  Reducing sugar-sweetened beverage consumption could go a long way towards fighting childhood obesity across the country and in Maryland.

Put your two cents in now to alert our legislators we need to solve this problem!

Significantly Increase Tobacco Excise Tax – Promote a 50% increase in the excise tax on cigarettes, raising the cost per package from $2.00 to $3.00.  Every 10 percent increase in the consumer’s cost of cigarettes reduces overall cigarette consumption by approximately three to five percent, reduces the number of young-adult smokers by 3.5 percent, and reduces the number of kids who smoke by six or seven percent.  An increase in the excise tax would be a significant step towards saving lives.

We may also be working to

- Promote sustainable healthy food and beverage vending policies and service standards in Baltimore City.

- Enact statewide standards for the formal designation of acute stroke ready hospitals, primary stroke centers, and comprehensive stroke centers consistent with American Heart Association criteria.

- Eliminate the tax on bottled water to encourage consumption of water over sugar-sweetened beverages.

Thanks for being by our side!  We couldn’t do this without you:  our You’re the Cure advocates work to support and advocate for public policies that will help improve the cardiovascular health of Americans and reduce deaths by coronary heart disease and stroke.   If our voice is loud enough this session, we can impact the lives of many Marylanders for many years to come! 

Click here to send your customizable letter to support healthier restaurant meals for kids now.

 

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Kendra Meiklejohn

Kendra Meiklejohn, Mid-Atlantic

My husband and I were so excited at the ultrasound to find out the sex of our second child. We had our son with us. We were joking and talking with the tech. She suddenly grew quiet. When the doctor came in and viewed the ultrasound, he was also very quiet. It didn’t really sink in until they told us, “There is something wrong with your baby’s heart.”

They couldn’t elaborate. They made an appointment for a fetal echo. We had to wait and wonder and worry for 4 days until we got her diagnosis. She had tricuspid atresia. One of her valves hadn’t formed so one ventricle didn’t develop. Without surgical intervention, most babies with this defect will not live to their first birthday.

We were terrified and worried, but also hopeful. I began to share her story to educate others. Before this time I didn’t realize that babies could have heart defects, but I learned that 1 in 100 are born with some sort of heart defect. It is the MOST common birth defect.

Iryl (rhymes with spiral) was monitored closely during my pregnancy. A birth plan was put in place for her. We toured the NICU and PICU at our hospital and we were scheduled to meet with the pediatric cardiac surgeon when Iryl decided to come early- at 34 1/2 weeks.

She was born via an emergency c-section.  She had a few other surprises for us, too. She also has sacral agenesis (no sacrum), heterotaxy (means differently arranged and usually effects the heart, intestines and spleen but can affect other visceral organs), asplenic, duodenal atresia (intestinal blockage) malrotation, pulmonary stenosis and atrial septal defect.

Despite all of this, she is amazing. She is currently 22 months and doing really well. We still check her pulse oximetry reading daily. This simple test, “pulse ox,” is what can save newborns with undetected congenital heart defects. The device is like a band aid with a light that measures the oxygen saturation. Most people have oxygen saturation near 100%. If a newborn’s is a lot lower, more testing needs to be done right away to check for critical issues.

This screening test is NON-invasive, it’s cheap and it’s quick. It can save lives. For as long as there are congenital heart defects, parents and the medical community need to do everything they can to save these kids. Pulse ox screening should be provided for every baby before going home from the hospital.

 

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