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House and Senate Committees take up CPR in Schools legislation

On April 28th, the House Education Committee heard testimony from a number of AHA advocates in support of HB 5160, introduced by Representative Thomas Hooker, that would ensure that all students in Michigan are trained in Hands-Only CPR before they graduate from high school. Representative Hooker testified that if all Michigan high school students learn basic CPR prior to graduation Michigan will gain an additional 100,000 CPR-trained lifesavers each year. Furthermore, four out of five cardiac arrests occur at home, so these students will most likely be saving the lives of their family members. Hands-Only CPR training can take as little as 30 minutes and can be easily incorporated into existing health curriculums. 

Parents shared heartbreaking stories of losing their children to cardiac arrest including Jocelyn Leonard, Randy Gillary and Kelly Warren, have chosen to become champions for change so that other parents don't lose their children.  Members of the EMS community: Jason Trojan and Dennis McMahon, testified on the importance of learning Hands-Only CPR due to the emergent time constraints.  There is a 10% reduction in brain function for every minute that a person is down from a cardiac arrest so the sooner CPR is administered the better the outcome for the patient. 

On May 3rd, the Senate Education Committee took up the CPR in Schools issue and, after hearing testimony from State Senator Tonya Schuitmaker and many of the advocates who spoke at the House hearing, voted 5-0 in favor of the bill!  We expect the House Education Committee to hold a vote in the near future.

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Ann Arbor proposes a Tobacco 21 ordinance

A potential ordinance change in Ann Arbor could make it harder for young people to buy cigarettes and other tobacco products.  Ann Arbor City Council Member Julie Grand is proposing to raise the legal age to purchase tobacco products in the city from 18 to 21.

While controversy on the proposal is expected, Grand is hopeful that if Ann Arbor takes the first step, then other municipalities in Washtenaw County, or the County as a whole, might follow and make a difference in reducing smoking rates and related health problems. Read Article

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AHA President Says: The Science is Clear on Sodium Reduction

Check this out! In a new video, the President of the AHA, Dr. Mark Creager, explains that the science behind sodium reduction is clear. He says that robust evidence has linked excess sodium intake with high blood pressure, which increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, and heart failure. And, he points out that you can do something about it: join AHA’s efforts to demand change in the amounts of sodium in our food supply.

“Nearly 80 percent of the sodium we eat comes from processed, prepackaged, and restaurant foods” says AHA president Dr. Mark Creager. The video shows the 6 foods that contribute the most salt to the American diet: breads & rolls, cold cuts and cured meats, pizza, poultry, soup, and sandwiches."

To see the video, head over to our Sodium Breakup blog!

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Share Your Story: Angela Kooi

Angela Kooi Michigan

On February 27, 2014, I was admitted to Borgess Hospital after being in and out of other hospitals for several weeks with heart-related symptoms (heart racing, dizzy spells, blurred vision, etc).  Several tests were run and despite a few elevated EKGs and occasions of catching a heart rate spike on the monitor, I was given the all clear and was ready to be sent back home. But, I know my body and knew this was not normal by any means. Thankfully the staff at Borgess hospital listened as I expressed my concerns, and finally, I was admitted.  Within 10 minutes of being admitted into my room and sending my family home I fainted.  My heart completely stopped - flat lined.  I woke to about 30 people in my room working frantically on me. They informed me that they thought they were going to have to “declare” me … what declare me dead?  As I spent the night in ICU I thought a lot.  I thought what if I hadn’t been persistent in explaining something wasn’t right and the need to stay that night in the hospital. What if I actually died? What would my husband and kids have done? What could I have done to avoid this?  The next morning I woke up to hear my husband and dad discussing options with the cardiologist.  The next thing I knew I was a 36-year-old with a pacemaker. I am alive, I am thankful and I am more knowledgeable. 

What did I learn?

Recognize the Symptoms. Get checked.  I had symptoms for several weeks and could have been more persistent with my doctor or gone directly to ER.  At times I made excuses for symptoms instead of addressing them.  I am young; there was no way I had heart issues, right? Wrong!  Symptoms of potential heart related issues include: heart palpitations, irregular or rapid heartbeats, discomfort in chest area, shortness of breath, sweating, nausea or light headedness.  Some of the symptoms may be vague.  Address symptoms with a doctor. It is common -- and often fatal -- to wait too long before getting help

Monitor/Document. Know your Body.  When going to the doctor I couldn’t always remember the symptoms from the days prior or if there was something that triggered my heart palpitations.  Having a log of my blood pressure/heart rate, along with the activity during those times and how I felt during those times was helpful when talking to doctors.  Telling the doctors that I know my body and that what I was going through was not right was critical in getting the help needed.

Find an outlet/make time for yourself.  Managing multiple priorities such as work, kids and home can undoubtedly be stressful.  I tried all the standard stress-relieving activities such as deep breathing, walking and yoga, but none of these seemed to work for me.  Find what works for you or brings you peace.  I learned that my “me” time or outlet was crafting, which gives me a sense of peace.

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CPR Lobby Day was a Huge Success!

On March 23, the Michigan advocacy team hosted a very successful CPR in Schools Lobby Day in Lansing.  Over 70 advocates and AHA staff from across the state were in attendance and made over 90 contacts with their lawmakers.  Attendees participated in a short training session regarding the current status of the CPR in Schools legislation which included key messages to share with their lawmakers and how to talk to lawmakers.  Participants also took part in a fun Hands-Only CPR training led by AHA staffer, Cindie DeWolf.  In addition, attendees were greeted and encouraged by legislative sponsors, Senator Tonya Schuitmaker (SB 647) and Representative Thomas Hooker (HB 5160) who spoke briefly about the reasons for introducing the legislation.

Both bills require that Hands-Only CPR training must be taken prior to graduation and can be offered anywhere between grades 7-12 and can be inserted into any part of the school curriculum.  The training does not have to be taught by a certified instructor as long as it does not result in a "certification card." The training must also provide the opportunity for practice of psycho-motor skills and encourages partnerships with local emergency responder groups and training centers. 

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The healthy difference a month can make

March is Nutrition Month, and a perfect time to get more involved with the AHA’s ongoing efforts to promote science-based food and nutrition programs that help reduce cardiovascular disease and stroke.

Every day, we’re seeing new initiatives: to make fruits and vegetables more affordable; to reduce the number of sugar-sweetened beverages that our kids are drinking; and of course, to ensure students are getting the healthiest school meals possible, all with the same goal: to help families across the country lead the healthiest lives they possibly can.

It’s also a great opportunity to lower your sodium intake. The average American consumes more than 3,400 milligrams of sodium per day – more than twice the AHA-recommended amount. Excessive sodium consumption has been shown to lead to elevated blood pressure, which increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. Visit www.heart.org/sodium for tips on to lower your intake and to get heart-healthy recipes.

However you choose to celebrate, Nutrition Month gives us all the chance to take control of our diets; to recommit to eating fresh, healthy foods; and to remember all month long that you’re the cure.

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Join us for our CPR in Schools Lobby Day!

Registration for our official CPR in Schools Lobby Day event is now open!   

Please visit https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/FJNSCM7  to RSVP  

Event Details

Date: Wednesday, March 23rd

Time: Registration opens at 8:00 am.  Event begins at 9:00 am and ends at 1:00 pm.

Location: The Radisson Hotel, 111 North Grand Avenue, Lansing, MI 48933  

Join the American Heart Association as we work to ensure that all students in Michigan are trained in Hands-Only CPR before they graduate from high school!   Our event will include an overview of the legislation, a demonstration of Hands-Only CPR, survivor stories, and a possible guest speaker.  We'll also answer any questions you have before you visit the offices of your State Senator and State Representative to ask for their support of the bills.  We'll regroup back at the hotel for a heart-healthy lunch and post-meeting activities.  

Remember to sign up using the link at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/FJNSCM7   Please ask your friends, family and colleagues to join you as well!  If you have any questions or have difficulty in registering, please email me at jason.harder@heart.org

Hope to see you later this month!

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Share Your Story: Melissa Johnson

Melissa Johnson - Michigan

I was 37 when I was told that I had been born with a congenital heart defect, a Bicuspid Aortic Valve while at the hospital after passing out in my office at work. I was introduced to a cardiologist the next day who told me that I would have to have it replaced earlier than expected. I than began having yearly appointments to monitor my heart until August 2013. I began to notice that I was having shortness of breath simply by walking up stairs, sometimes having to stop to “settle” my heart from racing. I also noticed that the tightness in my chest was more frequent than before. My fiancé Steve was very concerned and convinced me that I needed to call my cardiologist. I had another echocardiogram and was told that I needed replacement surgery as soon as possible as my heart was showing signs of enlargement. He was very honest in saying that it was really important that I did not “brush” my symptoms aside. An aortic valve replacement operation was scheduled but before I would make it to surgery, a tragic event will cause a delay.

On September 8, 2013, without knowledge of any major heart issues, my fiancé, Steve Dunning passed away from a massive heart attack. He had been taking high blood pressure medication, had his blood pressure under control and was two month post his yearly physical. He was playing basketball at a local park with a group of young people that he had been coaching and/or teaching for years. Although physicians believe he passed away before he fell to the ground, the police told me that out of all the people that were present, no one knew how to perform CPR, they just knelt next to him and waited….for 8 minutes until emergency responders arrived. Daily, I am haunted by what could have been done as well as the guilt that I know a few of these young community members have because they watched who they referred to as “Coach” and  “Superman” lay helpless and had no idea how to help. About six months later, I recalled a memory of when I came to the park and watched a team of professionals attempt to save Steve’s life, hearing “I’m sorry, I didn’t know what to do”. A 47-year old father, granddaddy, coach, educator, friend and the love of my life was taken too soon.  

It wasn’t until July 2015 that I made the decision to have open heart surgery. I simply was not able to handle even walking into a cardiologist’s office since Steve’s death. It was a life changing decision to save my own life. After surgery, I was struggling to recover despite the fact that I was 44 years old and in good physical shape. The symptoms seemed to continue. On the second anniversary of Steve’s passing, I was told by my heart team that I had a patient-prosthetic mismatch due to my aortic root being too small and would need to have yet another surgery. This time, I will have to have an Aortic Homograft. A homograft is a procedure where the patient's organ is replaced using a donor's organ. In terms of aortic homograft, the patient's aorta is replaced with a donor's aorta. This next surgery provides me yet another chance, because someone else didn’t get one.

It hit me. I realized that if there was ever a time to dare to make a difference, my time was now. For me and for the legacy of Steve.  I have to share my story of great love lost and great love survived to educate others. Never did I imagine my journey would take me from education of congenital heart defects, to the importance of living a heart healthy lifestyle and today the passion for driving the necessity for CPR to be taught in our school systems. More CPR trained individuals in our communities, more celebrations of life. Bystander CPR, provided immediately after sudden cardiac arrest can double or triple a victim’s chance of survival. Five minutes is the difference between life and death. If no CPR is provided or no defibrillation occurs within 3 to 5 minutes, the chances of survival drop. Join me in making sure that we can save the life of someone's Steve.

 

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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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Share Your Story: Chris Fowler

Chris Fowler Michigan  

There are always days that stick out in a person’s mind. To some, it may a bad day at work, or your boss gets after you, the battery in your car dies, it could be anything from A to Z. My day that sticks out is October 9, 2012. On this day my whole life changed. I was at football practice running for conditioning. We were half way through running and that’s when I stopped remembering what was going on. When I woke up in the emergency room, I figured out what had happened. My coaches told me I went down on one knee, and then ended up on my back. The coaches rushed over to me to find that I was cold and lifeless, I had gone into Sudden Cardiac Arrest. My coaches started CPR on me with chest compressions. Someone went to the school to get the AED and my heart was defibrillated back into action. I spent a week in the hospital and at the end of my stay, I was given an IDC implanted in my chest. It’s been over three years and to this day I’ve never had any other issues. It is a story that ended up happy.

But my happy ending brings up a question? What about the not so happy endings? I follow the news and read the stories everyday about someone going into Sudden Cardiac Arrest and there are many stories with the “un-happy” ending. There are two reasons I’m here today writing a happy story, instead of a sad story. Just two reasons. The first, is that I had coaches who were prepared. They were CPR certified and when the time came to use their training, they were ready.

However, CPR was only a part of my resuscitation. Like I said earlier, an AED was needed to “restart” my heart. Since my incident, I have been trying to share my story to as many people as possible. I have talked on the news and to newspapers trying to spread the fact that I was saved by an AED that my school was equipped with. The reason I have been trying to share that my high school had the AED is because it is estimated that 16,000 American children suffer a cardiac arrest each year. Children spend up to a third of their day in a classroom and if an event such as a sudden cardiac arrest happens at school, they should feel safe knowing that the school is prepared.

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