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Find the Heart Walk Near You

The Heart Walk is the American Heart Association’s premier community event, helping to save lives from heart disease and stroke. More than 300 walks across America raise funds to support valuable health research, education and advocacy programs of the American Heart Association in every state. Our You’re the Cure advocacy movement – and our public policy successes along the way – are all made possible by the funds raised by the Heart Walk. Whether it’s CPR laws passed to train the next generation of lifesavers or policy to regulate tobacco products and prevent youth smoking,  together we are building a world free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke. The Heart Walk is truly a community event, celebrating survivors, living healthy, and being physically active. We hope you’ll join us and visit the site today. If there is not a walk listed in your area soon,  it may be coming in the spring season or you can join a virtual event. And don’t forget to connect with your local advocacy staff and ask about your local Heart Walk day-of You’re the Cure plans - they may need your help spreading the word. Thanks for all you do, and happy Heart Walk season.

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Share Your Story: Bill O'Neal

Bill O'Neal Missouri

Bill O'Neal's heart stopped while he was giving 40 students an ACT test.  "I always think it’s a bit ironic that I taught for two years at the Collegiate School for Medicine and Bioscience and I gave the kids some hands on experience," O'Neal said.

This teacher of more than 30 years has spent his career giving lessons at the head of the class. But he had no warning of the big one he'd be giving right at this spot in this St. Louis magnet school on April 19. "I don't remember coming up to this room to proctor the ACT," said O'Neal, who is 59.  "I have no memory of the event at all."

Without warning, Bill suddenly collapsed in front of another teacher and more than 40 students taking a test. Statistically, that should have been the end of the story. Ninety percent of people whose hearts stop suddenly outside of a medical setting, don't make it to a hospital alive. Read More.

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American Heart Association Celebrates Lifesaving Victory as Missouri Becomes 34th State to Provide CPR Training in Schools

Governor Nixon has signed Senate Bill 711 to equip a new generation of Show-Me State lifesavers; More than 60,000 Missouri students to be newly trained in first year of law’s implementation

JEFFERSON CITY, MO, June 14, 2016 – Governor Jay Nixon signed Senate Bill 711 (SB 711) today, making Missouri the 34th state to provide lifesaving CPR training in schools. Today’s action by Governor Nixon marks the culmination of five years of work by many dedicated survivors, volunteers and advocates. This legislation has been the centerpiece of the American Heart Association’s policy priorities in the Show-Me State, opening the door for all Missouri students to receive a 30-minute introduction to lifesaving skills at some point during their four years of secondary education. The law will take effect during the 2017-2018 school year, in which more than 60,000 Missouri students will immediately benefit from this lifesaving training.

“The American Heart Association celebrates this important victory and we thank the many survivors, volunteers and collaborating partners for making this moment possible,” said Jace Smith, Senior Government Relations Director for the American Heart Association in Missouri. “Four of every five out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur in private or residential settings. CPR training in schools strengthens the cardiac chain of survival by equipping thousands of civilian bystanders to be ready to respond in an emergency. Many lives will be saved because of this legislation.”

SB 711 was sponsored by Senator Dan Brown. An identical bill, House Bill 1643 (HB 1643), was sponsored by Representative Ron Hicks. Both pieces of legislation experienced broad bipartisan support. SB 711 requires schools to provide students instruction in CPR and use of an automated external defibrillator (AED) as part of high school graduation requirements. The training must be administered during a physical education or health class, as part of the Missouri curriculum, allowing schools flexibility in offering the training. The curriculum can be introduced in 30 minutes or less using a ‘practice-while-you-watch’ approach with an inflatable manikin and instructional DVD. The law does not require students to achieve CPR certification, nor is this a “pass/fail” training. The bill simply allows students to understand and become familiar with the basics.

For one key legislative proponent, the effort was especially personal. Representative Ron Hicks used his own CPR training to save the life of a Missourian who collapsed during a visit to the Missouri State Capitol in 2014. As a result of that incredible experience, Representative Hicks vowed to see the law passed during his time of public service and worked diligently to help make it happen.

“I have two children and know that children are our future,” said Representative Hicks. “We teach skills in the classroom to help students be successful in life. This legislation provides an opportunity to do something very special: to equip students with a tool that protects life and impacts generations to come. That’s why this legislation is so important to me.”

Why Learn CPR? - Cardiac arrest – an electrical malfunction in the heart that causes an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) and disrupts the flow of blood to the brain, lungs and other organs – is a leading cause of death. Each year, more than 350,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur in the United States.

When a person has a cardiac arrest, survival depends on immediately getting CPR from someone nearby. Almost 90 percent of people who suffer out-of-hospital cardiac arrests die. CPR, especially if performed in the first few minutes of cardiac arrest, can double or triple a person’s chance of survival.

Be the Difference for Someone You Love - If you are called on to give CPR in an emergency, you will most likely be trying to save the life of someone you love: a child, a spouse, a parent or a friend. Seventy percent of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests happen in homes. Unfortunately, only about 46% of people who experience an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest get the immediate help that they need before professional help arrives.

Music Can Help Save Lives - During CPR, you should push on the chest at a rate of 100 to 120 compressions per minute. The beat of “Stayin’ Alive” is a perfect match for this.

How To Give Hands-Only CPR - If you see a teen or adult suddenly collapse, call 9-1-1 and push hard and fast in the center of the chest to the beat of the classic disco song “Stayin’ Alive.” CPR can more than double a person’s chances of survival, and “Stayin’ Alive” has the right beat for Hands-Only CPR.

Hands-Only CPR Can Save Lives - Most people who experience cardiac arrest at home, work or in a public location die because they don’t receive immediate CPR from someone on the scene. As a bystander, don’t be afraid. Your actions can only help.

When calling 9-1-1, you will be asked for your location. Be specific, especially if you’re calling from a mobile phone, as that is not associated with a fixed address. Answering the dispatcher’s questions will not delay the arrival of help.

For More Information. To learn more, visit www.heart.org/handsonlyCPR.

About the American Heart Association & the American Stroke Association: The American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association are devoted to saving people from heart disease and stroke – the two leading causes of death in the world. We team up with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies, and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat these diseases. The Dallas-based American Heart Association is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. The American Stroke Association is a division of the American Heart Association. To learn more or to get involved, call 1-800-AHA-USA1 or visit www.heart.org. In Missouri, you may also find us on Facebook and Twitter.

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Share Your Story:Susan O'Brien

Susan O'Brien Missouri

Susan O’Brien was living happily with her new husband Mark and their two puppies in their dream home, enjoying good times as summer approached.  "Life was wonderful," recalled Susan, a petite woman in her 50s who exercised regularly and was in seemingly good health. "I felt great."

Then something startling happened while she sat at her desk at work in May 2013. Susan felt faint. The dizzy spell lasted only a couple of seconds, and she didn’t pass out. "I was nearly fainting, doing nothing by sitting," she said. Two days later, the feeling came again, this time while she walked in the park. Susan knew she needed to get checked by a doctor right away. "I know my body," she said. "I went to my physician."  Even though her blood pressure and cholesterol were normal and there were no outward signs of a problem, Susan and the doctor decided she would wear a portable heart monitor to find out what might be going on. "He was being really thorough," she said. Susan wore the monitor for 24 hours, feeling fine the whole time. "We went out that night, we went shopping."

It took eight days for the results to come back. Those results altered her life. "I am looking at your heart monitor results, and they’re not good," the doctor told her. "You need to get to the hospital immediately."

Susan had a condition known as ventricular tachycardia. Her heart was enlarged and beating dangerously fast. When she was having dizzy spells, her heart was beating abnormally and could have stopped. The next day, she received an internal defibrillator, a battery-powered device surgically implanted under the skin to keep track of her heart rate; when it detects a problem, it sends an electrical impulse to restore a normal heartbeat. Susan and her relatives were stunned by the diagnosis. No one in her family was known to have heart disease. Doctors said a virus at some point in her life may have led to the condition. But they didn’t know for sure.

Susan took three months of medical leave from her job at the Webster Groves School District in the St. Louis area. She has resumed normal activities and sometimes finds it hard to fathom that she has a heart problem. "I think, ‘I can’t believe I went through that,’" she said. "It’s life changing." What hasn’t changed is her zest for living. She’s just learned to do it with a small square defibrillator inside her that she jokingly nicknamed "Imo" after a famous pizza joint in St. Louis that cuts its pizzas into squares and boasts of "the square beyond compare."

Susan remains active and a healthy 115 pounds at 5-foot-2. Her message for others is this: "You don’t have to be overweight and out of shape to have a heart problem. … Listen to your body, and get more than one opinion." She’s thankful every day for the doctor who decided to put her on a heart monitor to evaluate her condition. Susan is helping other women by warning them that signs of heart trouble can be different in women and men and that heart disease is the leading cause of death in women. "I am excited and happy to help bring my story to the public," she said, "to bring some awareness to this silent killer."

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90 Seconds Can Save a Life

We spend a lot of time talking about the importance of teaching high school students CPR before they graduate, but what if YOU are called on to give CPR in an emergency? You will most likely be trying to save the life of someone you love: your spouse, parent, child or friend.

In just 90 seconds, you can learn the two simple steps of Hands-Only CPR. Click below to watch the Hands-Only CPR video and then share the link with family and friends!

Thank you for learning how to save a life!

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Help Protect PE for Kids Like Me!

Guest post from Reagan Spomer, 6th grader Alliance for a Healthier Generation Youth Advisory Board Member & You’re the Cure Advocate

I have two words for you… scooter hockey.  Sounds fun, doesn’t it?  That’s because it is!  Scooter hockey, along with cage ball and 3-way soccer are some of my favorite activities in gym class, which I have a few times a week.

I’m glad I have physical education for a number of reasons.  It keeps me active and teaches me to try new things.  It helps me focus on my school work.  It relieves my stress.  And most of all, it makes me feel great! 

But I know a lot of schools don’t have regular PE like my schools does.  That means a lot of kids are missing out on the benefits of being active during the school day.  I think this needs to change.   

Will you help?  As part of the nationwide campaign to protect PE in schools, Voices for Healthy Kids has created a photo petition map to show how many people across the country love PE like I do.  As people share their pictures, the map will change colors.  I’ve added my “I heart PE” photo for South Dakota.  Will you do the same for your state?  It’s really easy:

  1. Print an “I heart PE” sign (or make your own!)
  2. Take a picture of yourself holding the sign.
  3. Click on your state to share your photo.

Thanks for helping to protect PE for kids like me!
-Reagan

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Share Your Story: Brian Donaldson and his friend Price

Brian Donaldson and his friend Price Missouri

As I close my eyes every night, I am thankful that my family had a great day, filled with health and happiness.

In January of this year my 51 year old business partner, mentor and friend, Price, had a massive stroke. He was in much better health than most of us and even ran the Boston Marathon last year.

Price was rushed to the hospital on a Sunday morning and because there was no way to know when his stroke occurred the "wonder drug" was not an available option. He would have to rely on his own body to deal with the stroke. Price's family and friends were given the news some days later that he was paralyzed on the left side and would likely not walk again.

Fast forward 9 months, Price is walking with a cane and last week passed his driver's test and has some of his freedoms back. The doctors believe that his strong recovery is due to his lifelong focus on his own health. I am proud to be a part of the Executive Leadership Team for the 2016 Metro St. Louis Heart Walk and champion Edward Jones' Heart Walk team this year. See more about the upcoming St. Louis Heart Walk.

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Share Your Story-Benny

Benny Missouri

Benny was born on July 18, 2014 at 37 weeks with a Congenital Heart Defect.  He is our second blessing and little miracle baby. His diagnosis is Double Outlet Right Ventricle with Sub-aortic Ventricular Septical Defect, Supraventricular Tachycardia, Dextrocardia, Heterotaxy with Asplenia, Malrotation of the intestines and Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome. In simple terms, Benny had a large hole between the both ventricles, his aorta and pulmonary artery is on the right ventricle, he can go into episodes where his heart can beat up to 260 beats per minute, his heart and stomach are on the right side of his body, his intestines are not rotated properly and can twist and he has no spleen. Since he has no spleen, Benny needs to take antibiotics twice a day for the rest of his life and we need to be extra careful he doesn't get sick so he doesn't end up in the ER.

How did all this happen you ask? Well, no one really knows yet. The genetics Doctors are still doing studies to research if it was genetics or just something random that happened. Throughout my entire pregnancy I was super healthy and did everything I was supposed to. We didn’t find all this out until I was 35 weeks pregnant. I felt like something wasn't right and had gone to the Doctor, who then sent me to the hospital, who then confirmed that he was in and had a hole in his heart. The local hospital couldn’t tell us much since they were limited on testing so they decided to send me to Barnes Jewish Hospital in St. Louis MO. They ended up flying me up there the same night and testing began the very next morning.

After several tests, ultrasounds and EKGs and ECHOs later, all was confirmed. We were devastated that our baby was going to have to go though some extreme challenges right as he was born, but all the Doctors were hopeful. We owe so much and are so grateful to have a team of wonderful doctors. Benny had to stay in the hospital in St. Louis for a month and a half before we could bring him home. While at the hospital, Benny had to get a PA band around one of his pulmonary artery to slow down the blood flow into his lungs. That was a temporary fix until he received his open heart surgery to repair the hole in his heart in May 5, 2015. We've had a few other scares where we've had to rush him to the ER in St. Louis because of his SVT (fast heartbeat).  During one of his episodes, it took 10 hours to get him back to normal heart rhythm. The doctors had to shock his heart 3 times and drain fluid from around his heart.

When I became a heart mom I knew I had to do several things for my son Benny, one of which was be an advocate for him and for Congenital Heart Defect Awareness. Many people are not quite familiar about Congenital Heart Defects. They don't ...know that Congenital Heart Defects are the most common defects in the U.S., 1 in 100 babies are born with it. Approximately 40,000 babies are born in the U.S. with a CHD each year. Or that CHD's are the leading cause of infant deaths in the United States. Also, Congenital Heart Defects are common and deadly, yet CHD research is grossly under-funded relative to the prevalence of the disease.

One of my many jobs as a heart mom is to share the information about CHDs. The more awareness there is, the more fundraising and funding there is. And the more funding, the more research there is to make better medicines with less side effects, more research to make surgeries less risky and hopefully find a cure and prevention one day.

Our Benny is a tough fighter and will continue to fight. Benny is why we raise awareness.  Join Benny in his fight against Heart Disease and Stroke at this year’s Heart Walk. Register Here

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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-Lisa Smith

Lisa Smith Missouri

For more than 20 years, Lisa Smith has taught CPR to students and colleagues in Denver, providing training as many as 30 times a year.  The question she often heard was whether she’d ever performed CPR in an emergency.  No, she would say, adding, "I hope I could just jump in if a situation arose, especially since it’s usually someone you know."  That’s exactly what happened on Nov. 20, 2014, in the weight room of Denver East High School.

Smith teaches honors Health and Medical Science classes, with HeartSaver CPR/AED/First Aid as part of her curriculum. She’s also the school’s head athletic trainer.  On this fateful morning, she was on campus at about 6 a.m. to monitor the cheerleading squad as they practiced stunts for an upcoming competition.  She happened to be in the assistant principal’s office, with the doors open to both the gym and the hallway, when she heard a commotion in the hallway and went to see what was happening.  Two security guards running out of their office said that assistant principal Wes Ashley collapsed in the weight room. Another colleague already had called 9-1-1. 

Read More to learn how important CPR education is in saving peoples lives.

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