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Remarkable Success

Each summer at the American Heart Association, we pause to reflect on all we've accomplished over a year. You're the Cure advocates are working hard, and they're truly changing their communities for the better!

In the past year, our volunteers, staff and partners helped pass 74 state and local laws or regulations that help Americans enjoy longer, healthier lives, free of heart disease and stroke. Here are a few highlights of the exciting progress we've made together:

  • More than 400,000 people gained access to health insurance coverage through the expanded Medicaid program in 2 states. Advocates are hard at work to increase access in the remaining 19 states that have yet to expand their Medicaid programs.
  • Four states and Washington, D.C. passed measures to screen infants for critical congenital heart defects — meaning an additional 208,000 babies in those states and more than 1 million babies across the country will be screened each year. The simple, inexpensive, lifesaving pulse oximetry test is now required in 45 states.
  • States, cities, counties and communities across the country dedicated funding to enhance roadways that make it safer and easier for more than 21.2 million people to walk and ride bicycles.
  • New York City approved more than $9 million in funding for physical education, impacting more than 416,000 elementary school students in the city.
  • Thanks to laws passed this year requiring CPR training in 10 states and a handful of large counties or school districts, more than 740,000 additional students will graduate from high school with the skills to save lives. This brings the total to more than 2 million students in 35 states who will be trained in CPR every year before high school graduation!

I hope you'll take a moment this summer to truly appreciate the impact you're making on our communities as a You're the Cure advocate. Success this big deserves a celebration!  

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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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We Can't Rest

Although August is usually a time for vacations and trips to the pool, it’s also an ideal time to meet with your federal lawmakers. Members of Congress will be traveling back home, which means for the entire month they will be closer to their constituents and interested in hearing from you!

As You’re the Cure advocates, we want to meet with as many lawmakers as possible and urge them to take action on important issues that affect heart disease and stroke patients in your hometown and across the country.

Are you up for it? If so, here’s the plan!

1. Pick one (or more!) of the following issues

Click on each issue below to learn more information on the latest developments before meeting with your lawmaker:

 

2. Get in contact with local AHA staff

Fill out this simple form to tell us a little bit about yourself, where you live, your contact information, and which issue or issues you’d like to bring up with your lawmakers. Then AHA staff will take it from there and get in touch with you about scheduling a meeting. 

3. Prepare for your meeting

Members of Congress want to hear how the policies we support affect their districts & constituents, and they want to know why it's important to YOU! AHA staff can help with the local information, but only you can share your personal story!

  • Think about how these policies would impact your life or the life of someone close to you. Would your experience with heart disease or stroke have been different if we had more research funding or better access to telestroke care or cardiac rehab? Do you rely on schools to deliver nutritious foods to your children? Do you see patients who would benefit from these policies? Is there another reason these policies are important to you?
  • Write your story down and practice sharing it, being sure to make the connection to the policy issue you will be discussing.  

That's it- You're ready to help us make a difference this August!

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Share Your Story: Hayden Grimm

Hayden Grimm Iowa

Hayden was born January 21, 2011, and at the time his parents had no idea anything was wrong with him. Twelve hours after he was born though, he was taken to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. He was diagnosed with Hypo-plastic Left Heart Syndrome. Hayden had his first open heart surgery at six days old, second at five months and third at three and a half years old. Hayden will never be "fixed," but he is doing well. He is currently on 3 daily medications, loves pickles and salad and stays active. He just finished up Preschool and is excited to go to Kindergarten in the Fall!

Join Hayden and his family on September 11, 2016 at the McGrath Amphitheatre for the Cedar Rapids Heart Walk to help fight heart disease and stroke in Iowa!

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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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Share Your Story: Lexie Amerin

Lexie Amerin Kansas

My name is Lexie Amerin and I am a 17 year old senior at Southwestern Heights High School. My heart problems occurred while I was in my mother’s womb but weren’t realized until after I was born.

I cried once but then I stopped breathing and they had to resuscitate me. This is how I entered the world.  I was immediately airlifted to Children’s Mercy in Kansas City where they discovered my heart defect. I had been diagnosed with severe Pulmonary Stenosis plus a hole in my heart. My pulmonary valve’s opening was the size of the tip of a pencil. It was too small for my blood to flow through.

In my first 24 hours of life, I had a Heart Catheterization done to allow my blood to flow to my heart. I was in the hospital for 21 days, where twice I code blue and had to be resuscitated. I had severe acid reflux and had surgery to place a feeding tube in my stomach to prevent me from throwing up my food and allow me to gain weight and grow. I was tube fed until I was 5 years old.

As time went on, I grew and continued to thrive. I went to my cardiologist in Wichita every 3 years and my heart was doing well. I played sports such as volleyball and basketball, and I participated in gymnastics and dance. Everything was going great.

When I got to junior high I wasn’t feeling so great, however. I felt like my heart kept skipping beats and had an abnormal rhythm. We went to my cardiologist and they had me try numerous heart monitors but none of them seemed to work. I still didn’t feel right. I went back up to the doctor to do more stress tests where I was told I had to limit my exercise and I couldn’t play sports anymore.  I decided to become the manager so that I could still be a part of my team.

My oldest sister, Kaylee who also has pulmonary stenosis but not as severe, was seeing an adult cardiologist in Kansas City. He said that he would take me as a patient, so I made the switch as well.

My freshman year I was cleared to cheer and play softball at my own pace. I was the JV pitcher and I felt that I was improving throughout the year. I went to the cardiologist for an appointment and learned that I needed more tests. The next visit I was given the news that I needed open heart surgery to replace my heart valve. We decided on replacing it with a pig valve.

June came around and before we knew it, our journey began. We drove to Rochester, MN to the Mayo Clinic where they began running tests. When I was there, I found out that I have another rare heart defect called Ebstein’s Anomaly. This is basically that my tricuspid valve wasn’t formed normal and so it made my blood backflow, causing my heart to enlarge even more. My right ventricle was so enlarged, it was the same size as the rest of my heart. The day before my surgery, we decided to wait for my heart to enlarge a little bit more so the valve could be replaced with an adult sized pig valve which would last longer. They wanted to wait another year before the surgery.

But then sophomore year came. I had to quit cheerleading because yelling took too much of my breath away. Softball was where I, and everybody else, could really see me going downhill. I tried my best throughout the year but my body just physically could not take it. I couldn’t run my own bases anymore, I couldn’t pitch more than an inning. I couldn’t play summer softball because the heat took too much out of me. I would sleep for 12-14 hours to recover after a game or any activity.

One day at softball camp for the little kids, my mom came and told me that she got the surgery scheduled for July 16. I was happy but honestly I was so scared, it was so soon. Before we knew it, July was here.

We started on our 15 hour journey again. We got up to Minnesota and I went through the same tests that I did before. I knew it was for real this time. I was prepared for the surgery. My surgery was to replace my pulmonary valve with a pig valve, to fix my tricuspid valve, and to close the hole in my heart. The last thing that I remember is seeing bright lights, and the doctors looking over me, then I was out.

I woke up around midnight in the ICU. I had a breathing tube that had to be taken out which was one of the most difficult things I have ever done. When they moved me from the ICU to the PCU after surgery, I walked a wheelchair all the way up. Looking back, I have no clue how I did that. I stayed in the hospital for only 4 days. I walked up and down the hallway each day, progressing more and more. On day 3, I finally got to go outside. On day 4, I finally got released from the hospital. It took me about 6 weeks to get back to a full day of school, but finally I made it back.

I went to the doctor three months after my surgery for a post-op checkup where he cleared me to full activity and told me that my heart has shrunk down to a somewhat normal size. It still doesn’t feel like it happened but I feel so much better. This softball season will be the first season I’ll be able to play like a normal girl on the team. I’ll be able to run, pitch, and hit like everybody else for the first time in my life.

Having this surgery doesn’t mean that it’s over. The valve will need replacing in about 15 years.  By then, I won’t have to have open heart surgery, but rather just a one day surgery where they replace it with what is called a melody valve. I’m just one of the many examples of someone living with a congenital heart defect. Without my surgeries, I wouldn’t be here today. My surgery was the best thing that has ever happened to me, it saved my life.  I will go back for my 1 year checkup in July.  I encourage everyone to educate themselves and spread awareness of heart disease.

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Hailey Auster, New York

Hi, my name is Hailey Auster and in September I will be in 6th grade at Van Antwerp Middle School in Niskayuna, NY.

I believe the quest for health in New York State is very important and on July 5th, I testified before the Schenectady County Legislature to support increasing the tobacco purchase age to 21.  I think it’s important that lawmakers hear the opinion of people from a different generation when deciding what laws to pass.  I also believe that adolescents still have a lot to learn about drug awareness and by age 21, when  their school career is almost finished, they can make a more educated decision about using tobacco.   After my Tobacco 21 testimony, I was excited to be featured on the local news – they even spelled my name correctly and used my tagline:  Smoking Upsets Your Health and Not Smoking Sets Up Your Health.

The American Heart Association, I think, is really important to the State of New York because they teach people CPR and help keep kids from smoking!   I am proud to be an AHA advocate!

 

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Research your candidates

Patients, advocates, and all those who care about heart health know that robust investments in research paired with policies that support medical innovation are key to finding new cures and treatments. With heart disease and stroke being the No. 1 and No. 5 killers in America, it’s surprising that candidates running for national office have not shared their detailed plans for accelerating medical progress.

To elevate the importance of research during this election season, The American Heart Association has once again partnered with Research!America, a non-profit advocacy alliance, on the non-partisan voter education initiative, Campaign for Cures: Vote for Medical Progress! Through strategic communications, grassroots, and on-the-ground activities, the initiative will educate voters and candidates about the health and economic benefits of public and private sector research.

The Campaign for Cures website features an interactive U.S. map with hundreds of quotes on medical progress from candidates across the political spectrum running for national office. Visitors also have the option to contact their candidate directly through the website and take the campaign pledge. The Campaign for Cures blog, managed by former USA Today senior editor and health reporter Janice Lloyd, includes election news, survey data, commentary and analysis of Presidential and Congressional races in key states on topics relevant to medical progress.

To learn more about the initiative, visit www.campaignforcures.org, “Like” the initiative on Facebook and follow the conversation on Twitter @Campaign4Cures .

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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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Cardiac Rehab Hill Day Recap

Cardiovascular disease is the leading killer of women as well as men, and each year 935,000 Americans have a heart attack or other coronary event. The good news is that cardiac rehab (CR) is proven to reduce the likelihood of a second cardiac event. CR also reduces hospital readmissions, decreases health care costs, & improves the patients’ quality of life. But despite these clear benefits, only 12% of Medicare patients participate in CR programs.

Last Month, 16 You’re the Cure and Go Red for Women advocates came to Washington, DC and asked their lawmakers to change a key Medicare provision to allow physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and clinical nurse specialists to supervise CR programs. With this change in place, hospitals and other entities would be better able to establish and maintain programs nationwide.

While here in Washington, DC, our advocates, who are survivors and medical professionals, participated in 31 meetings with legislators and staff on Capitol Hill to share their stories. They discussed the importance of why the cardiac rehab provision is essential to Medicare-related legislation.

In support of our advocates here in DC, more than 4,300 messages were delivered to Congress in response to an action alert authored by GRFW advocate Kathy Moore who was in Washington, DC to meet with her lawmakers. But, we still need your help.

Urge your lawmakers today to support bipartisan legislation that would allow physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and clinical nurse specialists to supervise cardiac rehab programs and make cardiac rehab accessible to more Medicare patients.

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