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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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Protecting NJ's Littlest Athletes

In New Jersey, there has been great progress in recent years to make sure that automated external defibrillators (AEDs) are widely available in public places and that people know how to use the devices and perform CPR. Janet's Law, which went into effect this past September, requires all schools to have an AED available at any time the school is open and that someone on the premises is trained.

On February 12, the Assembly Homeland Security and State Preparedness Committee voted in support of a bill that would require recreation departments, youth serving organizations and camps to have defibrillators on site and accessible during athletic events and to have someone on-site that is trained in CPR and AED use.

The bill is now pending a hearing in the Assembly Appropriations Committee, but has picked up a number of new co-sponsors. In addition to the prime sponsor, Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly, Assemblymen Andrzejczak, Garcia, DeAngelo, Taliaferro, Lagana and Assemblywomen Pinkin and Quijano have all signed onto the legislation as co-sponsors. The American Heart Association thanks them for their commitment to this potentially life-saving legislation.

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Charlie and Beth Melita-Fair Haven, NJ

Charlie and Beth Melita tragically lost their 21 year old son Robert to a sudden cardiac death in December 2012. They wanted to find a way to honor Robert's memory and give back to the community who provided support to their family.  Together with his close family friend Paul Lenskold, Charlie formed Robert Anthony Melita Enterprises LLC (aka R.A.M. Ent.) an "Integrated Financial Services Company" in October 2013 to create a legacy in his son’s name. RAM Enterprises focuses on educating Americans on how to acquire business capital and also being financially responsible through securing "Living Benefits". RAM Enterprises is committed to community projects that include donating additional defibrillators to area schools and providing scholarships to high school seniors just to name a few.

Charlie and Beth are working with Meridian’s Community Outreach team to spearhead an initiative called "Building a Community of Life Savers". This program has educated and trained over 5000 high school students in Monmouth and Ocean counties to date. Initial training began on April 28, 2014 and included over 700 students from Robert’s alma mater, Rumson Fair Haven Regional High School. Charlie and Beth also testified before the Senate Education Committee in June 2014 in support of New Jersey's CPR in schools law.

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The American Heart Association's Go Red For Women Red Dress Collection 2015 Livestream

Join us for this exclusive virtual event where top designers and celebrities demonstrate their support for women's heart health during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. Heart disease is not just a man's disease. Each year, 1 in 3 women die of heart disease and stroke. We can change that--80 percent of cardiac events can be prevented with education and lifestyle changes. Help break barriers against heart disease and stroke by joining us for the Go Red For Women Red Dress Collection 2015 live online at GoRedForWomen.org/RedDressCollection on Thursday, February 12 at 8 p.m. Eastern. See you there!

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Let's Advocate to Help NJ Make the Grade!

Each year, the American Lung Association issues a "report card" on tobacco control policies for each state. They evaluate each state in 4 areas: tobacco prevention, smokefree air, tobacco taxes and access to cessation services.

New Jersey earned an "A" in smokefree air. Although smoking is still permitted in the state's casinos, the law does cover most other indoor public areas. The state also earned 2 F's-for tobacco prevention and access to cessation services. This is unchanged from last year.

There was a significant drop in the grade for tobacco taxes this year. In 2014, New Jersey was given a "B", but this year, that grade dropped to "D." The reason for the drop is that a bill to make the taxes on cigars, little cigars and other tobacco products equal to the tax on cigarettes has stalled. That same bill would also dedicate a portion of the increased revenue to tobacco control.

If the Legislature and the Governor were to take action on this bill, it would address two of the areas where New Jersey is sorely lacking. We continue to advocate to address this critical public health threat.

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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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NJ is Better Than Last Place

In December, the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids issued their annual report Broken Promises to Our Children: A State-By-State Look at the 1998 State Tobacco Settlement 16 Years Later. The report provides a "ranking" for each state based on the state's funding for tobacco programs. New Jersey ranked dead last for 3rd year in a row. While this is not surprising because New Jersey is now the only state that spends $0 on tobacco programs, it remains concerning.

The report also noted that 12.9% of high school students in New Jersey smoke. Smoking remains the #1 cause of preventable death in the country and health care costs in the state directly caused by smoking total over $4 BILLION! New Jersey generates over $700 million in tobacco taxes each year and none of it is used for tobacco prevention.

The state budget for the upcoming year must be approved by June 30. Over the next 6 months, we will once again be advocating for funding for tobacco programs. Although significant progress has been made in reducing smoking, there is still work to do.

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NEHA AGGARWAL

One day while he was walking through the park, Neha Aggarwal’s maternal grandfather suddenly fell to the ground—he had unexpectedly suffered a stroke. Before the stroke, her grandfather had been very active mentally, physically, socially, and professionally. Although the stroke dramatically changed every aspect of his life, he continued to step up to the challenges of life and showed great strength and positivity.  He passed away 20 months later, and Neha feels she was blessed to have had the chance to know and love him.

But her family’s history of stroke and heart disease doesn’t end there.

  • Her paternal grandfather also passed away from a stroke, before she was even born.
  • Her father’s older brother passed away from a heart attack.
  • Her father, a cardiologist, has diabetes and takes medication to control high blood pressure and cholesterol, which are risk factors for heart attack and stroke.

Neha’s family history and life experiences have prompted her to aim for a heart healthy lifestyle.  She strives to make exercise and a heart healthy diet a part of her daily life.

Involvement in You’re the Cure:

Neha first became interested in volunteering with the American Heart Association’s (AHA) grassroots network, You’re the Cure, in 2012 when she heard about AHA’s Lawyers Have Heart run in Washington, DC. This event really called out to her, as she is not only a lawyer but one who specializes in health policy. Lawyers Have Heart seemed as if it were created for her, aligning with both her passion for law and for health. Volunteering at this event in 2012 kicked off her involvement with You’re the Cure and she has been an active advocate ever since.  

What She Does:

Since Neha became a You’re the Cure advocate in 2012, she has volunteered at a number of events in Washington, DC, including Heart Walk, Lawyers Have Heart, and Hearts Delight. She actively recruits others for You’re the Cure. Her passion for the mission of AHA is contagious and inspires others to join in this important work. As Neha became more deeply involved with AHA events, she wanted to do more.

She was energized when she discovered the opportunity to work more proactively with You’re the Cure, advocating directly to her lawmakers for policy change. This exciting world of policy change opened the door for her to more fully utilize her education, passion, and training in volunteer advocacy work.  Neha initiated regular communication with AHA staff to coordinate her efforts, and her work on You’re the Cure’s advocacy campaigns has been packed with meaningful action. She has had frequent contact with DC Councilmembers, via phone calls and emails, urging them to support important legislation. Recently, she also submitted a letter to the editor to encourage readers to follow her call to action and appeal to DC Council.

What she finds most satisfying about working with You’re the Cure is the strong impact that she can have at the macro level. “Getting legislation passed can have such far-reaching effects! It is exciting to do things that have a large-scale impact. I feel like I am making a difference.”

 Why does Neha do this?  She says, “Improving Lives is Why”

Have you volunteered for the AHA like Neha? Send us photos of yourself in action to advocacydc@heart.org. We will use as many as we can to create a new Facebook cover photo!

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You're the Cure Year End Successes, Let's Celebrate!
It was another banner year for You’re the Cure advocates championing heart and stroke policy change across the country. Year end is a time to look back at what we achieved in states, think ahead to the work still to do, and celebrate the power of volunteers.
 
What did we accomplish last year?
 
 
Below are just three of many victories that made 2014 so successful.  

 

  • 35 states now have laws protecting our littlest hearts. Pulse oximetry, a simple detection screening for heart defects gives newborns a chance to survive thanks to early detection.
  • We reached a major milestone in ensuring all students learn CPR before graduating from high school. Now more than 1 million students, in 20 states, will graduate each year with this lifesaving skill.
  • 6 states increased funding for heart disease and stroke prevention programs.

 

Want to see more accomplishments? Check out the video below.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
These are just a few highlights and for the full story be sure to check out the state by state wrap-up online. We couldn’t achieve these great accomplishments without the power of YOU our advocates. Your work to educate lawmakers, recruit family and friends, and share your story and expertise are what makes change happen. So from your AHA staff partners a big, Thank You!
 
P.S. – You can help inspire others to join the movement by sharing our accomplishments highlight video.

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This Holiday Season, Shop Heart!
It's that time of year again, when we’re all doing our last minute holiday shopping. This year consider giving a gift from the heart. Shop Heart and choose from an assortment of items like cookbooks, apparel, and accessories. You can share the message of heart health when you give an American Heart Association t-shirt, jacket, lapel pin, or tie. Along with all of these great gift ideas, we also have many of our educational materials available, so you can share important heart and stroke prevention advice with friends and family. Best of all when you Shop Heart the money you spend goes directly towards supporting the mission of the American Heart Association!
Also, don't forget to share the Shop Heart site with your own networks, we think you'll find some great gifts for friends and family. Happy Holidays!

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