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Recapping My Last 2 Years

By Ben Schmauss, Government Relations Director in Nevada

It has been an incredible 2 years working as the Gov. Relations Director in Nevada for the American Heart Association. I have worked with great people on issues that impact heart disease and stroke for adults and children. Some of those issues include the Statewide Wellness Policy (Passed Summer 2014), Statewide Stroke Registry (Passed Spring 2015) and the $1 increase to the Nevada Tobacco Tax. (Spring 2015)

 

Each of the public health victories listed above represents countless hours of thoughtful work from survivors, volunteers, staff, coalition members, elected officials and many more.  So why do we work so hard? Why do we have such challenging goals?  Life is Why!

 

Yes. Life is WHY!! Last week I was presenting CPR Kits to a school district in Rural Nevada and the Superintendent of the district said to me “you know those AED’s you all worked to get into our schools and buildings, last month one of my Vice Principals used one to save a life.”  The individual’s life that was saved represents more than just a person that was saved.  They are a living proof that the work we engage in has a Why. Every time they give a hug , help a friend or say I’m sorry is one time more than they would have been able had it not been for the work we have the privilege to be part of. 

 

As I celebrate my 2 year Anniversary as the Nevada Government Relations Director and 7th year working with American Heart Association I am grateful for the living proof that the work we do makes a difference. 

 

The accompanying picture is with Superintendent Dale Norton, Assemblyman James Oscarson and myself minutes after Superintendent Norton told me the story of the AED Save. The CPR kits in front of us represent the resources needed to train over 6,000 kids in hands only CPR in NYE County Nevada. 

 

This training will lead to lives being saved!

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ICYMI: CPR in Schools Introduced

In case you missed it, Assemblymember Freddie Rodriguez introduced Assembly Bill (AB) 1719 which will ensure high school students learn CPR before they graduate high school. AB 1719 holds the power to create a generation of lifesavers.

 

Sudden cardiac arrest is one of the most lethal public health threats in the United States. Nearly 326,000 people experience cardiac arrest outside the hospital each year, and sadly, only 10 percent survive. Effective bystander CPR provided immediately after sudden cardiac arrest can double or triple a victim’s chance of survival, but only 32 percent of cardiac arrest victims get CPR from a bystander.

 

“CPR is one of the most important life skills a person can have. I have been an Emergency Medical Technician for over 30 years and I have seen too many cases that could have turned out differently if a bystander had known how to administer CPR,” said Rodriguez. “By teaching CPR in high school, we are sending students into the world with an essential, life-saving skill. We have the ability to dramatically impact the rates of survival for sudden cardiac arrest and save countless lives.”

 

Under AB 1719, school districts would have the flexibility to teach Hands-Only CPR in any required class, such as P.E. or Health.

 

27 states and over 50% of public schools nationwide currently train over 1.5 million Students in Hands-on CPR skills during high school, but California is not one of them.  Knowing the skills needed to save a life should not depend on what state you live in or what school district you attend. 

If you’re interested in getting involved to support AB 1719, please contact Kula Koenig for more details. For more information on AB 1719, please visit here.

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Time to Go Red!

Going Red is about much more than wearing red on National Wear Red Day. It’s about making a change. Encourage your family and friends to take small steps toward healthy lifestyle choices to reduce their risk for heart disease and stroke.

 

Start by explaining “What it means to Go Red” by sharing the following acronym:

  • Get Your Numbers: Ask your doctor to check your blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose.
  • Own Your Lifestyle: Stop smoking, lose weight, be physically active and eat healthy.
  • Raise Your Voice: Advocate for more women-related research and education.
  • Educate Your Family: Make healthy food choices for you and your family. Teach your kids the importance of staying active.
  • Donate: Show your support with a donation of time or money.

 

Heart disease and stroke cause one in three women’s deaths each year, killing approximately one woman every 80 seconds. An estimated 44 million women in the U.S. are affected by cardiovascular diseases, yet 80% of heart disease and stroke events could be prevented. Early screening, early detection and early treatment are key to lowering risk for cardiovascular disease. 

 

Testing should occur as follows:

  • Blood pressure – every regular health care visit starting at age 20
  • Cholesterol – every five years starting at age 20. More often if: total cholesterol is above 200; if you are a man older than 45 or a woman older than 50; if you’re a woman whose HDL is less than 50 or a man whose HDL is less than 40; if you have other cardiovascular risk factors
  • Weight/body mass index – every health care visit starting at age 20
  • Waist circumference – as needed starting at age 20
  • Blood glucose – every three years starting at age 45

 

You can learn more about your numbers and key health indicators with the Go Red Heart CheckUp.

 

For more information about Go Red for Women visit here.

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Arizona Heart at the Capitol 2016 Recap

On Tuesday, January 26th over 50 You’re the Cure volunteers, survivors, and American Heart Association visited the Capitol in Phoenix to raise awareness about heart disease and advocate for a statewide policy to train high school students in Hands-On CPR prior to graduation. 

 

Thanks to our volunteers, Arizona’s Heart at the Capitol Day was a very successful event!  The day started with a brief issue recap and training in the morning followed by advocates heading over to the House and Senate building for office legislative meetings. 

 

This year we met directly with over 40 key decision makers to build support and momentum to pass House Bill 2801 and Senate Bill 1137 (best known as the CPR in Schools Bills).  HB 2801 and SB 1137 contain the same language, the only difference is that they originated in the House and Senate respectively.  HB 2801 has already passed out of the House Education Committee while SB 1137 has yet to have a hearing.

 

HB 2801 and SB 1137 are moving very quickly through the legislative process, so please remember to regularly visit the action center to stay up-to-date on legislative updates to support our CPR in Schools bills at critical moments. 

 

Please contact our local Government Relations Director, Nicole Olmstead or me, if you are interested in getting more involved or if you have any legislative questions.

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Critical Congenital Heart Disease Awareness Week is February 7-14

In the United States, about 40,000 children are born with a heart defect each year. Congenital heart disease consists of various heart defects that are present at birth. About 40,000 newborns are diagnosed with this disease in the U.S. annually, and 25 percent of those cases are critical, meaning they typically require surgery in the first year of life, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Congenital heart disease is also the leading cause of birth defect-related newborn illnesses and deaths in the U.S., according to the CDC.  During this Congenital Heart Defects Awareness Week, we appreciate the opportunity to share stories of those affected by CHD, and remember that everyone has a reason to live a healthier life. 

CLICK HERE for 'Born with Half a Heart' story. 

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Healthy school meals should be here to stay

The recent compromise on strong school nutrition standards is a win for students, parents, and educators. But it’s not a guarantee. Floor votes in both the House and Senate lie ahead, and plenty of voices are still saying that we should go back to meals loaded with sugar, salt, and fat. Help us keep the momentum by telling your lawmakers this deal is the one we need to keep our kids healthy.

Going back would mean taking away the serving of fruits or vegetables that now comes with every school meal served. It would mean telling our kids that it’s not important they have more whole grains and lean proteins, and that they shouldn’t worry about eating foods loaded with dangerously high amounts of sodium.

These are lessons no parent would want to teach their child, and we shouldn’t let our schools teach them either. Step up to the plate and help us give kids the healthy futures they deserve.

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Legislative Session Starts in Wyoming

The gavel is down and the 2016 Legislative Session has officially started. We are excited and eager to work with our state legislators on policies that will help make Wyoming healthier!  Over the next several months you will receive emails providing updates on the progress of these issues, as well as giving you the opportunity to take action via email, phone calls, and visits to legislator offices. Just know that your voice is incredibly important to the work of the American Heart Association at our state Capitol.

Click here to let legislators know how the decisions they make will impact the health of their constituents.

We have found that effective grassroots campaigns are vital to making positive changes to health policy in the state of Wyoming. We can’t do this without you!

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Why do restaurants make it so difficult?

It's been a long day. You started off before dawn, ran the kids out of the house, dropped them off at school, put in a full day's work, picked the kids up at their after-school program and have just a few precious minutes before getting them settled into bed before the next marathon day. But wait...they're hungry!  You're hungry!  There's no time to pull ingredients together, so grabbing take-out is the only option. Wouldn't it be great to know that the meals you purchase off of the kids' menu are as healthy as possible?  For far too many busy parents in New York, finding fruits or vegetables on the kids' menu is downright impossible. And if you're worried about the other ingredients in the meal, you have to find the time to research on restaurants' websites or ask for their nutrition pamphlet (make sure you bring your magnifying glass!)  You shouldn't have to work so hard!

Both New York City Council and the State Legislature are considering ways to better support parents and encourage restaurants to help make the healthier choices, easier to find. At the recent hearing for the bill in New York City, business advocacy groups claimed that this policy will be a huge burden on restaurants, and we should just allow them to put the menu together however they deem best. But a quick analysis of kids' meals shows an alarming level of sodium, fat, sugar and calories. We shouldn't force parents to choose between hunger and health. 

Do you have a story to tell about this issue? Do you agree that kids' meals should be healthier? If so, comment below and we'll follow up with you!  And watch for action alerts on these bills in the Action Center. We appreciate your help!

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Heart on the Hill 2016

Guest Blogger: Marc Watterson, Utah Government Relations Director

This past Friday volunteers from across the state gathered at the Utah State Capitol as we celebrated National Wear Red Day with our annual “Heart on the Hill” Lobby Day. Advocates just like you had a chance to listen directly from State Legislators as they discussed important legislation that impacts cardiovascular health: Tobacco Use, Affordable Healthcare, and Safe Routes to School. You’re the Cure advocates then had a chance to take their message to their legislators as they discussed these important policies with them.

A special feature this year was an opportunity for us to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the Utah Indoor Clean Air Act. Working with Representative Paul Ray and Senator Ralph Okerlund we were able to streamline the passage of HCR 2, which recognizes this important anniversary as well as honoring the men and women who made it available, in particular the late Representative Gerald Woodmansee and David Hughes Horne. We were honored to have David Horne with us as well as many members of both families – some who had traveled as far as California to be here with us!

The day culminated with a very special signing ceremony for HCR 2 with Governor Herbert and his staff. We were pleased to also be joined by Dr. Joseph Miner, Director of the Department of Health and Alan Matheson, Director of the Division of Environmental Quality. A very special thanks to Governor Herbert who was very gracious with his time and stayed so all of our volunteers could have their picture taken with him.

A very special thanks to AHA Staff who helped put the event together, members of the local Board of Directors who supported the event, Western States Affiliate Board President Dr. Kirk Knowlton who was in attendance and addressed our advocates, IASIS Healthcare who provided breakfast and health screenings, and the many volunteers and family members who took the time to make this event an overwhelming success! In all we had nearly 100 attendees for this amazing event – and it all is thanks to the support we receive from our active volunteers from across the state. It was truly a moment to remember that when we are all committed to a singular goal that we can all be the cure for cardiovascular disease and stroke!

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Albuquerque turns Civic Plaza RED!

Heart disease and stroke claim the lives of 1 in 3 women. For more than 10 years, the American Heart Association has sponsored National Wear Red Day® to raise awareness in the fight against heart disease in women. Women, men, and local businesses of Albuquerque were invited to participate in National Wear Red Day on Friday, February 5, 2016. 

Local supporters of the Go Red movement met at Civic Plaza for the annual Wear Red Day rally, which included presentations from Mayor Richard Berry, longtime advocate for the American Heart Association, and others. National Wear Red Day is presented locally by the Albuquerque Goes Red sponsor, Lovelace Health Systems.

A huge thank you to all of our supporters for joining us to make this photo spectacular! Wear red, be proud, be loud. #ABQGoRed

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