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Ohio Becomes 33rd State to Pass CPR in School Legislation!

Great news! House Bill 113 was signed into law by Governor John Kasich on June 14th, making Ohio the 33rd state to pass CPR in Schools legislation. As a result of House Bill 113, which takes effect with the 2017-2018 school year, more than 100,000 Ohio high school graduates each year will be trained in CPR. As part of the training, students will also learn how to use an automated external defibrillator, or AED.

Doylestown, Ohio, Councilman Tony Lindeman personally believes in the importance of the law. In 2012, he suffered a sudden cardiac arrest while running a marathon, and his life was saved by nurses who administered CPR on the scene.

"Today the hard work and efforts of this team paid off with Governor Kasich signing HB 113," said Lindeman, who worked alongside the American Heart Association to get the bill passed. "I will forever hold such wonderful memories of … knowing we helped save more Ohio lives."

About 38 people each hour have a cardiac arrest while not in a hospital, and nine of 10 do not survive, according to AHA statistics. Bystander CPR can double or even triple the victim’s chances of survival.

Thanks to all our fantastic You're the Cure advocates who reached out to lawmakers in support of this lifesaving legislation!

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Active Communities are Healthy Communities

Guest Blogger: Erin Bennett, Idaho Government Relations Director

For the last 12 months the American Heart Association and our coalition partners have been working diligently on educating legislators on the benefits of investing in the Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program. Investing in making our communities safer for people to walk and bike is vital to improving our state’s overall health.

During Lobby Day this year, we helped Legislators understand the benefits of Safe Routes, beyond just the increase in physical activity for children. When we invest in making it safer for children to walk and bike to school we make it safer for everyone in the community to get out and get active. SRTS legislation would dedicate state dollars to funding infrastructure and non-infrastructure projects that would make it easier, safer, and help encourage kids to walk and bike to school every day.

We know there are long term benefits to health, education, transportation, the environment, and in communities across the state.

With session over and legislators back in their home districts, we are working to expand the information people have about SRTS and how these programs can improve their communities. We are reaching out to more organizations for support of this work, and to all our wonderful volunteers who know how important physical activity is to children to prevent heart disease and stroke risks.

Our Idaho Heart Walk is on Saturday, May 14th, where we will continue to talk about the benefits of Safe Routes to School, and encourage individuals to sign on to support SRTS funding in the 2017 Legislative Session. This is the perfect opportunity to join us to celebrate heart health and encourage kids to be more active. Please join us by signing up at www.boiseheartwalk.org, and come to the AHA/ ASA booth to learn more about Safe Routes to School, and help support active transportation and improved health!

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Update on Christian Lybbert

Aimee Lybbert, Mother of CHD (Congenital Heart Defect) Survivor, Christian, updates us on his life now and what she sees every day as a “Heart Mom”

You can catch up on Christian’s story from nearly two years ago here.

Christian will be three at the end of next month. He's been through two more open heart surgeries and four open abdomen surgeries and one surgery through his ribs on his diaphragm. He's now living at Seattle Children's and is currently on the waiting list for a heart transplant.

He has quite the collection of scars. We as his parents do too.

We have been at Seattle Children's for almost 5 months now with most of our time spent in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CICU).

We have seen our share of families and children go through the CICU.

I've seen parents waiting anxiously for their surgery pagers as they wait for any update, I've seen parents hugging surgeons. I've seen rooms that have one little body in the room surrounded by scores of machines and staff working together to get the child through it all. I've seen parents cry with joy as their child had the breathing tube removed and they start to talk again. I've walked past rooms where moms are holding their children for the first time in forever as the nurse takes pictures. I've watched as they get transferred to the recovery floor, and I've watched parents take video of their toddler as he walked out the front door of the hospital after he conquered heart surgery. I've seen such joy at the many triumphs and miracles that happen here. 

I've also seen complete and utter despair. Sometimes things don't go as anticipated or as hoped.

Christian was like that. He had several emergency surgeries and he once bled out from a Gastrointestinal bleed and he had to be intubated and scoped while they transfused almost the entire volume of his blood. There were days that I didn't know how I could go on.

When my son headed off to one of his emergency surgeries I was a complete mess and was sobbing in the elevator on my way to the cafeteria. Another heart mom saw me. She asked me my son's name and told me that she saw me crying and couldn't leave me alone like that. She gave me a hug and said she'd pray for me.

She got off on her floor and I kept traveling down. The next day a card arrived with a note and a Starbucks gift card from her.

She had her own troubles and she took the time to look out for another person in need.

There are a surprising amount of kids and parents whose journey includes a hospitalization and or surgery in order to keep their CHD in check. Congenital Heart Defects are the most common birth defect. Approximately 25% of kids with a CHD will require a surgery or other intervention to survive. If you're on the outside looking in the most important thing to do is just to listen and quietly let them know you love them. If you're on the inside of the CHD storm it is important to realize that you're not alone.

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Christian's Story

Written by Aimee Lybbert, Christian's mom

When our son Christian was born he appeared perfectly healthy. He passed all the standard newborn screening with flying colors. Every medical professional assured us he was fine. But in reality our son had a broken heart.


Our first thought after learning about Christian's heart defect two weeks after his birth was, why didn't the ultrasound show us that he had major congenital heart defects? We later learned that up to 25% of major heart defects are not detected during ultrasounds. 

We also later learned that although our hospital did a pulse oximetry test just after birth, they did not do another test when Christian was 24 hours old. It was not a hospital requirement.  When we asked our local hospital why the test wasn't done we were told that the cost of false positives were too high and they didn't want to scare parents and do unnecessary testing.  Congenital heart defects are the single most common birth defect.


Screening for Critical Congenital Heart Defects or pulse ox testing can detect seven different critical congenital defects.  Our son Christian has three of the seven critical congenital heart defects that it can detect. 

Today Christian is 16 months old. He's had two open chest heart surgeries and he will need at least two more. He will never be completely fixed or healed but with the help of his diligent medical specialists, he is thriving despite it all.  If he had received that second pulse ox test at 24 hours Christian would not have gone into full heart failure before his heart defects were detected. He would not have had to go into his first heart surgery with a weakened heart and an overtaxed body. 

I was honored to provide written testimony to the Washington State Board of Health in support of requiring pulse oximetry testing for all newborns, so that other families don’t have to experience what we went through. We're lucky that Christian made it, but not all Washington babies are as lucky.

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Newborn Screening Awareness Month

Guest Blogger: Nicole Olmstead, Gov. Relations Director, Arizona

September is Newborn Screening Awareness month and we thought it would be a great time to highlight the wonderful progress Arizona has made in newborn screening.  It has been almost 18 months since the pulse oximetry (pulse ox) bill was passed and 3 months since full implementation of pulse ox screening for congenital heart disease in Arizona. 

For the past three months, all newborns, regardless of where they are born, have been screened for CHD using the simple pulse ox test.  This test can catch children with critical congenital heart disease before an emergency happens.  Midwives, birth centers, and hospitals are required to report those children at risk of CCHD to the Arizona Department of Health Services.  The Arizona Department of Health Services then follows up on those children to ensure they are receiving follow up care.  Newborn screening for diseases, including CCHD, saves lives and can improve the quality of life for these littlest Arizona residents if caught early.  We are so proud that Arizona has added the pulse ox screening to the list of required tests. 

Healthy babies are Why.

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Advocate Spotlight - Libby Char

Libby Char, Hawaii

Despite her extremely busy work schedule as an emergency physician, as the Medical Director for the Honolulu Fire Department and for American Medical Response in Hawaii, and serving on the American Heart Association Hawaii Division Board, Libby Char, M.D. still finds time to support American Heart Association policy efforts to make Hawaii healthier.

She sees the value of using policy change as a way to more quickly and efficiently change public norms that will result in improved public health.  Dr. Char has supported our efforts this year to require all newborns to be screened for congenital heart defects, requiring all high school students to receive CPR training prior to graduation, and development of policy aimed at improving Hawaii’s stroke system of care. 

As an example of her commitment, Dr. Char serves as the AHA’s volunteer representative on the Hawaii State Stroke Coalition which worked on successfully passing state legislation that will result in the creation of a state stroke data registry. Requiring that all of Hawaii’s acute stroke care hospitals collect stroke patient data and submit that data to the state Department of Health (DOH), the DOH will then create data reports that the Coalition will use to identify areas of weakness in the state’s stroke system of care and work together to improve them. The ongoing effort is expected to reduce geographic disparities in levels of care and improve stroke patients’ health outcomes.

Stroke remains the third leading cause of death in Hawaii, while nationally it has fallen to the fifth leading killer. It is also Hawaii’s leading cause of major disability. Efforts in other states, similar to those underway in Hawaii, to improve stroke systems of care have been credited with the reduction in stroke deaths nationally.  Coupled with the implementation of new stroke treatment guidelines released by the AHA in June, and the AHA’s ongoing efforts to boost stroke prevention through lifestyle changes, the long-term outlook for stroke patients and their families in Hawaii are looking brighter.

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Washington's 2015 Legislative Session is Officially Over


After a near shutdown of the state government, Washington’s legislative session ended on July 10 after going into three special sessions. From the beginning many suspected this would be a challenging year given the Legislature’s consideration of a transportation revenue package and its need to fund K-12 education to fulfill the State Supreme Court’s McLeary ruling. After many months of negotiating the Legislature is nearing completion of its work and it’s shaping up to be a great year for health policy in Washington.


Newborn Screening for Critical Congenital Heart Defects

On April 21 Governor Inslee signed Substitute House Bill 1285 into law. This bill ensures that every newborn in Washington is screened for critical congenital heart defects. Washington joins more than 35 other states in requiring this lifesaving screening. Our thanks to the many advocates across the state who shared with lawmakers the importance of this simple, inexpensive, lifesaving screening.

Tobacco Prevention

On June 29 the Legislature passed an operating budget. The budget includes a $14.5 million appropriation to the Department of Health, a portion of which will be used for tobacco prevention education. As many of you know tobacco prevention and control is a top priority for the American Heart Association and this investment will allow the state program to work closely with communities with high rates of tobacco use to educate youth and adults about the dangers of tobacco. This is the state’s most significant investment in tobacco prevention since the economic downturn.

Safe Routes to School and Bicycle/Pedestrian Safety Investments

After a hard-fought campaign to increase state investments in active transportation programs that help Washingtonians get active and healthy we are excited that Governor Inslee signed a historic transportation package into law on July 15 that does just that.  The 16-year package includes more than $164 million for bicycle and pedestrian safety projects and more than $56 million in state funds for Safe Routes to School. This is on top of $11.4 million in federal dollars for Safe Routes to School and the 2015-2017 biennial budget Governor Inslee signed further investing in both programs. These investments will ensure kids and adults across the state can safely commute via foot and bike, while also getting the physical activity needed for a healthy lifestyle. Our heartfelt thanks to our campaign partners at the Childhood Obesity Prevention Coalition and Washington Bikes for a fantastic collaborative effort.

Healthy Kids, Healthy Schools

AHA has advocated for a $5 million investment in the Healthy Kids, Healthy Schools program that would fund school grant applications for water bottle filling stations, physical education equipment, playground equipment, and kitchen renovations to enable scratch cooking. These investments will help shape the school environment for our kids, providing healthier food, beverage and physical activity options.

In all it has been a tremendous year for heart health policy in Washington. We share our sincerest thanks with you, our advocates, for all of your work communicating with lawmakers and talking with friends and neighbors, all to build a healthier state for all Washingtonians.

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Governor Ige Signs Three Lifesaving Bills

Guest Blogger: Don Weisman, Hawaii Government Relations Director

We are very excited to announce that Governor Ige has signed three lifesaving bills into law. We can't thank our dedicated advocates enough for their help in passing these bills. We are happy that a few of you could join us for the bill signing. Big thanks to Dr. Char and stroke survivor Chris McLachlin for their help on HB 589. The families involved with HB 467 we thank you for sharing your stories with lawmakers. They truly made a difference and helped make clear why pulse oximetry screening is so important.

House Bill 467/Act 212 requires all Hawaii birthing centers to screen newborns for critical congenital heart defects (CCHDs) using a tool called pulse oximetry. CCHDs are the most common birth defects in the U.S. and the leading killer of infants with birth defects.

Babies discharged with an undiagnosed CCHD are at risk for having serious problems within the first few days or weeks of life and often require emergency care. Pulse oximetry, is a non-invasive, inexpensive test that consists of sensors placed on a baby's hand and/or foot to check blood oxygen levels.  The screening can identify some infants with a CCHD before they show any signs. Once identified, babies with a CCHD can be seen by cardiologists and can receive specialized care and treatment that could prevent death or disability early in life.

House Bill 589/Act 211 establishes a state stroke registry and require all acute stroke care hospitals to collect and submit stroke data to the State Department of Health (DOH). The DOH would then compile and share reports based on the data with the state’s Stroke Coalition, which includes representatives from acute stroke care hospitals, EMS agencies, the DOH and the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. The Coalition members would use the data to identify weaknesses in Hawaii’s stroke system of care and work to improve it with the goal of speeding patient access to the best available care and improving long-term health outcomes.

Senate Bill 1030/Act 122 raises the legal age to purchase and possess tobacco products to 21. Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, killing more than 400,000 people each year.  It is known to cause heart disease, stroke, cancer, and respiratory diseases, among other health disorders, and costs the U.S. $96 billion in health care expenditures each year. Nearly 1,000 kids under the age of 18 become regular, daily smokers each day; and almost one-third will die from it.

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) issued a report on March 12 bolstering this policy in which it found “increasing the minimum legal age for tobacco products will likely prevent or delay initiation of tobacco use by adolescents and young adults. The age group most impacted will be those age 15 to 17 years.” Raising the minimum legal age to 21 will mean that those who can legally obtain tobacco are less likely to be in the same social networks as high school students.

 

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Ali and Rock Riggs

Alison “Ali” Riggs, and her husband Rock, are two of the AHA advocates helping to guide a bill through the Hawaii State Legislation this year that would require all newborns to be screened for critical congenital heart defects using pulse oximetry prior to discharge from their birthing center.

Below is their story:

 My 3-year-old daughter Grace was born with a severe heart defect. Her defect was not detected until she was six days old and was struggling to live. She spent the first eight months of her life in a children’s hospital, suffering unimaginable pain and fear.

We were extremely fortunate that she survived although her life will be a challenging one. If we would have known about her condition right away, her body, specifically her lungs, would most likely be stronger and her hospital stay and subsequent care would have been less.

A pulse-ox test is simple, painless, and inexpensive. Eight months in the neonatal intensive care unit is none of these. That’s why we’re strongly supporting the American Heart Association’s efforts to pass legislation requiring all babies to be screened prior to discharge. It will save and improve lives.

Ali and her husband have helped us educate lawmakers about this screening and its importance. Pulse oximetry is a simple, inexpensive, non-invasive screening tool used already by most hospitals that measures blood oxygen levels and pulse. When placed on a baby’s hand or foot it can indicate, if measures read low, the possibility of a congenital heart defect and the need for more extensive testing. Babies born with congenital heart defects sometimes don’t exhibit symptoms until days or weeks after being discharged and returning home. In critical cases, by the time the symptoms appear, and parents recognize them and return to the hospital, it might be too late to save the baby or long-term complications can occur. If identified early, many congenital heart defects can be corrected through advance treatments allowing the babies to go on to live relatively normal lives.

The Hawaii pulse oximetry screening bill passed out of the State Senate in March and was headed into a conference committee where final language was hoped to be agreed upon by House and Senate representatives. If approved it will move to Governor Ige’s desk for signature into law. Stay tuned for an update on the bill’s status in next month’s You’re The Cure newsletter.

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Update on the 2015 Legislative Session

Guest Blogger: Don Weisman, Hawaii Government Relations Director

AHA Priority Bills Still On Track As State Legislative Session Nears Half-Way Mark

Two of the American Heart Association’s priority bills were on track toward final passage into law as the Hawaii State Legislature neared the half-way point in its 2015 session: newborn heart screening and stroke data registry. 

(HB 467/SB 337) Newborn Heart Screening

HB 467/SSB 337 would require all newborns to be screened for critical congenital heart defects (CCHD) prior to discharge from their birthing center. One of the best ways to detect CCHD is through a simple, noninvasive, inexpensive test, called pulse oximetry, or pulse ox. The pulse ox test consists of sensors placed on a baby's hand and/or foot to check blood oxygen levels. It is a simple bedside test to determine the amount of oxygen in a baby's blood and the baby's pulse rate. Low levels of oxygen in the blood can be a sign of a CCHD. The test is painless and takes only a few minutes. If the baby’s levels are too low, additional tests may be conducted and advanced treatments pursued.

Congenital heart defects are the most common birth defect in the U.S. and the leading killer of infants with birth defects. Babies discharged from a birthing center without having a congenital heart defect diagnosed are at risk for having serious problems, or even death, within the first few days or weeks of life.

(HB 589) Stroke Data Registry

(HB 589) would establish a state stroke data registry. The bill passed its hearings in the House and was expected to pass a House floor vote before moving to the Senate for consideration. Establishment of a stroke registry in Hawaii could help illuminate weaknesses that exist in the state’s stroke system of care.

For example, data collected in a stroke registry may show poor patient education about stroke symptoms, geographical differences in the quality of stroke care received, problems with adherence to stroke treatment guidelines, or the need to improve pre-hospital stroke response or treatment by our county EMS agencies. The data could then catalyze Hawaii’s stroke stakeholders to find solutions to the challenges encountered.

Under the bill, all hospitals treating stroke patients would be required to use the AHA’s Get With The Guidelines-Stroke quality improvement tool to collect and share patient stroke data with the State Department of Health which would then work with the State Stroke Task Force, a coalition of representatives from stroke hospitals, EMS agencies, the Department of Health and the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association to assess the de-identified data and make recommendations to improve the state’s stroke system of care. Stroke is Hawaii’s third leading cause of death and a leading cause of disability.

Stay tuned for further action alerts to support these bills as they continue through the legislative process.

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