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Rhode Island Lobby Day a Success

You’re the Cure advocates from across the Ocean State descended on the RI State House on May 4th for the American Heart Association’s Lobby Day. Their message to lawmakers: cast a vote for children’s health!    

Advocates spoke with legislators about two important proposals:        

  • The first bill would update Rhode Island’s school nutrition standards to ensure that Rhode Island meets – and continues to exceed – new federal guidelines for snacks and beverages sold in schools. 
  • The second bill would ensure that only healthy foods and beverages are advertised and marketed to children on school property. 

Both bills have been approved by the Senate and await a vote in the House.  For more information click here: (Please visit the site to view this file)

Many thanks to our amazing Lobby Day Team: Dr. Steven Fera, John Potvin, Laurie Stephenson, Miriam Plitt, Nancy Blasdell, Lisa Deck, Kathy Harrington, Dina Mihos, Karin Wetherill, Kelly Swanson, Michelle Karn, Amanda Komorek, Christa Danilowicz, Andrea Larocque, Bill Thompsen and David Day.

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Rhode Island Legislative Session Heads into Home Stretch

We are heading into the final weeks of the 2016 RI Legislative Session. With several priority bills still in play, we need your continued support to keep the pressure on our legislators! 

  • Our bills related to school nutrition and healthy school marketing have both passed the Senate and await action in the House.  As a reminder, the first bill would update Rhode Island’s school nutrition standards to ensure that Rhode Island meets – and continues to exceed – new federal guidelines for snacks and beverages sold in schools.  The second bill would ensure that only healthy foods and beverages are advertised and marketed to children on school property.  Please help us get these bills through the House!  Click the following link to send a message to Speaker Mattiello today:  https://yourethecure.org/aha/advocacy/composeletters.aspx?AlertID=38232
  • As lawmakers put their finishing touches on the budget, we are lobbying them to include Governor Raimondo’s proposed Green Economy Bond Referendum that would provide funding for bike paths and recreation in the Ocean State (increasing opportunities for physical activity).  Voters would have to approve the bond question on the November Ballot.
  • Lastly, we continue to urge state leaders to fund CPR training in high schools in an effort to fully implement our CPR in Schools Law that requires all high school students to be trained in this lifesaving skill prior to graduation. 

Please stay tuned over the coming weeks!  Questions? Please contact Megan Tucker, Director of Government Relations at (401) 228-2331 or megan.tucker@heart.org.  

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Danny Mackenzie, Rhode Island

I am a 40 year old, healthy active adult as well as a cardiac arrest and heart attack survivor.

It was a Saturday and I remember waking up in a hospital bed feeling tired and groggy.  My heart attack happened on a Saturday but I did not wake up until a week later.  My mind and body had been put through the ringer.   I looked up and saw my wife standing over me as I came to. I repeatedly asked her, “What happened?” She kept telling me what had happened. My brain wouldn’t absorb the words she was telling me. All I remember was I would start to cry and fall back into a deep dark slumber sleep. This went on for a couple of days. Finally, the words sank into my head. She was telling me I had a massive heart attack. Now the reason why it took me so long to register what she was telling me was because I couldn’t believe my own ears.  What she was repeatedly saying didn’t make any sense to me, this could not be true, this can't happen to me. My own mind was playing tricks on me. You have to understand that I considered myself to be an athlete and somewhat of a fit individual. I spent my entire life trying to take care of my body. My wife and I would go to the gym religiously throughout the week. We have been extremely active people for most of our lives. We take pride in taking care of our bodies. We rarely indulge in eating out at fast food places. We would only have an occasional drink here and there. Smoking was always out of the question.

So you have to understand when my wife is telling me that I had cardiac arrest and a massive heart attack, I just couldn’t believe it. I wouldn’t believe it. My brain was not going to except that fact. I was supposed to be a healthy forty year old man with so much to look forward to in life. Nothing like this was ever supposed to happen to me because as far as I knew I was taking good care of myself. I didn’t have a family history of heart disease or heart attacks.  There really is no other explanation of what had happened to me other than it was in my genes.

As you can imagine once I was mentally aware of what had happened and what was going on around me all I could do was ask questions.  God knows, I had tons of questions.  All I wanted from that point on was to hear from all those that were around me what in god’s name happened. I started with the one person that knows me better than anybody else, my wife, Angela. We try to recall that day the best we could.  So I tried my best to remember what had happened the Saturday of my event.

First thing was first, my wife and I always started our Saturdays by going to the gym. I recall having a great workout and feeling like a million bucks when we left the gym that morning. After the gym we went to pick up our son from his friend’s house. As we sat in the driveway waiting for my son to come out that’s when I went from feeling good to having an overwhelming nauseous feeling. I was highly disappointed because I had been fighting colds and the flu for nearly two months. I thought I had finally overcome all the illness of the past few months that morning.  All I could think was great now the flu was back. I couldn’t wait to get home..I just had to get some rest and sleep this feeling off. My wife suggested that I go to the doctor that morning.  Going to see a doctor that day was far from my mind. So after taking several naps and managing to get small amounts of food down me I thought I had kicked whatever was attacking me that morning. Our usual routine was to rent movies on Saturday nights. It was about seven thirty when we had sat down in our basement to watch a movie. All I remember after turning on the movie was I had reached over to grab some popcorn out of my wife’s bowl. That is it, lights out. Ange thought I was falling asleep on her as I slumped over.

As my wife recalls the event she shares with me that there was no warning.  I just simply collapsed onto her shoulder without a word, sigh or moan.  She immediately jumped up, called 911 and began doing CPR.  The first responders arrived at our home fairly quickly although at the time it seemed like it was taking forever.  They immediately started CPR and attempted to shock my heart back into a normal rhythm.  It was only when I arrived at the hospital in the ambulance that I began to respond to the EMT’s efforts and medicines.  They then quickly put me to sleep to asses my situation.  The cardiac doctor quickly decided that immediate emergency surgery was the only option.  After 4 hours of surgery I was lucky and blessed to have survived.  I had a 99% blockage in my artery that required a stent.  Unfortunately during the rescue attempt at my home, I aspirated and now had to fight pneumonia in addition to a severely damaged heart.  I was in a coma and on life support for 7 days.

The very next step was the road to recovery. You have to understand at this point I was battling depression on top of everything else.  I had every intention of getting back on my feet but knew it wasn’t going to be easy.  Just as there was part of me thinking positively, there where parts of me thinking the exact opposite.  Scared and frightened of what life had in store for me. Parts of me didn’t think it was possible. The entire thought of me even being in this predicament was dragging me down.  Needless to say without the overwhelming support from my amazing wife, family, friends and medical staff I wouldn’t have made it through my rehabilitation.  I managed to get through my rehabilitation one step at a time, one day at a time. 

It's been little over a year now since my event and I'm in a very content and happy place in my life. In large part thanks to my wonderfully supportive wife, Angela. Without her quick and courageous actions I would not have survived. Of course, there were many factors that played into whether my event could have ended differently. The one factor that sticks in my mind is how I chose to be stubborn and ignore my wife's suggestion to seek medical attention. At that point I just didn't feel right but I thought it was another bout with the flu I'd been fighting for a couple weeks before hand.  Besides, what active healthy 40 year old man has a heart attack?  Not me...

Every day that I get to wake up and participate in life is a triumphant day for me.  Once I got my mind set on getting back on my feet I never looked back.  I knew I had the best support system behind me to see me through the best and worst of times through recovery.  Every Family member, Fireman, Doctor, Nurse and Physical Therapist I encountered throughout the healing process enabled me to regain control of my life once again.  My heart goes out to each and every one of them!  I never could have done it without them.  I can once again live an active, healthy, and normal life.

I’m proud to say that I have survived my bout with sudden cardiac arrest.  I’m back to a reasonably normal life, I continue to push forward every day.  For all the things on that fateful day that went wrong I was so fortunate that so many things went right after the fact.

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RI Lobby Day is May 4th. Register Today!

Please join fellow You’re the Cure advocates at the State House on Wednesday, May 4th for the American Heart Association’s Rhode Island Lobby Day! 

Click the following link to register today: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/6WZMVGX

Rhode Island Lobby Day
May 4, 2016
State House – Providence, RI
3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Lobby Day presents an excellent opportunity to meet with your representative and senator to promote the American Heart Association’s lifesaving policy priorities.  This year we will focus on two important issues related to children’s health:

  1. Ensuring that Rhode Island’s school nutrition standards meet and exceed new USDA regulations; and,
  2. Making certain that only healthy foods and beverages are advertised and marketed to children on school property.

Please use your voice and help us make a difference in the lives of Rhode Island’s children! 

Register today at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/6WZMVGX

Registrations must be received by April 25th.  Training will be provided prior to the event via conference call.  If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact Megan Tucker at (401) 228-2331 or megan.tucker@heart.org.

We hope to see you at the State House on May 4th!

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Senate Committee Approves Updates to RI School Nutrition Standards

It has been a busy month of hearings at the State House and I’m happy to report that we are making progress on our policy priorities.  See below for a quick recap.  As we head into the final months of the legislative session, please keep an eye out for action alerts.  We need to keep the pressure on our legislators to make sure these important bills go through. 

Senate Bill 2757/House Bill 7657 – School Nutrition Updates:

S. 2757 and H. 7657 would make technical updates to Rhode Island’s “competitive foods” statute which sets forth the nutritional criteria for foods and beverages sold in schools outside of – and in competition with – the school meals program.  This includes, but is not limited to, vending machines, school stores, a la carte foods sales and fundraisers held during the school day.  These updates are needed to align Rhode Island’s standards with new federal requirements. 

S. 2757 was heard by the Senate Health and Human Services Committee on April 5.  There was no opposition and the committee approved the bill.  We expect a vote before the full Senate shortly.

H. 7657 was heard by the House Health, Education and Welfare Committee on March 9.  There was no opposition.  The committee held the bill for further study (typical at this point in the session).  We hope the committee will bring the bill up for a vote soon.

Senate Bill 2673/House Bill 7487 – Healthy School Marketing Bills:

S. 2673 and H. 7487 would take the nutrition standards referenced above apply them to foods and beverages that are advertised and marketed on school property.  The premise of these bills is very simple - if a food or beverage can’t be sold on school property because it doesn’t meet federal and state nutrition criteria, then it shouldn’t be advertised or marketed there.  Permitting the advertising of foods and beverages at schools that may not be sold there interferes with school messages promoting good health and academic success. The marketing also undermines parents’ efforts to feed their children a healthy diet.

S. 2673 was heard by the Senate Education Committee on March 30.  There was no vocal opposition.  The committee held the bill for further study.  (The Senate passed an identical bill last year.)

H. 7487 was heard by the House Health, Education and Welfare Committee on March 16.  There was no vocal opposition.  The committee held the bill for further study.

Biking/Recreation Bond Referendum

In her FY 2017 budget recommendations, Governor Raimondo proposed issuing $35 million in bonds to extend bike paths and improve state parks.  Several environmental projects are also included.  The bond referendum would go before voters in the November general election.  The American Heart Association strongly supports increased funding for biking, walking and recreational opportunities.

The Biking/Recreation Bond Referendum was considered by the House and Senate Finance Committees.  There was broad support from health and environmental groups (no opposition).  We will be working with legislative leaders to get this proposal into the General Assembly’s final budget. 

Questions?  Please feel free to contact Megan Tucker, Director of Government Relations, at 401-228-2331 or megan.tucker@heart.org.

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School Nutrition & Marketing Bills Introduced in Rhode Island House

Bills that would update Rhode Island’s school nutrition standards and ensure that only healthy foods and beverages are marketed to children on school property have been introduced in the House.  These bills are top priorities for the American Heart Association and we are focused on getting them through the General Assembly and onto the Governor’s desk this year!  You may recall that the Senate passed these bills last year and one of the bills was left on the House floor calendar.  We were so close…now it’s time to finish the job!

House Bill 7657 – School Nutrition Updates:

When we give our children healthy foods at school, we’re teaching them good eating habits that will help them grow up healthy. In addition, studies have shown that eating better helps students perform better in school.  H. 7657 would make technical updates to Rhode Island’s “competitive foods” statute which sets forth the nutritional criteria for foods and beverages sold in schools outside of the school meals program.  This includes, but is not limited to, vending machines, school stores, a la carte foods sales and fundraisers held during the school day (food and beverages sold in “competition” with the schools meals program).  These updates are needed to align Rhode Island’s standards with new federal requirements.  Thanks to the leadership of the General Assembly, Rhode Island was one of the first states to adopt school nutrition standards and we have been – and continue to be – a national leader in this area.

House Bill 7487 – School Marketing Bill:

Research shows that the aggressive marketing and advertising of high-calorie, unhealthy foods to children are contributing to today’s childhood obesity epidemic.  This bill would take the nutrition standards referenced above apply them to foods and beverages that are advertised and marketed on school property.  The premise is very simple - if a food or beverage can’t be sold on school property because it doesn’t meet federal and state nutrition criteria, then it shouldn’t be advertised or marketed there.  Permitting the advertising of foods and beverages at schools that may not be sold there interferes with school messages promoting good health and academic success. If children are taught through the school health and nutrition curriculum to limit their intake of these foods and at the same time the foods are promoted by school-based advertising and marketing, the lessons of school health and nutrition curricula are undermined. The marketing also undermines parents’ efforts to feed their children a healthy diet.

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Rhode Island Bill Would Raise Tobacco Purchase Age from 18 to 21

Legislation has been introduced at the Rhode Island State House that would raise the tobacco purchase age from 18 to 21.  The American Heart Association and our partners at the American Lung Association and Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids are supporting this important proposal. 

Click here to view the General Assembly’s press release on this issue:  http://www.rilin.state.ri.us/pressrelease/_layouts/RIL.PressRelease.ListStructure/Forms/DisplayForm.aspx?List=c8baae31-3c10-431c-8dcd-9dbbe21ce3e9&ID=11416

Tobacco use continues to be a significant public health concern and a leading cause of preventable death in the U.S. Though we have made some great strides, nearly 25% of high school students still report using tobacco products, and the U.S. Surgeon General estimated that nearly 6 million children will die prematurely in adulthood if current trends continue.  Further, in 2013, 2.1 million people smoked cigarettes for the first time, half of which were under the age of 18.  In fact, nearly 90% of smokers begin before age 18, and 95% begin before turning 26.

Because of the addictive nature of nicotine, experimentation or initiation of tobacco use among youth and young adults is particularly troubling. This is a critical period for growth and development, one during which the brain may be especially susceptible and sensitive to the effects of nicotine.  Increasing the minimum legal sale age for tobacco products to 21 would reduce our youth’s access to, and use of, these deadly products.

For more information, view our fact sheet:  http://www.heart.org/idc/groups/heart-public/@wcm/@adv/documents/downloadable/ucm_479895.pdf

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Governor Raimondo Releases FY 2017 Budget Proposal

On February 2, Governor Gina Raimondo presented her FY 2017 budget recommendations to the General Assembly.  We are still reviewing the details of the budget proposal, but wanted to draw your attention to two issues:

Healthy Communities Bond – the Governor has proposed issuing $35 million in bonds to extend bike paths and improve state parks.  Several environmental projects are also included.  The bond referendum would go before voters in the November general election.  The American Heart Association strongly supports increased funding for biking, walking and recreational opportunities.

Cigarette Tax Increase – The Governor also proposed increasing the state cigarette tax by 25-cents per pack.  While we appreciate the Governor looking at the cigarette tax, the American Heart Association is opposed to small tax increases that will yield no public health benefit.  In addition, we are concerned that none of the new revenue is being directed to prevention & cessation programs that are proven to help current smokers quit and prevent kids from ever starting this deadly habit. 

 

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New Policy Brief Calls for More Physical Education in Rhode Island Schools

Our partners at Rhode Island Kids Count recently released a new policy brief entitled, “Promoting Increased Physical Activity in Schools.”

Regular physical activity has been shown to improve strength and endurance, help control weight, and prevent chronic disease. It has also been shown to improve academic achievement, including grades and standardized test scores. Research also shows positive effects on the brain, including improved attention, processing, memory, and coping. “Promoting Increased Physical Activity in Schools” provides an overview of current practices and policies regarding physical activity in Rhode Island schools (including recess and physical education), and includes recommendations for promoting increased physical activity in schools. 

To view the policy brief click here: http://www.rikidscount.org/Portals/0/Uploads/Documents/Health%20(Coverage,%20Issues,%20Oral)/Physical%20Activity%20%20Rhode%20Island%20KIDS%20COUNT%20Policy%20Brief-Phys%20Activity%20in%20Schools-Jan%202016.pdf

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Yvonne Heredia, Rhode Island

On May 14, 2015, I was awakened with sudden chest heaviness and difficulty breathing. I took an aspirin and then woke up my 16-year-old daughter to go outside my home with me so that I could get fresh air.While I was outside; I said a quick prayer and realized that something just was not right. I decided to call 911 and when I did, I strongly encouraged the 911 operator to hurry with rescue. I stated that I did not think I would make it if they did not hurry fast. Soon after, the rescue arrived to transport me to the hospital. When I arrived at RI hospital I was immediately rushed into the trauma room and the first evaluation that was performed was an EKG. I was then told that I was having a massive heart attack.

My heart rate began dropping fast. I noticed the trauma team preparing to shock me. My heart rate started to increase. I then was sent to the catherization lab to be stented, and then moved to the cardiac critical care unit. Once I was stabilized, the cardiologist came in to discuss my care. The cardiologist first indicated that I was very lucky to be alive because the type of heart attack that I suffered was the Left Anterior Descending with 99% blockage.

I am a registered nurse having full understanding of the magnitude of the information regarding a heart attack. My experience has prompted me to be a voice for women about the importance of recognizing subtle signs of a heart attack. The signs and symptoms that I experienced is proof of how women exhibit symptoms differently.

 

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