American Heart Association - You’re the Cure

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Help Eliminate Unhealthy Food and Beverage Advertising in Rhode Island Schools

One of the American Heart Association’s top priorities for the 2015 Legislative Session will be eliminating unhealthy food and beverage advertising/marketing in schools.  The good news – according to a recent report, most Rhode Island middle schools and high schools already prohibit unhealthy food and beverage advertisements in school buildings (89%), on school grounds (88%), on school buses (84%), and in school publications (83%).  Let’s get to 100% Rhode Island!

While national, state, and local efforts have improved the nutritional quality of foods provided and sold in schools, some schools still permit the marketing of foods high in calories, fat, and sugar and of minimal nutritional value. That marketing includes sales, free samples, and advertising of unhealthy foods; corporate-sponsored fundraising programs which encourage students and their families to sell, purchase, and consume foods and beverages with little nutritional value; incentive programs, which reward children with free or discounted foods or beverages when they reach certain academic goals; sponsorship of school programs or events; and branded educational materials.

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 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.

Urge your representative to cosponsor legislation that would eliminate unhealthy food and beverage marketing in RI schools!  

Click the following link to take action today:

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Lisa Deck, Rhode Island

We are very excited to share that Rhode Island Advocacy Committee member and stroke survivor Lisa Deck was recently selected to serve as a National Go Red for Women Spokesperson!  Congratulations Lisa and thank you for all that you do!

Click the following links to see our new Go Red for Women public service announcements featuring Lisa and other survivors from across the country:

2014-2015 Go Red Real Women | Go Red For Women®

2014-2015 Go Red Real Women | Go Red For Women® | Advocacy and Research Stories


We asked Lisa why being a You’re the Cure advocate is so important to her, and she responded “KAITLYN AND ZACK ARE WHY.”  Here is her story:

I was a healthy 21- year-old college student when I suffered a stroke. A week before graduation, I developed a terrible headache and had all the typical signs of stroke- left sided numbness, confusion, speech difficulty. The first hospital quickly dismissed me as having a migraine. I finally went to another ER, where it was determined that I had suffered a stroke.

I was shocked, but also in denial — I was young and still felt invincible. I didn't know that strokes don't discriminate. I was diagnosed with a rare brain disease and have had two more strokes. I have been through years of treacherous treatments, numerous medications, many hospital stays, and suffered horrible side effects.

My strokes took away my initial life goals but taught me to rely on my inner strength. I've become a dedicated American Heart Association volunteer and advocate – starting with a fundraising dinner making over $12,000 and walking a half marathon. I've participated in hundreds of events over the past thirteen years: I developed an annual survivor luncheon to help others connect, attended rallies, Lobby Days, Congressional hearings, Go Red luncheons, fashion shows, races, conferences and networking events. This year, I have been selected as a Go Red for Women Real Women and have learned that I can make a difference as a National Spokesperson. I'm educating and empowering others through my Facebook page: ISurvivor Lisa Deck.

I am married to an awesome husband and despite all my medical challenges, we have created an amazing family. I'm the proud mom of two awesome children. Kaitlyn & Zack are my Why.

I will forever be a stroke survivor under the care of physicians but I am lucky to have thrived personally since my stroke. I will forever be under doctor's care and must maintain a healthy lifestyle for myself and my family. I'm blessed to be alive and fortunate to be able to make a difference in the lives of others. 



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Rhode Island Receives "F" Grade for Tobacco Prevention

The American Lung Association recently released its annual 2015 State of Tobacco Control Report, evaluating all 50 states on their effectiveness in protecting the public from tobacco use, the leading cause of preventable death.

Did Rhode Island make the grade?  In some areas, yes.  In others, NO!

Rhode Island received the following grades:

Tobacco Prevention: F

Smokefree Air: A

Tobacco Taxes: B

Access to Cessation Services: D

To view Rhode Island's full report card, click the following link:

The American Heart Association and our partner organizations are calling on lawmakers to increase the state's investment in evidence-based tobacco prevention and cessation programs in the FY 2016 budget.  Be on the lookout for future action alerts!

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AHA Launches 2015 GET HEALTHY! Poster Contest for Rhode Island Schools

The American Heart Association recently launched its 2015 GET HEALTHY! Poster Contest for Rhode Island schools. Students in grades K-8 are asked to draw a picture of their favorite physical activity and favorite healthy food(s), demonstrating how they GET HEALTHY!  In addition to being entered to win great prizes, posters will help educate lawmakers about the importance of supporting policies that promote access to healthy foods and safe places to play and be active in our communities.  Schools will be provided with 11x17 posters for entries.  Simply click the link below to download the contest flyer for details.  Deadline for entries is April 24, 2015.

Special thanks to our 2015 GET HEALTHY! Poster Contest sponsor - Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island!

(Please visit the site to view this file)


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New Leaders & An Ambitious Agenda for Rhode Island in 2015

The Rhode Island Advocacy Committee recently elected a new leadership team and put the finishing touches on our 2015 Policy Agenda.  We are excited to share that Dr. Steven Fera (right) and John Potvin EMT-C (left) will help lead our advocacy efforts for the next two years as chair and vice chair, respectively.  We are in excellent hands as both Dr. Fera and John are seasoned advocates who have spent a lot of time at the State House.  

The RI Advocacy Committee approved an ambitious agenda for 2015 and we’ll need the help of You’re the Cure advocates like you to achieve our goals!  Policy priorities include:

  • Ensuring that Rhode Island Nutrition Requirements (RINR) are aligned with new USDA standards for snacks and beverages sold in schools, maintaining areas where RINR is stronger than USDA;
  • Eliminating unhealthy food and beverage marketing in schools;
  • Securing state funding to purchase new CPR manikins for high schools to help implement the 2013 CPR in Schools Law and ensure quality training for all students;
  • Ensuring that all newborns receive a pulse oximetry test to screen for critical congenital heart defects;
  • Updating the Stroke Prevention and Treatment Act of 2009 to reflect new national recommendations and the tremendous progress that has been made in RI; and
  • Protecting kids from Big Tobacco and helping current smokers quit for good by increasing the cigarette tax and adequately funding prevention and cessation programs.  

Thank you for your continued support and advocacy!  As we head into the 2015 Legislative Session, please be sure to update your profile in You’re the Cure to make certain you receive alerts on the issues that are important to you.  If you would like to get more involved in our advocacy efforts, please contact Megan Tucker at

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Miriam R. Plitt, Rhode Island

We are very excited to share that Rhode Island Advocacy Committee member Miriam Plitt was recently inducted into the Pawtucket Hall of Fame in recognition of her volunteer work with the American Heart Association and many other important organizations. Congratulations Miriam and thank you for all that you do!!!   

Miriam is a former Board chair for the American Heart Association and she has been honored with the organization’s Heart of the Mission Award.  In addition to her volunteer work with the American Heart Association, Miriam was present from the inception of the Arts Council of Pawtucket - the first organization of its kind in the state - and was a chief moving force as executive director.  She serves on the Board of Directors for the Elizabeth Johnson Pawtucket History Research Center, preserving Ms. Johnson's unique collection detailing Pawtucket's past. She has also served in important roles for the Rhode Island Ethics Commission, the Pawtucket Ethics Commission, Pawtucket Charter Review Commission, and the Rhode Island League of Voters, and as a commissioner for the Pawtucket Riverfront Commission.  Miriam also successfully spearheaded the effort to create Pawtucket's newly established Advisory Commission on Arts & Culture.

We asked Miriam why being a You’re the Cure advocate is so important to her…here’s what she said:

Advocacy is a key component of the American Heart Association and it all starts at the grassroots level with You and Me.  Heart disease and stroke have affected friends and family members over the years….when one of my grandsons was born with a heart condition, my focus became youth and children.

As an advocacy ambassador for the AHA, I turned to my local community and joined the Pawtucket School District Wellness Committee so I could work on policies related to healthy eating, nutrition, physical education and tobacco control.

When I look at my grandson and his future, it’s about advocating for policy change, education and prevention that will help him lead a healthy life.  It’s about legislation that will create a healthier environment for him and all children.  It’s about raising funds for research so that new medical advances can help my grandson and others.

My passion is to continue advocating and working toward reducing heart disease and stroke, creating healthy communities, and seeing my grandson and other children have the opportunity to lead productive, enjoyable and fulfilling lives. 



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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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Arshad Iqbal, MD, Rhode Island

Congratulations to Dr. Arshad Iqbal who was awarded the prestigious American Stroke Association Community Conscience Award at the recent NorthEast Cerebrovascular Consortium (NECC) Summit in Newport! The American Stroke Association Community Conscience Award is given annually to an individual that has been an advocate for policy change supported by the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association to improve stroke systems of care including: prevention, treatment and rehabilitation for stroke patients within the northeast region.

Dr. Iqbal is a Neurologist in private practice in Rhode Island. He is the Chair of the Rhode Island Stroke Task Force and Director of the Stroke Program at Kent Hospital. He also serves as a member of the Steering Committee for the Rhode Island Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Program. He received his MD from Dow Medical College in Pakistan, a prestigious institute of Advanced Health Sciences in south-east Asia. He completed his neurology residency and stroke fellowship at the University of Tennessee, Memphis. Having completed his formal training, Dr. Iqbal joined Kent Hospital as a Consultant Neurologist, where he presently serves as Chief of the Division of Neurology.

In addition to teaching, Dr. Iqbal has led efforts to create a coordinated stroke system of care in the Ocean State. As a member (and later Chair) of the Rhode Island Stroke Task Force, Dr. Iqbal worked closely with the American Stroke Association, RI Department of Health, physicians, nurses and EMS professionals to conduct research and make formal recommendations to the RI General Assembly outlining ways to improve stroke care in Rhode Island. After finalizing the report, Dr. Iqbal co-authored the Stroke Prevention and Treatment Act of 2009 with the American Stroke Association and RI Stroke Task Force, and successfully advocated for its passage and enactment during the 2009 Legislative Session. The Stroke Prevention and Treatment Act of 2009 established a comprehensive system of care for stroke patients in Rhode Island including primary stroke center designation, a statewide pre-hospital care protocol and continuous quality improvement. Following enactment, Dr. Iqbal worked with the RI Stroke Task Force and Department of Health to ensure the law was fully implemented. Dr. Iqbal currently works with the Task Force and the Department to evaluate data from the state’s stroke registry, identify gaps and ensure continued improvements in care. He also maintains contact with legislative champions to make certain that the state’s advances in stroke care are sustained.

Dr. Michael Fine, Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health expressed his enthusiasm by stating, "Through his work as a spokesman, advocate, educator, and clinician, Dr. Iqbal has had an immeasurable impact on stroke outcomes in Rhode Island. His commitment to his patients and to advancing legislation that is creating a more coordinated system of stroke care make him a role model in the healthcare provider community in our state. I am both fortunate and proud to call Dr. Iqbal a colleague."

"Dr. Iqbal has been instrumental in organizing stroke care in Rhode Island," According to Dr. Brian Silver, President of the Rhode Island Board of Directors at the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association. "His dedication to improving the care of stroke patients has led to many lives saved and improved. We are grateful for his efforts and are thrilled that he has received this award."

In 2013, Dr. Iqbal was named to Rhode Island Monthly’s list of Top Docs. Thousands of Rhode Island licensed physicians were sent a survey and asked to name the specialist they would choose if a family member or friend had a medical problem. The names that appeared most frequently on the survey make up the list of the state’s 160 finest doctors, as voted by their peers.

Photo: Dr. Iqbal celebrates with colleagues from Kent Hospital.


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CPR in Schools: Help Rhode Island Take the Next Step

Did you know that only 10 percent of victims who suffer cardiac arrest outside of a hospital setting survive? That’s right ONLY 10 PERCENT SURVIVE.  Most die because they do not receive bystander cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).  The numbers are both staggering and tragic. 

So how do we change this dire statistic? The good news is that Rhode Island is already on the right path. Thanks to the outreach of You’re the Cure advocates like YOU, RI was one of the early states to enact a CPR in Schools Law that requires every high school student in the state to receive hands-on CPR training and an overview of AED use prior to graduation as part of the health education curriculum, creating a new generation of lifesavers.

But our work is not over. High schools need our help to ensure full implementation of the CPR in Schools Law. That’s why we’re asking the state purchase new equipment/CPR manikins for all public high schools. We want to make certain that all students in the Ocean State receive high quality CPR training. 

Click the following link to tell the Governor-Elect to fund CPR in Schools:

Cardiac arrest occurs when the heart’s electrical system abruptly malfunctions and the heart suddenly stops beating normally. It is often confused with a heart attack, which typically happens when blocked arteries prevent blood from reaching the heart’s muscles. There is hope for cardiac arrest victims, but time is the enemy. To survive cardiac arrest, they must receive immediate CPR to increase the blood flow to the heart and brain, along with an electrical shock from a defibrillator to stop the abnormal heart rhythm.

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