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Will you help influence scientific research?

We need to hear from consumers like you as the American Heart Association (AHA) and the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) partner together on the future of research. Your experience could lead to the next research study to improve heart disease and stroke treatment.

As an advocate we’ve asked you to speak out for increased funding for medical research and you’ve answered by contacting lawmakers and sharing your personal stories as survivors, caregivers, and loved ones touched by heart and stroke disease. Now we invite you to share your experience, the decisions made in determining your or your loved one’s treatment plans and the factors that influenced those decisions. If we better understand your experience it can help guide the research that will lead to better care tailored to the specific needs of patients.

If you’ve had a heart attack, suffered a stroke, or you know a loved one who has, your unique understanding could help guide research to solve un-met care challenges faced by individuals like you and improve heart and stroke treatment.

Here are the details:

  • We are focused on un-met challenges faced by patients and caregivers like you. 
  • To join this challenge, you’ll be asked to provide a written submission of your first-hand experience after a heart disease or stroke event.
  • The story and description of the concerns you faced and the decisions you made should be personal and not a general case.
  • A team of scientific professionals and patient representatives with expertise in heart disease and stroke will review your story. Learning more about issues and concerns important to your decision-making can help them improve experiences and outcomes for patients in the future.
  • If your submission is chosen, you could win $1,000 and possibly help shape the future of cardiovascular research.
  • All submissions must be received by June 8, 2016.

Please take this important challenge and share your insights. Your story matters. Take the challenge today!

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Let's Get Mobile!

We’re keeping up with the times, and now you can advocate by text, in addition to the emails you might be used to. 

You can get on our mobile list and lend your voice to a policy issue at the same time – just be sure you reply to the ‘auto-response’ after you send your first text, and complete the action step!

  • DC:  Text XTOBACCO to 52886 to urge DC Council to fund tobacco cessation
  • MD:  Text CHOICES to 52886 to tell legislators we still want healthy items in state vending machines
  • VA:  Text FRESH to 52886 to bang the drum about the need for better grocery access
  • NC: Text NCYTC to 52886 to urge lawmakers to support healthy food access across the state
  • SC: Text CPRSC to 52886 to thank state leaders for requiring CPR skills to be taught in high schools   

When you text the keyword, we’ll respond right away with your activation link – just click on the link and fill in the fields (you won’t have to do that every time), then tap the SEND EMAIL button. 

It’s an easy way right at your fingertips to make a difference.

Welcome to the new world, us! 

 

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Yolanda Dickerson

Yolanda Dickerson, Mid-Atlantic Affiliate

I am the product of my village.  When I received the AHA Survivor Advocate of the Year award in DC three years ago, I knew it was really not about me. The award is a culmination of those who invested in me and what I’ve learned up to this point. For more than 12 years now I have raised money for heart walks, volunteered for American Heart Association (AHA) in booths at various events, and been a guest speaker to parents, survivors and even AHA staff.  I have helped train other advocates, spoken to countless legislators, and been featured in Public Service Announcements, but these things didn’t start with me.

My advocacy story started with my mother who encouraged all four of her children to not let adversity stop their dreams and to help others along the way.  I learned the power of resolve in the face of limitations from my brother Darrell; of working smart (not hard) from my brother Rodney; and to stay focused on family from both my younger brother Willie and Cousin Charles. My daughter, Ilana, has taught me the benefits of (sometimes) being silly and enjoying the moment.

These lessons have been honed and sharpened by AHA/YTC staff and volunteers through trainings and practice sessions. How could I begin to thank Sloan Garner, Betsy Vetter, Kacie Kennedy all the other AHA/YTC folks who have put time, trust, and support in my success as an advocate and as a person. Every survivor, caretaker, and medical provider I meet leaves their mark and positive influence on my resolve to continue volunteering. I can’t run cross country, but I can effect change that reaches beyond my community one volunteer effort at a time.

 To all those named and unnamed members of my ‘village’ I say thank you and I will continue to honor you by using my abilities to help others.

 Yolanda Dickerson, You’re the Cure Survivor-Volunteer-Advocate

 

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Governor Haley Signs Lifesaving Hands-On CPR in Schools Bill into Law

Governor Nikki Haley signed House Bill 3265 into law on Thursday, April 21, requiring all South Carolina students to learn hands-on cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). This essential life skill will be incorporated into the already required high school health education curriculum and will ultimately benefit countless families by increasing the number of people with CPR proficiency.  Far too many people die suddenly from cardiac arrest who might have been saved if only those around them were trained to administer CPR.

Coleman Maness, a young, sudden cardiac arrest survivor and American Heart Association volunteer shared his thoughts. "We have been working so hard on this legislation for the past four years, and it is great to finally see the result of our hard work today. My life was saved by Bailey Barnes who performed bystander CPR, and this bill will ensure that other cardiac arrest victims will have a greater chance at survival." Coleman’s story of survival motivated a close friend, at the time a high school student, Sally Sheppard, to take action by working with a local legislator to have CPR in Schools legislation introduced during the 2012 session.

House Bill 3265 was sponsored by over 20 representatives and passed the House unanimously in 2015. The Joint Citizens and Legislative Committee on Children endorsed the CPR in Schools legislation.

Thank your lawmakers for passing this livesaving measure.

Nearly 424,000 people have cardiac arrest outside of a hospital every year, and only 10.4 percent survive, most likely because bystanders simply don’t know what to do. When administered right away, CPR doubles or triples survival rates. Teaching students CPR will fill the state with lifesavers, giving sudden cardiac arrest victims the immediate help they need to survive making our communities safer and improving South Carolina’s survival rates.

South Carolina becomes the 30th state to require hands-on CPR joining Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia—all of which require CPR be taught to students in middle or high school.

The legislation was endorsed by 14 national and statewide organizations including the American Heart Association, South Carolina State Association of Fire Chiefs, South Carolina State Firefighters Association, and the South Carolina chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians.

Be sure to send your thank you now.

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Psst ... We Want To Tell You Something Big!

Throughout the year, we reach out with a "THANK YOU!" message to our advocates because we want you to know that your efforts are making a difference and saving lives.

We appreciate you every moment of every day.  We value those times when you rush through dinner with your family to make to make a council meeting in your community, and when you stand up and share your reasons for supporting an AHA policy. 

It means so much to us when you dedicate your time to State Lobby Day, meeting with legislators to reinforce support for active legislation.  And we can’t forget to thank you for driving to in-district Congressional offices to thank lawmakers for their support on AHA’s federal issues.  When you click to send a letter online it is incredibly valuable to our efforts and we genuinely appreciate your efforts. 

We know you have a choice about how you spend your time.  The fact that you invest in You're the Cure honors us - so this week, National Volunteer Appreciation Week, we honor you. Because YOU are our "why."

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Jennifer & Joel Griffin

Jennifer & Joel Griffin, Virginia

On June 8, 2012, Gwyneth Griffin, a 7th grader at A. G. Wright Middle School, collapsed in cardiac arrest.  Several critical minutes passed before her father, Joel, reached her. CPR had not been initiated. “There was no one else taking care of my daughter, so I had to,” said Joel. Gwyneth’s mother, Jennifer, stated “It was after the results of the MRI, 3 weeks later, that we decided no one should ever have to go through what we were going through. What became evident was the need for CPR training in schools."

While the couple immersed themselves in caring for Gwyneth at the hospital, friends and family were busy back home in Stafford learning CPR. Joel and Jennifer’s daughter, Gwyneth, passed away Monday, July 30, 2012, not from her cardiac arrest, but because CPR was not initiated within the first few minutes. Their home community mobilized, and at least 500 people have become certified in CPR since.

Jennifer and Joel involved themselves in working with the American Heart Association and their legislators to establish legislation that would assure every student was trained in CPR before graduation.  Through their efforts and perseverance, and in honor of their daughter, Gwyneth’s Law was passed in Virginia in the 2013 General Assembly session.  The law has three components: teacher training in CPR, AED availability in schools, and CPR training as a graduation requirement.

Here’s a look at how the Griffin's determination led to success:

(Please visit the site to view this video)

Since passage of the Virginia law, the Griffins have continued to work to help other states accomplish the same goal.  They visited Maryland legislators during the 2014 General Assembly session, and were instrumental in getting a similar law passed there.  Now they are actively working to make it happen in DC schools, including a series of legislator visits, a television interview, and providing testimony before committees They hope their story will help inspire others to support CPR training in schools as well. 

The legacy that Gwyneth leaves behind is one that will save countless lives. Help honor her legacy. This quick video will help you become CPR smart (and might get you dancing too):  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0HGpp6mStfY

 

Gwyneth Griffin

 

Special thanks to You’re the Cure advocate/writer Karen Wiggins, LPN, CHWC, for help crafting this story.

 

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AHA President Says: The Science is Clear on Sodium Reduction

Check this out! In a new video, the President of the AHA, Dr. Mark Creager, explains that the science behind sodium reduction is clear. He says that robust evidence has linked excess sodium intake with high blood pressure, which increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, and heart failure. And, he points out that you can do something about it: join AHA’s efforts to demand change in the amounts of sodium in our food supply.

“Nearly 80 percent of the sodium we eat comes from processed, prepackaged, and restaurant foods” says AHA president Dr. Mark Creager. The video shows the 6 foods that contribute the most salt to the American diet: breads & rolls, cold cuts and cured meats, pizza, poultry, soup, and sandwiches."

To see the video, head over to our Sodium Breakup blog!

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The healthy difference a month can make

March is Nutrition Month, and a perfect time to get more involved with the AHA’s ongoing efforts to promote science-based food and nutrition programs that help reduce cardiovascular disease and stroke.

Every day, we’re seeing new initiatives: to make fruits and vegetables more affordable; to reduce the number of sugar-sweetened beverages that our kids are drinking; and of course, to ensure students are getting the healthiest school meals possible, all with the same goal: to help families across the country lead the healthiest lives they possibly can.

It’s also a great opportunity to lower your sodium intake. The average American consumes more than 3,400 milligrams of sodium per day – more than twice the AHA-recommended amount. Excessive sodium consumption has been shown to lead to elevated blood pressure, which increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. Visit www.heart.org/sodium for tips on to lower your intake and to get heart-healthy recipes.

However you choose to celebrate, Nutrition Month gives us all the chance to take control of our diets; to recommit to eating fresh, healthy foods; and to remember all month long that you’re the cure.

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Larry Calhoun

Larry Calhoun, Mid-Atlantic Affiliate

Several years ago, I completed a 75 mile charity bike ride--a proud achievement and testimony to my level of fitness to complete the ride.  About a week later, I went to bed early not feeling well. I awoke at 3:00 a.m. with a pain in my chest that felt like someone tightening a strap around it and had a VERY rapid heartbeat. I drove myself to the local ER and called Karen, my fiancée, on the way. The ER Doctor determined that I had “atrial fibrillation” (or a-fib). Thus began my journey from a fit man in his 50s to a heart patient overnight. Karen began this journey with me, but also resumed a journey she had previously traveled. Her father had a-fib and had died in 1991 from a stroke caused by this heart disease.

After six months of not being able to control my a-fib, I was referred to a specialist at the Medical University of SC in Charleston to have an ablation preformed.  I intently studied the ablation process, and with my background in computers and engineering, understood the high tech nature of this procedure. My ablation was performed in Charleston in February, 2007.  This eight hour procedure cured me of my a-fib. I have returned to a normal, healthy lifestyle riding my bike and easily walking 18 holes of golf.  My life is back!!

I know that my procedure would not have been possible without intense research into atrial fibrillation, and the work of organizations involved in heart health.  We are especially concerned that future generations do not have to suffer with heart disease, especially atrial fibrillation. 

(Larry, his wife Karen, and their grandchildren - Carmen, Miles, and Isaac - are pictured.) 

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If You Build It, They Will Become

How do you get your lawmakers to become allies for our mission and policy efforts?  In truth some may never, but many will if you take the time to employ a few basic strategies to build your relationship with them, and thereby strengthen the power of your constituent voice. 

  • Connect.  Write, call, or visit to introduce yourself and share what’s important to you.  It’s helpful to check their webpage first to see what their platforms and issues are so you can acknowledge overlap.
  • Build your credibility. Prepare to talk about You’re the Cure’s policy issues.  Read our issues alerts and talking points closely and look for where you can draw a personal connection.  Be ready to state why you care.
  • Meet.  Book an appointment specifically to address a policy issue important to you, and share why you have a personal interest.  Be clear about what you want from them in terms of support. Meet their staff as well, be gracious and appreciative of the opportunity to meet with them if your representative is not available, learn their names and titles.
  • Create photo opps.  Take advantage of face-to-face time to get a quick pic with your legislator or their staff and post to social media with our and their hashtags.  They love the exposure - you’ll make a real fan of them.
  • Thank. Always write a quick thank you note after a visit, including meetings with staff.  It seems like a little thing but it helps get you noticed. (Be sure to spell names correctly!)
  • Reconnect.  Check back periodically, and remind them of past interactions.  Repeating your message IS effective – never assume once is enough, even if they have pledged support for the issue.  Look for excuses to connect back with them: 
    • Take a neighbor from the same district to meet them
    • Bring a new data-point on a key issue to the table, or provide an update on the status of a bill
    • Call or write to ask if they have any new concerns about the issue that we may be able to address
    • Call or write to thank them for their yes vote on our issue
    • Share new issues expected on our agenda

Try to connect at least every 4-6 months, and much more frequently when there is an active policy during session that we need action on. 

Be the nicest squeaky wheel they have ever met, and they just may become our ally!  That’s the way to make your personal power as an advocate really count.

We are your partner in this endeavor!  We can help you shape your message, provide the most current fact sheets or updates on policy status, and help craft answers to questions or concerns that are raised. 

By all means, do let us know about the contacts you make specific to our policy issues, and any outcomes from the interaction.  We appreciate your efforts and love to hear from you.

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