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Amre Nouh, Connecticut

Dr. Amre Nouh is a stroke specialist at Hartford Hospital and he has been appointed as the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association representative to the Department of Public Health Task Force to Study Stroke.

Dr. Nouh brings a wealth of experience to the table and has held a variety of positions in the hospital and academic setting. His experience includes working as the Director of the Outpatient Stroke Center at Hartford Hospital, where he is also the acting Neurology Residency Site director and Stroke Inpatient Team Council. Dr. Nouh also is also the co-chair of the Stroke Research Council at Hartford Hospital and an Assistant Professor of Neurology at UCONN.

As the task force continues to work throughout the summer we look forward to supporting Dr. Nouh and the rest of the task force members to ensure we are able to treat someone who has suffered stroke with the highest quality of care.

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Scarborough Rocks and Learns

I love summer. I also love disco music.

That is why I was excited to bring my daughter to the Scarborough Music in the Park event in mid-July. Motor Booty Affair (a disco cover band) was playing and the night was beautiful.

The best part—it was work.

The Scarborough Fire Department teamed up with the American Heart Association to teach Hands Only CPR to the exuberant crowd. An AHA board member spoke briefly and the band played Stayin’ Alive. We, and the Scarborough FD, rushed into the audience with our manikins and demonstrated and taught CPR to the 2,300 in attendance.

It was a fun night. It made me grateful that events like this, and the fact that all Maine high schools must teach Hands Only CPR, means that tens of thousands of people across our state will be able to respond to a sudden cardiac arrest.

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State stroke legislation impacts certifying primary stroke centers

Individual state stroke legislation plays a compelling role in certifying primary stroke centers and improving availability and accessibility of care to acute stroke patients, according to research in the American Heart Association journal Stroke.

A hospital that has been certified as a Primary Stroke Center (PSC) has met specific standards for delivering prompt stroke care. To be eligible, hospitals must meet several criteria, including setting up a dedicated stroke-focused program staffed by medical professionals trained in stroke care.

Researchers analyzed all acute care hospitals in the United States. Of a total of 4,640 general hospitals with emergency rooms in the country, 1,505 have been certified as primary stroke centers following action by state legislatures, amounting to about one-third of hospitals nationwide.

Read more at heart.org.

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Looking Back at Our Year Together!

The 2015 Legislative session in South Carolina was a lively one, allowing us to advance some vital pieces of legislation into 2016. Thank you for your advocacy efforts this session!

Senate Bill 320 & House Bill 3265: CPR in Schools
This requires all high school students to be proficient in hands-only CPR and AED as part of the already required high school health education class. The bills received favorable reports with amendments from both the House and Senate Education Committees, and each bill passed its respective body with unanimous support. However, no further action was taken once each bill passed into the opposite body.

Senate Bill 484: School Nutrition Guidelines
This ensures schools are meeting nutritional standards set by the USDA and that standards are regularly updated with USDA guidelines. It also helps parents understand how schools are meeting nutrition standards by reporting compliance in existing school health improvement plans. S 484 passed the Senate during the last week of May and will be ready for consideration by the House next year.

Send a letter to your Representative to urge them to support Senate Bill 484

Tobacco Control Funding:
We advocated during the appropriations process for an additional $6 million in tobacco control funding from the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement. We were able to protect the $5 million in funding for tobacco control received yearly from cigarette tax revenue.

Smoke-Free Victories:
Two more communities across the state adopted smoke-free ordinances, bringing us to 60 South Carolina municipalities enjoying- smoke-free air!

As part of the You’re the Cure team, we made GREAT strides this year toward improving the lives of South Carolina citizens. We will be revisiting each of these issues in 2016 and have no doubt we will see major victories in the Palmetto State!

Thank you, sincerely, for all you do. You are our hero.

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Supreme Court Rules For the Affordable Care Act

We live in exciting times. While most of the time, the American Heart Association works with our You’re the Cure advocates on legislative issues, recently the AHA (with several other non-profit health organizations) was able to inform Americans across the country that their access to health care had been upheld by the Supreme Court through a ruling on the Affordable Care Act, directly through the court case King v Burwell.

In January, the AHA and other organizations (including the American Cancer Society & ACS Cancer Action Network, the American Diabetes Association, and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society) submitted a brief that urged the Supreme Court to rule the original intention of Congress had been to make tax credits for health insurance available to all, not just residents of states that decided to participate in a state health insurance exchange.

The King v Burwell ruling means that residents of states which had previously opted to participate in a federal health insurance exchange will be able to continue to benefit from tax credits for the health insurance they have chosen. Consequently, Americans who participate in the insurance exchange and are eligible will be able to expect tax credits for their policies [this does not affect those who currently receive insurance through their employers].

What does this mean for cardiovascular and stroke? Two facts worth noting for those who are uninsured:

  • Uninsured patients with cardiovascular disease experience higher mortality rates and poorer blood pressure control than the insured.
  • Uninsured people who suffer the most common type of stroke have greater neurological impairments, longer hospital stays and up to a 56 percent higher risk of death than the insured.

American Heart Association President Nancy Brown had this to say in her statement reflecting on the court’s ruling: "We commend the Court for not halting premium tax credits in the federal marketplaces, enabling an estimated 6.4 million people in 34 states to keep the assistance that makes their health insurance affordable. As a result, these patients can continue to focus on their healing and recovery, instead of worrying about losing their coverage and care. Now that the Affordable Care Act has survived two major Supreme Court challenges, it’s time for our nation to concentrate on improving the law and enrolling as many uninsured Americans as possible so everyone can receive the quality health and preventive care they need."

History is made every day, and we are thankful for our advocates who help us change our communities for the better.

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Illinois Legislative Year End Wrap-up

As we close the books on the American Heart Association’s fiscal year and inch closer to the end of the General Assembly’s 2015 overtime legislative session. Let’s take a look back at the progress we’ve made on systems of care in Illinois. We’ve made huge strides, but there’s plenty left to do and we’ll need your help.

Stroke System of Care

On August 18th Governor Quinn signed landmark stroke legislation. Currently, we are on track to have the final Administrative Rules for the 2014 stroke law approved by this fall. The rules will allow for the state designation of Comprehensive Stroke Centers and Acute Stroke Ready Hospitals, as well as the creation of a state stroke registry. 

Lauren’s Law: CPR in Schools

Efforts to implement the 2014 Lauren Laman CPR and AED training law have also progressed. We continue to work with the IL State Board of Education on their promised, though not yet released, Advisory Document to help ensure schools comply with the new law. 

STEMI Heart Attack Legislation: HB 4121

This legislation is on hold in the House pending further negotiations, we hope to move forward soon as this fall during the annual legislative veto session. 

Strengthening Illinois EMS

We have continued our work with the Illinois EMS Alliance to help fight potentially devastating cuts to the EMS Medicaid reimbursement rate. These cuts would put emergency medical care for heart attack and stroke patients at further risk.

Physical Education

There were numerous threats to Illinois’ daily physical education requirement this year. But, because of our strong network of advocates we were able to stop each attempt! There were four bills that threatened the health of Illinois’ kids, including; allowing waivers for students who enroll in AP classes and proposing to eliminate physical education completely. We won another battle on the P.E. front, but will continue to need your voices to fight and protect the long-term health of all Illinois kids. .

Tobacco Control Policies

This year we worked hard to defend Illinois’ Comprehensive Smoke-Free Indoor Air Law from drastic changes. Thanks to our advocates and strong partner organizations, we were able to keep the law intact. Additionally, we worked to support the IL Smoke Free Campus Act which took effect on July 1, making all state campuses smoke free!

HEAL Act: Sugary Drinks Tax

With the legislature in overtime and no budget in sight, our proposed penny-per-ounce sugary drinks tax is still in play as a popular way to raise revenue for the state, restore Medicaid funding and help fund health programs. According to a recent public opinion poll, 65 percent of Illinois voters support a proposal to enact a penny-per-ounce tax on sugary drinks and to use the proceeds to improve Illinoisans’ health. The voters of Illinois are willing to pay a tax on sugary drinks in order to curb obesity-related chronic illnesses. This would be a BIG WIN for health and a HUGE LOSS for diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer. These chronic diseases cost Illinoisans over $6 billion a year in unnecessary health care costs. A penny-per-ounce sugary drink tax is expected to generate more than $600 million dollars a year. These dollars could be used t in communities across the state to expand opportunities for healthy eating, physical activity and restoring Medicaid.

There are many ways you can lend your voice to this campaign TODAY! Please take a minute and complete each action:

1. Sign our petition here:

https://www.change.org/p/support-a-sugary-drink-tax-as-part-of-illinois-budget-solution-and-help-illinois-kids-be-healthier

2. Call key legislators or the Governor and ask them to support the sugary drink tax. Dial 844-325-5900 and you will be connected with the key lawmakers or governor to express your support for the tax!

You can stay up-to-date on the campaign by visiting

www.HEALtheBudget.org

 

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Vermont Heart Walk to Highlight the Team Effort that Saved a Local Coach!

Vermont advocates pushed for passage of legislation in 2012 that required schools to teach students Hands-only CPR and the importance of an AED (automated external defibrillator). Its efforts like these that have raised awareness to the need for public access to defibrillation and a strong chain of survival. Many schools now have AEDs on hand, including at sporting events.

It’s a good thing. The American Heart Association’s Vermont Heart Walk on September 26th will highlight the successful effort that saved the life of Rice High School Girls’ Basketball Coach Tim Rice from a cardiac arrest during a game against CVU this winter. The CVU team had the foresight to bring their AED to the game with them. That AED, along with many quick actions from bystanders and EMS enabled the coach to give a thumbs up as he left the game instead of much worse outcome.

We’ll honor Cardiologist Ed Terrien, who performed CPR on Coach Rice that day. Join Dr. Terrien and hundreds of others walking at the Vermont Heart Walk at Oakledge Park in Burlington on September 26th to raise funds for life-saving research.

There will also be Heart Walks on September 12th in Swanton and September 19th in Berlin. You can register for any of the walks at www.vermontheartwalk.org. Do it today and make a commitment to save lives. Get your friends and family together for a great day and a great cause!

You can also ensure that your community and school have a strong chain of survival by contacting your local high school and asking if the school has an AED and making sure students are CPR-trained.

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2015 Minnesota Legislative Session Wrap Up

The 2015 Legislative Session has come to an end and we’ve had another great year working hard to push for heart-health policies in Minnesota. We have many reasons to celebrate the work in fighting for a healthier Minnesota!

The Wins
As the dust settles, we are excited to share the big policy wins the state saw in heart-health this year. Thank you for your passion and work in making these happen:
    

   • Minnesota Stroke System: Minnesota is now home to one of the country’s most comprehensive stroke systems with the passage of the EMS Stroke Protocols bill. This bill makes it a requirement for all EMS systems in the state to have updated protocols to treat and transfer stroke victims so they receive the best possible care available in the fastest amount of time to reduce the chances of death or disability from stroke. The system also became stronger this year, when the legislature dedicated $350,000 in the budget of dedicated funding to run the stroke program. Previously, the system was funded by a federal grant from the CDC that the state had to continually re-apply for and that has always changing parameters. This new dedicated funding will allow the basics of the system to be run into the future and shows that the state is dedicated to ensuring Minnesota has a successful system to treat stroke ensuring the best possible outcome for its residents. 
   • Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP) Funding: We did it! Because of advocates like you, we were able to keep the $35 million/biennium in the base budget and keep SHIP fully funded this year. More importantly, we will be able to continue to see the great outcomes of the program as it works to combat obesity and reduce tobacco use in almost every corner of our state!
   • Health Equity Data Analysis: We were able to advocate for $250,000 per year to implement better data reporting on race, ethnicity and language in an effort to better identify responses to Health Disparities in Minnesota. With better data reporting focusing on disparities, more attention can be made to the population in the most need of intervention, programs and resources.
   • MNCare: Thousands of Minnesotans will be able to continue to benefit from MNCare thanks to your loud voices! After an earlier proposal to eliminate MNCare all together, the session ends with MNCare intact! While, portions of the bill changed in negotiations and some participants will see increases to their premiums and co-pays, the program will remain, which is much better than the elimination of these services.

Still Fighting
While it certainly wasn’t for lack of trying or involvement by advocates like you, we are still in the fight for a few of the policy areas we started at the beginning of session. Some of these could be revived during a special session, others we will attack again next year, as we know heart disease and stroke don’t stop, and so we can’t stop fighting against it!     

   • Active Transportation: After many emails, phone calls, meetings, rallies, postcards, petitions, etc., the legislature only passed a "lights-on" transportation bill which means there is no new funding for biking and walking programs or other transportation priorities this year. Even though we didn’t get a comprehensive multi-modal transportation bill this session, it is because of the hard work of many advocates like you that we have laid unprecedented groundwork and mobilization of bike/walk advocates from across the state. We will continue to build statewide momentum for active transportation for 2016-17.
   • Physical Education: Despite our best efforts and great hearings in the House and Senate, the PE bill, which would improve PE for all Minnesota students, did not make it into the final K-12 Education omnibus bill. However, Gov. Dayton has vetoed the K-12 Education bill for other reasons so the next step is a special session on education. During this special session, we will have an opportunity to urge that the PE bill be included in the revived K-12 bill. And if we aren’t heard during special session, we will certainly be back next session fighting for better PE in Minnesota!
   • EMS/Pre-hospital Data Collection and Reporting: This bill would have shifted pre-hospital data that is already being collected from the EMS Regulatory Board to the Department of Health’s Office of Rural Health to allow for the data to be better utilized and shared with partners form across the state looking to do quality and program improvement in pre-hospital aspects of acute care. This bill had a rough start this year and also a sizable fiscal note. We will continue to work with our EMS partners on this bill next session.

Thanks for another GREAT year! YOU ARE THE CURE!

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Join us as we rev up F. A. S. T!

With strokes affecting thousands of Americans every day, we’d like to invite you to join us as we rev up awareness about this medical condition. To help with that, today we’d like to share some startling statistics with you:

· 2,150 Americans die each day from Stroke and Heart disease.
· About one person dies from stroke every 40 seconds
· Stroke is the No. 5 killer of all Americans
· Stroke is the leading cause of adult disability among Americans

We’d also like to invite you to watch an exciting video about F.A.S.T. - and ask you to also win the gold by sharing the link with at least 10 of your friends. Whether through Twitter or Facebook, emails or instant messages – this video has some great information about the campaign, and we hope you’ll race our other advocates in spreading the word.

We’d like to spread the word about F.A.S.T. with at least 2,150 Americans across the country, and we sincerely appreciate your help in getting us to the finish line!

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Support for Critical Heart and Stroke Funding

The Senate finished up their budget at the end of May and we were able to be very successful thanks to our advocates!  

  • We secured $500,000 in funding for stroke prevention and awareness
  • We secured language around creating a stroke system of care
  • We increased the excise tax on flavored cigars to 210% of wholesale (parity with the tax on other tobacco products)
  • We secured up to $4 million of additional revenues to the tobacco prevention and cessation program. 
  • We secured language that allows the MA Office of Business Development to expend funds on the Food Trust Program.
  • We secured $250,000 for the Mass in Motion program to maintain its current funding level.
  • Unfortunately despite a tough fight by our sponsor we were not able to secure funding for CPR.

We still have more to go in the process to ensure that these critical priorities. I look forward to continue working with you on these initiatives throughout the conference committee process so that we will continue to improve the ideal cardiovascular health of all our residents!

 

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