American Heart Association - You’re the Cure

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Help Vermont's little hearts

Critical Congenital Heart Disease (CCHD) accounts for 27% of infant deaths that are caused by birth defects - the most common birth defect in the U.S.  Early detection is key, which is why we need your help ensuring a simple, life-saving test for all newborns is required in Vermont. 

Pulse oximetry screening is a low-cost, highly-effective, and painless bedside test that can be completed in as little as 45 seconds at less than $4 per baby.  The Vermont Department of Health has proposed infant screening regulations that recommend health care providers screen for congenital heart defects, but don't go far enough. Please urge the Department of Health to join the 43 other states that currently REQUIRE this screening to ensure that no parents leave a hospital without knowing the heart health of their little one.

Take action now as the public comment period will soon come to a close. Click the following link to send a letter to the Health Department today.

If we can save a child’s life, shouldn’t we? 

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Thank you for all you do!

Now that we are officially in the throes of the Holidays. I wanted to stop and take a moment to thank you. Because of you, many lives throughout Vermont and across the country have been saved thanks to your passion, commitment and action on the issues. Because of advocates like YOU, countless families are thankful to be spending the holidays together.

I would like to express my gratitude for all that you do to support the American Heart Association every day. The actions you and your fellow You're the Cure advocates take promote heart health in Vermont and beyond, and help improve care for patients with heart disease and stroke. Many people are alive today and will be spending the holiday with their families because dedicated volunteers like YOU are passionate about advocating for change.  

The American Heart Association is thankful for your support throughout the year.

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State Advocacy Committee News Update

On November 21, the North Carolina American Heart Association Advocacy Coordinating Committee met to celebrate achievements, bestow advocacy honors and discuss policy priorities. The committee had much to celebrate this year including the passage of stroke center designation rules, advancement of the healthy corner store initiative legislation, and significant progress in local communities for healthy vending and tobacco control policies.

During the meeting, the committee recognized three individuals for their advocacy efforts that help advance the AHA mission.


  • The 2015 NC AHA Heart of a Friend Award was presented to Senator Don Davis for his leadership to advance HB 250/SB 296 Healthy Food Small Retailer/Corner Store Act.
  • The 2015 NC AHA Heart of a Champion Award was presented to Drexdal Pratt, Director of Health Service Regulation for his work for more than a decade to promote high impact policies that save lives including the Good Samaritan laws, stroke and STEMI transport protocols, stroke center designation, and pulse oximetry screening.
  • The 2015 Dr. Robert Blackburn Award for Advocacy Excellence was presented to Valerie King for her strong leadership in You’re the Cure.

This meeting also provided time to recognize the 2014-2016 Committee for their service and install the 2016-2018 NC AHA Advocacy Coordinating Committee. Juddson Rupp and Yolanda Dickerson will co-chair the committee for the next term. The committee works closely with AHA staff partners to provide strategic leadership for the NC AHA advocacy program and coordinates You’re the Cure activities including state lobby day.

Committee members spent time discussing the top priorities for 2016. Efforts will continue to advance HB 250/SB 296 with full funding to create a statewide healthy corner store initiative. In addition, You’re the Cure will be working to expand affordable health insurance to those caught in the coverage gap with no other options available to them. Locally efforts will continue to promote healthy vending policies local governments to ensure employees have access to healthy food choices while at work.

If you are interested in learning more about the NC AHA Advocacy Coordinating Committee, please contact Betsy Vetter.

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Nutrition On the Go Can Be Easy!

On November 4th, we celebrated National Eating Healthy Day to encourage everyone to resolve to eat healthy. We know eating healthy meals in an on-the-go lifestyle can be quite the challenge.  So how can we make sure we are making smart choices? 

With holiday parties around the corner and all of the other great things that come between Thanksgiving and the end of the year, is it possible to keep the resolve to eat healthy? Did you know the American Heart Association has heart healthy recipes on our website that you can enjoy? For instance check out this tailgate chili recipe for the next time you are planning that ballgame viewing party!  What a way to make your next gathering more nutritiously delicious.

This is just one example, and you can find more in our heart healthy guide to seasonal eating here!

Finally, we have an idea for you!

We often say that you should be building the relationship with your lawmaker. Consider inviting your lawmaker to join you in the journey to overall better health. Simply take a moment to send them your favorite AHA recipe, and add a few sentences about your why you are making healthy eating a priority. Maybe your lawmaker will feature that recipe in an upcoming newsletter!

If you need help to find your lawmakers, contact your Grassroots Director and she will be happy to share that information with you! If you are in DC, Maryland, or Virginia, contact Keltcie Delamar, and if you are in the Carolinas, email Kim Chidester!

We wish everyone happy, heart-healthy eating!

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A New Test Could Soon be Required to Ensure VT newborns Go Home Heart Healthy

Before a baby leaves a hospital, pulse oximetry screening – a simple clip on the toe – helps identify congenital heart defects.  The American Heart Association has been working to ensure that babies in every state have this screening before they go home from any birthing facility.

Currently, this screening isn’t required in Vermont. But, the Vermont Department of Health will begin a rulemaking this month to enact new regulations that could require this screening at hospitals in Vermont.

Please let the health department know this is something you strongly support so parents don’t take a baby home with an undetected heart defect. The proposed regulation will be available here once posted for public comment. Speak up to ensure Vermont babies get a heart healthy start on life.

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It's a CPR Celebration!

We did it!  After more than 16 years of effort, New York will finally require every student be trained in Hands-Only CPR before graduation! 

Thanks to all of you - our You're the Cure advocates - New York is the 26th state to make this training a requirement for our students.  As a result, our nation's high schools will now be training more than half of our country's graduates every year!  More than 1.5 million kids will soon know what to do if someone's heart stops beating and they need CPR.

High schools all across the state have already received this memo from the NY State Education Department.  However, feel free to share it with your local high school.  Schools are expected to begin training students this year, and we can use your help to make sure every high school is prepared to comply with the law!

This policy would not have been achieved without the tremendous support of so many advocates and partners with the American Heart Association.  This campaign was a long-time coming, and we were thrilled to help celebrate its conclusion with so many core friends!  If you ever need to be in the trenches with a team, this group of advocates - many of whom lost children to cardiac arrest or were rescued when someone knew CPR - set the bar very high!  We are forever grateful for every effort, every story told, every tear shed, in support of this campaign.  Knowing that this law will save lives was motivation unto itself.  But your energy and determination, furthering the legacy of your loved ones, inspired us all to keep going no matter how many times we were told no.  Thanks to you, thanks to the evolution of the science behind CPR, and thanks to many NY lawmakers along the way - CPR in Schools is now the law of the land in New York!

If you weren't able to join us in Albany on the day of the Board of Regents vote - take a look at the photos here:

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Comment on Vermont's Tobacco Plan

The Vermont Department of Health is updating the Vermont Tobacco Control Plan and wants input from Vermonters!

As the new plan is developed with updated goals through 2020, the health department and the Vermont Tobacco Evaluation and Review Board (VTERB) would like to gain input from tobacco control stakeholders on the goals, objectives and strategies set forth in the five-year plan.  Please let them know what you think.  A series of public meetings will be held to provide opportunity for agencies, programs, organizations and individuals working in tobacco control or with populations disparately impacted by tobacco burden to provide input to the draft plan.  

Meeting Schedule:

Wednesday October 28th, 2015 at 3:00pm to 5:00pm, via Vermont Interactive Television

            Vermont Department of Labor Building, 5 Green Mountain Drive, Montpelier, VT 05602

            Brattleboro Union High School, 131 Fairground Rd, Room 125, Brattleboro, VT 05301

            Senior Citizen's Service Center, 124 Pleasant Street, Bennington, VT 05201

 Wednesday November 18th, 2015 at 2:00pm to 4:00pm

            Agency of Human Services, Conference Room A, 208 Hurricane Lane, Williston, VT

These meetings are open to the public, and registration is not a pre-requisite, but for planning purposes, please click here to indicate which date/location you will attend.

Overview of State Tobacco Control Plan

The Vermont State Tobacco Control Plan will include strategic goals, objectives and activities that will be carried out by public- and private-sector partners in Vermont to collectively address tobacco burden and control throughout 2015-2019.  It is essential to include input from the many partners and stakeholders working on tobacco control in Vermont, as the plan is intended to inform and guide the work of the Vermont Comprehensive Tobacco Control Program over the next five years.

The Vermont State Tobacco Control Plan strategic goals and objectives will include evidence-based environmental, policy, and systems strategies to reduce tobacco use, secondhand smoke exposure, tobacco-related disparities and associated disease, disability, and death in Vermont.

The five-year comprehensive state tobacco control plan will build on the current Tobacco Control Work Plan (2014-2017), and will:

  • Serve as a framework for decisions on annual programmatic direction for all stakeholders, programs, and organizations working to address tobacco control in Vermont,
  • Provide a foundation for the development of annual work plans that include evidence-based strategies or interventions to support the outcomes/objectives defined in the plan
  • Identify and provide support for addressing areas of tobacco-related disparities and health equity.

For more information:

Kathryn O’Neill | Administrator | Vermont Tobacco Evaluation and Review Board | Vermont Agency of Human Services | 208 Hurricane Lane, Williston, VT | 802.503.2745 | 

Click here to visit the VTERB website.

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Francee Levin

Francee Levin, Mid-Atlantic Affiliate

The last thing I remember of my poetry residency at Colleton County Middle School was getting an elevator key.  The next thing was seeing a strange ceiling, which turned out to be in an intensive care unit, over a week later.  I was told I was talking to a teacher when I flat-lined.   The diagnosis:  idiopathic asymptomatic sudden cardiac death. 

In fact, I died twice, but I’m still here.  Two incredible school nurses and a resource officer used CPR and an AED to somehow keep me alive.  I was air-lifted to a major medical center, where I was unconscious and on life support for over a week, given no chance for survival. I made the medical journals, because against all odds, I had a miraculous recovery.  

My heart failed and left me with a low ejection fraction.  I now have an implanted defibrillator, and I’m continuing cardiac rehabilitation.  I did not have a heart attack; in fact, my heart cath showed my arteries are perfect.  And I had no risk factors of any kind.  Without the AED and CPR, I wouldn’t be here. 

I was an American Heart Association (AHA) red dress volunteer before, and I’ve been a crusader and You’re the Cure advocate ever since.   Through AHA’s You’re the Cure, I’ve been able to serve as a survivor/spokesperson to provide testimony about the pending CPR bill that will assure every student gets trained before graduating, and had an Op-Ed I wrote ("A School Saved My Life”) published to help educate the public on the issue.  I'm in close contact with my legislators, who have been wonderful, and I've also contacted my county council, as well as the school board in Richland 2, my home district. I try to respond to all the You’re the Cure alerts and customize the legislator letters with my story. 

Colleton County (where I collapsed) School Board and County Council voted to put defibrillators in every school in the county (including some small rural schools) in my honor.

I'm on a mission now. My cardiac event happened on February 1, 2012, on AHA’s National Wear Red Day.  In 2013, my cousins had a party for me on my “heart-iversary.”  A few days later, I learned that on 2/2/13, the school principal, who’s now in another district, was having a robotics tournament on the athletic field when a woman collapsed and was revived with an AED.  

Every school should have an AED and trained people teaching CPR.  The cost is minimal, and the rewards are priceless.  It’s called LIFE.

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Focus on Better Health Among Native Americans in New Key Initiative

Check out this editorial posted today in the Star Tribune. Voices for Healthy Kids is supporting the ‘gathering of some of the nation’s most respected national philanthropic organizations.'

Six months ago, Minnesota’s Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community garnered well-deserved praise when it announced a $5 million "Seeds of Native Health" initiative to tackle a daunting public health challenge: improving Native American nutrition.

With the first round of grant recipients just announced, this influential southern-metro tribal nation laudably isn’t pausing to take a rest. Instead, it’s poised to take an ambitious step to broaden the initiative’s reach. In mid-October, it will host a gathering of some of the nation’s most respected national philanthropic organizations to "specifically focus on this nutritional crisis in Indian Country,’’ said Lori Watso, the Shakopee Mdewakanton Community’s secretary/treasurer.

The goal of the gathering, believed to be the first of its kind, is not only to raise awareness but to enlist these organizations’ support to improve nutrition in Native American communities. The other philanthropies shouldn’t hesitate to join the campaign. This is an overdue public health need, one long neglected by the federal government, and a worthy use of these organizations’ resources. Continue reading here

Photo: David Joles, Start Tribune

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Stroke Does Not Discriminate, Stroke Can Affect Us All

Behind the stroke numbers are real lives. Stroke is the nation's No. 5 killer and a leading cause of long-term disability. Someone in the U.S. has a stroke about once every 40 seconds. October 29th marked World Stroke Day, which was established by the World Stroke Organization in 2006 to help spread public awareness of the world's high stroke risk and stroke prevalence. The American Stroke Association supports the annual campaign by educating Americans about  stroke warning signs and the importance of taking action immediately. While stroke is the No. 5 cause of death and leading cause of disability in the U.S., many Americans do not think of stroke as a major health concern. We have made a lot of progress, but we still have a ways to go and need your help!

Despite these shocking statistics, many people affected by stroke are unable to access the treatments, rehabilitation and support that would provide them with the greatest chance of a good recovery and a healthier, more productive and independent life. Any person who has had a stroke has the right to receive the best stroke care, be informed and prepared, and be supported in their recovery. The development of “stroke systems of care” can significantly increase the proportion of patients who receive improved stroke care.

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