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How to Keep the Winning Game Going

You're the Cure on the Hill isn’t the only opportunity to connect with members of Congress! As their constituents, you have the power and the RIGHT to tell them at any time to step up to the plate on the heart and stroke issues you care about most.


Here are some tips for getting your lawmaker off the bench and into the game:

 

  • Follow them on social media and send them messages on issues you care about.
  • Sign up for their e-newsletters on their websites. This is a great way to learn about events where you can meet the lawmakers in person and stay informed.
  • Work with your local AHA advocacy staff to schedule an in-district meeting. Members of Congress come home throughout the year on recess breaks, so they use this time to meet with constituents back in the district. Take advantage of their time at home and schedule a meeting to discuss the heart and stroke issues that matter to you and your family.
  • Most importantly, take action year round. Watch your inbox for calls to action from You’re the Cure and continue engaging your lawmaker through emails, phone calls and tagging them in your social media posts.

We had a real impact this week, but we need to keep the momentum going. Let's keep reminding our members of Congress that they need to step up for heart health all year round!

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May is Stroke Awareness Month


May brings the opportunity to discuss and educate on an issue that is more common than we want it to be – stroke. Stroke is the 6th leading cause of death in Washington yet only eight percent of those recently surveyed in the American Stroke Association/Ad Council Stroke Awareness Continuous Tracking Study could identify each letter in F.A.S.T., an acronym of the most common stroke warning signs.



F.A.S.T. stands for:

  • F - Face Drooping: Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile.
  • A - Arm Weakness: Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
  • S - Speech Difficulty: Is speech slurred, are they unable to speak, or are they hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence like, “The sky is blue.” Is the sentence repeated correctly?
  • T - Time to call 9-1-1: If the person shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and get them to the hospital immediately.

Learn the F.A.S.T signs and share them with your friends and family. When you are done quiz each other by taking the F.A.S.T quiz!

As part of stroke awareness month we also want to recognize the many Stroke Heroes in our communities. A Stroke Hero is a survivor who overcomes a stroke; a caregiver or healthcare worker goes above and beyond to help others recover; a community member inspired to improve the health of others. This May – American Stroke Month – we invite you to honor a Stroke Hero by submitting an inspirational story for a Stroke Hero Award. Please send details and a photo by May 20, 2015. Nominees will be featured on local and national social media. For submission details visit heart.org/pugetsound.

Teaching people how to recognize a stroke and respond quickly is a primary goal of the American Stroke Association’s Together to End Stroke initiative, sponsored nationally by Medtronic. So let’s educate and hopefully minimize the damage stroke does in our communities.

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From the Bottom of our Hearts - Thank You!

National Volunteer Week (April 12-18) is right around the corner and we couldn’t let it pass without saying how much we appreciate all your contributions as a You’re the Cure advocate. It’s advocates like you who give their time, energy, and passion to help create healthier communities across the country.  We are deeply grateful for your commitment and talent as an advocate.

Since staff can’t always shake your hand and say thank you in person we’ve got a brief video to share. When you watch I am sure you too will be moved by all the great work happening in your states and communities and we look forward to more success in the future. Take a moment to check out the video and then encourage other to get involved and join in the fun.

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Help us Take 5 for the Pledge

 

Thank you for your continued support of the American Heart Association’s lifesaving mission.

Recently, we developed a full and robust campaign to help us drive sodium awareness and reduction efforts, featuring the tagline: “I love you Salt, but you’re breaking my heart.”



The goals of the campaign are:

  • increase awareness of how much sodium we eat and the impact excess sodium has on our health
  • build a base of supporters who will actively engage with decision makers to effect policy changes that reduce sodium in the food supply
  • inspire behavior changes to reduce the amount of sodium people eat

The American Heart Association’s goal is to build a movement to change America’s relationship with salt. We ask that you take the pledge to reduce your sodium consumption.  We plan to use these pledges to urge the FDA and food manufacturers to reduce sodium in the food supply. Why the food supply? Currently, the average American consumes more than twice as much sodium than the American Heart Association recommends, and nearly 80 percent of it is coming from pre-packaged and restaurant foods. Plus, when you take the pledge, you will receive information, tools and tips as to how you can personally reduce your sodium intake – break up with salt and save your heart a potential lifetime of heartache! 

We need your help in extending our reach significantly beyond our current base of supporters.

To do this, we set up a simple “Take 5 for the Pledge” process for you to follow:

Visit the website: www.sodiumbreakup.heart.org/pledge

  • Take the pledge
  • Send an email to 5 of your friends, family members or contacts and ask them to take the pledge

Please email Cherish Hart at Cherish.Hart@heart.org or Josh Brown at Josh.Brown@heart.org if you have any questions or need additional information. I truly appreciate you taking the time to help drive our sodium awareness efforts. Together, we can make a difference.

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Amber Johnson

Written By: Sara Stout, Business Development Director

Heart disease hits close to home for Missoula’s Johnson family. Amber, a mother of three beautiful and creative children survived 32 years and two normal pregnancies only to find out while eight months
pregnant, she had been born with not one but two potentially life-threatening congenital heart conditions: Long QT Syndrome (a Sudden Cardiac Arrest electrical disorder) and Junctional Bradycardia (an arrhythmia disorder).

As the cardiologist who diagnosed her explained, Amber defied the odds for three decades, simply by staying alive. In 2013, Amber underwent surgery to have a pacemaker implanted which takes just seconds to shock her heart back to life when her heart malfunctions. Amber shares her story of survival to inspire others to take charge of their heart health and is thankful that she thrives today because of the research developed by the American Heart Association.

Unfortunately Amber’s eldest daughter, Laurelei, has the same potentially life-threatening congenital heart disease. Ten-year-old Laurelei shares her mother’s passion and energy for life knowing that one day she will be able to receive the same surgery as Amber. Until then, Laurelei will continue to carry her portable AED with her wherever she goes because it will save her life.

Amber and Laurelei shared their powerful story at the Go Red For Women Luncheon in Missoula on February 13th, reminding the 170 people in attendance that life is precious and to live every moment to the fullest. The Johnson family devotes their time to learning, creating, dancing, supporting each other and advocating for the American Heart Association.

Nearly 1 out of every 100 births a child is born with some form of heart disease.  Join the Go Red movement for families like the Johnson’s and in support of friends, family and other loved ones in the community who battle heart disease. www.goredforwomen.org

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Healthy Native Hearts Luncheon

Guest Blogger: Wendy Zheng, Multicultural Initiatives Director

On February 18th about 50 Native American community members participated in the Healthy Native Hearts luncheon at Chehalis Tribal Community Center hosted by American Heart Association and Chehalis Tribal Wellness Center. Participants received cholesterol, glucose and blood pressure screenings.

Native American children have the highest obesity rate in the nation, about 1 in 3 children are overweight or obese. Heart disease is the number one killer of Native American women. The hope of the summit was to educate and teach Native Americans about the risks of heart disease and what they can do for themselves and their families to prevent it.

Guest speaker Dr. Lance Ray from Chehalis Tribal Wellness Center gave a presentation on heart health, Life Simple 7 and tobacco cessation. LPN Ate’ha Triance led a 10-minute chair exercise during the event with attendees. In addition, a nutritionist from the Tribal Wellness Center demonstrated a healthy recipe of a berry yogurt parfait replacing the standard granola with quinoa. Tribal Council Chairman Don Secena joined participants for the luncheon, was recognized by American Heart Association with an award plaque and gave a brief remark emphasizing the importance of heart health for the Native community and commended the collaboration between AHA and Chehalis Tribe.

We are truly honored to work with the Chehalis Tribe and thank Tribal Council Chairman Secena for his outstanding support.

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Legislative Session Update

Guest Blogger: Lindsay Hovind, Washington Government Relations Director

The 2015 legislative session has gotten off to a great start for two of the American Heart Association / American Stroke Association’s biggest priorities: heart screening for newborns and Safe Routes to School.  

We were excited to see Representative Marcus Riccelli introduce House Bill 1285 which would ensure every newborn in Washington is screening for critical congenital heart defects (CCHD) using pulse oximetry. As you’ve been hearing from us, this is a top priority for AHA in Washington. On January 30 the bill was heard in the House Health Care & Wellness Committee. Volunteer Amy Norton (pictured at left) joined me on the Hill to testify about her son Spencer’s remarkable CCHD story. A week later the bill passed out of the committee unanimously. This exciting progress, coupled with Amy’s compelling testimony, garnered some terrific media attention. You can view the Q13 FOX story here. Last week the bill passed unanimously out of the House, now it’s on to the Senate!

Also of note, our campaign to increase funding for Safe Routes to School has been gaining momentum. You’ll recall a fantastic group of youth advocates from Eastlake High School in Sammamish traveled to Olympia for AHA’s lobby day where they rallied outside with signs to raise awareness of this important program.  Safe Routes to School gets kids and communities active, setting them on the path to a healthy lifestyle. (Check out this shout out in the Sammamish local paper.)

At this point in the session, the Senate has passed a transportation revenue package; some of the revenue would go to sustain the recent investments in Safe Routes to School. We are so pleased to see this program included, though we’re working hard to increase the investment so we can fully fund the need in our state.

Thank you for your continued interest and support of our advocacy work in Washington. There is still much work to do but it is encouraging to see legislators recognize the value of good health.

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Spencer's Story - looks can be deceiving

Written by Amy Norton, Spencer's mom

You NEVER think “it will happen to you” but… “it” happened to my family, my son. At only ten weeks old my son was fighting for his life. This is his story…

Spencer was born at home, on 11/08/13, with a team of experienced midwives. He was a healthy 9.1lbs., and appeared completely typical. He was perfect. Absolutely perfect. Except he had a secret, Congenital Heart Disease. He kept this secret for a long time. Almost too long.

At 24 hours postpartum, our midwives came back to our house to check on Spencer. Again, everything appeared typical, no physical signs of distress. Therefore, no oximeter was ever placed on him.

On day 7 Spencer was seen by our family doctor. Again, he appeared typical. He was back to his birth weight. Latching on and eating well. His body was doing an amazing job at compensating for his lack of oxygen. Too good of a job. No one ever thought it medically necessary to check a “healthy” boy’s oxygen level. So, he continued to hold on to his secret.

December 21st, Spencer caught his first cold along with my husband, daughter and myself. We got better after a few days. Spencer stayed sick, in fact, he was getting sicker. Worry set in.

I took Spencer back to the doctor.  He was now 8 weeks old. At this appointment I expressed my concern about his cold. I emphasized that something didn’t seem right. I asked, “could it be allergies or asthma?” I didn’t know to ask if it could be heart disease, I wish I did. Spencer had only gained 6 ounces over his birth weight. STILL no oximeter was placed on him. I was advised to come back in two weeks. However, Spencer didn’t made it two weeks.

My husband and I had had enough. Spencer was still sick, his skin started to look dusky and we knew something was wrong. We called the local children’s hospital and spoke with a consulting nurse. She immediately said to call 9-1-1. The medics arrived. This was the first time an oximeter was placed on my son!  He was now 10 weeks old.

Trauma began. Things progressed from a phone call to an airlift in a matter of hours. Before we knew it, we were standing over our happy baby in an induced coma at Seattle Children’s Hospital. This is where, literally, at the eleventh hour, we learned of Spencer’s secret. Our sweet boy was born with Congenital Heart Disease.

Things quickly went from bad to worse! ONE day after getting our son to the hospital he was placed on life support. He remained in the hospital for 6 weeks. Fighting for his life.

If an oximeter was placed on Spencer at 24 hours old, he never would have got as close to death as he was. Yes, he still would have had heart disease. Yes, he still would have needed open heart surgery. But he never would have suffered the way he did. If my husband and I were not advocates for our son I am afraid his outcome would have been different. An unbearable reality.

An oximeter test is so simple. It saves babies lives! As a mother who has lived through the unbearable, I ask, why is it not a statewide requirement that every child not tested? No matter where a baby is born in Washington, it should be protected from a tragic story like Spencer’s. Spencer is a miracle. We are blessed he survived. NO baby should suffer like him, not when it is so simple to detect.

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A Powerful Day in Olympia

Guest Blogger: Kami Sutton, Grassroots Coordinator

On February 3, a group of nearly 40 volunteers and 20 AP Government students from Eastlake High School in Sammamish gathered at our State Capitol for our 2015 American Heart Association Lobby Day. The morning started with informative presentations by Lindsay Hovind, our Government Relations Director and Mike Shaw, a contract Lobbyist with the American Heart Association, who went over the current climate in Olympia including budget progress and what is expected during this year’s legislative session.

While our adult volunteers were being briefed by Lindsay & Mike, our student advocates were already busy advocating for Safe Routes to School out on the front lawn of the Capitol. They held signs, and gave speeches on the importance of safe walking and biking paths for students to use to get their daily exercise while walking and biking to class. Along with our partners at the Childhood Obesity Prevention Coalition (COPC) the students did a great job getting our message out there of the importance of funding these projects that provide the necessary improvements for the students to get to school safely.

Back in the training room our students joined us for presentations by Representative Marcus Riccelli who sponsors House Bill 1285 which will mandate Pulse Oximetry Screening as part of the Newborn Screening panel to help detect Critical Congenital Heart Defects (CCHDs) in newborns in hopes of saving tiny lives. Joining us in Olympia were several CCHD survivors including 3-year-old Carissa Henderson and her family who helped make a powerful statement as to why this is such important legislation.

Our final presentations, made by Vic Colman, the Executive Director of COPC, gave us more details on the Safe Routes to School program and what funding by the legislature could do to help our communities make these vital improvements with sidewalks, crosswalks and proper signage to make this “healthy choice, the easy choice”. Our other legislative ask of the day was Tobacco Prevention and Control funding, which last year we were successful in securing $1.5M for the program, but with tobacco use still being the number one cause of preventable death, we need more funding to keep cessation programs alive and ready for citizens to use.

We had a quick question and answer session which made for great discussion with the presenters including Representative Riccelli who answered questions for the students about his advice on getting involved with state government and the importance of staying in touch with their lawmakers.

After a great morning training and a wonderful heart healthy lunch, each group got together to prepare for meeting with their lawmakers and planned out introducing our three agenda items to their Representatives and Senators. Each group spread out across campus to attend the meetings and we gained a lot of support for the issues at hand.

All in all this was a wonderful day with great volunteers and the training of many future advocates and possibly even some future lobbyists or lawmakers! Everyone had a great day and we rallied some amazing support from our Washington State Lawmakers that will boost our issues to the forefront of the chambers discussions in the future.

To stay up to date and involved with our 2015 legislation, don’t forget to visit www.yourethecure.org regularly and take action.

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Eastlake AP Government Students

On February 3, the Advanced Placement Government class from Eastlake High School in Sammamish, WA traveled to Olympia to join the American Heart Association / American Stroke Association for its 2015 Lobby Day. Eastlake’s AP students joined other advocates including heart and stroke survivors, board members, physicians, and parents to advocate for heart-health policies. It was particularly impactful to have students advocating for funding for youth tobacco prevention and Safe Routes to School at this year’s Lobby Day.

The students began their day with a rally along Capitol Blvd. waving signs to build awareness for the need for increased funding for Safe Routes to School. With just one in four projects currently funded, the students went to work to ensure students across the state can safely walk and bike to school.

The students worked hard to prepare for this day of advocacy. Their preparation showed in special meetings with their district’s Senator, Andy Hill and with Representative Marcus Riccelli, who sponsors the AHA-supported bill to screen all newborns for critical congenital heart disease.              

Legislators, staff and volunteers all noted the students’ professionalism and enthusiasm. These youth advocates made a great impression on the decision makers who have the power to improve health for youth across Washington.

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