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Washington Do you know what F.A.S.T. stands for?

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 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 June 15, 2016. Nominees will be featured on local and national social media. For submission details click here.

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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Advocate Highlight - Myra Wilson

On November 3, 2014, I was in nursing school, working as a student nurse at the VA hospital.  My first sign something was not quite right was when I was walking through the nursing station and both of my eyes went blurry.  I could still see color but I couldn’t see letters.  It was blurry for ~30 seconds before clearing up again. 

I was going to lunch and went to give a report to another nurse.  The nurse noticed while I was speaking that I slurred my speech.  I didn’t notice my speech was slurred at all.  It was at that time that I experienced a sudden sharp pain on the right side of my head.  The nurse then expressed concern that I was having a stroke and called a code.  I was told to sit in the nearby chair.

Within minutes a team of people arrived and evaluated me.  Paralysis started to consume my left side, my dominant side.  I had left-sided facial droop and I couldn’t move my left arm or leg.  They had to carry me to the stretcher.

I was taken to the ER where I underwent a CT scan to determine if it was hemorrhagic.  Since it was not, they gave me TPA to help dissolve the clot.

I was transferred to Harborview Medical Center where I underwent an angiogram and a thrombectomy in the cath lab.  The angiogram showed a blood clot in a large artery in the right side of my brain.  The thrombectomy entailed going through my femoral artery, and into my brain to remove the clot.

I spent a week in ICU followed by two weeks in rehab.  At 41 years old, I had to relearn how to walk, talk, and swallow.

Contrary to the more common causes of stroke, i.e. high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, etc., my situation was quite different. After more than 12 weeks of testing, the doctors were finally able to pinpoint the cause as a rare autoimmune disorder called antiphospholipid syndrome.

As a nursing student, I’ve taken care of many patients who were stroke survivors.  I never thought it would happen to me. 

I continue to gain strength in my leg and arm.  I have returned to work though I am unable to do my work as an ortho tech, I am able to contribute to the ortho team on projects that are not physically demanding.

The key message I want people to take away from my story is stroke doesn’t discriminate.  Stroke effects people of all ages, ethnicities, professions, economical status, etc.  Know the signs and get help immediately. Act F.A.S.T.

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It's Time to Take the Next Step

In 2010, Washington established a statewide system to transport and treat cardiac and stroke patients. Much like the trauma system, the Emergency Cardiac and Stroke System was designed to ensure patients get to the right hospital capable of administering the right treatment at the right time. Advocates were thrilled to see this level of coordination among emergency medical services (EMS) and hospitals. A coordinated system can help ensure that no matter where in the state someone suffered a cardiac event or stroke, that they can get the right treatment and improve their odds of a positive outcome.

The system was established with virtually no state funding and with only voluntary participation from hospitals self-reporting the type of cardiac and stroke patients they could treat. While these limitations still allowed the state to move forward on establishing a good system for patients in 2010, stakeholders including physicians, nurses and advocates always intended to make the system even stronger. 

We believe that day has arrived. Now, six years later, we’ve seen the system in action. Undoubtedly it has helped patients get to the right hospital for the right treatment in the right time and the American Heart Association is working with stakeholders and lawmakers to strengthen the Emergency Cardiac and Stroke System of Care, by:

  • ensuring every patient is taken to a hospital certified and ready to provide the kind of care that patient needs;
  • creating a statewide database to (anonymously) track patient treatment and outcomes;
  • working with EMS and hospitals to conduct patient care quality improvement;
  • providing funding to aid hospitals in acquiring the necessary certification and data systems.

Join us as we gear up for the 2017 legislative session when we will ask lawmakers to help strengthen the system that can give cardiac and stroke patients the best chance at good outcomes.

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Advocate Spotlight - TJ Haynes

For TJ Haynes it was a matter of time. TJ recently threw out the first pitch at a Mustangs game in Dehler Park to promote the AHA’s Raise the Roof in Red campaign after suffering a heart attack just a few months before.

On May 25, 2015 TJ had gone to the local shooting range in preparation for the annual Quigley Buffalo Match. The days leading up to the 25th he had experienced heartburn and back pain but didn’t think much of it. But after a short period of time at the range he found himself short of breath and in pain.

He called his wife to tell her he wasn’t feeling well and asked her to come pick him up. While he waited another shooter at the range noticed his condition and quickly dialed 911 when he told them he was short of breath and experiencing chest pain.

Thanks to the quick actions of those around him TJ was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance containing a 12 lead EKG machine that sent a snapshot of his heart ahead to the Billings clinic. By sending this snapshot ahead the hospital was able to know what they were dealing with and how to treat it as soon as he arrived. This allowed his clogged artery to be opened just 46 minutes from the onset of the attack.

This amazing equipment had been installed just one day earlier as part of the Mission Lifeline initiative that is largely funded by a grant from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust.

Today TJ is doing much better. He is in cardiac rehab, is working on his diet and is overall doing well.

TJ is thankful for the actions of those around him and the technology that was available to help him when he needed it most.

 

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Jocelyn Gomez

August 7th, 2015 was the start of the most life-changing event of our lives. My father, mother, and I were sitting in the emergency room that night waiting to be called on. As the minutes went by a tragedy was about to occur without even knowing. My father was at the emergency room for the pain he had on his left foot. His pinky was swelled up, bruised, and a very bright red mark was on the top part of his foot. 

That night my father found out he was diabetic when his blood sugar level was at 750. My father was already a survivor of three heart attacks and the news of him being diabetic was just another thing to add to the plate. Unfortunately, my father has a rare condition where he creates blood clots very easily. This became a massive problem to his foot. The pain was due to the lack of blood circulation and the different techniques that the doctor’s applied were just not enough. After the unsuccessful peripheral bypass surgery, there was no other option than to have an amputation below the knee.

Recovery is and will always be difficult because it is not only a physical recovery, but a mental recovery as well. His loving family and friends always surround him, which is a huge support. Today, my father is slowly adapting to his new lifestyle with a very optimistic attitude. Being diabetic has given him a different view to life and is thankful that he is still alive to tell his story.

My experience at the American Heart Association as an advocacy volunteer has been one of a kind. I’ve learned remarkable things and became part of a community that works very hard to prevent serious health conditions such as diabetes. Working on the SSB campaign has helped me gain more understanding on how much sugar we are consuming without even knowing. Avoiding sugar sweetened beverages and learning how to prevent health conditions such as heart disease and diabetes is extremely important. My father did not care much about his health until his unfortunate amputation. After this life experience, my interest in working in the public health arena has skyrocketed. Educating my own family on healthier choices to prevent any further health conditions is just the beginning. It is never too late to live a healthy lifestyle!

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Legislative Session is Over

The 2016 legislative session is officially over. The short session was very busy for legislators and they had a lot to accomplish in a short period of time. While we weren’t successful in passing legislation to raise the tobacco purchase age to 21, we made a lot of progress on the issue.

I’d like to extend an especially big thank you to advocates who attended our annual lobby day/Heart of Washington Day at the Capitol on February 9th. The meetings with legislators and staff gave us valuable feedback on where they stood on the issue. This information will be helpful next legislative session when we are back and working on this issue again. Because of the great seeds you planted, 2017 is going to be our year for Tobacco to 21!

Thank you to everyone who supported this legislation in other ways as well. If you took action on one of our alerts, know it made a difference. We heard from committee chairs that they got the message loud and clear from you.

Though the Legislature did not move on Tobacco to 21, they did pass legislation to regulate the e-cigarette market and further protect against youth access to these products. Now retailers will be licensed just like tobacco retailers, products must be in child-resistant packaging and carry both nicotine content and warning labels, and use is restricted where children often gather. Funds related to the regulation of the market will be used to fund youth tobacco and e-cigarette prevention work throughout the state.

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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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Update on Christian Lybbert

Aimee Lybbert, Mother of CHD (Congenital Heart Defect) Survivor, Christian, updates us on his life now and what she sees every day as a “Heart Mom”

You can catch up on Christian’s story from nearly two years ago here.

Christian will be three at the end of next month. He's been through two more open heart surgeries and four open abdomen surgeries and one surgery through his ribs on his diaphragm. He's now living at Seattle Children's and is currently on the waiting list for a heart transplant.

He has quite the collection of scars. We as his parents do too.

We have been at Seattle Children's for almost 5 months now with most of our time spent in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CICU).

We have seen our share of families and children go through the CICU.

I've seen parents waiting anxiously for their surgery pagers as they wait for any update, I've seen parents hugging surgeons. I've seen rooms that have one little body in the room surrounded by scores of machines and staff working together to get the child through it all. I've seen parents cry with joy as their child had the breathing tube removed and they start to talk again. I've walked past rooms where moms are holding their children for the first time in forever as the nurse takes pictures. I've watched as they get transferred to the recovery floor, and I've watched parents take video of their toddler as he walked out the front door of the hospital after he conquered heart surgery. I've seen such joy at the many triumphs and miracles that happen here. 

I've also seen complete and utter despair. Sometimes things don't go as anticipated or as hoped.

Christian was like that. He had several emergency surgeries and he once bled out from a Gastrointestinal bleed and he had to be intubated and scoped while they transfused almost the entire volume of his blood. There were days that I didn't know how I could go on.

When my son headed off to one of his emergency surgeries I was a complete mess and was sobbing in the elevator on my way to the cafeteria. Another heart mom saw me. She asked me my son's name and told me that she saw me crying and couldn't leave me alone like that. She gave me a hug and said she'd pray for me.

She got off on her floor and I kept traveling down. The next day a card arrived with a note and a Starbucks gift card from her.

She had her own troubles and she took the time to look out for another person in need.

There are a surprising amount of kids and parents whose journey includes a hospitalization and or surgery in order to keep their CHD in check. Congenital Heart Defects are the most common birth defect. Approximately 25% of kids with a CHD will require a surgery or other intervention to survive. If you're on the outside looking in the most important thing to do is just to listen and quietly let them know you love them. If you're on the inside of the CHD storm it is important to realize that you're not alone.

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Little Hats Big Hearts

February is Heart Month and thanks to dedicated volunteers we are participating in the Little Hats, Big Hearts program for the first time.

This program originally started in 2013 in Chicago. It was launched in the Puget Sound last fall and became so popular that we received over 2,000 red hats from volunteers in Washington and other states.

Each newborn born at a participating hospital will receive a red hat lovingly knitted by a volunteer for the American Heart Association. The hospitals participating include Evergreen Health, Kirkland; Overlake Hospital Medical Center, Bellevue; and Swedish Ballard, Edmonds, First Hill and Issaquah, St. Joseph Medical Center, Tacoma, St. Elizabeth Hospital, Enumclaw, St. Francis Hospital, Federal Way, Harrison Medical Center, Silverdale and Harrison Medical Center, Burien.

The program is part of an effort to raise awareness about heart disease and encourage families to choose heart-healthy lifestyles. Heart disease is the leading killer of Americans and congenital heart defects are the deadliest type of birth defects.

Thanks to hard work during the 2015 legislative session all babies born in Washington are now screened for congenital heart defects using noninvasive, pain-free pulse oximetry screening that measures the oxygen saturation in the blood. The screening is now a requirement in the state of Washington.

Thank you again to the volunteers who knitted these wonderful hats. We hope everyone has a great Heart Month!

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