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Today on The Pulse View All

Update: Relief for stroke survivors

I have mixed news to share about our efforts to repeal Medicare’s caps on outpatient therapy services. Late Tuesday night, the U.S. Senate passed a bill that we hoped would include Senators Cardin’s and Vitter’s bipartisan amendment to permanently repeal the therapy caps. Unfortunately, the amendment fell a few votes short of the 60 votes needed to pass.

The good news, however, is that included in the bill is an “exceptions” process that allows patients to continue to be able to access therapy services over and above Medicare’s limits for the next two years. The President is expected to sign the bill in the next couple days.

Even though the bill does not repeal the therapy caps, a bipartisan majority in the U.S. Senate is now on record in support of the repeal for the first time ever! Moreover, a two-year reprieve is great news for stroke survivors. We could not have achieved this without the hard work of each of you and we should be proud of this accomplishment. And we will continue to fight to repeal the caps once and for all.

Thank you for the actions you take to ensure the priorities of heart and stroke patients are kept in front of our nation’s decision-makers.

You make a difference.

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It's More Important Than Ever

We recently learned that more students are taking part in the National School Breakfast and School Lunch programs than ever before (with more than 30 million of our kids getting school lunches alone). That’s why it’s never been more critical that we protect strong nutrition standards, and make sure we’re serving the healthiest foods possible to students who rely on school cafeterias for up to half of their daily caloric intake.

It’s also one more reason why we need you to step up and make sure those who oppose healthy school meals hear what we have to say. Tell your lawmaker that the stakes are too high to go back – we must protect strong school nutrition standards. With school cafeterias increasingly taking on a greater responsibility when it comes to nourishing students, we need standards in place that ensure the meals they serve include at least one serving of fruits and vegetables, more whole grains, and less salt.

Healthy meals help prevent childhood obesity, teach good eating habits that will last a lifetime, and boost academic performance.  Please let your representatives know why strong school nutrition standards mean so much to you. In less than a minute, you can make your voice heard and help give our kids the longer, healthier futures they deserve.

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Advocate Stories View All

Ariel Walker Ohio

At 19, my life was totally normal for a college student.  Eat, sleep, class, repeat.  And then one day, my heart quit beating.  I was giving a final presentation in front of a class full of people when everything went dark.  When I woke up, I was on the floor with a paramedic looking at me.

It took almost 4 years to diagnose what had caused me to pass out.  I was lucky.  I had a mother who had worked in a hospital for 25 years, and a supportive partner who drove me four hours each direction every couple of weeks for tests.  For such a dramatic event, it was extremely difficult to convince doctors that anything was wrong with me.  I passed every test.  Most appointments ended with the explanation that I was probably passing out because I was thin and therefore probably not eating enough. 

However, with my mom’s stubbornness and understanding of the heath care system, I was able to get an appointment with a cardiologist who was willing to send me for a tilt-table test.  I laid strapped flat to a table for an hour and then they flipped me vertically to see what would happen.   As everyone waited to see if I would pass out, the surgeon suggested that if I switched my snacks to salted peanuts and Gatorade, I would probably be fine.  I don’t remember much after that because I did pass out, and my heart stopped beating. 

I had cardio-inhibitory vasovagal syncope and I would need a pacemaker to keep me from passing out in the future.  A million things raced through my mind, the first of which was relief… I finally had a diagnosis.  The second was, would I ever look good in a bikini with a pacemaker implanted in my chest.  A month later, I was in surgery: the only 24 year-old on the cardiology schedule. 

My surgery was not easy.  It was supposed to be less than 24 hours in the hospital and I ended up there for three days.  My body was going into shock every time the pacemaker tried to pace my heart.  I was sent for x-rays in a wheelchair and brought back in a gurney because I kept losing consciousness.  It was terrifying.  Not for me so much, I was just exhausted. But for my family who had to watch helplessly, it was a nightmare. 

What I didn’t realize at the time, and what is impossible to explain to someone who has never been in such a situation, is that I not only became aware of a problem that day, I also lost the ability to trust that my heart would ever beat the way it was supposed to.  We don’t think about our lungs allowing us to breathe or our heart pumping our blood. It just happens.  I can’t explain the sense of loss, or the fear that develops of your own body, but I can encourage people not to take it for granted. 

I am now on my second pacemaker and, although that surgery wasn’t easy either, I live a healthy and active life with my amazing husband and two dogs.  To give back, I also joined the Board of Directors for my local American Heart Association so that I can encourage others to live well and take care of their hearts.  A coronary event can happen to anyone, at any stage of life.  It is important to pay attention to what your body is telling you and seek a doctor’s care whenever your heath circumstances change.  Treat your heart with care and never take it for granted.

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