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Today on The Pulse View All

#Back2Healthy Blows Up

As part of our ongoing Step Up to the Plate for School Meals campaign, You're the Cure and the AHA led a #Back2Healthy social media day of action on Thursday, September 3rd, to help build awareness and tell lawmakers we can't go back on strong school nutrition standards.

With thousands of participants joining in, our messages reached more than 17 million Facebook and Twitter users, and proved the large and diverse array of individuals and organizations in support of healthy school meals. Additionally, with Congress poised to return from its August recess, we were also able to share stories and photos from all the great meetings that You’re the Cure advocates held with legislators and their staff throughout the month.

Thanks to everyone who joined us for the day of action and visited their lawmaker! The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act has been a huge success, with 96% of schools nationwide meeting the healthier standards. And if you haven’t joined in yet, it’s not too late: click here to share a #Back2Healthy message on Facebook, and here to do so on Twitter. Every message makes a difference!

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CPR in Schools Campaign Reaches Midpoint

Just this month, North Dakota became the 25th state to require all students be trained in CPR before high school graduation. Today, New York became the 26th state to ensure their students will be CPR Smart!  Today’s vote by the New York State Education Department Board of Regents means that more than 1.5 million lifesavers will be added to our communities each year.

For the first time, we can say that more than half the high school graduates in the United States will have been trained in CPR before graduation! Congratulations and thank you for all your work to get us to this important milestone!
More than 326,000 people experience cardiac arrest outside of a hospital each year. About 90 percent of those victims die, often because bystanders don’t know how to start CPR or are afraid they’ll do something wrong. Bystander CPR, especially if performed immediately, can double or triple a cardiac arrest victim’s chance of survival. Teaching students CPR could save thousands of lives by filling our community with lifesavers – those trained to give cardiac arrest victims the immediate help they need to survive until EMTs arrive.

The American Heart Association is helping create the next Generation of Lifesavers™ by advocating for laws in every state that ensure students learn CPR before they graduate. With the help of AHA volunteers and staff, 26 states are on board. Help us bring along the others!

The power to save a life is literally in our hands. And in our kids’ hands.

To learn more about the campaign and pledge your support for CPR in Schools, visit

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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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