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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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A Winning Game for School Lunches and Research Funding!

At You’re the Cure on the Hill 2015, more than 380 AHA advocates and staff from all 50 states, plus DC —and thousands more back home—stepped up to the plate for healthy school lunches and medical research funding. This year, our Hill day theme was built off the great American game of baseball, something that could resonate with advocates and lawmakers alike and give them a rallying cry for the event: Step Up to the Plate! It was an invitation from advocates to lawmakers, asking them to get off the bench and into the game. And they knocked it out of the park.

It was one of our most exciting days on the Hill with a combination of passionate advocates meeting face-to-face with their lawmakers and thousands of supportive voices from around the country who backed them up with phone calls, emails, tweets and Facebook posts. Together, our voices hit a home run for healthy school meals and heart and stroke research funding.

Advocates conducted 293 meetings with lawmakers, asking them to protect the progress made by the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act and support school nutrition standards. At the same time, advocates asked lawmakers to make heart disease and stroke research a national priority by increasing the budget of the National Institutes of Health.

Meanwhile, advocates back home around the country jumped in as pinch hitters to call and email their members of Congress and ask them to Step Up to the Plate. Capitol Hill received over 6,218 messages from constituents back home.

Throughout the day, we had so many all-star advocates who made the views, passions and needs of constituents known to their lawmakers in new and compelling ways. On top of that, we had two Congressional Award Winners who rounded out the team: Sen. Crapo (R-ID) and Sen. Mikulski (D-MD). They received the American Heart Association’s National Public Service Award, which has been granted biennially since 1982 to members of Congress who have actively promoted our mission. We are so thrilled to have their support!

Below is a snapshot of our day!

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What is Pediatric Cardiomyopathy?

Did you know that one in every 100,000 children in the U.S. under the age of 18 is diagnosed with a diseased state of the heart known as cardiomyopathy?  While it is a relatively rare condition in kids, it poses serious health risks, making early diagnosis important.  As the heart weakens due to abnormities of the muscle fibers, it loses the ability to pump blood effectively and heart failure or irregular heartbeats (arrhythmias or dysrhythmia) may occur.

That’s why we’re proud to team up with the Children’s Cardiomyopathy Foundation this month- Pediatric Cardiomyopathy Awareness Month- to make more parents aware of this condition (signs and symptoms) and to spread the word about the policy changes we can all support to protect our youngest hearts.
As a You’re the Cure advocate, you know how important medical research is to improving the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of heart disease.  And pediatric cardiomyopathy is no exception.  However, a serious lack of research on this condition leaves many unanswered questions about its causes.  On behalf of all young pediatric cardiomyopathy patients, join us in calling on Congress to prioritize our nation’s investment in medical research.
Additionally, we must speak-up to better equip schools to respond quickly to medical emergencies, such as cardiac arrest caused by pediatric cardiomyopathy.  State laws, like the one passed in Massachusetts, require schools to develop emergency medical response plans that can include:

  • A method to establish a rapid communication system linking all parts of the school campus with Emergency Medical Services
  • Protocols for activating EMS and additional emergency personnel in the event of a medical emergency
  • A determination of EMS response time to any location on campus
  • A method for providing training in CPR and First Aid to teachers, athletic coaches, trainers and others – which may include High School students
  • A listing of the location of AEDs and the school personnel trained to use the AED

CPR high school graduation requirements are another important measure to ensure bystanders, particularly in the school setting, are prepared to respond to a cardiac emergency.  19 states have already passed these life-saving laws and we’re on a mission to ensure every student in every state graduates ‘CPR Smart’.
With increased awareness and research of pediatric cardiomyopathy and policy changes to ensure communities and schools are able to respond to cardiac emergencies, we can protect more young hearts.

Have you or a loved one been diagnosed with cardiomyopathy?  Join our new Support Network today to connect with others who share the heart condition.   

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Our new anthem: life is why

School behavioral specialist Carla Leonard had her hand on her heart during the Pledge of Allegiance when a heart attack nearly killed her. Her doctor didn’t mince words with her family afterward: “If I didn’t have surgery, they should pick out a dress for my funeral,” she said. “Plain and simple.”

But Leonard wanted to live — to see her daughter graduate from high school — so after surgery she started on a new path that continues today. She kicked her soda habit, started visiting her doctor regularly and got healthy enough to experience many important milestones in her life.

Leonard exemplifies the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s new brand tagline, “Life Is Why.” The phrase, which began appearing with the logo on on Aug. 1, is much more than a slogan. It’s the singular idea that stands behind all the lifesaving work the AHA has carried out for 90  years – and it’s the very basic idea that people should be healthier so they can enjoy their lives more.

“The work we do matters,” American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown said. “It has mattered to my family and I’m sure it has mattered to your family. Life is why.”

(Please visit the site to view this video)

Brown’s grandfather had a blockage of his carotid artery in the early 1970s. During surgery, he suffered a stroke, and his life was never the same — nor was his family’s. He died a few years later after another stroke. “I missed my grandfather then and I continue to miss him today,” Brown said.

But she pointed out that scientific research and treatment guidelines have led to much better outcomes for many others in the decades that followed. One of those survivors is Brown’s sister, who is thriving despite two recent strokes. She received treatment at one of the AHA’s primary stroke centers, helping her working through rehabilitation and regain her life.

“My sister is why, my grandfather is why — and all of you are why,” Brown told the organization’s volunteers and staff when announcing the adaptation of “Life Is Why” as a focal point of the AHA’s brand.

The American Heart Association is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary health organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke — the two leading causes of death in the world. The AHA fights these diseases through a wide variety of tactics, yet “Life Is Why” can be attached to every facet of the organization’s work.

Life is why the AHA helps people eat healthier foods and get more active — among the many activities the organization has to help people live healthier lives.

Life is why Roni Noone decided to lose weight so she could enjoy her life with her family.

Noone, a 38-year-old Baltimore mom who struggled with her weight in her teens and 20s, has lost a total of 70 pounds because she wants to be there for those special moments with her family. She has joined a gym and even run a marathon – saying she didn’t want to set a poor health example for her sons Ryan, 9, and Evan, 3.

Roni Noone is motivated by the special moments with her family.

“Last year I took Ryan whitewater rafting, and it was really emotional for me. Now I’m doing all the things I got healthy for,” said Noone, a fitness blogger who’s also writing a book. “I want to run a half-marathon with him when he’s 18. And I want to be able to do all these things that I’m doing in my 30s when I’m in my 50s.”

Life is why the American Heart Association has funded more than $3.6 billion in heart disease and stroke research, more than any other organization outside the federal government. Life is why the association works to develop treatment guidelines that help healthcare providers follow scientifically proven treatment standards.

Life is why the AHA is the nation’s leader in CPR training and science, and why the AHA has helped pass many laws and policies that have improved the public health. In fact, now that 17 states have passed laws requiring CPR as a high school graduation requirement, more than 1 million seniors will leave school every year with this lifesaving skill.

Leonard, 52, has gone on to be an AHA advocate for CPR in schools and screenings to detect heart defects in newborns. And she did get to see her daughter Yasmine finish high school, just one of many milestones she has experienced since her surgery eight years ago.

“The highlight of them all was when I heard that my child had used my life-and-death experience to write her entrance essay for college,” she said. “I want to be able to look back on my life and say that I did not waste the second chance I was given.”

And as 13-year-old Natalia Bascunan of Nutley, New Jersey, will attest, loved ones and special moments are the most important illustration of Life Is Why. Natalia made the Little League all-star team years after facing two open-heart surgeries for a heart defect.

“They loved it because she was the only girl in the state on an all-boys team,” said Natalia’s mom, Roe Corsi. “When they found out she had a heart condition, they loved her even more.”

Another person who has embraced life’s special moments thanks to better health is Bernie Dennis, a longtime volunteer with the AHA who is now the chairman of the board.

Dennis said he didn’t appreciate the risks he was taking with his health until he had three heart attacks in one month, followed by a quadruple bypass. While he recovered, he started realizing some of the things he’d taken for granted.

“I can remember the fact that I was sitting on my porch saying to myself, ‘this is the first time in my life I’ve appreciated the warmth of the sun in May,’” he said.

Getting healthier has meant Dennis has gone on to experience precious family time that he would’ve missed. A high school graduation. A wedding. Playing with his “two beautiful granddaughters.” And dressing up as Santa Claus at Christmas.

“There’s a choice you get to make about living or not living,” he said. “My wife’s hand gave me reason to live. My wonderful family gave me reason to live.”

Learn more at 

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Milestone: One Million Lifesavers!

We are thrilled to announce a major milestone in our efforts to create a generation of lifesavers with CPR training in schools: 16 states across the country now require CPR training prior to graduation, which means all one million students that graduate annually in these states will be taught CPR. This means one million new qualified lifesavers will be added to our communities each and every year!

And this happened because You’re the Cure advocates like you pledged to Be CPR Smart!
Together, we started the Be CPR Smart campaign just three years ago. In this short amount of time, You’re the Cure advocates have lead successful public policy advocacy efforts across 14 states (two states had laws in place prior to 2011) that require all students in those states be trained in CPR before graduating from high school.  With the momentum this initial success has built, we are optimistic that many more states will soon join this lifesaving movement. 

“This is an amazing development that has the potential to save so many lives,” American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown said. “Just imagine the possibilities of 1 million young people who are trained and ready to save a life. That’s a number that will go up by 1 million every single year, but we can do so much more if every single state steps up and makes CPR a graduation requirement.”
Congratulations and thank you to the numerous You’re the Cure advocates around the country who’ve worked so hard to help achieve this milestone and help us save more lives. Please join me in sharing the news about this incredible accomplishment on Facebook!

Want to more information? Go to today!


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The 2013 State Legislative Wrap-Up is Here!

Today’s blog post is by Mark Schoeberl, the American Heart Association’s Executive Vice President of Advocacy and Health Quality

I am pleased to again this year present you with our annual report of state and local public policy progress. We take pride in the diligent efforts of our advocates, volunteers and staff who ensure that we remain focused on helping improve the cardiovascular health of all Americans.  As you read this report you will quickly realize that we saw unprecedented public policy success across the country during this last fiscal year.  The victories you will read about in the following pages have a direct and profound impact on our 2020 national goal: To improve the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20 percent while reducing deaths from cardiovascular diseases and stroke by 20 percent.

As we review our 2012–2013 state and local public policy, we should be proud of our active advocacy presence in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.  We helped support the passage of state laws and local ordinances that impact heart disease and stroke risk factors as well as policies that further protect survivors of heart disease or stroke.  Our significant public policy achievements, which you can read about below, include public policies enacted in fifteen states that will assure all newborns are screened for critical congenital heart disease before going home for the first time. Seven states enacted new laws that will assure all students have been CPR trained before they graduate from high school. In the area of encouraging physical activity, two states passed shared use laws that will expand opportunities for physical activity in communities across those states. Six states enacted policy that will strengthen their stroke systems of care and six states moved to strengthen their STEMI systems of care.  Four states were successful in increasing their public funding for heart disease and stroke at the state level. Tobacco tax increases occurred in three states and two states moved to strengthen their smokefree air laws.

On behalf of the thousands of You’re the Cure advocates, association volunteers, donors, and staff who have made these successes possible, it is my pleasure to present to you this annual report of state and local advocacy accomplishments.  Together, we are the architects of a healthier future.


 Click on the image to view the 2013 State Legislative Wrap-Up!


















PS- Stay tuned next month for a video highlighting these successes!  We’ll need your help to share it with friends, family, colleagues, and neighbors to demonstrate the progress we’re making toward healthier communities and healthier lives through public policy changes… and to encourage others to join the You’re the Cure movement too!

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Training the Next Generation of Lifesavers, One Student at a Time

The following excerpt is from a blog post by American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown and AHA volunteer Tommy Watson, published on The Huffington Post's The Blog on September 3rd.  It is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post and the American Heart Association addressing important, timely topics in heart health and wellness.  Nancy and featured experts will examine the issues related to heart disease and provide information, ideas and insight on the Huffington Post's The Blog.

Imagine a time when everywhere you go, you are surrounded by people ready to respond if your heart stops.

Lawmakers in 12 states are working toward that day. In hopes of producing future generations of lifesavers, those states have made CPR training -- including the use of an automatic external defibrillator (AED) -- a requirement for high school graduation. As this school year begins, seven states have laws in place or that go into effect this school year, with five more states having passed laws that will begin in upcoming years.

Vermont was one of the first states on board, thanks largely to the efforts of a boy who wasn't even in high school yet.

Tommy Watson was 12 when he saw a man watching a soccer match go into sudden cardiac arrest and collapse. More than 100 people were around, but only one -- a nurse -- knew CPR. That frustrated Tommy, so a few days later he called his local American Heart Association office and asked to be trained in Hands-Only CPR. Then he began training others. In less than two years, he's up to about 1,025 trainees.

Read Nancy and Tommy's complete Huffington Post blog post- Training the Next Generation of Lifesavers, One Student at a Time.

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June= Summer, Fun, & CPR Awareness

It’s finally summertime!  This is the season for activities in the backyard and cookouts with neighbors. However, would you know what to do if a family member or friend experienced sudden cardiac arrest (SCA)? Eighty percent of SCAs happen outside of the hospital- and unfortunately, the majority of Americans do not know how to help or are uncomfortable doing so. The American Heart Association is trying to change that this summer!

During National CPR Week (June 1st -7th) and throughout the entire month of June, we’re shining a spotlight on the importance of learning Hands-Only CPR.  In just two simple steps- calling 9-1-1 and pushing hard and fast in the center of the victim’s chest- you could help save a life.  Watch our new PSA and don’t forget to share the link with family and friends (

Additionally, You’re the Cure advocates like you have been working hard in states across the country to advocate for Hands-Only CPR to be taught to all students before they graduate.  In the time it takes to watch a TV sitcom, students can learn the life-saving skill.  10 states now have CPR in Schools laws, adding over 500,000 life-savers to our communities each year.  But we still have 40 states to go!  Pledge your support for teaching all students to be ‘CPR Smart’ at

Thanks for your help to make CPR awareness a priority this summer!

PS- Are you trained in CPR?  Post our “CPR Ready” image as your profile pic on Facebook and Twitter this month to let others know you’re ready to save a life.

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Act for AEDs in More Communities

This is a critical time in Congress, as lawmakers work to allocate Federal dollars for the coming fiscal year.  Even in this difficult economy, there are several federally-funded programs that are vital to the heart and stroke community, and we need to let lawmakers know they must be made a priority.

One such program helps buy and  place automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in rural communities and trains first responders and lay rescuers in their use. The Rural and Community Access to Emergency Devices Program ensures those who live in rural areas or small towns have access to the tools that give them the best chance of surviving a cardiac arrest, but the program currently only has the resources to operate in 7 states and 1 U.S. territory.

Contact your lawmaker today!  Ask them to prioritize funding that saves lives.

Shouldn’t people in every state be given the best shot at surviving a cardiac arrest?  Communities with aggressive AED placements have increased survival rates from 10% to nearly 40%- an incredible improvement! But first responders, churches, recreation facilities and others in 43 states are still waiting for funds for this life-saving program.

As Members of Congress allocate funding, please contact your elected officials about the importance of this life-saving program TODAY!

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Call your Senators TODAY!

 As Congress considers funding proposals for federal programs, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) has offered an amendment on the Senate floor that would provide very modest increases for medical research, prevention and treatment programs of interest to us, including National Institutes of Health and the Rural and Community Access to a AEDs program, which increases survival rates for people who suffer sudden cardiac arrest. Senator Harkin’s amendment will help advance the mission of the American Heart Association.


The U.S. Senate is scheduled to vote soon, likely this evening- March 13th, on the amendment. Please take just 5 minutes to call your two United States Senators and ask them to vote in favor of Senator Harkin’s amendment. Simply dial the Capitol Hill switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask to be connected to your U.S. Senator.  After being connected, ask for the health legislative assistant.  If you reach his/her voicemail, leave a short message. After hanging up from that office, please call the Capitol Hill switchboard again to be connected to your second U.S. Senator. 

Talking Points for your calls

  • Hello.  May I please speak with the Health Legislative Assistant.
  • (please leave a message if you reach voice mail)
  • Hi, this is (name) from (city and state).  I am a volunteer for the American Heart Association.
  • Please ask Senator (name) to vote in favor of Senator Harkin’s amendment to the Continuing Resolution.
  • Passage of this amendment will help advance the fight against heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases, the No. 1 killer in our State and the most costly illness in the U.S.
  • Specifically, this amendment will help the National Institutes of Health make continued progress against heart disease and stroke.  Also, it will help save lives of people who suffer from sudden cardiac arrest, a particularly deadly form of heart disease.  Thank you.

 Please be sure to report your call in the action center.  

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“Hello! My name is ____”

It’s time to welcome the 113th Congress!  We all know the best welcomes are personal, so we’re asking You’re the Cure advocates to introduce themselves to their members of Congress by recording a video and uploading it to Facebook.

We’re calling it the “Hello, my name is ____” campaign.  We want your elected officials to know you and your heart or stroke story- and to remember it when they vote this year.  When you record your video, consider using this script (and try to keep your video to about 60 seconds!):

 “Hi my name is [your name] from [City, State].”

 “I am passionate about policy changes that can help improve cardiovascular health in this country because [tell your story].”

 “Now that I’ve shared my story with you, I have one question for you: Will you remember me when you vote this year?”

Watch an example from our National Grassroots Director, Clarissa Garcia:

(Please visit the site to view this video)

Once you’ve recorded your video on your phone, tablet, or camera, save it and upload it to Facebook. To upload your video to Facebook:

  1. Scroll to the top of your Facebook homepage where your status box is.
  2. Click Add Photos/Video.
  3. Click Upload Photos/Video.
  4. Select your video from the location you saved it to on your computer or mobile device.
  5. Write a post for your video.  Make sure to ‘tag’ your Representative and Senators and our American Heart Association: You’re the Cure page!  We recommend using this caption:

Hello, @[Enter your lawmakers names starting with an “@” symbol to tag their accounts], my name is [your name], and I’m an @[American Heart Association: You’re the Cure] advocate. Here’s why I support heart-healthy and stroke-smart public policies. Will you remember me when you vote this year?

(Note: Use our Legislator Search tool to identify your Representative and Senators.  You’ll need to “Like” their Facebook pages in order to ‘tag’ them with your video.)

If you’re unable to upload a video, there’s another easy way to introduce yourself to your legislators. Simply share your story by sending a personalized email today!

As always, if you have any questions, feel free to let us know at

We can’t wait to see your videos. Thanks for being the cure!

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2012 You're the Cure Federal Recap

As we get ready to welcome the 113th Congress to Capitol Hill in January, we wanted to take a moment to reflect on all of the activity that took place on key heart and stroke issues this year.  In a tough economic environment, You’re the Cure advocates, like you, helped play critical defense to protect funding and programs that support our shared mission of building healthier lives.

We’re also proud to report that over 34,000 new grassroots advocates joined You’re the Cure this year, making our unified voice that much stronger in our communities, our states, and in the nation’s capital.  And what a noise we made!  Advocates took over 350,000 actions this year, from sending emails and making phone calls, to attending events and meeting with lawmakers, and more.   

Thank you for your hard work to influence Congress in 2012.  We’re excited to make even more progress in 2013!

2012 Action

What’s next?

Congress has yet to extend the Medicare Therapy Caps exceptions process, which is critical to ensuring stroke patients on Medicare are able to access and afford the physical, speech and occupational therapies they need. 

The coverage caps on rehabilitation services will kick in on January 1st, unless Congress passes an extension of the exceptions process by the end of the year.  Tell your legislators immediate action is needed for Medicare stroke patients now!

A key provision of the HEART for Women Act was signed into law earlier this year as part of a larger bill extending funding for the Food and Drug Administration! 

The new law requires the FDA to report on how new prescription drugs and medical devices work for women and minorities and to develop an action plan for improving participation in research.  Watch for the FDA’s report and action plan in the next 18 months.

The Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act and key patient-protections continued to take effect.       

As implementation continues toward 2014, when several  key provisions will take effect, the AHA will continue to work to ensure the needs of heart & stroke patients are being met.  Learn more about what the law means for you. 

The fate of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) remains undecided, with the House and Senate yet to reach an agreement  on the reauthorization of the Farm Bill.

As Congress’ work to pass a Farm Bill continues in the 113th Congress, so does our work to protect the FFVP and other nutrition programs from being cut or altered.  Take action in support of fruits and veggies in schools.  

As the Federal government works to negotiate a deal to address the current fiscal situation, funding for National Institutes of Health (NIH) research, Centers for Disease Control (CDC) prevention programs, and the Rural and Community AED program remains in jeopardy. 

If Congress and the President fail to stop automatic across-the-board funding cuts (aka: the ‘sequester’) by the end of the year, research and prevention programs will be cut by 8.2%.  Speak-up today to help prevent cuts!  The President will submit his 2014 budget to Congress in February, from which Congress will negotiate an appropriations bill.  Stay tuned for opportunities to act.

Programs that support walking amd biking in communities, like Safe Routes to School, took a big hit in the Transportation Bill passed and signed into law.  Loopholes now exist that allow states to use previously dedicated walking and biking funding for other transportation projects.   

Communities around the country are now hard at work to ensure that funding is provided for walking and biking projects as the law is implemented.  The Transportation Bill will need to be renewed in two years, presenting an opportunity to regain dedicated funding for bike and pedestrian initiatives.   

Big Tobacco’s efforts to get cigars exempted from the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) authority to regulate tobacco products bill did not succeed this year.

The bill could come up again in the 113th Congress.  We’ll need your help to continue to keep the pressure on Congress to reject efforts to exempt any tobacco products from the FDA’s regulation authority. 

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AHA Supports the Cardiomyopathy HEARTS Act

The American Heart Association is proud to support the Cardiomyopathy HEARTS Act, federal legislation which would help to identify children at risk of sudden cardiac arrest and prevent unnecessary, pre-mature deaths.  Did you know that according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sudden cardiac arrest is the leading cause of death on school property?  In fact cardiomyopathy is a leading cause of sudden cardiac arrest in the young.

Spearheaded by the AHA's partner, the Children’s Cardiomyopathy Foundation (CCF), the Cardiomyopathy HEARTS Act aims to raise awareness of cardiomyopathy and the risk of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) among school personnel, parents and students.  The bill requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to develop educational materials on cardiomyopathy symptoms, risk assessment forms, and guidelines for cardiac emergency response plans, including AED placement, for schools.  These resources would be available on line as well as disseminated to schools and childcare centers nationwide.

To learn more about the effort and get involved visit the CCF site for details.


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CPR in Schools Victory in North Carolina!

Thanks to the tireless efforts of AHA volunteers and staff, we are pleased to announce that North Carolina Governor Beverly Perdue signed House Bill 837 into law on July 26, 2012. The law requires all students to be trained in CPR before graduating from high school, helping to train our next generation of lifesavers!  It will take effect in the 2014-2015 school year.

At the signing, Governor Perdue underscored her enthusiastic support for the bill saying, “I can think of nothing that we’ve done this year that has any more profound and long lasting effects on the health and wellness and survivability in North Carolina from any kind of heart attack or incident.”

The law will ensure that high schools students become proficient in CPR and subsequently, will be able to save a life if the need for lifesaving assistance arises. Representative Becky Carney, who was saved by a CPR-trained bystander, added, “Providing our youth with the power and confidence to save a life when it matters most maybe the most valuable lesson a student can learn.”

To make sure that the program is properly implemented in schools, the North Carolina Board of Education will work with the AHA and other affiliated national organizations. Last year alone, the AHA trained more than 12 million people in CPR worldwide.

Is your state CPR Smart? Find out now!

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Research Saves Lives Fly-In Profile: Joe and Olivia Quigley

On June 6th, Joe Quigley and his daughter Olivia came to D.C. to urge their Massachusetts Members of Congress to protect NIH Funding from automatic budget cuts set for January 2013. When Olivia was just 6 years-old, she suffered a sudden cardiac arrest will in gym class and came to Capitol Hill to tell her story. Her and father meetings included one with Senator Scott Brown.


Read their story below.

My name is Joe Quigley. When my daughter, Olivia, was just six years old, she suffered a SCA during gym class at her school in East Boston. Two teachers who were trained in CPR immediately started to work on her. They worked on Olivia until the EMT’s arrived seven minutes later. The EMT’s then used an AED to restart her heart and Olivia was transported to Mass General Hospital Boston and admitted into the ER. Olivia suffered a second SCA that same day and once again CPR and an AED were used to save her life. Olivia was put into a drug induced coma and put on life support for a week. Prior to that day, Olivia had no preexisting heart condition that we were aware of. In fact, just two days before her event; she had been given the all clear by her pediatrician at her annual checkup. During her stay at MGH, Olivia was given numerous tests including viral and genetic testing to try and find a diagnosis. Unfortunately, every test came back negative and we still to this day have no answers. Olivia has an ICD and is on daily medication. She has a heart monitor next to her bed that reads her heart functions and relays that information back to her cardiologist.

Although it is comforting to know that she is getting the correct treatment, not having a diagnosis is still a big worry. Olivia has a 15 year old brother, Alex, and not having a diagnosis for Olivia means that he could also be carrying the same genetic problems. He could just be a time bomb waiting to go off. What would be the chances for his survival? We continue to search for answers. Olivia is currently in a gene pool research investigation being conducted at Children’s Hospital Boston. I wait every day for the phone to ring with an answer to our questions. Research is so important for us to find out these answers. To find out what happened to Olivia, to potentially have answers for Alex and for all the other kids that we don’t know have a heart condition, we need funding for research.

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State Spotlight! Medical Emergency Response Plan Law Passes in MA

Sudden cardiac arrest can strike at any age- and for the victims, every second counts. However, many schools do not have a plan in place to deal with emergency cardiac situations and the consequences can be deadly. Inspired by two students who suffered cardiac arrest on school grounds, the state of Massachusetts pursued legislation to require all schools in the state to develop Medical Emergency Response Plans. Governor Deval Patrick signed the bill into law on April 18th.

Olivia Quigley was just 6 years old when she suffered her cardiac arrest in PE class and Michael Ellsessar was a sophomore on the JV football team when he suffered his arrest on the field at school. Because a response plan was in place at Olivia’s school, she survived- however, Michael was not able to receive the timely help he needed. Now, Olivia and her father Joe, and Michael’s parents John and LuAnn, have made it their mission to make schools staffer for students, staff and visitors. Thanks to their dedication and willingness to share their stories, they were instrumental in the passage of the bill.

Specifically the new law requires schools to develop:

  • A method to establish a rapid communication system linking all parts of the school campus with Emergency Medical Services
  • Protocols for activating EMS and additional emergency personnel in the event of a medical emergency
  • A determination of EMS response time to any location on campus
  • A list of relevant contacts and a protocol for contacting them, including post event support
  • A method to direct EMS personnel to any location on campus
  • A method to direct EMS to available rescue equipment
  • Safety precautions to prevent injuries
  • A method for providing training in CPR and First Aid to teachers, athletic coaches, trainers and others – which may include High School students
  • A listing of the location of AEDs and the school personnel trained to use the AED

The law also requires the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to report to the legislature on the implementation of the law, including the number of students and personnel certified in CPR and First Aid and the number of students who opt out of CPR instruction.

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CPR in Schools Victory in Vermont!

Hard work pays off. After 6 months of lobbying lawmakers in Vermont, 8thgrader Tommy Watson and many other AHA volunteers were successful in having Governor Shumlin sign a bill to include CPR and AED instruction in health education courses. By including both “hands-only” and AED components to the education plan, Vermont is gearing up to train the next generation of lifesavers.

Advocate Tommy Watson played a large role in getting this bill to the governor’s desk, including testifying in front of lawmakers and being interview by local press. He even trained the governor in “hands-only” CPR before the bill signing.

“I am really excited to have CPR in schools legislation passed,” said Watson in an interview. “It was a huge achievement accomplished. It means a lot to me knowing future generations of Vermont youth are going to be able to potentially make a difference by using this life-saving technique. It is also an honor to be training the Governor of Vermont.”

The Governor was equally impressed with Tommy.

“Tommy is an example to other students of how one Vermonter can make a real difference at the State House,” said Governor Shumlin.

Congratulations to all the AHA Staff and Volunteers for this victory!

Is your state CPR Smart? Take the pledge and find out today.

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CPR in Schools Victory in Minnesota!

On April 23, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton signed a law that will ensure that everyone who graduates from high school will be trained in hands-only CPR. With this bill, Minnesota students between grades 7 and 12 will receive hands-only CPR training at least once before they graduate. The training can occur in as little as 30 minutes and local volunteer fire fighters and EMTs can assist with the training. The bill will be implemented for the 2014-15 school year.

“This bill will train an entire generation to be life-savers,” said Justin Bell, government relations director for the American Heart Association.

Congratulations to everyone in Minnesota.

Is your state CPR Smart? Take the pledge and find out today!

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CPR in Schools Victory in Tennessee!

Aimed to prepare more Tennesseans to respond in emergency instances of sudden cardiac arrest, the American Heart Association urged the Tennessee General Assembly to add hands-on cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training to the high school lifetime wellness school curriculum that already existed in the state.

After the hard work of staff and AHA volunteers, they succeeded! On April 18th Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam signed the “Carmen Burnette Act of 2012” into law. It was named after Ms. Carmen Burnette who recently passed away and was an EMT from Cookeville who played a pivotal role in a very successful CPR in Schools program in Putnam County, TN.

Congratulations to everyone in Tennessee!

Does your state require CPR as a graduation requirement? Find out today!

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Are you CPR Smart?

When Derek, a high school senior, learned CPR at school, he didn’t think he’d have a chance to use it so soon, and he certainly didn’t think he’d get that chance while shopping for his prom tux. But shortly after he was trained in CPR, as one of his graduation requirements, he used it to save Bert Carey’s life.

Jeffrey Hall was at home when he heard his mother scream. She had found his younger brother, Skylar, drowning in the family pool, and now Skylar wasn’t breathing. Jeffrey was able to save his brother’s life by immediately performing CPR, just as he had learned in school – also as a part of his graduation requirement.

Two years ago, Emily Adamczak collapse at soccer practice and went into sudden cardiac arrest. It was five minutes before Emily received CPR. Her mother, Annette, wonders if her life could have been saved, had CPR been administered earlier. Since then, she has been working tirelessly to train people in CPR.

Now, Annette has focused her efforts on CPR in Schools, the American Heart Association’s campaign to train the next generation of lifesavers by making CPR a graduation requirement for high school seniors.

We’re working to make sure our youth are CPR Smart. Will you join us? Learn more from those whose lives have been impacted by CPR, sign the pledge and then share your CPR story too! Together, we can add thousands of lifesavers to our communities by making CPR a graduation requirement for high school seniors.

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Three You’re the Cure Advocates Go to the Media to Talk about Heart Attacks in Women

Three You’re the Cure advocates were recently highlighted in two ABC News spots talking about a recent study that showed younger women who have heart attacks do not always experience chest pain during the event and the attack can be more deadly as a result.

Gail Harris-Berry was profiled on a story that aired on ABC News with Diane Sawyer, where she was turned down by multiple hospitals because she didn’t show the “classic” heart attack symptons.

Tami Kimet told her story to, where she went to the hospital to get relief from what she thought was the flu but instead received life-saving surgery due to a heart attack. In the same article, Dr. Malissa Wood explains how younger women tend not to recognize the signs of a heart attack, but the effects of one can be devastating.

Both Gail and Dr. Wood will be attending the White House Community Leaders Briefing on Cardiovascular Health this Friday, where they will share their stories and experiences with top Obama Administration officials.

Check out Gail Harris-Berry’s story and click here to see Tami’s story and Dr. Wood’s advice on how to recognize the signs of a heart attack in younger women.

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Health and Human Services Year in Review

Check out this video below from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that recaps 2011. In this video, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius speaks about the Million Hearts Campaign, which the American Heart Association is a proud member. The Campaign aims to prevent one million heart attacks and strokes over the next five years.

Click to see the video!


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Rural and Community AED Program Receives Funding Increase

Congress has restored funding to the FY 2010 level, a 1000% increase (yes, nearly a 1000% increase) for Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) Rural and Community Access to Emergency Devices Program. This competitive state-based program allows rural areas to buy automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in bulk, place them where sudden cardiac arrests are likely to occur, and train lay rescuers and first responders in their use. Only 8% of sudden cardiac arrest sufferers outside of a hospital live, but prompt CPR and early intervention, using an AED, can more than double chances of survival. The AHA is grateful that in this era of deficit reduction that Congress recognizes the significance of this life-saving program, which will increase sudden cardiac arrest survival rates in rural areas.

The failure of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to come up with a plan to reduce $1.2 trillion from the national deficit means that automatic across-the-board spending cuts will go into effect in 2013 to achieve these savings required by the Budget Control Act of 2011. So, nearly every federal program, including this AED program, will be slashed by more than 9% in just one year. This size reduction will mean that more people, particularly in rural areas, will die from sudden cardiac arrest. Also, the budget caps imposed under the 2011 Budget Control Act for FY 2013, which freeze overall discretionary spending, could result in even larger cuts for this life-saving program. In addition, the President could again include no money for this program in his FY 2013 budget, which is scheduled to be submitted to Congress on February 6th, despite the fact that Congress rejected a similar attempt in his FY 2012 proposal. The AHA will be working to restore HRSA’s Rural and Community Access to Emergency Devices Program to its FY 2005 level when 47 states received resources for this initiative.

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Sudden Cardiac Arrest is a leading cause of death in the United States. But when ordinary people, not just doctors and EMTs, are equipped with the skills to perform CPR and use AEDs, the survival rate can double - or even triple. That’s why we’re working across America to support:

Timely Response to Cardiac Arrest

Every minute without CPR and an AED means up to a 10% decrease in the chance of surviving sudden cardiac arrest. We advocate for greater research into the underlying causes of sudden cardiac arrest, increasing the number of people trained in CPR and AED usage, establishing medical emergency response plans in schools and expanding access to AEDs.

CPR in Schools

We support state policies that would require all students be trained in CPR prior to high school graduation. Training students in CPR can be accomplished with a minimal investment in time and cost. In less time than it takes to watch the average sitcom, students can learn this lifesaving skill.  Right now, more than 2 million students will be trained every year, but we have more work to do. Pledge your support for teaching all students to be CPR smart at today!

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Facts and Figures

  • pdf icon
    Facts: October 2014 AHA Policy Report

    Find all of AHA's Policy Position statements on various issues with this "at-a-glance" report entitled the Policy Report.

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    Facts: Rural & Community AED Program

    Get the facts about the Rural and Community Access to Emergency Devices Program.

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  • pdf icon
    Facts: CPR Training in Schools

    Get the facts about CPR high school graduation requirements to help train our next generation of life-savers

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  • pdf icon
    Facts: Sudden Cardiac Arrest

    Get the facts about sudden cardiac arrest and policies to ensure victims are able to receive immediate CPR and defibrillation.

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Campaign Resources

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    Map: CPR in Schools Legislation

    Learn which states have passed legislation to ensure students learn the live-saving skill of CPR before graduation. (Last updated June 2015)

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    Presentation: Communicating with Congress

    View the slides from the recent presentation entitled Communicating with Congress: How to turn a 10-Minute Meeting with a Legislator into a Life-Long Relationship

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    Campaign Resources: Be CPR Smart Campaign Poster

    Spread the word about the importance of teaching student to be CPR Smart with this printable poster. 

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Grassroots Toolkit

  • pdf icon
    You're the Cure Federal Advocacy Tips

    Download this document for a quick one-page guide on how to effectively advocate for heart-health policies to your federal representatives.

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    You're the Cure Meeting Leave Behind

    Download this form, fill out your "why," and bring it to a meeting with your federal representatives to help convey why heart-healthy policies should be a top priority during their time in office.

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  • pdf icon
    You're the Cure LTE guide

    Tips for writing a Letter to the Editor that will get published in your local paper and noticed by your federal representative.

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  • pdf icon
    You're the Cure Advocate Guide

    Use this guide to learn about more ways you can get involved as a You’re the Cure advocate.

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  • pdf icon
    You're the Cure Sign-Up Form - Emergency Cardiac Care

    Recruit others to join you as a You’re the Cure advocate using this printable sign-up form.

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