Throughout the year, our blog will feature AHA volunteer stories of survival and hope. We know there are thousands of stories like these - thats why we want to say “Thanks” to all of you for giving your time and sharing your lives with us. You can’t spell CURE without U! Thank you for all you do to build healthier lives free of cardiovascular disease and stroke. YOU’RE THE CURE!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

We're looking forward to our You're The Cure on the Hill National Lobby Day!

Hundreds to urge Congress to help fight cardiovascular diseases at Lobby Day 2008

Youth advocates, heart and stroke survivors and researchers from across the country will gather in Washington, D.C. on April 28 and 29 to urge Congress to make a commitment to save lives. During the American Heart Association's Congressional Lobby Day, “You're the Cure on the Hill 2008,” they will call on lawmakers to boost funding for research and prevention programs to fight cardiovascular diseases, the nation's No. 1 killer.

AHA President Daniel Jones, M.D., President-Elect Timothy Gardner, M.D., CEO Cass Wheeler and Board Chairman Gary Ellis will also meet with House and Senate leadership.


AHA President Daniel Jones, M.D., to appear on C-SPAN

AHA President Daniel Jones, M.D., will appear on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal” on Monday, April 28 (8–8:30 a.m. ET) to discuss AHA priority initiatives at You’re the Cure on the Hill 2008. Topics will include federal funding for cardiovascular research and prevention programs and the Fitness Integrated with Teaching (FIT) Kids Act, federal legislation to make quality physical education a priority in schools. “Washington Journal” airs 7–10 a.m. EST and is based on a call-in format. Check local television listings for station information. For more information on Lobby Day, visit

Monday, April 21, 2008

Casino Smoking Exemption Goes Up in Smoke!

We wanted to share the good news that a move to exempt casinos from the Smoke-Free Illinois Act failed to pass the Illinois State Senate last week! We'd like to thank all of the legislators who voted against this proposal. Kudos! For more information, here's the article from the State Journal-Register.

Senate slams plan to OK smoking at casinos

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Illinois Senate late Wednesday rejected a proposal that would have allowed patrons at any of the state’s casinos to smoke and gamble at the same time. But the Senate subsequently approved other changes that attempt to clear up some of the questions about exactly how to implement and enforce the statewide ban on smoking in most indoor spaces.

The most recent version of Senate Bill 2707, which passed on a 35-16 vote, creates an exemption to permit universities to conduct tobacco research that involves people who smoke indoors. It also details how individuals may appeal violations of the smoking ban. At present, accused violators can either pay a fine or fight it in court. The legislation specifies that people who want to contest a citation may attend a regional hearing at one of the Illinois Department of Public Health’s nine regional offices.

To become law, the legislation still needs approval from the House, as well as Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s signature.

Earlier Wednesday, the Senate Executive Committee voted 7-6 to exempt casinos from the Smoke Free Illinois Act.

Senate Republican Leader Frank Watson of Greenville sought to lift the smoking ban for casinos, which have seen revenues dip since the ban took effect. He attached his proposal as an amendment to SB2707.

The exemption would have remained in effect for five years, unless a neighboring state also outlawed smoking in casinos.
But Watson’s proposal hit a roadblock in the full Senate, where just 15 of 59 senators voted for his amendment. The outcome meant Watson’s amendment got stripped out of the rest of the bill. Sens. Larry Bomke, R-Springfield; Deanna Demuzio, D-Carlinville; and John Sullivan, D-Rushville, all voted “no” on the smoking exemption for casinos. Sen. Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, voted “yes.”

Sen. Terry Link, a Waukegan Democrat who is the lead sponsor of SB2707, opposed Watson’s effort, saying the smoking ban isn’t the reason for the drop in casino revenues. “It’s the economy. It’s not the smoking,” Link said.

Casino operators have put much of the blame for their revenue decline on the smoking ban, which forces smokers to leave a casino’s gambling area if they want to light up.

Bob Swaim, a lobbyist for Jumer’s Casino Rock Island, said revenues there have dipped by 21 percent since the smoking ban was enacted.

East Peoria’s Par-A-Dice, which is the only casino in central Illinois, has experienced a less dramatic decline. For the first three months of 2008, adjusted gross revenues there totaled about $30.3 million, which represents almost a 7 percent drop from the $32.5 million collected in the first three months of 2007.

David Strow, spokesman for Par-A-Dice owner Boyd Gaming, said “a difficult economy” and poor weather contributed to the lagging revenue picture for Illinois casinos. But he added, “The smoking ban unquestionably played a role in that decline.”

“We would be in favor of anything lawmakers could to do improve our competitive position versus other states,” Strow said. “Casinos in states surrounding Illinois do not have to contend with the smoking ban.”

Improving reponse times, treatment for STEMI: If they can do it there....what about us?

Here's what's going on in the Boston area:

Boston hospital rescues STEMI patient in record time

On Dec. 21, 2007, Mark Rosen of Boston began to feel chest pains after shoveling snow. He called 9-1-1, and paramedics suspected he’d suffered ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI), a very serious type of heart attack. They called ahead to Brigham and Women’s Hospital, which has been working to shorten its emergency response time according to recommendations of the AHA’s Mission: Lifeline initiative. The hospital activated its “Code STEMI” response system, and when the ambulance arrived, several members of Brigham’s catheterization lab were waiting.Just 14 minutes later, Rosen received lifesaving balloon catheter therapy, a hospital record for “door-to-balloon” time.

“Once at the hospital, victims may sit in busy emergency rooms while doctors sort out symptoms or await a cardiologist's opinion. (But at Brigham and Women’s), once a heart attack is diagnosed by an emergency room doctor, or called in by paramedics, the catheterization lab is activated,” writes David Talbot in the Boston Globe.

Here in Illinois, a few EMS systems have done an excellent job speeding up response for suspected STEMI incidents. However, most EMS systems, including the City of Chicago are just starting to talk about it. So, if you have a STEMI, you better hope you're in the right place!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Kudos to the Chicago Department of Public Health

In a previous post I suggested that the City of Chicago could do more on public health policies. Well, here's something to celebrate! Kudos CDPH! A statement from our Chicago Metro Board President follows:

We commend Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) Commissioner Terry Mason, M.D., for recently spearheading a bold initiative to save lives. Dr. Mason led a training where over 1,000 CDPH workers learned CPR. The training utilized the American Heart Association’s Family and Friends CPR Anytime™, a cutting-edge 22-minute training program that provides an instructional video and an inflatable mannequin.

This mass training sets a healthy example not only for other officials across the country, it also makes Chicago a safer and healthier city. Because almost 80 percent of cardiac arrests occur at home and are witnessed by a family member, teaching CPR is extremely important. CPR can double a loved one’s chance of survival by maintaining vital blood flow to the heart and brain until more advanced care can be given. Approximately 166,000 out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrest deaths occur annually in the United States. This number could be reduced dramatically if more people knew CPR and acted while waiting for 911 to respond.

Recently, the American Heart Association published a statement about the use of Hands-Only CPR, which is a potentially lifesaving option to be used by people not trained in conventional CPR or those who are unable to give the combination of chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth breathing. Whether it's giving chest compressions only or giving a combination of compressions and breaths, doing something is always better than doing nothing!
Encouraging use of CPR and AEDs has been a personal passion of mine for many years. As a cardiologist, I have seen first-hand the impact these life-saving developments have made on heart attack survival rates. We are grateful that Commissioner Mason has made learning CPR a priority in Chicago. Officials elsewhere should do the same.

Andrew Rauh, M.D.

President, Metro Chicago Board of Directors
American Heart Association
Interventional Cardiologist, Midwest Heart Specialists