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!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Hands Can Do Incredible Things...But Nothing Compares to Using Them to Save a Life!

If an adult suddenly collapsed, would you know what to do?

Hands-Only CPR is easy, and it is helping save lives. Go to to learn more.

CPR. A lifesaving action.
When an adult has a sudden cardiac arrest, his or her survival depends greatly on immediately getting CPR from someone nearby. Unfortunately, less than 1/3 of those people who experience a cardiac arrest at home, work or in a public location get that help. Most bystanders are worried that they might do something wrong or make things worse. That’s why the AHA has simplified things.

Don’t be afraid. Your actions can only help.
It’s not normal to see an adult suddenly collapse, but if you do, call 911 and push hard and fast in the center of the chest. Don’t be afraid. Your actions can only help. Take a minute and look around this site and invite your friends! Increasing the number of people who know about Hands-OnlyTM CPR will increase the chance that someone can help when an adult suddenly collapses, and more lives can be saved.

Check out this video to see Hands-Only CPR in action.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Cardiac arrested,0,716256.story

October 22, 2009

If you're struck by a heart attack in Los Angeles, Boston or many Chicago suburbs, you're fortunate in at least one way: The ambulance that speeds you to the hospital is outfitted with the latest in high-tech equipment to help save your life. It's a device called a 12-lead EKG and it is designed to let paramedics and hospitals know quickly if you're having a so-called STEMI, or "widowmaker," heart attack. That's the kind in which a major artery to the heart is largely or completely blocked. It's the kind that most consistently kills.

But heart attack victims in Chicago aren't so lucky. Not one of the Chicago Fire Department's 75 ambulances carries these advanced EKGs, Tribune reporter Judith Graham has reported.

"The ugly truth is that Chicago is behind the times" on its emergency response, said Dr. John Kao, director of cardiology at the Jesse Brown Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Chicago.

Why isn't Chicago keeping pace with Waukegan, Winnetka, Franklin Park, Bolingbrook, Bensenville, Aurora, Arlington Heights, La Grange -- and many more suburbs that outfitted ambulances with these machines?

The Fire Department explanation:

1. Money. The cost of buying the equipment and training Chicago paramedics is estimated at $4 million.

2. Protocol. Fire Department ambulances operate under strict rules: They rush heart attack patients to the nearest hospital. But the new equipment would complicate that decision. Some hospitals aren't ready to treat STEMI (short for ST segment elevation myocardial infarction) heart attacks. They don't have special teams ready to perform emergency balloon angioplasty around the clock. Only about half of Chicago's hospitals can do that, and many are on the North Side. Sounds like a hospital turf war brewing.

Chicago fire officials say there's no reason to buy expensive EKGs before everyone agrees on rules that will establish equal care for every neighborhood across the city.

Health care professionals have a different view, a different sense of urgency. For the last year or so, the American Heart Association has led a drive called Mission: Lifeline to bring 12-lead EKGs to Chicago.

But right now it should be called Mission: Life Support because progress is frustratingly slow. What the effort needs, says Anne Gavic-Ott, the director of Mission: Lifeline, is a leader who will say, "This is a priority. Get it done."

We know money is very tight (see the editorial at left). If Chicago can't start now with a buying program, private givers ought to step up. As for the rules, many cities and towns in Illinois have figured that out. They've done so because hospitals and ambulance operators got together and worked out the rules.

Couldn't Chicago take its cue from them? How about rolling out a pilot program? Northwestern Memorial Hospital offered to launch such a program a couple of years ago but talks with the Fire Department "never went anywhere," says Dr. Charles Davidson, medical director of the cardiac catheterization laboratory at Northwestern Memorial.

Why not plug into the hospitals that are ready right now to receive radio transmissions of the vital EKG information from an ambulance? Or a fax.

Even if EMS workers hand-carried the information from the EKGs into the emergency room, they'd still save a minimum of 10 to 15 critical minutes.

A heart attack victim in an ambulance doesn't want to hear about endless talks.

Let's focus on what's best for patients and get this done.

Copyright © 2009, Chicago Tribune

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

AHA Advocate Voices Opinion on Idea of Menu Labeling Programs

I was disappointed to read Steve Chapman’s recent column “Adding fat to the nanny state” (Oct. 11). Mr. Chapman suggests that menu labeling programs at fast food restaurants—which provide consumers with vital nutrition information including calorie counts and fat content--are ineffective in encouraging diners to choose healthier menu options. Menu labeling programs are just beginning in many states, and I believe that over time, they will make an enormous impact on the way Americans eat. Instead of declaring this relatively recent initiative a failure, we should be educating the public on the health costs of the foods they’re choosing and reinforcing that message at every possible opportunity.

Think of it in terms of a company who advertises in the Tribune. If that company places one ad in your paper and gets little to no response to it, what do you tell them? “Sorry it didn’t work”? No, you tell them that a successful campaign is based on repetition of the message. Studies regularly show that consumers must see ad messaging multiple times before they even begin to make a purchasing decision.

So, let’s take a lesson from our friends in advertising and give the Menu Labeling programs some time to sink in. The information they provide can save lives, and repetition and education will be the key to the success of these initiatives.

-Andy Rauh, M.D.
River Forest, IL

Monday, October 12, 2009

Legislative Victories for the American Heart Association thanks to Corporate-lead Employee Giving Drives!

A few weeks ago the Daily Herald ran this story about a golfer who suffered a cardiac arrest in the middle of his game. While the American Heart Association may not have been mentioned in the article, we were all over it – from the research we funded in the early 1960’s that led to the development of CPR, to our development of resuscitation guidelines that are recognized as the international gold standard, to our leadership in passing the Colleen O’Sullivan Act in Springfield a few years ago requiring athletic facilities, including golf courses, to have AEDs.

This is just one example of how the AHA is working every day to improve the quality of care for heart and stroke patients – right here in our back yards.

In fact, we’re working for patients and families from the moment a person dials 9-1-1. We know that when it comes to diagnosing and treating stroke, minutes matter. The American Heart Association has been working for years to improve the systems of care in Illinois for stroke patients. And in August, Governor Quinn signed into law House Bill 2244, which will ensure that stroke patients are taken not just to the closest hospital, but to the nearest primary stroke center – one that is best equipped to treat stroke. Thanks to our advocacy efforts, your family members and friends – and possibly you – will have much quicker access to effective, proven treatments, which could significantly reduce serious disability from stroke and greatly improve overall quality of life.

How can YOU help us continue to build healthier lives free of cardiovascular disease and stroke? Well, one way you can take action is to designate the AHA in your employee giving campaign. Help us to continue to celebrate legislative victories like the ones mentioned above.

Each year, millions of dollars are raised for research and education through these campaigns. Please consider choosing the American Heart Association this year and be a part of our mission by taking action today:

1.) Participate in your company’s employee giving campaign! Be part of the team and part of your community.
2.) Choose the American Heart Association through payroll deduction. Every penny helps us fulfill our mission.
3.) If the American Heart Association is not a listed organization, designate it in the ‘write in’ option.
4.) Talk to your campaign manager and ask them to add the AHA as a direct giving option for next year’s campaign.
5.) Spread the word! Share your passion with others and encourage them to choose the American Heart Association!

**If you have questions about how to designate the AHA through your employee giving campaign in Illinois, please contact Melissa Lach:

Death on Metra Train Sparks Further Debate

Click on the image below to watch footage of a news story highlighting the need for AEDs on mass transportation like Metra in Illinois:

Friday, October 9, 2009

Metra rider dies, and lack of defibrillators debated

Metra rider dies, and lack of defibrillators debated
Heart devices are required on planes but not on trains

By Richard Wronski and John Keilman
Tribune reporters

October 9, 2009

Metra Train 610 had just left the Barrington station early Thursday when passengers were jolted by an announcement: Immediate assistance was needed for a passenger.

At least two nurses rushed to assist crew members trying to help a 63-year-old Barrington Hills man with heart attack symptoms. They attempted CPR.

Emergency responders who met the train at the Palatine station also tried to revive the man, who died.

The tragedy quickly raised concerns among some passengers and medical authorities, who questioned why Metra trains, unlike passenger airplanes, don't have defibrillators. Neither do CTA buses and trains.

The lack of the life-saving devices -- automated external defibrillators, or AEDs -- came as a surprise to some of the passengers who witnessed what happened.

"Metra professes that their passengers' safety and security are their No. 1 priority -- not so much if AEDs are not available on their trains," said Jennifer Siegel of Woodstock, who was riding in the next car.

"I am heartbroken for this poor man's family who sent him off to work this morning fully expecting him to come home tonight. His death could have been prevented."

But whether having an AED aboard the Union Pacific Northwest Line train would have saved the passenger's life is unclear, officials said. It was unknown late Thursday what the victim's condition was by the time Palatine responders arrived, or whether their treatment could have saved his life.

Steven Glumm, a Palatine Fire Department division chief, said an AED might not have helped. "There is no guarantee an AED readily available will impact the outcome of a patient's condition," Glumm said.

Defibrillators deliver an electrical current to correct an irregular heartbeat and can revive victims of a heart attack. Because of their portability and relative lost cost, the devices are increasingly showing up in offices, schools and stores. The FAA has required them on airplanes since 2001.

Metra has been evaluating whether to place AEDs on trains but has made no decision, spokeswoman Judy Pardonnet said.

The devices are available at Metra's five downtown rail stations, and some suburbs have placed them at outlying stations, she said.

"The first step was to place them in downtown terminals," Pardonnet said. "We will continue to assess the need for them onboard trains."

The CTA does not have AEDs at its rail stations or onboard any equipment, a spokeswoman said. "We have looked into it, but it's too cost prohibitive," spokeswoman Catherine Hosinski said.

Mark Peysakhovich, senior director of advocacy for the American Heart Association, said his organization has long been concerned about the lack of defibrillators on Metra trains.

"Metra's never been willing to put (the devices) on the trains, which is unfortunate," he said. "Clearly they need them."

He said state law exempts government agencies, building owners and others from liability when they make defibrillators available. It also shields people who use the devices in an emergency, even if they're not trained.

"This is not an issue of liability," he said. "If Metra wants to be true to its customers, it would put them in rather than make excuses about why they can't."

Mary Newman, president of the Pittsburgh-based Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation, said defibrillators cost $1,200 to $2,500, though bulk purchases could drive down the cost. They're designed to be used by novices, she said.

"They will not shock anyone unless they need to be shocked," she said. "The device itself determines if the heart has stopped beating, and the device will tell you when to push the button."

The Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad Co., which operates 13 commuter rail lines carrying 140,000 passengers a day, became the first major commuter rail line to install AEDs on all its trains earlier this year, said Richard Davey, general manager.

The Boston-area commuter line's program was launched after settlement of a lawsuit in the death of a passenger.

The agency bought nearly 100 AEDs for about $200,000 and spent about $100,000 to train crew members, Davey said.

Within weeks after they were installed, an off-duty paramedic used an AED to aid a stricken passenger on a commuter platform. The passenger survived.

"As far as I'm concerned the program has paid for itself by saving one life," Davey said.

Freelance reporter Andrea Brown contributed to this report.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Thank YOU for Taking an Extra Step for Advocacy at Heart Walks in IL!

Thank YOU to all the advocates who took an extra step at the Chicago Area Heart Walks!


State AED Grants - Nov. 13th Deadline!

The State of Illinois is making a limited amount of matching grants available to public institutions such as, but not limited to Schools, Conservation Districts, Public Park Districts, Forest Preserves Districts, Municipal Recreation Departments, Colleges and Universities to help with the purchase of automated external defibrillators. The deadline for applications is November 13, 2009.

Details can be found at the following link:

Good luck with your applications!