American Heart Association Advocacy in Louisiana

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Influencing public policy through advocacy is an essential strategy used by the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association to achieve its health impact goals and programmatic objectives, which include helping all Americans lead healthier lives and reducing the incidence and consequences of cardiovascular disease and stroke.

The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association works across the public policy continuum to influence public policy, including planning, stakeholder and coalition development, policy research and analysis, a comprehensive legislative and regulatory agenda, the creation of media advocacy and grassroots strategies, implementing policy change, and then following through with effective evaluation to assess implementation and the ultimate impact of the law or regulation.

 

For local information, contact:
Chastity Mitchell, Regional Vice President, Advocacy
Phone: 615-340-4114
Email: chastity.mitchell@heart.org

Advocate Resources:

Louisiana Advocacy Successes

CPR in Schools

On June 6, 2014 Louisiana became the 17th state to pass CPR in Schools legislation when Governor Bobby Jindal signed House Bill 542, the Burke Cobb Act, into law, ensuring that all high school students will learn CPR with hands-on practice prior to graduation. As a result, over 35,000 potential lifesavers will enter our communities each year.

On June 6, 2014 Louisiana became the 17th state to pass CPR in Schools legislation when Governor Bobby Jindal signed House Bill 542, the Burke Cobb Act, into law, ensuring that all high school students will learn CPR with hands-on practice prior to graduation. As a result, over 35,000 potential lifesavers will enter our communities each year.

In 2010, the American Heart Association led the charge to eliminate liability for Good Samaritans who use an AED to help bring Sudden Cardiac Arrest victims back to life. When a person has a heart attack that stops their heart, their chance of survival drops by 10% for every minute they do not have a shock from a defibrillator. This law helps to protect not only the user of an AED, but the owner of the device as well, who provided this life-saving machine for public use, from being sued should there be a problem.

In 2009, the American Heart Association worked to ensure that students in grades K-8 must have 30 minutes of P.E. per day and that each city, parish and school board shall establish a health advisory board. Also that year, the American Heart Association worked to establish a pilot program to determine students’ fitness levels using Fitnessgram with the intent to pursue a statewide program in the future.

With Louisiana having the second highest rate of childhood obesity, it’s important that schools take an active role in helping our children lead healthier lives. Part of that role should be to promote healthy eating. In 2009, the American Heart Association ensured that 100% (previously 50%) of beverages sold in school vending machines must follow Alliance for a Healthier Generation’s guidelines.

In 2011, the American Heart Association led efforts to provide a limitation of liability for schools and school boards that open their facilities for other groups and/or the public to use for physical activity. This will encourage schools to offer a variety of safe, clean facilities, including running tracks, pools, gymnasiums, fitness rooms, and playgrounds, for the community to use for recreation and exercise.

With Louisiana having the second highest rate of childhood obesity in the nation, it is critical to find ways to increase physical activity opportunities in the places where people live, work, learn and play. Research has shown that people who have parks or recreational facilities nearby exercise 38 percent more than those who do not have easy access.

Along with regular exercise, weight management, and not smoking, a healthy diet is proven to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke and other chronic diseases and conditions. However, access to healthy foods is a problem for those living in low income urban areas where supermarkets have closed, and in so-called “food desert” communities that are far from larger stores offering affordable fruits and vegetables. In 2010, the American Heart Association worked to change this! A bill passed that stimulates investment in healthy food retail outlets in underserved areas and combats food deserts by ensuring everyone has access to fresh fruits and vegetables.