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Looking Back, Looking Forward

Before we take a look forward to see what we will be focusing on during the upcoming legislative session I want to share some exciting news about the impact of just one of our efforts a few years ago!

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In 2013 we worked with Rep. Paul Ray to pass Pulse-Oximetry legislation that required hospitals to screen all newborns for a potential congenital heart defect (CHD). Many of you were involved with that effort and shared heart-breaking stories about loved ones who passed away at a young age because of an unidentified heart defect. As a new parent of a child born with health complications I can only imagine the pain parents and siblings endure due to the loss of a loved one, especially in their infancy.

The positive news I wanted to share is that the CDC just released research about the effectiveness of doing these screenings on newborns!

The Journal of the American Medical Association has published a study reporting a more than 33% decline in infant deaths from critical congenital heart disease (CCHD) in eight states that mandated screening for CCHD using pulse oximetry (a non-invasive way to measure the level of oxygen in an infant’s blood) compared to states without screening policies. CCHD screening nationwide is projected to save at least 120 babies each year. This study is the first look at the impact of state policies to either require or recommend screening of infants for CCHD at birth.

The encouraging news is that 47 states and the District of Columbia now have mandatory screening policies in place.

Because of your efforts just a few years ago, lives have been saved and many families have been spared the heartache of the loss of a child. While the AHA|ASA continues to research and find effective ways to diagnose CHD’s to try and catch all cases, we can’t help but be grateful for your efforts in helping us pass this life-saving legislation in 2013.

This year we again turn our efforts onto ways that hospitals and the state can enhance their treatment of cardiovascular diseases and stroke. Working alongside the Utah Stroke Task Force and Utah Department of Health, we will promote legislation to create and implement a statewide Stroke and Cardiac Data Registry. While the name is a mouthful, the data that will be collected and analysis that will take place will help ensure hospitals are striving for the highest of patient care, identifying and helping those who might fall short, and giving us greater insights into who in the state is being disproportionately affected by these diseases. This effort speaks directly to the mission of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association as we seek to build healthier lives, healthier communities, and a healthier state, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke.

And with your help, we will get there!

If you have not already, please take a quick moment to RSVP for our upcoming lobby day where you will have an opportunity to speak with your lawmaker and help them understand the importance of passing heart-healthy legislation. Because, at the end of the day, You’re the Cure for heart disease and stroke here in Utah!

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