The South Dakota legislature will convene for the 2014 session on January 14th. Once again, the American Heart Association will play an active role in advocating for policies that improve the cardiovascular health of South Dakotans. AHA advocates and staff anticipate another exciting legislative session, and we are pleased to share our focus for the 2014 Legislative Session with our advocates.
Strategic focus 1: We will be working to pass CPR as a High School graduation requirement. Why? Because sudden cardiac arrests just don’t happen in close proximity to highly trained staff. They can happen anywhere, at any time and adolescents can learn to perform lifesaving CPR skills too. When sudden cardiac arrest occurs, time is crucial and survival depends upon receiving CPR immediately from someone nearby. Eight-nine percent of people who suffer an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest die because they don’t receive immediate CPR from someone on the scene. This is because irreversible brain damage occurs after only three minutes of being deprived of oxygen. We can do better, learn hands-only CPR today!
Strategic focus 2: We will defend all attempts to weaken our state's clean indoor air law. Why? As the body of scientific evidence becomes larger and more precise, it is now possible to prove that smoke free policies not only work to protect nonsmokers from death and disease caused by exposure to secondhand smoke, but also have an immediate effect on the public's health. Because of this mountain of evidence, the Centers for Disease Control recently issued a warning for anyone at risk for heart disease to avoid smoke-filled indoor environments completely. Let’s continue to protect our children, who are particularly vulnerable to the negative effects of secondhand smoke. Children’s exposure to secondhand smoke increases lung infections, triggers more frequent and severe asthma attacks; increases the risk of ear infections, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Strategic focus 3: We will support state funding for initiatives to eliminate health disparities. Why? Low income and minority populations are disproportionately affected by cardiovascular disease and stroke. While these populations are most at risk of developing cardiovascular disease and stroke, they are less aware of their risk. Our goal is to support initiatives which increase knowledge and encourage behavior changes in these communities through lifesaving cardiovascular disease and stroke risk recognition, risk reduction and risk avoidance programs.
Together with our advocates, we look forward to actively engaging our legislators on these and other important heart health issues during the 2014 Legislative session. Watch your email for your opportunity to be involved and to engage with your legislators!