The Nebraska Legislature will convene for the 2014 session on January 8th. Once again, the American Heart Association will play an active role in advocating for policies that improve the cardiovascular health of Nebraskans. 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.
In Nebraska 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!
We will also be looking to promote procurement policies with our state and local governments that adhere to AHA nutritional standards. Good nutrition is a key element of wellness. With more than 130 million Americans employed across the United States each year, the workplace is a key environment for maintaining the health of the U.S. population. Employers should undertake comprehensive, evidence-based health promotion programs, activities, and environment and policy change, including offering healthy food and beverages throughout the workplace. The benefits of a healthy employed population extend well beyond employees and the workplace to their families and their communities. Worksite wellness programming and health promotion should target at-risk and vulnerable employees, addressing issues that increase audience receptivity and make it more likely that they will participate.
Finally, we will also be closely monitoring the regulation process for the Critical Congenital Heart Screening (CCHD) bill that was passed last year. Congenital heart defects are malformations of the heart or major blood vessels that occur before birth. It is the most common birth defect in the United States. In many cases, however, hospital staff may not identify these defects and outwardly healthy infants may be admitted to nurseries and discharged from hospitals before signs of disease are detected. Congenital heart defects account for 24% of infant deaths that are caused by birth defects. A quarter of infants who have congenital heart defects will be diagnosed with critical congenital heart disease (CCHD), a life threatening condition that requires surgery or catheter intervention within the first year of life. Failure to detect CCHD and late detection of CCHD may lead to serious morbidity or death. Fortunately, an emerging body of evidence suggests that measuring blood oxygen saturation can lead to early diagnosis and detection of CCHD. We will work to make sure pulse oximetry is included in the regulation promulgated for the CCHD bill passed last year.
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!