Each year on Valentine's Day, approximately 190 million roses are sold. Everyone is looking for that special gift for their loved one.

February is also American Heart Month. This month, maybe we can focus more on the nation's leading cause of death. Each year, more than 350,000 will die from sudden cardiac arrest, including 6,000 teens and young athletes.

Congress is doing its part to increase awareness of sudden cardiac arrest. In October, Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, introduced the Teaching Children to Save Lives Act (HR 3189). Briefly, HR 3189 would authorize the Department of Education to award grants to local educational agencies or elementary and secondary schools that implement CPR/AED training programs.

Now we must do our part. Whether you are a parent, legislator, school official or first responder, learning more about sudden cardiac arrest is the first step toward building a heart-safe community.

According to the American Heart Association, only three states require that students be trained in CPR before graduation. Wouldn't it be great if California would make this a requirement, too? Working together, we can make a difference. How? Encourage our students, faculty and school staff members to learn how to perform CPR and how to use an automated external defibrillator. Working together, we can keep young hearts beating.

Corinne Ruiz