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Advocates Like You View All

Michelle Allen Rockford, IL

Ten years ago I lost my 37 year old husband to heart disease (at the time, our children were ages 1 and 3). Five years prior to that, I lost my father to heart disease. These losses compelled me to do all that I can to become involved in raising awareness about heart disease, ultimately leading me to return to school to receive my Bachelor of Nursing degree, seeking to inform and educate my patients and families about heart disease risks and preventative measures. I also hold a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and it is my hope that I can utilize my education along with my life experiences to educate and advocate for those affected by this disease.

Sophia Foster Kansas

Cassandra is thankful for a simple screening test for newborns, not yet required in Kansas, as it saved her baby’s life.  That screening, called a pulse oximetry test, found the oxygen level in her first child, Sophia, to be dangerously low. It was the first step to discovering that Sophia had numerous critical heart defects that would put her in surgery.

20 weeks into Cassandras pregnancy, her daughter was identified as having heart issues.  After several tests, nobody could give them a clear answer.  Once Sophia was born, she was given a pulse oximetry test which identified her oxygen saturation level at 70%.  They quickly followed up with a heart echocardiogram test and found she was suffering from several critical heart defects.

If they did not perform a pulse ox test on Sophia, she could have died.  The pulse ox test assists in identifying CHDs that can easily be missed as some of them may not show up until days or weeks later when surgery is less effective and the damage may be irreparable.
 
In October of 2013, Sophia had surgery to repair her heart.  She is 13 months old now and healthy.  Cassandra wants to see to it that every newborn in Kansas gets the same test Sophia received.  She continues to assist and support the work the American Heart Association is doing in their fight to get every newborn screened.

 

Linda Dickson Missouri

As we travel down the road of life, we can choose the paths we would like to take but sometimes a path is chosen for us.  This path can look very scary at first but then you realize it has made your life even more meaningful.  The events on March 22, 2007 chose a path that I would have never chosen for myself but now 7 years later, I make it a way of life!!!
  
It started with a headache that just kept getting worse.  I had it through the day and I remember telling everyone I just wanted to lay down.  Luckily, I didn’t give up on my “important” meeting.  I arrived a little early so I could get my daughters who were 8 and 6 years old settled before the meeting started. I remember getting my 6 year old a piece of paper and that is it……..

I was told I passed out at the table!  Luckily, Dana, an ER nurse and Diane, also a nurse, were there at the meeting.  They noticed me and both knew I needed help!  The kids were rushed out.  Dana and Diane started CPR.  911 was called.  Dana and Diane continued CPR for about 8 to 9 minutes.   When EMS arrived, they tried to defibrillate me once and nothing happened.  They tried a second time and my heart started but I still was not breathing for myself.  It was estimated that I was without a heart beat for about 10 minutes.

 When I arrived at the ER, they worked to get me breathing again.  Once I was stabilized, I was transported to another hospital.  I was in a coma for about 24 hours and it was determined that I had myocarditis, an inflammation of your heart muscle.  It was likely caused by a virus.  My husband and family were told by the doctors that they couldn’t give them any idea of what was going to happen.  They just had to give me time. 

Once I woke up, I was having trouble with my short term memory not fun for my family.  Every time I woke up, I asked the SAME question over and over.  It was determined after much testing of my heart, that I needed an ICD, an implantable cardiac defibrillator.  Four days after my sudden cardiac arrest, I was taken to have my ICD implanted on the left side of my chest.  With this new addition to me, life was going to change a bit.  I have to watch magnets, metal detectors, and those anti-theft devices in entrances to stores, just to name a few things. 
Just five days after my sudden cardiac arrest, I was discharged from the hospital to start my new life!!!  The physical scars healed.  My heart functions came back to normal.  After 6 weeks, I could raise my left arm above my shoulder and I could finally drive again!!!  But emotionally, I was still struggling and even sometime still struggle with what happened!
 
I have found that my work with the American Heart Association, GO Red, and the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Association has made everything make more sense.  I have a new journey in life and I love it!  My family has embraced the path with me and we all find it so fulfilling!  With your support, we can change the 7% sudden cardiac arrest survival rate, and you can read about more wonderful stories like mine…..