American Heart Association - You’re the Cure
WELCOME! PLEASE LOGIN OR SIGN UP

LoginLogin with Facebook

Remember me Forgot Password

Be the Cure, Join Today!

  • Learn about heart-health issues
  • Meet other likeminded advocates
  • Take action and be heard
SIGN UP
Share Your Story: Michelle Allen

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.

Read More

Share Your Story: Sophia Foster

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.

 

Read More

Share Your Story: Linda Dickson

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…..

Read More

Share Your Story: Ardon Brandt

Ardon Brandt Iowa

I was a first-time mom-to-be.  I was 11 days overdue.  I was impatient.  I wanted to meet my baby.

After 34 hours of labor my nurse came racing into my room. She was moving the baby monitor around and getting agitated; she could not find my baby’s heartbeat. The OB was called in and I was being prepped for an emergency c-section. When Ardon arrived, he was rushed out of the room. No one would tell me what was wrong. Once I was moved out of OR and into my room, a team of doctors came in to give us the news. We were told that they used “every resource they had” just to stabilize him. Ardon was facing a constant threat of cardiac and respiratory arrest and if he took even half a step back, they did not think they could save him. Ardon could not encounter any stimulation – not sight, not sound, not touch.  Stimulation could elevate his heart rate and send him into immediate cardiac arrest.  So, the question was – do they risk keeping him and hoping he stays stable or do they risk a helicopter flight to get him to a higher-level and more experienced hospital?  It was decided to call in the flight-for-life and transfer him immediately.

When a nurse asked me what she could do for me, I answered, “Please just take care of my baby.” Unknown to me at the time, it was then that my mother decided to take care of her baby. She pulled my doctor into the hallway and told her, “If want to do something for that mother, you will get her in to see her baby because she may never see him alive!”  The nursery was cleared out and my bed was rolled in so I could see my son before the helicopter arrived.

Two hours later Ardon was ready for lift-off. The EMT that would travel with Ardon came into my room.  When asked what to expect she responded, “Judging from his condition, if he survives the helicopter trip he will be in NICU for 3 to 6 months”.  My world collapsed in on itself; terror ripped through me like I had never felt before.  I heard the “IF”.  I might lose my baby.

I was transported by ambulance to join Ardon.  He handled the flight well and I was able to visit him in NICU the next morning. Whenever I visited, I would stand behind him so that he would not see my cry.  I wanted him to see a mom that was strong, not scared. One of his nurses asked me why I didn’t talk to him. I did not think I could without risking sending him into arrest.  She explained to me that low, quiet sounds were safe and that he needed to know I was there for him. I leaned over and whispered, “Hello, Sunshine…”  He opened his eyes and he tried to find me! What a moment that was!  We were then taught how to carefully place our hand on his head while watching his vital signs and, should he “crash”, how to remove our hand in a way so as to minimize stimulation. When Ardon was one week old I was able to hold him for the first time. It was absolutely amazing!  When Ardon was 3 weeks old we were able to bring him home.

During my follow-up appointment I learned what happened the day he was born.  There was a blood clot in the umbilical cord that cut him off from his oxygen supply and sent him into distress.  So many things went wrong when he was born but the vitally important things went right.  Without the research and professional training and education provided by the American Heart Association, Ardon would not have lived more than a few minutes.

Ardon is now a strong, healthy 17-year old and will forever be My Sunshine.

Read More

Alyson Whitaker, Georgia

Alyson is a third grader in Locust Grove, Georgia.  She is a hometown hero to many people in the community.

For the past four years, Alyson has participated in the American Heart Association's Jump Rope for Heart.  Each year, she has won Jump Rope for Heart not only in her school but in Henry County.  Alyson takes the American Heart Association very seriously.

At only three months old, Alyson was diagnosed with Coarctation of the aorta and was rushed to emergency surgery on October 27, 2005.  Her parents almost lost her the next day.  She spent 27 days in Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. To her parents she is a miracle and to many folks a blessing.  But, this isn't the only reason Alyson raises money for the American Heart Association

In 2010 Alyson's parents found out they were expecting a baby boy.  They named their unborn son Cole Aiden Whitaker; many knew him affectionately as "Baby Cole."  Due to the complications with Alyson, the parents had the baby tested prior to birth and learned he had Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS) and Total Anomalous Pulmonary Venous Return (TAPVR).  Against all odds - and the doctors asking them to abort the baby - Alyson's mom and dad trusted in God.  Her mother carried Cole full term and delivered him on August 5, 2010 at Northside Hospital; he was then air-lifted to Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.  Cole had his first of what would have been three surgeries, but he took a turn for the worse because his lungs were too weak.  After only nine short days, Cole passed away on August 14, 2010. 

If you ask Alyson why she collects money for the American Heart Association, she will tell you it is in honor of her brother "Baby Cole" and to help other children like them to be able to get the proper technology to correct these issues so they have an improved chance at life. 

To her parents Alyson is an eight-year-old trying to make a difference in this world and does it in the most compassionate way she knows how.  As a family they have witnessed a miracle with Alyson's little heart being repaired and they have experienced loss with Cole.  Helping the American Heart Association allows Alyson and her family to give back and to help others who may be going through similar experiences.

Written by Alyson's mother, You're the Cure advocate Paula Whitaker.

Read More

Advocate Highlight: Idaho-AHPERD

In association with the American Heart Association, Idaho-AHPERD has been working diligently for the past two years to strengthen Physical Education (PE) requirements in the state of Idaho. Meetings were conducted to poll the top priorities for PE requirements and included physical education teachers from all around the state, key stake holders, and a health lobbyist.

The proposed requirements started off with many elements, but were modified several times. In the end, specific amounts of time for PE classes were suggested as a state requirement in elementary, junior high/middle school, and high school. Along with the PE requirement, it was proposed to teach CPR in junior high/middle school, and again in high school.

In February, the Idaho Senate Education Committee, after postponing the vote four different times, rejected the PE minutes requirement for all schools. They passed the CPR requirement, but not the PE minutes/week. Unfortunately, this means the PE requirement is done for this legislative session. Idaho-AHPERD plans to regroup and try again. There are movements all around our nation to make PE a core class. Idaho has a dream to see this movement come into fruition. We will be heard from again!

Read More

A Hands-On Advocate - Josh Moore

Josh Moore is saving lives, and he wants to make sure you know how to as well. A firefighter paramedic with the Eugene and Springfield Fire Department, Josh’s leadership in the community and in the State Capitol will put thousands of new lifesavers on the streets.

Josh, who has worked in Oregon as a professional firefighter paramedic for 13 years, is the program creator and coordinator of ACT: C3. This community-wide program is aimed at improving survival rates from cardiac arrest. It focuses on the five links in the chain of survival identified by the AHA.

“I named it ACT: C3 because I want people to take action,” Josh said.

Mobilizing students from the University of Oregon and local high school students to teach Hands-Only CPR to middle school students, Josh is demonstrating that big things can be accomplished with collaboration. Last year, thanks to the program, over 3,000 local citizens learned “Hands-Only CPR,” including every middle school student in Springfield. This year he’s up to more of the same. The creation of ACT: C3 earned Josh a Class II Commendation Medal from Eugene Springfield Fire.

Josh knows firsthand how easy it is to train students in Hands-Only CPR –it takes less time to learn than watching a TV sitcom. And he knows how important this is for all of Oregon: Requiring students to learn Hands-Only CPR would equip 40,000 new Oregonians every year to save the life of a loved one or a stranger. That’s why he has brought his experience and passion to AHA’s CPR in Schools campaign.

Josh serves on the Oregon CPR Advocacy Committee that works to advance efforts to teach more Oregonians CPR. At the State Capitol, Josh has met with legislators alongside young adults to advocate for a bill that would ensure students learned Hands-Only CPR before graduating. His voice as a community leader and a professional in emergency cardiac care is invaluable.

Most notably, Josh has a contagious passion for making Oregon a safer place to live. His willingness to generously give his time and enthusiasm to make that happen will have a profound impact for years to come.

At the American Heart Association, we can’t thank Josh enough. Perhaps the best way to show our appreciation is to encourage you to join Josh in advocating for CPR in Schools. As Josh will tell you, it takes everyone in a community to save more lives.

Read More

Advocate Spotlight: Melanie Carvell

Melanie Carvell is a physical therapist and Director of Sanford’s Women’s Health Center in Bismarck, North Dakota. Melanie also leads Sanford Health’s Wellness at Work team which was chosen as an American Heart Association “Fit Friendly Worksite” this year.  She has also headed up the program Women’s Heart Advantage, taking the leading role in providing heart screenings in her community. She has been a volunteer for the Heart Association for many years, with one of her highlights being a lobbyist for the Go Red campaign on Capitol Hill.

In her spare time Melanie is an accomplished triathlete who competes nationally and internationally. She is a six-time All American and has represented the United States on 8 World Championship triathlon teams, winning a bronze medal in Germany in 1999. Melanie has been North Dakota‘s Sportscasters and Sportswriters Athlete of the Year as well as the North Dakota Prairie Rose Games top female athlete. In 2003 she received the “Picture of Health” award from the State of North Dakota for being the top leader in advancing women’s health.

But her biggest accomplishment and passion is passing on her love of wellness to others. She has directed the *** Cancer Walk/Run for the past 18 years and also directs the Great American Bike Race to benefit families of children with cerebral palsy and related disorders. Melanie also hosts the Arthritis Walk Run and volunteers with the Bismarck Marathon.  This year she and several other Bismarck runners formed a running group for local kids at risk called “Team Kaizen.”  She loves teaching running, triathlon, and cross country workshops to local groups and really enjoys motivational speaking and being a media spokesperson on health.  It is always her mission to get more people involved in the joys and benefits of physical activity. Melanie’s inspirational book Running with the Antelope, Lessons of Life, Fitness and Grit on the Northern Plains is due to be published this June by the Dakota Institute. Her hope with the book is that it will inspire others to become more active and to never give up hope when faced with challenges.

Melanie and her husband Charles have three grown children and two grandchildren.

Read More

Dr. Fely Curva, Florida

Dr. Fely Curva has been a longtime advocate of issues relating to education, nutrition, children’s health.  For the past three years, Dr. Curva has worked closely with the American Heart Association on several issues including: physical education, shared use agreements and school food nutrition.

Most recently, Dr. Curva has stood side by side at the Florida Capitol with the American Heart Association supporting efforts to bring opportunities to children and families to go out and exercise.  While supporting the American Heart Association's effort to increase Shared Use Agreements, Dr. Curva has testified in committee, visited lawmakers and participated in grassroots activities with her volunteers to increase awareness of the issue.  “We all remember playing at our schools on the weekend and during the summer, it’s a shame that schools must protect themselves by locking up their facilities,” says Dr. Curva.  “The more opportunities kids have to play, the healthier they will be and that is something my clients can get behind.”

Dr. Curva received her Ph.D. from the Florida State University, Department in Reading and Multilingual/Multicultural Education; a Masters of Science degree in Education and Research and Evaluation; and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Valdosta State College. She has been an invaluable resource for the American Heart Association’s advocacy staff in Tallahassee and will continue to work with the American Heart Association in the future.

Read More

Debra Wells

Debra Wells, District of Columbia

Don’t ever let yourself wind up like Debra Wells. Doctors confirm her heart stopped for almost 20 seconds.  Today she’s alive to tell about it, and it was a rough road. 

Before her heart problems, Debra was a successful business woman, working as Vice President of Business Development for a publicly traded company.  She worked hard and played hard.

However, her world changed when she collapsed while on a trip with her husband in Maui. What began as a migraine headache became a stroke.  “In that moment I was completely—and instantly—DEPENDENT,” said Debra.  For two years, she went to physical, speech, and occupational therapy. She was told to “accept her limitations.”  She worked to improve her health and gradually returned to work.

Seven years later, her heart stopped on two more occasions, once it was for 19.5 seconds. As Debra describes it, “For me … it was a head on collision with reality.  No more denial.  In those precious 19 and half seconds that could have taken my life, I realized I could no longer treat my health like a business deal.” Debra has since had two pacemakers implanted. She still has high blood pressure, and does everything she can to control it by exercising regularly, eating healthy, and taking medication. 

Now, nearly 16 years after having a stroke, Debra is making a difference by sharing her story with others as a You’re the Cure advocate. She recently shared her story at the Maryland Million Hearts Symposium and on Washington DC’s CBS TV station WUSA9. (You can watch her WUSA9 interview HERE.)

Debra urges women to take care of themselves and know their risk factors and the important “numbers”—blood pressure, cholesterol, and BMI. She encourages them to accept and respect themselves as working women, mothers, wives, sisters, and daughters.

Debra says, “I am in a way grateful for the 19.5 seconds that almost took my life, because in turn, it taught me to treasure every second I’ve had since, every relationship, [and every] day in my life.”

Visit the American Heart Association’s website to learn more about simple and important changes you can make to improve your heart health.

Have a story of your own to tell?    Enter it HERE (it’s confidential). 

Read More

[+] Blogs[-] Collapse