American Heart Association - You’re the Cure

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
Advocate Spotlight: Mark Shacklette

Mark Shacklette

In February of 1967, my father, Dr. Charles L. Shacklette, died of a heart attack.  He was only 45 years old and I was only 14 months old.  In November of 2007, I also had a heart attack: a "widow-maker." And this still happened despite all the precautions I had taken.  I was very much aware of my family’s history of heart disease and wanted to ensure I didn’t suffer the same fate as my dad.  I ate right and I exercised regularly.  I maintained a very healthy weight.  I NEVER smoked.  I was, and still am, a fitness instructor at the YMCA.  And despite all of this I also suffered a heart attack, but a stent and a great cardiologist made all the difference.  Because of stents and the research dollars that helped developed them, I survived.  And 6 years later, I am doing very well. 

After my heart attack, I began to ask my mom more about what happened to my dad in February of 1967.  How did he describe the pain?  What were his symptoms?  My mom’s description of his symptoms matched mine – the feeling that someone had hit you in the chest with a sledge-hammer – so I’m convinced my dad also had a widow-maker heart attack.  Unfortunately for mom, it did make her a widow who had to raise five children on her own. 

My dad survived for two days after his initial heart attack.  If only he would have had access to stents like I did.  I’m sure it would have saved him, too, and it would have saved my mom from being a widow. It would have been nice to know my dad.

Read More

Heart Month this February!!

February is American Heart Month and February 7th is National Wear Red Day and, although it’s wonderful to see so many people supporting heart-health awareness this month, it’s important to remember that the battle against heart disease is fought year-round.

How can you help make February a great Heart Month? Macy's encourages everyone to Color Your World Red in support of Go Red For Women! To learn more about other ways to show your support, please visit the Go Red For Women website.

Thank you for helping advance heart-health in our communities!

Read More

Advocate Spotlight: Tony Lindeman, Ohio

Tony Lindeman Ohio

The morning of September ‎29‎, ‎2012, ‎started like all my previous ‎16‎,‎911 ‎days as I woke up before my alarm, jumped out of bed and was soon ready to take on the challenges of the day‎. ‎My first challenge that day ‎was completing my eighth marathon in Akron, Ohio‎. ‎I was ‎prepared to run the marathon after completing the same extensive marathon training I did each year since ‎2007‎.

My friends and I lined up at the starting line of the Akron Marathon and put together our plan to meet at the end of the race‎. ‎Running a marathon ‎was nothing new to anyone in the group so we all knew what to expect when the race started, or so we thought‎. ‎On our marathon training runs, we usually ran together about ‎5‎-‎10 ‎miles before we separated based on our different running paces‎. ‎As we approached the first mile of the race ‎it was a little unusual that my friends began to pull ahead but that was just the beginning of what would be a very different run‎.‎

‎I was approaching mile two on a very crowded street and next thing I remember I was on a hospital bed‎. ‎What is going on? What happened? ‎Why am I here? Those were just some of the questions that ran through my head‎. ‎A nurse entered my room and said, ‎“‎Today is the luckiest day ‎of your life‎.‎” ‎I was very confused not knowing what happened‎. ‎How am I lucky to be in a hospital bed and obviously injured? I was in pain with ‎cuts on my face, hand, arm, knee, and in a neck brace unable to move‎. ‎The nurse figured out I had no idea what happened and added, ‎“‎Once ‎you learn your story, you will understand how today is the luckiest day of your life‎. ‎“‎

While running my eighth marathon at mile ‎2‎, I went into sudden cardiac arrest ‎(‎SCA‎). ‎Lucky for me, I happened to be running in a group with quite a few nurses‎. ‎As soon as I fell down, two of those nurses who were running closest to me began ‎CPR after finding no pulse‎. ‎They continued performing life‎-‎saving CPR for over ‎10 ‎minutes until paramedics arrived and shocked me back ‎to life with a defibrillator‎. ‎As I heard my story, I realized the hospital nurse was right‎—“‎today was the luckiest day of my life‎.‎” ‎

There was no history of heart disease or heart related problems in my family‎. ‎I passed yearly physicals with great lab results‎. ‎My cardiac arrest took everyone off guard‎. ‎I ran over ‎1,000 ‎miles a year and thought I was taking good care of myself, so a cardiac arrest was not supposed to ‎happen‎. ‎While in the hospital, test after test indicated nothing wrong with my heart‎. ‎Doctors found no explanation for my sudden cardiac arrest ‎and they told me that my heart was good‎. ‎Despite the ‎“‎healthy‎” ‎heart, it was decided the Subcutaneous Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator ‎(‎S‎-‎ICD‎) ‎was needed since my heart obviously went into a strange electrical rhythm resulting in SCA‎. ‎I was soon the recipient of a S‎-‎ICD which ‎would shock me back if I ever had a repeat SCA‎.‎

Today I am good friends with the nurses who saved me, continue running races ‎(‎after doctor approval‎)‎, joined heart awareness athletic groups ‎(‎Cardiac Athletes and Ironheart Racing‎) ‎and work with the American Heart Association to promote CPR‎. ‎The AHA was instrumental in organizing ‎a CPR training event in my hometown where ‎150 ‎citizens were trained in Hands‎-‎Only CPR‎. ‎With the help of the AHA more people will know CPR, ‎which means more cardiac arrest survivors to tell stories like mine‎.‎

Read More

Advocate Spotlight: John Pribanic

John Pribanic

At 104 years old, John Pribanic is an inspiration and a model of one who has lived and fought to maintain an active and heart-healthy life.  Several years ago, he was diagnosed with a heart murmur and high blood pressure and was supposed to undergo surgery to insert a pacemaker.  However, after fracturing his hip seven years ago, John moved from his home in Pennsylvania to Delaware for rehab.  The team at Kent General Hospital worked with John to improve his strength and allow him once again to enjoy one of his passions—walking.  After the rehab, John no longer needed that pacemaker.

John has always managed to stay physically active.  An engraver for Westinghouse Electric for 40 years and the township commissioner for 25 years, he was also a faithful member of the YMCA in his hometown of West Wilmerding, PA.  There, he walked and swam every day until his hip injury a few years ago.  Later, he added to his daily exercise routine by joining the Modern Maturity Center where he was able to walk and swim three times a week.

Born in Croatia, John came to the United States at the age of 3 and survives his sister, four brothers, and both parents, who lived until they were 89.  He has two sons, four granddaughters, and five great-grandchildren.  John has not only fought against his own cardiovascular problems, but his wife of 53 years passed away after a battle with heart disease when she was 76. 

He currently resides in Dover, Delaware, where he still walks about half a mile or more each day and inspires other residents in his assisted living facility to do the same.  He just celebrated his 104th birthday and is still determined to stay healthy to avoid future heart issues.

Read More

It Is Never Too Late to Quit Smoking

Actually, it is never too late to quit using all forms of tobacco!  Health benefits begin immediately, including on the cardiovascular system.  Check out this great infographic and then take these critical steps:

1.  If you use tobacco, set a quit date.  Call 1-800-Quit-Now for support.

2.  If you have a loved one who uses tobacco, encourage them to call 1-800-Quit-Now .

3.  Is your local school 100% tobacco free?  It helps reduce kids' risk of starting and it protects everyone from exposure.  Encourage your local school to join the growing list of 100% tobacco free schools.

4.  Support efforts to restore adequate funding for comprehensive tobacco prevention and cessation in Ohio!

5.  Check out these other great Be Tobacco Free resources.


Read More

Cardiac Arrest Awareness Month: What is cardiac arrest?

October is Sudden Cardiac Arrest Awareness Month.  Many people confuse cardiac arrest with a heart attack.  Let's take a look at the differences.

What is cardiac arrest?

Cardiac arrest is the abrupt loss of heart function in a person who may or may not have diagnosed heart disease. The time and mode of death are unexpected. It occurs instantly or shortly after symptoms appear.

Each year, nearly 360,000 emergency medical services-assessed out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur in the United States.

Is a heart attack the same as cardiac arrest?

No. The term "heart attack" is often mistakenly used to describe cardiac arrest. While a heart attack may cause cardiac arrest and sudden death, the terms don't mean the same thing. Heart attacks are caused by a blockage that stops blood flow to the heart. A heart attack (or myocardial infarction) refers to death of heart muscle tissue due to the loss of blood supply, not necessarily resulting in the death of the heart attack victim.

Cardiac arrest is caused when the heart's electrical system malfunctions. In cardiac arrest death results when the heart suddenly stops working properly. This may be caused by abnormal, or irregular, heart rhythms (called arrhythmias). A common arrhythmia in cardiac arrest is ventricular fibrillation. This is when the heart's lower chambers suddenly start beating chaotically and don't pump blood. Death occurs within minutes after the heart stops. Cardiac arrest may be reversed if CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) is performed and a defibrillator is used to shock the heart and restore a normal heart rhythm within a few minutes.

What can you do?

Help spread the word on cardiac arrest by sharing this post on your social networks.  Click the "share" button!

Read More

Kentucky's Debbie Rogers is headed to DC. Will you 'be there' with her?

I knew my chances of having heart disease were increased because of family history and high cholesterol. After being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, I sought a cardiologist for heart issues related to RA. After routine test, he confirmed three blockages in two arteries and I had to make a decision immediately to correct the problem. I had no symptoms, am a non-smoker, have normal blood pressure, am not overweight, eat healthy and yet this silent killer could have taken my life at any moment. A “Go Red For Women” Heart Health Awareness event, along with a persistent daughter, saved my life.

Attending the Rally for Medical Research is important to me because I believe we need more federal funding for research projects and other medical advancements for early detection of heart disease along with insurance coverage of procedures and tests.

I am asking you as a fellow advocate to please support our efforts by signing on to the ‘Hearts for Research’ photo petition. Each name and picture submitted in support for prioritizing our nation’s investment in medical research will be delivered to Congress during the Rally for Medical Research Hill Day on September 18th.

Read More

Advocate Spotlight: Cathy Seitz, Pennsylvania

Cathy Seitz Pennsylvania

On January ‎4‎th, ‎1994‎, I suffered from a heart attack‎. ‎I was only ‎33 ‎years old‎. ‎My youngest child was born three months earlier‎. ‎I was holding him ‎and feeding him a bottle when I felt shortness of breath and a little chest discomfort‎. ‎Then my arm started to ache. I thought he was getting ‎heavy, so I finished feeding him and laid him down‎.  ‎And that is how my story begins‎.

I thought I had a toothache, I thought I was having an ‎anxiety attack, I thought I was going to get sick, I thought of everything except a heart attack‎. ‎My mom called, I told her that I wasn't feeling right. She said to call the ER and to call her right back‎. ‎The ER said that it sounded like angina and that I should come over to get checked‎. ‎Till this ‎day, I think my mom saved my life‎. ‎I would not have gone to the hospital--in fact, I thought it was pretty ridiculous‎.

When I arrived at the ER, they took me right back and started hooking me up to IV, blood test, etc‎. ‎I kept thinking that I was just having an ‎anxiety attack and couldn't get it under control‎. I couldn't understand what all the fuss was about and it was making me nervous. Then a cardiologist came in to talk to me, he said that I was having a heart attack. He gave me ‎nitroglycerin and a shot of TPA‎. ‎I laid there thinking, am I going to die here in the ER‎? ‎I knew nothing about heart attacks except what you see on ‎TV: man grabs his chest, falls to the floor, the end‎. ‎He tried to reassure me that I was going to be just fine, but ‎I didn't believe him‎. ‎He is still ‎my cardiologist today, ‎19 ‎years later‎.

The sad part is that until last May, I didn't know what to ‎believe. Because of the so called ‎"‎rare‎" ‎heart disease, Spontaneous Coronary Artery Disection ‎(‎SCAD‎)‎, that I was diagnosed with was never researched. I was told that ‎most people do not survive a SCAD‎. ‎I didn't know anything and couldn't find any information about SCAD‎. ‎My doctors explained that ‎it is very rare and believe it is caused by hormones during pregnancy and suggested that if I didn't get  pregnant again, SCAD would not ‎happen again‎.

18 ‎years later, I decided to check for information again and I found it‎! ‎I found a SCAD Survivor Group on Facebook‎. ‎I learned so much this past year ‎about SCAD I feel like I woke up from a bad dream‎. ‎The group consists of approximately ‎300 ‎people world-wide, mostly young, healthy women, Not all ‎due to pregnancy.

‎I am on a mission to spread awareness‎. ‎Research at the Mayo Clinic is underway and has begun to unravel ‎the mystery of SCAD‎. ‎To learn more about SCAD, go to www‎.‎scadresearch‎.‎org‎. ‎I believe this research will prove that this is not as rare as ‎previously believed to be and will help save many lives in the future‎. ‎This is just the beginning‎. ‎Thanks for reading my story and Bless Your ‎Heart‎!  

Read More

Spotlight: Kim Leo, Pennsylvania

Kim Leo Pennsylvania

A little over ten months ago, I suffered a massive heart attack.  It was one week to the day of my 47th birthday, one that I almost didn’t have the chance to celebrate.  Other than taking medication for hypertension, I was considered to be in great health.  My daily routine included at least 30 minutes of cardio activity.   I ate a very healthy diet and was a non-smoker.

My husband and I ride together to work.  The morning of Monday, May 21, 2012, was no different than any other until shortly after we arrived at work.  I took the stairs to the second floor, as I always did.  When I got to my desk, I started to untie the belt of my raincoat.  Out of nowhere, an extreme wave of nausea came over me with the feeling that I was going to vomit.  Within seconds, I began to perspire and experience a tingly sensation in my chest.  I immediately recognized that something was seriously wrong and called my husband and asked him to come to my desk right away.  When he got to my desk, I was on my hands and knees over my trashcan.  He immediately sought help from a first responder, who proceeded to call 911 and an ambulance arrived shortly.

While lying in the ambulance during preparations to be transported to the hospital, my thoughts shifted to my two daughters, who live in Pittsburgh, as well as my parents, who live in the Northern Virginia area, whom we had just visited that weekend.  I knew how shocking this news would be for them.  I never lost consciousness and could hear the dialogue taking place between the paramedic and the communication center at the hospital.  As the paramedic was looking at my EKG strip, she said that she saw normal sinus rhythm but that she was also seeing something that she had never seen before. Shortly thereafter, I heard the driver say that they were going with sirens.  I know that it is critical to receive treatment within 90 minutes of a heart attack and I knew I didn’t have much time to spare.  I prayed that I would make it to the hospital in time to get the treatment that I needed.

When I arrived at the hospital, I was wheeled into a room where a team of medical personnel was waiting for me.  That was a bit overwhelming and I knew that it probably wasn’t a good sign. They immediately prepped me for a cardiac cath. The nurse to my right asked me if there was anyone that I wanted them to call.  I didn’t know if my husband had called our daughters or my parents so I gave her their cell phone numbers.  The next recollection that I had was waking up in the Cardio-Thoracic ICU to learn that I had double bypass surgery, due to a 99% blockage of the left main artery, and that I had suffered a massive heart attack.

In hindsight, I suppose that not knowing what was happening was probably for the best.  But it sure was a difficult time for my family.  When my husband was escorted out of the emergency room to be taken to another waiting room, the nurse said to him, “Sir, I don’t know if you’re a religious man, but now would be a good time to start praying.”  The two cardiothoracic surgeons that he spoke with painted a rather bleak picture and stated that the surgery would be difficult due to my critical condition. The heart function in my left ventricle had become so weakened that the blood supply to other vital organs was greatly compromised.  An Impella device, which is used to aid in ventricular failure, was inserted through my femoral artery to stabilize me until I could go into surgery.   Because I had been sedated after the blockage was diagnosed, my husband had to sign the consent forms for the procedures.

As you can imagine, the news of what had happened was devastating—especially since I was so health conscious about diet and exercise.  In fact, my husband and I had just run a 5K in Pittsburgh on April 21st.  Everyone had the same reaction, shock and disbelief, including my physicians.  I see my Primary Care Physician every six months and had even consulted a cardiologist in July 2011.  I had a normal echo stress test and was discharged back to my Primary Care Physician.  I feel very blessed to be a survivor and I know that the healthy choices that I made certainly helped make the difference.

Since my cardiac event, I have become very passionate about raising the awareness of heart disease in women.  As a result, I recently became a volunteer for the American Heart Association, which I am enjoying tremendously.

Read More

Spotlight: Malenda McCalister, Kentucky

Malenda McCalister Kentucky

On October 25, 2008, my life changed forever: I was collapsing on the living room floor suffering from a massive heart attack. Ten days before, I was bringing my little boy into the world. What was supposed to be a happy occasion wasn’t so much for me. While everyone in my room was happy and celebrating the birth of our son, my husband and I were worried. Me, because I just didn’t feel right, and my husband because he knew something wasn’t right with me.

My husband was excited to see our new son and I was too, but I couldn’t enjoy it and to tell the truth, I don’t remember a whole lot of my stay in the hospital. Right before I gave birth, I began to feel strange.  I couldn’t breathe very well and my head and my teeth began to hurt. I felt like someone was smashing my teeth out of my mouth with a hammer. I kept telling the nurses before and after I had my son that I didn’t feel right, but they just kept telling me it was the side effects from the epidural. Looking back, I don’t think they really knew that I was having problems with my heart. They could only give me the information they had been taught in nursing school.  I don’t blame them for not seeing the signs that I was in the beginning of having a heart attack. I’m hoping in the future to change what nurses are taught when they become an OB nurse.

When I went home a couple of days later, I still felt bad. In fact I felt worse. I had no idea that the arteries on the left side of my heart were dissecting. I did the best I could to take care of our six year old daughter and our baby son, but I just couldn’t do it. My husband took care of me and helped with the baby over the weekend. He had to go back the following week and I had to force myself to get back into our regular routine. That meant taking my daughter to school and taking the baby to the doctor. He was born with jaundice, so I had to make sure I took him to the doctor to begin the bilirubin tests.

On the following Tuesday, almost a week after the baby was born, I wasn’t feeling any better. In fact I was barely breathing. My husband didn’t have to be at work for a few hours that day, so he said he would drive me and the baby to get his test done. While we were there he made me go to the emergency room. When the nurse saw me she just looked at me and told my husband they were going to admit me. I must have looked really bad. They took my blood pressure, which was all over the place and I was very swollen. They gave me some Lasix pills to help with the extra water I was holding in my body. 

They took me upstairs and I was in there for two and a half days while they were trying to figure out what was wrong with me. They ran a lot of tests and diagnosed me with a cardiomyopathy. I guess they thought I was too young to have a heart attack.  I was only 30 at the time. They didn’t check to see if that’s what it was or that I was dissecting.  I later learned through my own research that it's hard to detect when a SCAD is happening.

I was sent home with a lot of medications and that’s where I thought it would end. I was told to take the meds and I should be fine in a few weeks or so. Within 24hrs, I was collapsing in front of my daughter having a massive heart attack. My arteries had dissected even more which was causing me to have the heart attack. When I felt the first twinge of pain, I panicked. It wasn’t like you see in the movies where they grab their chests and arm. My teeth by that time were in severe pain. I began to have a panic attack. I felt like an elephant was sitting on my chest while someone was holding my head under water.

At the time I was on the phone with the pediatrician about the baby’s jaundice. I quickly got off the phone and handed the baby to my mother in law and went into my bedroom. My husband knew something was wrong so he followed me. I sat on the bed and got back up then sat down again. I walked out into the living room and my husband asking what was wrong. I just kept saying I didn’t know. About the time I got the second "I don’t know" out of my mouth, I collapsed on the floor. My husband hurried and called 911. Praise God we lived right down the road from the fire station at the time. 

From that point on I remember things like you would if you were watching a dream or a movie while you’re sleepy. I don’t know if that makes sense or not. I remember sitting on the couch and grabbing my sister in laws leg and digging my fingernails into her. I remember seeing my daughter's face as I collapsed and hearing her screaming in the hallway asking if I was dying. I will never as long as I live forget her little voice and the look of fear on her face. I remember the EMTs getting there and talking to me. They tried to get me to walk to the ambulance but I couldn’t. I collapsed on the sidewalk and they had to put me on the bed and roll me the rest of the way.

When I got into the ambulance they gave me a shot and asked if it helped, it didn’t. By that time I was in so much pain I couldn’t think. Then I began to black out. It was like if you’re looking in a tunnel and things are slowly going black with the picture getting smaller and smaller at the end of it. I could hear the EMT lady yelling my name and then suddenly my eyes rolled back in my head and I began to shake.  When I came to they were rushing me through the emergency room doors and there were nurses and doctor everywhere. I was having people shove things in my mouth and giving me shots and asking questions. They cut my clothes off me.

The doctor that I had seen when I had to stay a few days before rushed into the room. I was then rushed into the cath lab. I was put to sleep and it was while they were doing the catheter that my arteries finished dissecting from my heart. Because they couldn’t do it at that hospital, they rushed me to the north side where I had open heart surgery. I had a triple bypass and two stints placed. Before I was taken back, my husband and my dad and my husband's aunt and uncle got to see me. I don’t remember, but later my husband told me that I prayed for the doctors and I prayed for everyone.

When I woke up I didn’t know where I was and I was trying to pull the breathing tube out of my mouth. My sister was next to me and had to stop me. The nurse and my mom and sister were telling me that I had to leave the tube in my mouth and that I couldn’t talk. I signaled for a piece of paper and pencil. I still didn’t realize that I had had a heart attack and that I had to have heart surgery. When they handed me the pencil and paper I told them to get me out of that bed and to get me some food. Unfortunately for me, I couldn’t do either for another four hours. My husband was very shocked when he walked in later and I was sitting up eating a bowl of soup.

That was a little over four years ago. My family and I have been through so much and then some since I came home. I’ve gone through postpartum and heart surgery depression, two pace maker /defibrillator surgeries, a lead revision surgery, I’ve gone through another cath and several medication changes. I’ve had to watch my daughter go through PTSD from seeing me have the heart attack. I know on the outside looking in someone might look at me and say, "Wow how do you do it?" I’ve had a lot of people ask me that. I tell them how could I not? I have a husband who is by my side and loves me and two children that God has blessed me with.
The Lord has blessed me with every single day that I’m alive. I want to help other women who have gone through what I have. I want to educate women on SCAD and let them know that if this happens to them they are not alone. There are days when I can’t do a lot. Those are the days when we just hang out. I will never give up .I will never stop living and sharing the blessings that God has given me. Now four and a half years later I can honestly say that this heart attack has turned into a blessing.

Read More

[+] Blogs[-] Collapse