“Guest blogger, Kevin Harker, Midwest Affiliate Executive Vice President reminds us how research is saving lives…”
Not too long ago, I had the opportunity to reconnect with a friend of mine from St. Louis, Toni Reel, who is a longtime volunteer and former employee of the American Heart Association. Toni was diagnosed at age 3 with Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome, a condition which affects how the heart beats and causes rhythm abnormalities. Toni began taking heart medications as a child, which allowed her to enjoy normal childhood activities like running, playing soccer and cheerleading … but also required a hospital stay at least once a month for a week at a time either for an attack or to modify her medications. Disruptive? Yes. Scary? Yes. Painful? Yes. Expensive? Yes. But that was just the way it was.
Until research funded in part by the American Heart Association changed all that. At age 18, Toni learned of a new procedure called radiofrequency catheter ablation, which uses heat to physically destroy a small section of heart tissue causing abnormal electrical activity. Toni had the procedure and felt immediate relief.
There are more than 82.6 million people like Toni, living with some form of cardiovascular disease, many of whom have learned to live every day with constant pain or fatigue; many of whom rely on medicine to allow them to participate in normal activities that the rest of us take for granted; many of whom sit on the sidelines, unable to participate in normal activities because the strain on their heart could be life-threatening.
For these millions of Americans, ongoing research is essential to their future. Since 1949, the American Heart Association has invested $3.4 billion in cardiovascular research, which has led to lifesaving scientific advances such as the first artificial heart valve, techniques and standards for CPR, implantable pacemakers, treatment for infant respiratory distress syndrome, cholesterol inhibitors, microsurgery and drug-coated stents. In 2010-11, the American Heart Association funded nearly $111 million in research, but lacked another $139 million to fund 987 other highly meritorious studies; forcing many potentially lifesaving projects to be shelved.
This holiday season, as you consider where you should invest your time and resources, I urge you to think of the impact you can make for millions of Americans by supporting the American Heart Association. Every 34 seconds, someone has a heart attack. Six seconds later, someone has a stroke. Approximately 2,200 people lose the fight against cardiovascular disease each day. But you can help change that.
Your donation helps the American Heart Association protect lives all year long by allowing us to fund research, education and advocacy programs to fight heart disease and stroke. Visit heart.org/donate to give today. To learn more about supporting our mission with a gift through your estate plan, visit heart.org/plannedgiving or call 1-888-227-5242.