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: 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

A Heartfelt Thanks

Each year, we like to pause and give thanks during National Volunteer Week (April 6th-12th) for the amazing contributions of volunteers like you.  We know you have a choice when deciding which organization to dedicate your time and talents to and we’re honored you’ve chosen to contribute to the American Heart Association’s mission.  Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of getting to meet many You’re the Cure advocates in person to say ‘thanks’, but since getting together isn’t always possible, I wanted to share this special video highlighting the progress you’ve made possible.

(Please visit the site to view this video) 

You’ll see we are making strides to create smoke-free communities across the country, develop the next generation of life-savers trained in CPR, and ensure all students have healthy meal choices in schools.  The effort you’ve made to contact your lawmakers, share your story, and spread the word through your social networks have led to those successes and more. In fact, in just the last eight months, You’re the Cure advocates have helped contacted local, state, and federal lawmakers more than 140,000 times and it’s these messages that can lead to policy wins.

So take a moment to pat yourself on the back and enjoy a job well done!  I look forward to continuing our efforts to pursue policy changes that will help build healthier communities and healthier lives for all Americans. We couldn’t do it without you – thanks!

- Clarissa

Read More

Register for a Kansas Heart Walk Near You!

We would like to invite you to participate in a 2014 Heart Walk near you!  The Heart Walk is the American Heart Association's premiere event for raising funds to save lives from this country's No. 1 and No. 4 killers - heart disease and stroke. Designed to promote physical activity and heart-healthy living, the Heart Walk creates an environment that's fun and rewarding for the entire family. This year, more than 1 million walkers will participate in nearly 350 events. Your participation will help us raise even more in our fight to save lives. Walk with friends, family, coworkers or strangers you'll bond with along the way.

Find the Heart Walk nearest to you in the list below and then click the REGISTER HERE link to create a Community Team, join an existing team or sign-up as an individual. 

Participating in a Heart Walk is a great way to help fund and support the life-saving mission of the American Heart Association. Plus, raising money for others can earn you prizes. See the complete listing and thanks for your support!

2014 Kansas Heart Walks

Kansas City Heart & Stroke Walk/5K Run – KC, MO – Sat, May 31st starting at 7:30am - REGISTER HERE

Greater Wichita Heart Walk – Wichita, KS - Sat, June 14th starting at 8:00am – REGISTER HERE

Topeka Heart Walk – Topeka, KS - Sat, Sept. 27th starting at 8:00am – REGISTER HERE

Leavenworth Co. Heart Walk – Leavenworth, KS - Sat, Sept. 27th starting at 7:30am – REGISTER HERE

Read More

Share Your Story: Breckyn Reynolds

Breckyn Reynolds Kansas

I had an uneventful pregnancy.  After giving birth to my third daughter Breckyn, we noticed something wasn’t ‘quite right.’  However, no one at the hospital seemed concerned and they sent us home with our newborn baby girl.  Weeks later, while we attended the local Harvest Festival, Breckyn turned blue.  Horrified, I remember walking up to the local physician saying, “What’s wrong with my baby?!....please help!!”

Breckyn was immediately transported to the local hospital then sent by ambulance and flat-lined multiple times on her way to the airport.  Quickly thereafter, she was life-flighted to Children’s Mercy in Kansas City.  I found myself envisioning her funeral instead of kissing my baby as she woke up.  Her organs were failing her and my newborn baby was dying in front of my eyes. 

When Breckyn arrived at Children’s Mercy, they diagnosed her with a critical congenital heart defect know as transposition of the great arteries.  Most often, this type of heart defect can and is detected within the first 48 hours of life IF a pulse oximetry screening is performed.  A routine procedure can correct the issue within the first few weeks of life, but in Breckyn’s case, it was too late.  Unfortunately, she has a terminal diagnosis associated with a lack of early detection.

To date, Breckyn has undergone four open-heart surgeries and 11 heart catherization procedures.  She is now five years old living with a terminal diagnosis – doctors don’t know what the future holds or how long she has to live.  She takes medicine twice daily, is on oxygen nightly, can’t run, play sports or be around anyone sick and is seen by the cardiologist every three months.  Additionally, our medical bills total more than $2 million. 

When Breckyn asks my husband and I, ‘Why did God make me with a broken heart?  Our response is “In hopes that you will pave the way for other babies to have brighter futures and to give other mommies and daddies the assurance that their child will be okay.” 

Read More

Kansas Hospitals Not Required to Administer Lifesaving Pulse Ox Test to Newborns

A simple test could save a child’s life, but hospitals in Kansas are not required to offer it.  This inexpensive, easy, lifesaving test to detect critical congenital heart defects, known as pulse oximetry, is required in more than 30 states across the country including Missouri. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment currently recommends that pulse oximetry not be incorporated in the statutorily required screenings. 

“In partnership with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE), the American Heart Association, along with other organizations across the state, and passionate congenital heart defects families, are currently working on a quality improvement program focused on pulse oximetry that they hope to unveil later this year,” said Kevin Walker, regional vice president of advocacy for the American Heart Association.  “While our association supports the development of a quality improvement program, we do not believe it should delay mandatory testing of all newborns.” 

Pulse ox screening is a non-invasive, inexpensive test that can potentially save a child’s life by detecting more than 90 percent of all critical congenital heart defects. 

Kansas (Concordia) resident Kim Reynolds had an uneventful pregnancy.  Following the birth of their third daughter Breckyn, they noticed something wasn’t ‘quite right.’  However, no one at the hospital seemed concerned and they sent the Reynolds home with their newborn baby girl.  Weeks later, the entire family attended their local Harvest Festival when Breckyn turned blue.  Horrified, Kim Reynolds remembers walking up to the local physician saying, “What’s wrong with my baby?!....please help!!”

Breckyn was immediately transported to the local hospital then sent by ambulance and flat-lined multiple times on her way to the airport.  Quickly thereafter, she was life-flighted to Children’s Mercy in Kansas City.  “I found myself envisioning her funeral instead of kissing my baby as she woke up,” Kim noted.  “Her organs were failing her and my newborn baby was dying in front of my eyes.” 

“When Breckyn arrived at Children’s Mercy, we discovered she had a critical congenital heart defect know as transposition of the great arteries,” noted Dr. Stephen Kaine, pediatric interventional cardiologist with Children’s Mercy in Kansas City. “Most often, this type of heart defect can and is detected within the first 48 hours of life IF a pulse oximetry screening is performed.   

A routine procedure can correct the issue within the first few weeks of life, but in Breckyn’s case, it was too late.  Dr. Kaine explains, “There is a small window in which a correction procedure can be performed and have effective life-long results.  Unfortunately in Breckyn’s case, while we continue to do everything we can, she has a terminal diagnosis associated with a lack of early detection.  Simply put, if Breckyn had been given a pulse oximetry screening within the first 48 hours of life, treatment of her heart defect would have been very different and likely allowed her a long, healthy and vibrant life.” 

To date, Breckyn Reynolds has undergone four open-heart surgeries and 11 heart catherization procedures.  She is now five years old living with a terminal diagnosis – doctors don’t know what the future holds or how long she has to live.  She takes medicine twice daily, is on oxygen nightly, can’t run, play sports or be around anyone sick and is seen by the cardiologist every three months.  Additionally, the Reynolds family has medical bills totaling more than $2 million. 

When Breckyn asks her mommy and daddy, ‘Why did God make me with a broken heart?’ Kim replies to her daughter, “In hopes that you will pave the way for other babies to have brighter futures and to give other mommies and daddies the assurance that their child will be okay.”  

The American Heart Association plans to continue their work with KDHE and their CCHD Work Group on the pulse oximetry quality improvement project, but notes that mandatory testing and a quality improvement program are not mutually exclusive.  Walker explains, “They can, and should co-exist.  A quality improvement program will certainly improve testing and data collection but does not guarantee ALL babies born in Kansas will be tested.  That is why the American Heart Association supports required testing and it should begin immediately.  The delay in rolling this out means we are placing the littlest lives at unnecessary risk, like that of Breckyn Reynolds.” 

“Pulse Ox screening can help detect problems before symptoms appear,” explained Dr. Kaine. “Oftentimes, the symptoms of those conditions are not evident at birth. With infants going home sometimes as early as 24 hours after they’re born, they may not start showing those signs of turning blue, having a heart murmur that can be heard or having breathing issues before they leave.” 

The test consists of sensors placed on a newborn’s hand and foot to check blood oxygen levels. If levels are too low, additional tests may be conducted that aid in detecting critical or possibly life-threatening heart defects that might otherwise go undetected.

“The equipment is in the hospitals. It takes less than five minutes, less than $4 to administer and is as invasive as a Band-Aid. It just makes sense,” Dr. Kaine said.

One out of every 100 babies is born with a congenital heart defect, the number one birth defect and a leading cause of infant death in Kansas.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 7,200 children are born with critical congenital heart defects each year. As many as 1,000 of those are discharged without the defects being detected.

If Kansas residents want to learn more or want to be more involved with this issue, contact the local American Heart Association at (913) 652-1913 or visit www.heart.org/KC.  Expecting parents should ask their birthing facility if they currently test all newborns for congenital heart defects using pulse oximetry. 

Read More

Share Your Story: Sandra Billinger

Sandra Billinger Kansas

I have been a supporter of the American Heart Association (AHA) since I was in the 5th grade.  I was first introduced to them by my physical education teacher who suggested we participate in the Jump Rope for Heart event.  We (our team) were supposed to raise money and try to jump for the entire duration of the event, which was 3 hours if I remember correctly.  There ended up being a competition between the boys group and my group (the girls group).  Well, I was not losing to the boys so I fund-raised like crazy.  Not only did we win but it was a repeat event in 6th grade.  The next two years I did Hoops for Heart since I loved basketball.  I’ve always been involved with AHA in some capacity or another. 

In addition, I’ve helped with the Heart Trains Heroes CPR classes, served on committees such as Operation Heartbeat and was chairperson for Operation Stroke in NW Kansas.  In 2004, I was granted fellow status of the American Heart Association and am proud to be recognized by such a terrific organization.  I have continued my service at the national level through committee work.  I have participated in the American Stroke Association’s Stroke Council serving on the Nursing and Rehabilitation Professions committee and then serving on the Stroke Recovery and Rehabilitation committee where I am now chairperson of that committee. 

 I am currently a physical therapist and researcher at the University of Kansas Medical Center and direct a laboratory that focuses on cardiovascular health and stroke.  The AHA has supported one of my student’s research projects and helped with funding for her travel to a conference.  We are very fortunate to have an organization so invested in improving the lives of those with cardiovascular disease and stroke. 

I continue to advocate for stroke survivors to this day.  In May 2013, my son, Michael Thomas and I walked 570 miles across Kansas and we did it in 23 days…that’s about a marathon a day of walking.  We were challenged along the way by incredible storms, reptiles, unseasonable heat without shade and blisters on our feet.  Our goal was to raise awareness regarding the importance of physical activity after a stroke.  We also wanted to raise money for specialized equipment that monitors blood flow to the brain for people exercising after they have experienced a stroke.  One of the most exciting parts of our journey was that the local stroke survivors lined the streets at the finish line.  It was such as honor to be greeted by them.  I am truly humbled at the conversation between my son and a stroke survivor when we finished.  The gentleman who was a stroke survivor said, “May I shake your hand?” and Michael replied, ‘May I shake your hand?’ You’ve had a much tougher journey than I have.”  It was a day we will never forget.

Read More

In Memory of Rekisha Harris

*Guest Blogger Kevin Harker, Executive Vice President, Midwest Affiliate shares a story about loss. And while it’s difficult to read a story that doesn’t have a happy ending, it’s important that the story still gets told …. because the unfortunate reality is that heart disease is still killing one woman every minute.

Rekisha Harris was 32 years old in 2011 when she was first diagnosed with a congenital heart defect called non-compaction. At first, doctors thought it was post-partum cardiomyopathy, as she’d just given birth to her third child a few weeks earlier. But further testing revealed that it was much more critical. Her only treatment option was a heart transplant.

While waiting in the hospital for a suitable donor, Rekisha underwent emergency open heart surgery to implant an LVAD (left ventricular assist device) to help her heart beat. And then, a week later, she had a second emergency open heart surgery to remove a blood clot. Finally, a week before Christmas of 2011, she received her new heart. After nearly nine months in the hospital, she was able to return home to her family in January of 2012.

"Each one of my kids said for Christmas, all they wanted was for me to get a heart," Rekisha said in 2012. "They’re like, ‘we just want you to get a heart so you can come home.’"

Unfortunately, 10 months later, Rekisha was again hospitalized and fighting for her life after her body rejected the donor heart. After undergoing an emergency procedure, receiving multiple treatments and medications, she was released again in November of 2012, and looked like she was on the road to a full recovery … until January 10th of this year, when she died from heart complications after being admitted to the hospital.

Throughout her travails, Rekisha remained an ardent supporter of women’s heart health, serving as a national spokesperson for the Go Red For Women movement. In a guest column she penned last year for the Huffington Post, she wrote: "I am passionate about telling as many women as I can to fight for their health and speak up when something doesn’t feel right. Fight to be heard, fight for a correct diagnosis and fight to beat all odds. I want more women to pay attention to any changes in their health and see as many doctors as necessary to be sure their voice is heard."

In her 35 years, Rekisha touched many women by sharing her story. In the midst of a valiant battle to save her own life, her courageous choice to speak up undoubtedly changed people’s lives.

As we celebrate the 10th anniversary of Go Red For Women – the cause Rekisha cared for so deeply – I hope you’ll help her legacy live on by spreading the word about heart disease, the No. 1 killer of women. In honor of Rekisha, and all our heroic women who are fighting back, we will keep on raising our voices for a world free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke. Join us at www.goredforwomen.org

Warm regards,

Kevin D. Harker,

Executive Vice President, Midwest Affiliate

Read More

Share Your Story: Jodi Jackson

Jodi Jackson Kansas

I suffered a massive heart attack on October 13, 2011 at the age of 42. This came as a complete surprise. Although I knew I wasn't the healthiest person, I didn't think that I was that unhealthy. I had just had a full physical, my total cholesterol was only 134 and I had no family history of heart disease. That day, I started feeling bad on the way home from work. By the time I got home, I knew that I was really sick and needed to call an ambulance. I had a bad heaviness in my chest, a searing pain in my entire lower jaw that felt like my teeth would rattle out of my mouth and a horrible headache.

An ambulance took me to the ER and when we arrived, there was a fabulous cardiac team waiting on me. I never saw the ER staff. The doc took one look at the heart monitor and said "This is the real McCoy. You are having a heart attack and we are going to surgery right now."

Once in the cath lab, they discovered I had a complete occlusion of my LAD. They placed three drug eluting stents. I had a very good cardiologist, the hospital was fabulous and the surgery was a success. I later came to find out that this type of heart attack is known as the widow maker and only 20% of women that suffer this kind of heart attack survive. For the other 80%, the first noticeable sign is death. My cardiologist told me that I was only alive because I did everything right starting with calling an ambulance very soon after the onset of my symptoms. The time between my onset of symptoms and having stents placed in the cath lab was about 60 minutes. This resulted in very little permanent heart damage. He told me that if I had lain down to see if I felt better, I would have died in my sleep.

I did well until May of 2012 when I began having chest pain when I exercised. A trip to the cardiologist and subsequent nuclear medicine stress test revealed that I was suffering from restenosis. I had additional blockage caused by scar tissue build up from the original stent placement. This required the placement of an additional two drug eluting stents inside the original three stents.

I am so very fortunate to have survived my heart attack and am doing very well today. My last trip to the cardiologist in December of 2013 showed a normal EKG and sonogram. My blood work all came back excellent and I don’t have to go back to see her for another year. I now volunteer with a fabulous group of ladies as a Go Red Ambassador with the Kansas City chapter of the American Heart Association. I am also an advocate for heart healthy legislation through the "You’re the Cure" community. It is my mission to help educate other women about heart disease so that they know the dangers of the number one killer of women.

 

Read More

Welcome to the 2014 Legislative Session!

Creating heart-healthy communities takes more than just changing our own habits – we need to motivate others and speak in one voice.  Stay tuned for updates and calls to action as the 2014 Legislative Session begins and we continue to advocate for issues on the local, state and federal level!

We all know our health is our responsibility. But did you know that your lawmakers can also play a key role in promoting prevention and wellness? Urge your elected officials to support policies that encourage healthier lifestyles and foster physical activity in your community, school and workplace.

Eighty percent of cardiovascular disease doesn’t have to happen. Remind your state and federal representatives that an investment in disease prevention helps Americans get healthy and keeps our economy strong.

Encourage your local and national policymakers to take action on legislation that fights the devastating impact of heart disease and stroke. Together we can achieve the American Heart Association’s 2020 Impact Goal to improve the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20 percent and reduce cardiovascular disease and stroke deaths by 20 percent by 2020.

Calls to Action – Here are a few ways you can make a difference right now!

Research is an investment in our nation’s future. It improves health, spurs innovation and grows our economy. While Congress continues to debate budget cuts, help us protect funding for heart disease and stroke research. Take action at www.researchsaveslives.org

When ordinary people are given the tools to administer CPR survival rates for sudden cardiac arrest victims can double or even triple. That’s why the American Heart Association is committed to training the next generation of lifesavers. Be CPR Smart and join us in supporting legislation to ensure all students learn this life saving skill before they graduate high school.

When it comes to improving health and reversing the childhood obesity epidemic, the research points clearly to physical activity…kids need to move more! The FIT Kids Act will help them do just that. Urge legislators to co-sponsor the FIT Kids Act now and show their support for regular, quality physical education in schools.

The health impact of a stroke can be shattering, but the financial effect can be even more devastating if you don’t have health insurance. Find out what new protections and coverage options are available for stroke survivors under the Affordable Care Act at www.heartsforhealthcare.org.

Help Spread the Word! – Post these messages to your Facebook page!

Only 3.8 percent of elementary schools, 7.9 percent of middle schools and 2.1 percent of high schools provide daily physical education. It’s time to address the quality and quantity of PE in our nation's schools. Help us build support for the FIT Kids Act by contacting your Members of Congress today. Exercise your voice here: http://bit.ly/14zkzG2

It’s troubling to think about the promising heart and stroke advancements that will be put on hold due to federal budget cuts to the National Institutes of Health. "Like" this if you stand with medical researchers in calling on Congress for cures, not cuts!

Bystanders trained in CPR are often critical to a cardiac arrest victim’s survival. CPR training in schools can prepare students to contribute to their communities by saving lives. To learn more, visit www.becprsmart.org

 

 

Read More

If We Can Save a Child's Life With a Simple Test, Shouldn't We?

Recently the New York Times published an article talking about Pulse Ox titled “The Simple Test That Saved My Baby” stating that “The new screening is recommended by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, the American Heart Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Yet more than a dozen states — including populous ones like Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Florida, Georgia, Wisconsin and Washington — do not yet require it.”  

Kansas is among those states that do not require it.  

So what is Pulse Ox and why should you care?  This basic test consists of sensors placed on a baby's hand and foot to check for low blood oxygen levels - a significant indicator of heart issues in babies.  It’s quick, painless and inexpensive.  

While the test is not currently required in the state of Kansas, many hospitals have taken the initiate to do this test on their own accord.  However, if it were performed on EVERY baby prior to leaving the hospital additional lives would be saved because congenital heart defects are the most common birth defect in the U.S. and the leading killer of infants with birth defects.     

We need your help.  Efforts are under way to encourage the non-participating hospitals to start voluntarily performing Pulse Ox on all newborns, but in the meantime you can: 

Bottom line is this: When a baby is born, there is so much to be excited about. Is it a boy or a girl?  Who does she look like?  What color is his hair?  But at the end of the day, parents just want a healthy baby. If we can help save a child’s life with a simple test, shouldn’t we?

Read More

[+] Blogs[-] Collapse