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Why I Advocate for Heart

I’m excited to share my personal journey of advocating for heart, which ultimately led to AED machines being placed at my workplace. It began in 1998 when my husband learned he had a heart murmur and kept tabs on it via an annual EKG. However things worsened and his bicuspid aortic valve was weakened causing aortic regurgitation (AVR) and endocarditis, a serious infection in his heart.

Life was fairly normal until February of 2013 when he thought he was run down by allergies, very common for anyone living in Central Texas. Unfortunately, it was his heart. 

On May 22nd of 2013 he had open-heart surgery where his aortic valve was replaced by bovine tissue. "Holy Cow" is said in our household daily! He is recovering well and feels better with each day. This event is the scariest thing we've ever been though in our lives.

This has led me to become a strong advocate for the American Heart Association. I joined the AHA’s Passion Committee to promote physical activity, research and awareness for leading healthier lives.

In February 2014, my mission was for all our work associates to be dressed in red for National Wear Red Day. Thanks to the support of my husband and many work colleagues, our office shined in red that day! We hosted a staff get-together where I shared our story and University of Texas Volleyball Coach Salima Rockwell shared her personal survivor story with our team.

This event lead to an engaged Q&A session where a colleague discussed how an AED machine could have saved the life of a dear friend. His question sparked a project in our team immediately.  From there we made it our mission to get AEDs placed in and around our office. 

I’m thrilled to report, AED machines are now placed in our workplace creating an environment to treat sudden cardiac arrest. My vision is to continue to make an impact and be viewed as an active, engaged contributor in the heart health community.

This is just a small example of how one person sharing their voice can lead to big change.  I hope you will join me in being an advocate for heart health at your workplace, school, community, or wherever there may be a need!

This post was written by AHA volunteer and Passion Committee member April Wade Peters.

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Amy Steelman Put CPR Training in Action, Saved Daughters Life

It was hot, as Oklahoma Augusts tend to be.  And with a house full of relatives and birthdays to celebrate, the kids were ready for the pool.

After getting her two-year-old daughter Hannah’s bathing suit on, Amy Steelman headed upstairs to change clothes and take her daughter to the pool. When she came back downstairs, Amy started looking for Hannah. Immediately, she had a feeling something was wrong because her daughter was nowhere in sight.

“I heard my aunt screaming, and I just started running,” she recalls.

She headed for the wrap-around porch and above-ground swimming pool. From the door, she could see that her daughter and her cousin’s two-year-old daughter both were being pulled from the water. They both had been floating face-down in the pool for what Steelman estimates was less than two minutes.

She immediately started CPR on Hannah, while her aunt and cousin performed
CPR on the other 2-year-old.

“It was so hectic because there were two of them,” she said. “But I come from a medical family. By the grace of God, I was calm. I knew she needed CPR. When I gave her a breath and saw her chest rise, I had an overwhelming feeling that she would be OK.”

After only one round of chest compressions and rescue breaths, Hannah started
coughing up pool water.

“If we wouldn’t have started CPR when we did, I firmly believe they wouldn’t have survived,” she said. “It’s such a limited timeframe that you have.”

Amy learned CPR when she took medical classes and worked at Saint Francis Hospital as a patient care technician when she graduated from high school.

“It had been several years since I had worked there, but it was something I never forgot,” she said. Since then, she has taken several CPR refresher courses and she has started telling her story as a volunteer with the American Heart Association and Citizen CPR, which teaches AHA courses.

Steelman has made CPR education her personal mission. Because of CPR, the two toddlers survived drowning, which is the No. 1 cause of accidental death for children younger than 4.

“Older people are not the only ones who may need CPR,” she said. CPR can be used after a drowning, poisoning, electrical shock, choking, trauma and many other accidents that could cause the heart to stop.

Knowing CPR also helps the responders remain calm and stay focused.

“I can’t imagine if none of us had known what to do,” she said. “Just sitting there and waiting for an ambulance would have been a terrible feeling.”

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