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Find the Heart Walk Near You

The Heart Walk is the American Heart Association’s premier community event, helping to save lives from heart disease and stroke. More than 300 walks across America raise funds to support valuable health research, education and advocacy programs of the American Heart Association in every state. Our You’re the Cure advocacy movement – and our public policy successes along the way – are all made possible by the funds raised by the Heart Walk. Whether it’s CPR laws passed to train the next generation of lifesavers or policy to regulate tobacco products and prevent youth smoking,  together we are building a world free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke. The Heart Walk is truly a community event, celebrating survivors, living healthy, and being physically active. We hope you’ll join us and visit the site today. If there is not a walk listed in your area soon,  it may be coming in the spring season or you can join a virtual event. And don’t forget to connect with your local advocacy staff and ask about your local Heart Walk day-of You’re the Cure plans - they may need your help spreading the word. Thanks for all you do, and happy Heart Walk season.

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Share Your Story: Lexie Amerin

Lexie Amerin Kansas

My name is Lexie Amerin and I am a 17 year old senior at Southwestern Heights High School. My heart problems occurred while I was in my mother’s womb but weren’t realized until after I was born.

I cried once but then I stopped breathing and they had to resuscitate me. This is how I entered the world.  I was immediately airlifted to Children’s Mercy in Kansas City where they discovered my heart defect. I had been diagnosed with severe Pulmonary Stenosis plus a hole in my heart. My pulmonary valve’s opening was the size of the tip of a pencil. It was too small for my blood to flow through.

In my first 24 hours of life, I had a Heart Catheterization done to allow my blood to flow to my heart. I was in the hospital for 21 days, where twice I code blue and had to be resuscitated. I had severe acid reflux and had surgery to place a feeding tube in my stomach to prevent me from throwing up my food and allow me to gain weight and grow. I was tube fed until I was 5 years old.

As time went on, I grew and continued to thrive. I went to my cardiologist in Wichita every 3 years and my heart was doing well. I played sports such as volleyball and basketball, and I participated in gymnastics and dance. Everything was going great.

When I got to junior high I wasn’t feeling so great, however. I felt like my heart kept skipping beats and had an abnormal rhythm. We went to my cardiologist and they had me try numerous heart monitors but none of them seemed to work. I still didn’t feel right. I went back up to the doctor to do more stress tests where I was told I had to limit my exercise and I couldn’t play sports anymore.  I decided to become the manager so that I could still be a part of my team.

My oldest sister, Kaylee who also has pulmonary stenosis but not as severe, was seeing an adult cardiologist in Kansas City. He said that he would take me as a patient, so I made the switch as well.

My freshman year I was cleared to cheer and play softball at my own pace. I was the JV pitcher and I felt that I was improving throughout the year. I went to the cardiologist for an appointment and learned that I needed more tests. The next visit I was given the news that I needed open heart surgery to replace my heart valve. We decided on replacing it with a pig valve.

June came around and before we knew it, our journey began. We drove to Rochester, MN to the Mayo Clinic where they began running tests. When I was there, I found out that I have another rare heart defect called Ebstein’s Anomaly. This is basically that my tricuspid valve wasn’t formed normal and so it made my blood backflow, causing my heart to enlarge even more. My right ventricle was so enlarged, it was the same size as the rest of my heart. The day before my surgery, we decided to wait for my heart to enlarge a little bit more so the valve could be replaced with an adult sized pig valve which would last longer. They wanted to wait another year before the surgery.

But then sophomore year came. I had to quit cheerleading because yelling took too much of my breath away. Softball was where I, and everybody else, could really see me going downhill. I tried my best throughout the year but my body just physically could not take it. I couldn’t run my own bases anymore, I couldn’t pitch more than an inning. I couldn’t play summer softball because the heat took too much out of me. I would sleep for 12-14 hours to recover after a game or any activity.

One day at softball camp for the little kids, my mom came and told me that she got the surgery scheduled for July 16. I was happy but honestly I was so scared, it was so soon. Before we knew it, July was here.

We started on our 15 hour journey again. We got up to Minnesota and I went through the same tests that I did before. I knew it was for real this time. I was prepared for the surgery. My surgery was to replace my pulmonary valve with a pig valve, to fix my tricuspid valve, and to close the hole in my heart. The last thing that I remember is seeing bright lights, and the doctors looking over me, then I was out.

I woke up around midnight in the ICU. I had a breathing tube that had to be taken out which was one of the most difficult things I have ever done. When they moved me from the ICU to the PCU after surgery, I walked a wheelchair all the way up. Looking back, I have no clue how I did that. I stayed in the hospital for only 4 days. I walked up and down the hallway each day, progressing more and more. On day 3, I finally got to go outside. On day 4, I finally got released from the hospital. It took me about 6 weeks to get back to a full day of school, but finally I made it back.

I went to the doctor three months after my surgery for a post-op checkup where he cleared me to full activity and told me that my heart has shrunk down to a somewhat normal size. It still doesn’t feel like it happened but I feel so much better. This softball season will be the first season I’ll be able to play like a normal girl on the team. I’ll be able to run, pitch, and hit like everybody else for the first time in my life.

Having this surgery doesn’t mean that it’s over. The valve will need replacing in about 15 years.  By then, I won’t have to have open heart surgery, but rather just a one day surgery where they replace it with what is called a melody valve. I’m just one of the many examples of someone living with a congenital heart defect. Without my surgeries, I wouldn’t be here today. My surgery was the best thing that has ever happened to me, it saved my life.  I will go back for my 1 year checkup in July.  I encourage everyone to educate themselves and spread awareness of heart disease.

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Share Your Story - Shareena Turley

Shareena Turley Kansas

Shareena Turley knows first-hand that a stroke can occur at any age. Fortunately, the 26-year-old Park City life insurance agent also knew the signs and symptoms of stroke when her vision suddenly went "haywire" while she was driving. "I was able to pull over, put the car in park and turn on my hazard lights," says Shareena.

Then her stomach began churning and she started throwing up. Alone and slumped over in the driver’s seat, she glanced down and saw her left hand lying in her lap and began taking a mental inventory of what she was experiencing: the vertigo, limp arm and difficulty forming words. "Oh my God," Shareena thought. "I’m having a stroke."

After five attempts, she finally was able to dial 911. Struggling to form her words, she slurred, "Please help me. I’m in Mulvane. I think I’m having a stroke." -See more of her inspiring story.

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90 Seconds Can Save a Life

We spend a lot of time talking about the importance of teaching high school students CPR before they graduate, but what if YOU are called on to give CPR in an emergency? You will most likely be trying to save the life of someone you love: your spouse, parent, child or friend.

In just 90 seconds, you can learn the two simple steps of Hands-Only CPR. Click below to watch the Hands-Only CPR video and then share the link with family and friends!

Thank you for learning how to save a life!

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Help Protect PE for Kids Like Me!

Guest post from Reagan Spomer, 6th grader Alliance for a Healthier Generation Youth Advisory Board Member & You’re the Cure Advocate

I have two words for you… scooter hockey.  Sounds fun, doesn’t it?  That’s because it is!  Scooter hockey, along with cage ball and 3-way soccer are some of my favorite activities in gym class, which I have a few times a week.

I’m glad I have physical education for a number of reasons.  It keeps me active and teaches me to try new things.  It helps me focus on my school work.  It relieves my stress.  And most of all, it makes me feel great! 

But I know a lot of schools don’t have regular PE like my schools does.  That means a lot of kids are missing out on the benefits of being active during the school day.  I think this needs to change.   

Will you help?  As part of the nationwide campaign to protect PE in schools, Voices for Healthy Kids has created a photo petition map to show how many people across the country love PE like I do.  As people share their pictures, the map will change colors.  I’ve added my “I heart PE” photo for South Dakota.  Will you do the same for your state?  It’s really easy:

  1. Print an “I heart PE” sign (or make your own!)
  2. Take a picture of yourself holding the sign.
  3. Click on your state to share your photo.

Thanks for helping to protect PE for kids like me!
-Reagan

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Share Your Story: Chase Maltbie

Chase Maltbie Kansas

Lansing Elementary School students are jumping for joy over their big donation to the Kansas City American Heart Association. Students raised $13,000 this year thanks to their hard work and the inspiring stories of their gym teacher, Lee Matzeder, and a 6-year-old student, Chase Maltbie.

Matzeder had a heart attack on November 3 at the Royals victory parade. "It felt like someone was sitting on my chest; I could hardly breathe," said Matzeder. His wife, Tina, rushed him to the emergency room at the University of Kansas Hospital, where doctors said he needed triple bypass surgery.

Two months after surgery, Matzeder returned to teach at Lansing Elementary. He was there when students participated in this year's Jump Rope for Heart event benefiting the American Heart Association. First Grader Chase Maltbie had the most donations - a whopping $1,800 in pledges. Chase's dad, Lt. Col. Richard Maltbie, died of a heart attack last October. He was only 39 years old. Chase said he wanted to jump to honor his dad and make a difference.  "To help people with sick hearts so I can donate money to other doctors to help other doctors learn how to take care of sick hearts," said Chase.

The 6-year-old also had advice for other children dealing with a parent's death.  "It's hard to have it; but I hope you can get through it," Chase explained.  Matzeder knows how Chase feels because the gym teacher was also six years old when his father died of a heart attack. Now Matzeder tells everyone he knows to get their heart checked at least once a year.  "I just never thought it would happen to me," said Matzeder. 

Many of the students who participated in the Jump Rope Event said they were jumping to honor their teacher. See the full story here.

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Share Your Story-Heart Walk Survivors

Life is Why!

Everyone has a reason to live a healthier, longer life.

The Heart Walk is the American Heart Association's premier event in the community. It promotes physical activity and heart-healthy living in a fun, family environment.

It is a time of celebration for those who have made lifestyle changes and encourages many more to take the pledge to live healthier lifestyles while raising the monies needed to fund life-saving research and education, advocate for health and SAVE lives!

Come join us for the Kansas City Heart Walk!

Where:

Power & Light District
Grand Boulevard
Kansas City, Missouri, 64106

When:

Starts: Sat, 18 Jun 2016 8:00:00 AM
Ends: Sat, 18 Jun 2016 11:30:00 AM

Registration Fee: Free event. Participants are encouraged to collect donations.

REGISTER HERE FOR THE UPCOMING HEART WALK.   

It's easier than ever to support the American Heart Association.

For more information contact:
Natalie Cronkhite
913-652-1901
natalie.cronkhite@heart.org

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AHA President Says: The Science is Clear on Sodium Reduction

Check this out! In a new video, the President of the AHA, Dr. Mark Creager, explains that the science behind sodium reduction is clear. He says that robust evidence has linked excess sodium intake with high blood pressure, which increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, and heart failure. And, he points out that you can do something about it: join AHA’s efforts to demand change in the amounts of sodium in our food supply.

“Nearly 80 percent of the sodium we eat comes from processed, prepackaged, and restaurant foods” says AHA president Dr. Mark Creager. The video shows the 6 foods that contribute the most salt to the American diet: breads & rolls, cold cuts and cured meats, pizza, poultry, soup, and sandwiches."

To see the video, head over to our Sodium Breakup blog!

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The healthy difference a month can make

March is Nutrition Month, and a perfect time to get more involved with the AHA’s ongoing efforts to promote science-based food and nutrition programs that help reduce cardiovascular disease and stroke.

Every day, we’re seeing new initiatives: to make fruits and vegetables more affordable; to reduce the number of sugar-sweetened beverages that our kids are drinking; and of course, to ensure students are getting the healthiest school meals possible, all with the same goal: to help families across the country lead the healthiest lives they possibly can.

It’s also a great opportunity to lower your sodium intake. The average American consumes more than 3,400 milligrams of sodium per day – more than twice the AHA-recommended amount. Excessive sodium consumption has been shown to lead to elevated blood pressure, which increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. Visit www.heart.org/sodium for tips on to lower your intake and to get heart-healthy recipes.

However you choose to celebrate, Nutrition Month gives us all the chance to take control of our diets; to recommit to eating fresh, healthy foods; and to remember all month long that you’re the cure.

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Share Your Story: Sabrina Robinson

Sabrina Robinson Kansas

Sabrina Robinson was at home with her then-6-year-old son Zachary, 35 miles away from the nearest hospital where she worked as a nurse in the cardiologist’s office, when she thought she was having a stroke.

She called 911 that morning in 2014, but when the EMS crew arrived, they didn’t detect anything wrong. Robinson – aware that medical personnel doubted she had any problems – insisted on going to the hospital, and it wasn’t until halfway there that they determined she was having a heart attack.

"I just started bawling," said Robinson, who was 36 at the time. "I thought I was going to die in the back of the ambulance with these people who thought I was faking it." 

Read More of Sabina’s Story.

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