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Share your Story: Brad and Kristi Wellendorf Family

Brad and Kristi Wellendorf Family Midwest Affiliate

It was a Wednesday night. We met at our 8th grade son’s baseball game.  Brad had to help with field prep, but he had a difficult time raking.  He was not able to catch his breath and was really thirsty.  Unfortunately, he didn’t share this information with anyone and it wasn’t the first time he felt this way. 

In the middle of the night he got up to go to the bathroom, and woke me up thankfully.  The next sound I heard was a choking and gasping sound coming from my husband.  When I turned the lights on his arms were crossed in front of his chest, his thumbs between his fingers, eyes fixated and he was making that awful sound.  Our 12 year old daughter first came into the room, then went out to the living room to get the phone.  We called 911. After telling the dispatcher our name, address and what was going on, Brad went limp.  I handed the phone to Lindsey for the remainder of the time.  I got him on the floor and started CPR.  The dispatcher on the phone was instructing me on what to do, but my training from 30 years prior kicked in and I knew exactly where to place my hands and how to deliver the compressions.  She and Lindsey had to do the counting out loud because I felt like I was hyperventilating.  I sang “Staying Alive” in my head to keep going fast enough.  This was different from my initial training, but I had seen the PSA video snippets on “Good Morning America” and other news shows in the months prior. 

I’m not sure how long into the CPR compressions it was before our son woke up and came into the room wondering what we were doing at 4 o’clock in the morning!  He immediately saw the dire circumstances we were in and switched spots with me.  We continued to ‘tag team’ with the compressions. During the times when he was working on his father, I was able to quickly get dressed, put the dog into another room, open the front door and turn on all the lights for the paramedicss to find us and come in.  I would later tell people we were like a well-oiled machine the way the three of us worked together, doing what needed to be done, and keeping our wits about us all while the man that we loved lay on the bedroom floor dying. 

From the time the ambulance was dispatched to arriving at Brad’s side, 14 minutes had passed.  It felt like it was a minimum of 30-minutes plus to us.    The report showed that they had to shock him two times and there were three attempts to intubate him. By this time 26 minutes had passed. Finally 33 minutes after the ambulance was dispatched he had a pulse, blood pressure and oxygen readings.  They transported him to the hospital.   I was taken by a police officer to the hospital and the kids stayed with a family friend who came over as soon as I called. 

Brad was taken to the cath lab and a stent was placed to open his completely blocked LAD.  This was all completed within 90 minutes from dispatch time.  He was also placed on the hypothermia protocol in the ER and was kept cool for almost 24 hours.  Brad was attached to a ventilator, the cooling unit, a heart balloon pump, blood circulating cuffs on his legs, and four trees full of medication when I saw him next in ICU.   A few hours later he was back in surgery to repair a femoral artery tear.   Every doctor and nurse who heard about my son and I doing CPR on Brad told us how we saved his life or thanked us for doing what we did so that they were able to do what they did for him, because without us, they would not have had him as a patient.  

Brad remained in a coma in the ICU unit. His brain was in near complete seizure activity. It did not look like he was going to come out of the coma, and end of life and organ/tissue donation was being discussed. 

Then 252 hours - 11 days - after the cardiac arrest he moved his leg.  It was 384 hours after the arrest he started talking.  He did not know who we were, he just knew we were important to him.   It took another couple days to call me by name and another to say our son’s full name, and several more days to realize who our daughter was.  During this time prior to going into the rehab hospital here, he had no pain sensation at all.  He couldn’t feel when they took his blood, tested or touched his feet or even when his hand was caught between the bed rail and the table.  This part of his brain hadn’t found it’s new pathway yet.   

His recovery really accelerated after what he called his ‘superman nap’ on his second day in rehab, the 23rd day after his cardiac arrest.  He described it that he could ‘see’ the synopsis and neurons reconnecting.  This is the same man who couldn’t say the months of the year or days of the week yet without help or extreme delay, or remember what number he was on long enough to continue to count.   He was able to relearn to walk and his balance improved to be independent. His brain-processing  improved through therapy enough to be able to come home after 13 days in rehab and 35 days from the cardiac arrest.  He continued with out-patient therapy for many months and went back to work on a very limited basis two years later.  

We are so fortunate that we were at home with Brad when his attack happened and were able to experience a true miracle.  

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Local Schools Receive Life-Saving CPR Kits

Area school districts received a life-saving gift through a partnership of Great Plains Health and the American Heart Association.  The training kits were handed out to area school districts. North Platte Public Schools, North Platte Catholic Schools, Our Redeemer Lutheran School, Wallace, Sutherland, Hershey, Maxwell, Brady and Arnold public schools will have access to the training kits. The kits will allow students to learn hands-only CPR, which could help reduce deaths from the more than 326,000 cardiac arrests that occur outside the hospital setting annually. The kits contain a number of learning tools, including 10 Mini Anne Plus inflatable manikins, 10 kneeling mats, 10 practice-while-watching training DVDs, replacement airways and face masks among other items. A lesson plan and facilitator guide is also included in the kits.

NPPS will have two of the kits; one kit will be shared between NPCS and Our Redeemer; one will be housed at Brady and shared with Maxwell and Arnold; and the final kit will be shared between Hershey, Sutherland and Wallace.

For more on this story, CLICK HERE

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Hunger Has Impact on Growth and Development

According to a recent journal article published by the American Academy of Pediatrics, both preschool and school-aged children showed that chronic hunger and food insecurity are significant predictors of health conditions, even when taking other factors into consideration. The results of this study were featured in a recent article in the Native Health News Alliance. The article states that nationwide, one in seven families experience food insecurity at any given point during a year, and the rates are higher in Indian Country, thus increasing the risks for the physical effects that come with poor nutrition. 

Hunger has a dramatic effect on the human body, and the influence of not having regular access to healthy food can be felt at a young age through its effects on childhood brain growth and cognitive function. 

For more on this article, CLICK HERE

Access to healthy, nutritious food can be a challenge, especially in rural areas.  Those Americans residing in certain parts of the U.S. with limited access to affordable and healthy foods area said to be living in “food deserts” – with lengthy trips to food markets.  These factors serve to make hunger among children a factor in poor health. 

The American Heart Association advocates for policies that will raise public awareness about the importance of a healthy, balanced diet and lifestyle; and increasing the availability and use of fruits and vegetables, and other nutritious foods, particularly in our nation’s schools.  This includes monitoring the USDA study on “food deserts” and developing policy recommendations to address the study’s outcomes. 

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From the Front Lines: Legislative Update

LB  722, the Stroke System if Care Act, passed on Final Reading on Tuesday, April 12, and now on its way to the Governor's desk.  This is the final hurdle for the Stroke System of Care Act and the American Heart Association encourages all advocates to contact the Governor and ask for his support.  Stroke is a leading cause of death and disability in Nebraska.  LB 722 establishes the beginning of statewide stroke system of care consisting of stroke hospital designation, EMS protocols, and a stroke task force to help treat stroke patients in a timely manner and to improve the overall outcomes of these patients. 

Encourage Governor Ricketts to sign the Stroke System of Care Act to ensure stroke patients get the care the needs to save lives and save long term care patient costs.  Take Action Now! 

A fragmented and disorganized delivery system can prohibit patients from receiving critical treatment .  The rapid identification, diagnosis, and treatment of stroke can save the lives of stroke patients and in some cases can reverse neurological damage such as paralysis and speech and language impairments, leaving stroke patients with few or no neurological deficits.  It can also save significant dollars by avoiding long-term care patient costs as the state of Nebraska pays millions in Medicaid costs every year in medical costs due to stroke.  This bill is close to becoming law because of all the great efforts by AHA volunteers and our coalition partners! 

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Get Up and Move During National Physical Activity Month

Its National Physical Activity month and because Americans are spending more time at work and sitting in front of a screen than ever before, we are at an increased risk of heart disease, stroke and other diseases. Being physically active is important to prevent heart disease and stroke, the nation’s No. 1 and No. 5 killers. Research has shown that every hour of regular exercise can add about two hours to life expectancy, even if you don’t start until midlife.  Plus, physical activity can relieve depression, improve your memory, lower your blood pressure and help prevent obesity.

During April, and all year long, we want people to lace up for their heart and get moving.  Whether it’s walking, running, biking, playing sports or a group class, the goal is for adults to get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise (or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity), while kids should get 60 minutes of physical activity a day. 

No Time to Exercise?  Try our Top Ten Tips to Get More!

You can even get heart-healthy benefits if you divide your time into two or three 10- to 15-minute segments a day. Here are some tips for getting active:

1. Get out the leash and walk your dog. It’s a great activity for both man and man’s best friend. Your heart — and your pooch — will thank you!

2. Mall walk. Are you sweating (or shivering) at the idea of walking outside? Take a brisk stroll around your local mall instead. Window shop, people watch and give your heart a workout in a climate-controlled environment.

3. Join a team.  Pick an activity you love and round up some friends. Team sports can be fun — and keep you motivated and accountable.

4. Take your child for a brisk walk. It’s an excellent way to get some one-on-one time (or one-on-three, depending on the size of your brood.) Spice up your routine by exploring new neighborhoods or turning your walk into a scavenger hunt.

5. Walk and talk. Even if you’re glued to your phone for work calls, you don’t have to be glued to your seat. Make it a habit to talk and walk. Some workplaces have walking paths to make it even easier to burn while you earn.

6. Tune into fitness during TV time.  Reject your inner couch potato. Walk, jog in place or use the treadmill at the gym while you watch your favorite 30-minute show.

7. Park and walk. How many times have you circled the parking lot to find “the” spot? Spare yourself the stress and gain more energy by parking far away (or even in a remote lot) and walking farther to your destination.

8. Take the stairs. The elevator may go up — but it doesn’t make your heart rate climb. Take the stairs instead. You may huff and puff at first, but over time, your body will thank you.

9. Dance! Do it in a ballroom, at a club or even in your living room. You’ll burn calories and gain a new hobby.

10. Skip the cake, say goodbye to pie and take a walk after dinner. You’ll get a reward that’s sweeter than dessert: more family time.

If these ideas don’t work for you, find something that you enjoy! Ditching the excuses can be the first step to a healthier you.  Of course, if you have an injury, talk to your doctor first to see if there’s a low-impact exercise you can do or find out if you should wait until you’re healed.

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Advocate Spotlight: Matt Zimmerman

Matt Zimmerman Nebraska

My name is Matt Zimmerman and I am an Associate Professor in the Department of Cellular & Integrative Physiology at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC). I am proud and honored to be an AHA volunteer and advocate for the AHA mission.

In my “day job”, I direct a biomedical research laboratory and teach/mentor graduate and medical students. In my research laboratory, we strive to better understand how the brain contributes to normal cardiovascular function and influences the development of cardiovascular diseases, particularly hypertension (a.k.a. high blood pressure).

Throughout my research career, first as a PhD graduate student and now as an independent academic scientist, my research has been supported by the AHA. I am tremendously grateful for the millions of dollars that the AHA contributes each year to the biomedical research community. However, the AHA does so much more than support research to build healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke. I chose to become an active volunteer with the Omaha AHA because I wanted to contribute to and make an impact in the other AHA-supported programs to promote healthy living in my community.

As a member of the Omaha Metro AHA Board of Directors, I believe I can make a difference by communicating with our community leaders as to how AHA research dollars are being used in our own backyard to support the exciting cardiovascular research being conducted in our community’s research institutions. Recently, I was honored to be appointed to the AHA Midwest Affiliate Board of Directors, which will give me an opportunity to promote AHA’s mission not only in my own community but across the entire Midwest. As a volunteer, it gives me great personal pleasure to be part of the many great AHA events that bring cardiovascular disease awareness to our community, such as the AHA Heart Walk.

I am excited to contribute to current AHA initiatives including making CPR training a high school graduation requirement in the state of Nebraska, and improving the health of our community’s workforce by promoting the AHA’s Workplace Health Solutions program. I look forward to being a life-long AHA volunteer and advocate.

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Join Nebraska Social Media Network!

Social media is everywhere, and for many of us, it’s where we get our news.  Online communities are a regular part of our daily lives, and we want you to join our social media community to stay up to date on everything related to the American Heart Association. 

We continue to strive to meet our goals of improving the heart health of all Americans by 20 percent and reducing deaths from cardiovascular diseases and stroke by 20 percent, and we know that social media provides the opportunity to communicate with our advocates and volunteers in a new way.  Social media opens up new opportunities for outreach and relationship-building among the communities that we serve.  Social media presence among our volunteer advocates is more important than ever! 

Please join us on our social media pages so that you can be a part of our social media community! Then, Like, Comment, Share, Favorite and Re-Tweet information for your social network!  Together, we can reach our goals!

Facebook: American Heart Association Nebraska

Twitter:  American Heart NE

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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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Crunch Time at the Capitol! Take Action Today!

It’s crunch time at the Capitol in Lincoln on several important issues that our volunteer advocates have been working on throughout this session.  Your senator needs to hear from you to ensure the initiatives that will improve our cardiovascular in Nebraska are on the minds of our legislators as they hear testimony and vote on these issues. 

The Stroke System of Care Act would ensure stroke victims get the fast treatment they need for the best chance at a full recovery. Immediate access to the right care, including clot-busting drugs and interventions, can mean the difference between a full recovery, or a lifetime of disability--or even death. LB 722 will help develop a coordinated stroke system in Nebraska, ensuring timely access to a hospital that is best equipped to meet the specific needs of stroke patients.

Your Senator needs to hear from you today on the Stroke System of Care Act!

We also working to reduce the impact of tobacco on our health in Nebraska.  The time has come to increase the tobacco tax, and the reason is simple:  increasing the tobacco tax will save lives from tobacco-related illnesses, and it will save health care costs for our state.

It is estimated that by increasing the tobacco tax by $1.50 per pack of cigarettes, an estimated 12,000 of our youth will not become addicted to tobacco.  That means a significant reduction in long term tobacco-related chronic illnesses because citizens never started smoking in the first place.  It also means a significant savings in health care costs for our state.  An estimated $795 million in annual health care costs in Nebraska is directly caused by smoking.  $795 million every year!  

Contact your Senator today and ask him/her to support an increase in the Tobacco Tax when it comes before him/her for a vote. 

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Advocates Raise Awareness at Red Dress Dash

We are so proud of all our Nebraska advocates who participated in the Red Dress Dash in Lincoln on February 4th!  We are especially proud of Lisa Culbertson who took a moment to explain why this event, and raising awareness, is so important to her!  Lisa was saved by CPR and has become a passionate advocate for everyone learning CPR in Nebraska.  Check out this great story

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