My Dad is Why.
It was a Wednesday evening in June of 2006. I was in my room, studying for my final Gynecology and Obstetrics test, when I heard my mother calling me saying "your father is not looking right".
He was 57 at the time, in his usual state of health when he started complaining of a left-sided chest pressure he initially felt that morning while teaching his students basic Tennis skills.
I ran frantically to his room on the other side of our home to find him so restless. “It feels like an elephant is sitting on my chest” he screamed in pain. As a fourth year medical student, I was running down a list of different diagnoses in my head, trying so hard to keep a "heart attack" at the bottom of my list.
We rushed him to the nearest cardiac center, and sure enough, he was diagnosed with a heart attack. He received the required treatment and was thankfully discharged home after two day hospitalization.
Through an interesting journey many years later, I found myself practicing medicine and specializing in cardiovascular diseases. I know my dad is why I became so passionate about healthy living and health promotion.
When I joined the American Heart Association as a volunteer, I wanted to do my part to raise awareness about heart disease. My goal was to keep families together for longer, to give them an opportunity to live and experience special moments such as a child’s college graduation, a daughter's wedding and the birth of a grandchild.
Through my work with the American Heart Association, I was able to play a role in increasing awareness about Hands-Only CPR. We are still working on the proposal in New York State that will ensure high school students are trained in basic CPR prior to graduation. I was privileged to be one of the nearly 100 advocates who traveled to Albany last year to ask our Legislature to support this policy.
More recently, I joined the American Heart Association’s efforts to help fight obesity, a disease that has been troubling our population for generations. Obesity leads to many chronic illnesses, most of which are “silent killers” such as diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke and heart disease. Testifying in front of the Assembly committees address sugary drink legislation was a tremendous experience.
I will continue to fight against all the bad habits that I have seen throughout the years that have led to many catastrophes in my patients’ health. For a better, healthier and longer life, please join our efforts to make a difference.