The WSA Exchange

For healthy hearts and minds

The WSA Exchange

Welcome to the The WSA Exchange, for healthy hearts and minds. Kathy Rogers, American Heart Association Western States Affiliate Executive Vice President will share stories from across the affiliate.

Guest Blogger: Amber Waller Karasawa

Amber-Waller-Karasawa_Tim-KarasawaAmber Waller Karasawa works as an actress and artist in Southern California. She is also an American Heart Association volunteer and staunch advocate for CPR training.

In the spring of 2013, my parents sold their house in St. Louis and my mom hopped on a plane to Phoenix, determined to find a new home for her and my father. And she did… just blocks away from my sister and her family. After retiring from working at a grocery store for over 30 years, her dream of living close to her grandchildren was coming true. She left a message on my cellphone, “Hi honey, I just want you to know that I found a house.” I still have that message saved to my phone. Just two days later the unthinkable happened. While babysitting her grandchildren, suffered a cardiac arrest, and passed away.

I relived the situation trying to figure out, “Could we have saved her?” I began researching online the odds of living if you have a cardiac arrest outside of a hospital and learned that 9 out of 10 people die. Maybe CPR would have saved her? Maybe 9 out of 10 people wouldn’t die if they were given CPR? Only one-third of sudden cardiac victims even receive CPR.

About four months after my mother’s passing, I decided to pick myself up again and begin playing soccer in a co-ed league. I felt great, I was getting extremely fit from the cardio and having a blast. Our team was playing an important play-off game, when suddenly I collapsed. Everyone thought I was having a seizure and stayed away until, a teammate burst through the crowd to feel for a pulse. There wasn’t one, so he immediately started CPR. Our goalie and another team member joined in. They each took turns administering CPR for five minutes until the paramedics arrived. The paramedics continued to administer CPR and use the defibrillator until I came back to life in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. I was gone, no heartbeat, no life, for seven minutes. From my previous research I knew the odds of survival were slim and I was one of the lucky ones. Those players on the field that day saved my life and I wouldn’t be here today without them.

A month later I attended a luncheon honoring people who had saved lives and the survivors. It was a wonderful, surreal, emotional, moment of all of us coming together. The heroes from my soccer team were there, and I was finally able to meet the EMTs. Their smiles were beaming from ear to ear when they saw me alive and healthy. One pulled me aside with tears in his eyes and said, “I don’t think you realize, you are the call of a lifetime. Most of the time these stories don’t have happy endings, but this one I will never forget, and I’ve been waiting to see you again to give you something, that I think you might want.”

At that moment he pulled out a folded-up, square, piece of paper, and began to open it. It became clear that it was a long print out of my heartbeat from my time with them in the ambulance. He showed me the little line representing my heart beat when I came back to life on the report. He said he saved it in hopes of seeing me again and was so happy to finally be able deliver it. 

I have heart disease… heart failure, and I’m continuing to fight the fight. I’m ready to change the face of heart disease through my story and let the world know that CPR saves lives. If you don’t know CPR, learn it. If you do, help spread the word. I look forward to the day when everyone knows CPR… you learn how to ride a bike, you learn to drive a car, you learn CPR. With help from the American Heart Association, that future is near. The American Heart Association saves lives and so can you!

Learn more about Amber’s journey — visit her personal blog 7 Minute Reset.

By |July 11th, 2016|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Star Chefs lend a hand at Las Vegas Teens Cook With Heart Competition

blog TCWH compTwelve teams presented healthy and delicious recipes to the star-studded panel that turned out to judge the Teens Cook With Heart competition 2016 at the Las Vegas culinary Academy.

On the panel were chefs from renowned Las Vegas restaurants including Chef Mark LeRusso from Costa DiMare at Wynn Las Vegas, Chef Betty Park from Scarpetta and D.O.C.G. at the Cosmopolitan, Chef Bobby Neese from the Smith Center, Las Vegas Circle of Red member, Mya Reyes, and Chef Jon Stokes from Las Vegas Culinary Academy.

blog TCWH comp 2The evaluation was based on plating, flavor balance, as well as the basics of doneness, sanitation and knowledge of the ingredients used and the effect in their bodies. The top team of three students was awarded a summer internship at the Smith Center under the mentorship of Chef Bobby Neese and an opportunity to participate in the heart-healthy Flavors of the Heart 2016 with Chef 2016 Chef Vic Vegas from Spike TV!

We might just be grooming an upcoming celebrity chef! Check out some of the great pictures from the even in our photo gallery


By |July 5th, 2016|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Guest Blogger: Bob Young-At-Heart

bob youngBob Young is a retired Division Chief with the Anaheim Fire Department and has been an American Heart Association Volunteer for many years. He has served as a CPR instructor, affiliate faculty member, advocate and donor.

My life has been greatly enhanced by my long association with the American Heart Association.

In 1997, my 30 years of teaching and preaching CPR was paid back in 10 minutes. Following an aerobic workout in a local gym, I suffered a sudden cardiac arrest. Two bystanders acted quickly and started CPR. Local paramedics also responded using a defibrillator to shock my heart. I was transported to a local hospital and stabilized. This was followed by heart surgery that bypassed the blockage that caused the arrhythmia that stopped my heart. I recovered completely and was able to return to work.

As if the first incredible survival wasn’t enough, in 2002 the same scenario happened again – another gym, another cardiac arrest! This time my wife Sandy was one of the CPR providers who saved my life. Luckily, as with the first incident, there was no major damage to the heart muscle. A stent was placed in the artery and an automatic internal defibrillator was implanted.

I currently live a very active and productive life thanks to the American Heart Association and the miracle of modern medicine. I hope what has happened to me gives other heart patients the hope for a bright future.

I am thrilled that the American Heart Association is working to making Hands-Only CPR training a graduation requirement for high school. As it did with mine, cardiac arrests happen outside a hospital setting 70 percent of the time. Bystander intervention can double or triple the chance of survival. Imagine how many lives could be saved if every American student had this skill under their belt upon graduation from high school.

By |July 1st, 2016|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Collaboration improves blood pressure at health center

david and cesar talking about blood pressure at RavenswoodOne in three adults suffer from high blood pressure. The American Heart Association’s (AHA) Check. Change. Control. program encourages participants to check their blood pressure and change their health habits in order to control high blood pressure with the help of community partners, health mentors, local events and digital tools and resources.

Ravenswood Family Health Center (RFHC) in Palo Alto, California joined us to guide 70 patients through the program. For four months, participants checked and tracked their blood pressure online and through the use of a health kiosk installed at the RFHC Stanford Library. During that time they attended workshops and worked with local health mentors to decrease blood pressure and improve their cardiovascular health through diet, nutrition and exercise.

On Saturday, June 18, attendees gathered to celebrate their hard work and success by inviting AHA Western State Affiliate Board President-elect David Lee, M.D., and RFHC’s Chief Medical Officer Cesar Chavarria, M.D. to participate as a part of the physician dialogue panel, assembled to answer participant questions. Health coaches translated each question and answer into Spanish and Tonguan so that all could benefit.

By |June 26th, 2016|Uncategorized|0 Comments