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.
Thanks to a Together to End Stroke cause sponsorship with University of Utah Health, 30 survivors and caregivers joined eight golf professionals at Nibley Park Golf Course for a day of therapy, golfing and fun. Outstanding volunteer engagement included FOX13 sportscaster Morgan Vance as the event emcee, University of Utah stroke rehab physician and stroke survivor Steven Edgley, MD, and University of Utah health coach Amanda Bishop. Both Dr. Edgley and Amanda Bishop have a personal connection to stroke and are deeply committed to our mission. One survivor attendee noted, “Such a great event to get back into an activity that I have enjoyed.” Check out the heartwarming feature in the Salt Lake Tribune! Have you been to a Saving Strokes event? Call your local office and ask how you can get involved.
Many thanks to our Salt Lake City volunteers and staff who contributed to the success of this event!
The University of Utah will receive $3.7 million in research funding over four years as part of a new AHA children’s research network announced last week. The network will focus on improving children’s heart health, investing almost $15 million in work at four institutions.
The Utah study aims to prevent or predict congenital heart disease and improve decision-making between parents and physicians. The team will use machine-learning data mining algorithms to approach congenital heart disease as a family disease to look at causes, as well as the impact of maternal-fetal environment on health. The research will be led by Martin Tristani-Firouzi, M.D. Experts say that helping children maintain ideal cardiovascular health is more effective than taking a wait-and-see approach and treating disease in adulthood. The aim of the AHA’s Strategically Focused Research Network for children is to help reach that goal through studies looking at childhood obesity, maintaining ideal heart health, congenital heart disease and rheumatic heart disease.
Strategically Focused Research Networks study prevention, hypertension, disparities, women’s health, heart failure, and obesity. This is now the fourth Strategically Focused Research Network awarding a research institute in the Western States Affiliate, and the second for the University of Utah (also selected as part of the network on heart failure). The others include the women’s health network in San Diego, heart failure network at the University of Utah, and stroke research network at UCLA. The AHA will launch new networks focused on vascular disease and atrial fibrillation in 2018.
Mehak Agarwal is a volunteer from Santa Maria, California. She is taking a break from her studies to do intensive physical therapy after receiving her pacemaker and is currently working at Dignity Health’s Marian Regional Medical Center in Santa Maria, California. Mehak is using her own heart experience to raise awareness regarding heart disease in young people.
March 3, 2015, marked the day I became a 19-year-old capable of saying, “I have a pacemaker.”
My journey began in November 2014, while I was studying architecture and design at the University of Cincinnati. I was having what I thought was an anxiety attack but also feeling extremely drowsy. I called my family in Los Angeles, who told me to go to the emergency room.
I was moved to the intensive care unit where wires were attached to every part of my body. Thirteen vials of blood were taken from me as I lie in bed with automated external defibrillators (AEDs) stuck to my chest as a precaution. Three doctors, two specialists, five interns and a bevy of nurses tried to figure out what was wrong with me.
The next morning a cardiologist advised me to get a pacemaker. “Why?” I asked. He said I had a heart defect that interfered with the signals that regulated my heart beat, and I should remove the “what if” factor of my heart stopping. Again, I asked, “Why?” This time I meant, “Why me?” He told me I was probably born with this problem. It was one of the angriest, saddest and most frustrating moments of my life.
Four months passed as I sought multiple opinions from various doctors and underwent a multitude of tests. Finally, I decided to undergo surgery to have a pacemaker installed. People who meet me for the first time wouldn’t know I have a pacemaker, let alone that I suffer from minor effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Yes, I came out of this surgery physically improved, but mentally and emotionally the experience did some damage.
I wanted to become an American Heart Association spokesperson so I can encourage people, old and young, to investigate their heart health. I also want them to know that if you discover a problem, thanks in part to research advances made possible by the American Heart Association, treatment and care are often possible.
Thanks to the incredible work of the Seattle Healthy Kids Coalition, the Seattle City Council voted to adopt a 1.75 cents per ounce tax on sugary drinks that will increase funding for healthy food access, public health, early learning and education programs for communities most affected by the obesity and Type 2 diabetes epidemics.
The AHA is a member of this coalition, which represents a broad group of local and national and organizations supporting early learning and education, public health and healthy food access. Read more about this great success on heart.org.
Congratulations to the entire Seattle team!
You might also want to check out this great Montana advocacy success from earlier in the week!