Stories from the heart


Exercise routine unexpectedly reveals heart disease for man in his 30s

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS Ricky Reyes had just begun a high-intensity exercise program to get in better shape. But instead of feeling energized, the workouts left him exhausted and with spasms in his back, arms and jaw. His fitness trainer had previously told him his body was still adapting […]

Heart attack at fire station leaves crew working to save one of their own

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS Firefighter Tony Spagnoletti was on overnight duty when he woke up with chest pains. He sloughed it off as “gas.” “We’d been doing a rope rescue training earlier and I’d spent the day climbing up and down ladders,” Spagnoletti recalled of the night in 2012. […]

Florida man survives cardiac arrest thanks to quick action of lifeguards

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS For J.R. Bourne, a day at the beach rekindles good and bad memories. It’s the place where the Jacksonville Beach, Florida, resident died and was brought back to life thanks to fast-thinking first responders and an automated external defibrillator. Back in June 2015, then-40-year-old Bourne […]

Amid bustling World Series celebration, a teacher is saved by a stranger in the crowd

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS Lee Matzeder’s heart was racing and his chest felt tight during the Kansas City Royals’ World Series victory parade in downtown Kansas City in 2015. But it wasn’t from the excitement of being surrounded by 800,000 likeminded fans celebrating a world championship. The 55-year-old elementary […]

Congenital heart defect survivor overcomes anxiety as an adult

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS As with most Saturdays, Michael King was on the basketball court refereeing another game in 2011 when he started feeling hot and tired. He stepped outside for some fresh air. A friend went to check on him but couldn’t find a pulse, even though King […]

28-year-old clings to hope as he awaits a new heart

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS Lea en español Felix Aguirre has always been close to his family. The oldest of four siblings, he’s known for putting the needs of his relatives above his own. A recent diagnosis of heart failure has reaffirmed those relationships. Aguirre’s heart troubles started in December […]

Cardiac arrest stopped this half marathon runner mid-stride

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS Lea en español Melissa Ziebell was approaching the final mile of the 2015 Paris Half Marathon, her third ever, on track to break her personal best time of 1:45. Then her legs seemed to seize up and stop working. “I realized I was going to […]

After his heart stopped on Valentine’s Day, Texas man learned he’d need a new heart

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS Davy Hobson was notorious for last-minute Valentine’s gifts. But on Feb. 14, 2013, he was ahead of the game. “I’d bought my wife’s gift a day early for the first time since we were married,” he said. When the home health nurse from Tyler, Texas, […]

After surviving risky surgery, heart health became her mission

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS Victoria Lewellen was about 10 years old when her pediatrician detected a heart murmur during a routine exam. Follow-up medical tests revealed she had a bicuspid aortic valve — a condition that had gone undiagnosed since her birth. It is the most common congenital heart condition and it […]

Son’s quick action helps save Kansas City dad — for a second time

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS Sean Summers was sitting on the couch with his dad, Terry Summers, last August as Terry nursed a bad headache. The two had just returned from an arduous drive back to Kansas City, Missouri, from California and were watching TV. Terry tried to ask Sean […]

Retired news anchor undergoes seven-bypass heart surgery, considers himself ‘lucky’

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS Larry Hatteberg, a retired television anchor who now makes videos for businesses, was testing a camera when he suddenly became lightheaded. “I never get lightheaded,” he said. “This sort of came as a bolt out of the blue.” Because it was so unusual, Larry checked […]

Comedian makes heart attack a laughing matter

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS Few jokes are off limits to comedian Bob Green — even ones about fatal heart disease. “If you die of a heart attack, people say you died of ‘natural causes,’ like your soul rises up and goes to Whole Foods,” he said. “It’s like you […]

The gift that keeps on giving

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS For Greg Flatt, the best holiday gift is to still be alive two years after developing a rare heart condition and getting a new heart. “I’m only alive today because of the shape I was in then,” said Greg, 47, who lives in Arlington, Virginia. […]

Finding a voice after massive stroke at 29

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS Meredith Gorham was finally relaxing after a busy, hot day of running around on July 17, 2009. But when she tried to stand up from the couch, she suddenly collapsed. Her shocked husband, Chris, tried to help her up. But after realizing she was unable […]

Program helped Arkansas teen recognize her heart problem, overhaul family’s lifestyle

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS Lauren Bradley figured the American Heart Association’s Sweetheart program would look good on her college applications. But participating in the program that teaches 10th-grade girls about heart health and provides volunteer opportunities at local hospitals did more than help her earn a scholarship — it […]

Longtime North Carolina caregiver becomes patient after stroke

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS Cyteria Knight spent more than a quarter-century caring for others as a social worker. Then a stroke forced her to become the patient. Knight was visiting her daughter Raquanza Miller in Pineville, North Carolina, on Jan. 17 when she suddenly passed out. Susan Miller, Knight’s […]

Two-time open-heart surgery survivor to compete in Ironman competition

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS Jeremy Woodward will participate in the Arizona Ironman competition on Nov. 19 – a decade after doctors told him he would never compete at that level again. “This is going to be a really special day,” said Woodward, who lives in Concord, New Hampshire. “Celebrating […]

North Carolina mom becomes caregiver after teen daughter’s stroke

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS Jasmine Harris had a stroke six months before her high school graduation. It started with a headache a couple days before Christmas. The family from Raleigh, North Carolina, had spent the day volunteering so her mother, La’Wana Harris, assumed her 17-year-old daughter was just tired. […]

Office pop-in comes at just the right time for Washington man having stroke

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS Television producer Lane Ficke was chatting with videographer Dave Gordon about plans for the next day when Gordon suddenly stopped talking mid-sentence. “His face just scrunched up and then he turned and stared at his computer,” Ficke said. Ficke initially thought Gordon was playing a […]

Hollywood producer pens memoir about heart surgery, life

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS An avid golfer, Richard Crystal was enjoying a day on the course with friends when he realized something wasn’t right. He had a burning sensation in his chest. Then his heart began beating rapidly. Fortunately, he didn’t delay in seeing his cardiologist. He learned that […]

New Jersey man pays attention to family history, and lives to tell about it

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS Sammy Rabin doesn’t like to brag but, until he learned he needed triple bypass surgery, he’d considered himself “the poster child for good health.” He’d been exercising regularly for 30 years, ate a vegetarian diet and ran marathons. “I did everything I could to stay […]

After battling heart disease, Wisconsin transplant recipient takes to the streets of America

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS Quadruple bypass surgery at age 39 and a heart attack nine years later left Jerry McCann unsure what his future would hold. Aided by an implanted defibrillator, Jerry forged ahead. Later, he battled high blood pressure, dizziness and fatigue. Doctors diagnosed congestive heart failure, yet […]

Bicyclist schools kids in heart health

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS When Chris Figureida leaves Deadhorse, Alaska, on Wednesday on a 3,000-mile bicycle trip to San Diego, he’ll share the lonely road with moose, musk oxen and the occasional grizzly bear. Yet some of his best adventures will take place indoors. Throughout his 78-day trip, Chris […]

Stroke center nurse F.A.S.T. to recognize symptoms of husband’s stroke

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS “I don’t want you to worry.” Those were the words that made Danielle Robbins panic when she got an early-morning call from her sister Sara on May 12, 2012. Sara told Danielle that she thought their dad, Stephen Bishop, had suffered a stroke. Stephen’s wife, […]

Being fit helps man survive the deadliest of heart attacks

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS When John Harrity turned 40, he made a bucket list of 50 things he wanted to do by the time he turned 50. “It was really hard coming up with that many, so one of them I just wrote was to get my body fat […]

Louisiana woman loses weight with help of surgery, fights family history of heart disease

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS Diets and other weight-loss programs didn’t stick for Edris Patterson. To lose weight and kick off a healthier lifestyle, she took a drastic step — gastric sleeve surgery. The surgery, plus regular exercise and a healthier diet, helped her drop 70 pounds. “It’s about trying […]

Right time, right place helps Michigan woman survive cardiac arrest

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS Many things had to go right for Shelley Wyant to survive a cardiac arrest four years ago. First, she was lucky it didn’t happen 30 minutes earlier. That day in May 2013 was like any other at the health insurance company where she worked in […]

Unable to walk, stroke survivor is back on her feet and helping others

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS Wanda Walton and her family had just spent the afternoon in the Los Angeles area, and she was driving home on the freeway when her left side went numb. “She swerved the car … and then she did it again,” her daughter Brittany Walton recalled. […]

After dropping 250 pounds, musician to host cooking show

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS Papa Joe Aviance eats healthy, walks and hopes to run a marathon one day. You’d never guess that just seven years ago he hated exercise and was more than twice the size he is today. Papa Joe, now in his 40s, struggled with his weight […]

After freak accident landed teen near death, entire family became CPR instructors

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS Coleen Nilsen’s story is about as freaky as a story can get. An accident at work, in which a box with a bicycle inside fell on her abdomen, landed Coleen near death from cardiac arrest. Coleen, now 38, was 19 when she was working at […]

Neighbor’s stroke helped 35-year-old realize she was having one too

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS Donna Garlough lifted her 18-month-old son, Jonah, from his crib and kissed his belly. He babbled his morning greeting. But Donna couldn’t babble back. Things were off that morning in February 2015. Donna had blamed the splitting headache she woke up with on the white […]

Quick CPR saves runner, who finds his ‘angels’ using social media

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS The crowd cheered as Bill Amirault neared the finish line of the Key West Half Marathon in Florida. Suddenly, he felt faint and had tunnel vision, so he slowed to walk. Then he collapsed. Fellow runners and bystanders rushed to him. Luckily, the first three […]

Mom saves son with CPR after heart-stopping hit to chest

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS It all started out so normally. Jose Agredano, 16, had a soccer match on Feb. 16. In California, the San Benito High School team was playing Watsonville High, at Watsonville’s field. Jose’s parents, Jose Sr. and Gina, a family care doctor, were on the sidelines. […]

Heart recipient dedicates ‘second life’ to enrolling organ donors

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS For weeks, Roxanne Watson thought she’d pulled a muscle in her back. “I worked in a retail store and was helping unload merchandise from a truck when I felt this pain,” recalls Watson, 62, who lives in Nanuet, New York. After taking a couple of […]

Runner crosses finish line 50 days after heart stops during race

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS Bill Hughes and his daughter Bethany Gordon had just made the turn for the halfway point in last April’s Monument 10K in Richmond, Virginia, when Hughes grabbed his daughter’s arm. “Oh my gosh!” he cried, before collapsing. Gordon flipped her father over with the help […]

Seizures in a grocery store parking lot reveal man’s irregular heartbeat

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS For the Reese family, it had started out as a typical Saturday on March 21, 2015. Curtis Reese managed sons Garner, then 6, and Evan, then 4, while his wife Melanie attended a family baby shower. He shuttled the kids around, picking up the equipment […]

From the basketball court to the stroke unit

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS Antrone “Juice” Moore grew up on Chicago’s South Side during the Michael Jordan-led Bulls dynasty of the 1990s. He played basketball in college and spent more than a decade playing for semi-professional teams throughout North America. He turned his attention to coaching in 2008, but […]

Athletic man’s warning after cardiac arrest: Heart disease can strike anyone

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS Demetrious Talley was an athletic and fit 39-year-old when he noticed some strange bouts of feeling lightheaded. Mostly he ignored it, figuring that he just stood up too fast or needed to drink some water. But it was clearly a warning sign of something more […]

Nothing could slow down this busy working mom — until her stroke

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS Lilian Tsi Stielstra was a couch potato. But at age 46, that changed. Waking on a Saturday in 2010 in her San Francisco home, she recalls feeling tired. She brushed it off as stress from her demanding bank sales job. Walking up the stairs, she […]

Having a ball in the fight against heart disease

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS Heart disease is the world’s No. 1 killer. So even those without the condition are still affected. Pauline Pavao is one of those people. Although she’s healthy, Pauline lost both her parents to the disease, and her son Cori was born with a congenital heart […]

32 heart surgeries, and she’s only 19

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS Bethany Gooch was a fussy newborn. Born in Memphis, Tennessee, in October 1997, regular pediatrician’s visits didn’t reveal anything wrong. But just days before Bethany’s first Christmas, her color seemed off. The Gooches took Bethany to the hospital, where she was diagnosed with a pair […]

In a book, two friends turn the page on heart disease

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS Harry Zuckerman didn’t cry when he was born 17 years ago in Ridgewood, New Jersey. Doctors immediately suspected something might be wrong. Within days, Harry was diagnosed with Tetralogy of Fallot, a congenital heart defect that changes the flow of blood through the heart. It […]

Heart attack hasn’t kept veteran runner from competing

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS Tom Burns jumped in the shower after finishing the 5-mile Shamrock Run in the subfreezing temperatures that are familiar to residents of Buffalo, New York. It’s a race the veteran runner had done a number of times. But once in the warm water, something didn’t […]

Young mother’s heart stops during school holiday party

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS Dec. 17, 2015, began as a festive day. Lauri Evans hosted a Christmas party at Oakwell Academy, an elementary school she co-founded in College Station, Texas, on the last day before the holiday break. After escorting a student out of the building to leave early, […]

7-year-old hasn’t let health problems slow him down

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS Watching 7-year-old Ian Cox run and play with his little brother, it’s hard to imagine he was so fragile at birth. Like other boys his age, he loves building things with Legos and Playstix, and dressing up as superheroes, particularly the Samurai Power Ranger. “He […]

41 years later, bionic baby is a success story

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS When Shannon Phillips went into pacemaker clinics for checkups over the years, other patients looked at her with puzzled expressions. “What is this little girl doing here?” their faces seemed to ask. When Phillips was 7, she would have been there for a follow-up visit […]

Fighting spirit, rapid response saves stroke survivor

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS Tamsen Butler, a 41-year-old mother of two, wife, Air Force veteran and fitness guru, was putting away groceries with her children on July 22, 2015, when she felt an odd sensation, “like something had shifted in my head,” she remembered. Something felt funny in her […]

Motivational speaker suffers cardiac arrest, turns ‘power of one’ message into ‘power of many’

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS Stephen Sroka, Ph.D., was addressing public school staffers about the growing heroin addiction problem in Ohio when he remarked, “I feel tired.” A well-known motivational speaker, Sroka had been talking about difficulties in his own life growing up in poverty. He sometimes uses a dash […]

Heart defect survivor a model in determination

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS After a heart murmur was detected in her newborn son, Kristen Holihan was told she could have him checked out at the local children’s hospital, or wait until after the Christmas holiday weekend. She didn’t want to wait and soon got devastating news: Tyler Matesen, […]

Taoist monk teaches tai chi, other Eastern practices to promote heart health

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS Monk Yunrou’s family is full of innovators in cardiovascular medicine. Yunrou is making his mark on heart health, too. As a third-generation heart-helper, he promotes healthy lifestyles based on ancient Taoist philosophy and the smooth, flowing movements of tai chi. He teaches about the mind-body […]

Police sergeant’s heart stops after dialing 911

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS Dean Oshiro has to rely on his family to fill in the blanks when it comes to what happened on Aug. 20, 2010. That’s when the Santa Monica, California, police sergeant survived a cardiac arrest caused by a heart attack. Dean had come home from […]

How one young woman eventually found out she’d had a mini-stroke

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS Amanda Thompson was happy and the picture of good health. Life was good. Then on March 14, 2015, she felt an “intense pain” at the back of her neck near the end of a body pump class at the gym. “I couldn’t finish,” Thompson said. […]

Mountain climber embraces second chance after heart surgery

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS Paul Arinaga had been an avid outdoorsman his entire life. So when he went to renew his mountaineering club membership a few years ago near his home in Brussels, Belgium, he expected his doctor would be quick to sign the required medical certificate. But during […]

Teen’s heart stops in New York City train station

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS Three years before musician and actress Ilisa Juried appeared on The CW’s reality show Pussycat Dolls Present: Girlicious, her heart stopped in New York City’s Grand Central Station. The then-18-year-old was sightseeing with her mom when they saw a group of hip-hop dancers performing at […]

17 million steps later, Minnesota man is on the road to good health

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS It wasn’t until a coworker suffered a devastating stroke that Tracy McKibben took a long, hard look at the stressful, sedentary lifestyle he was leading as an IT database administrator in a Minneapolis suburb. “I’m 5-foot-8 and at the time I weighed 198 pounds,” McKibben […]

8-year-old revived after heart stops on playground

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS Sofia Montoya had been practicing her favorite song for her elementary school’s talent show April 22. She sang Rachel Platten’s “Fight Song” over and over again with her mother, Shawna. But Sofia didn’t make it to the show. The bubbly, bright third-grader at Farallone View […]

Stroke survivor’s goal: walk in high heels again

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS As the mother of four teenagers, Dana Rivera was constantly on the go, shuttling kids for school, activities, sports practice and attending games. Finding herself with 30 minutes to kill before picking up her son from summer school in June 2009, she ducked into a […]

Kristi Soule with surrogate and friend Jennifer Bickel-Hayes.

Told pregnancy too dangerous, cardiac arrest survivor has baby via surrogate, friend

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS At 31, Kristi Soule blacked out. Doctors initially diagnosed her with a heart attack. But after eight days in the hospital, doctors discovered a viral infection had attacked her heart and greatly decreased its function. After that, Soule started paying more attention to her heart […]

From being on life support to playing dress-up

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS Lea en español The delivery of their first child was rough, and Kacie and Alejandro Torres looked forward to an easier one with their second, another girl. But the then-24-year-old mother knew something was wrong as soon as she saw Emma. Medical staff yelled for […]

Pasó de necesitar soporte vital, a jugar con disfraces

Por AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS Read in English El parto del primer hijo de Kacie y Alejandro Torres fue duro, y esperaban entusiasmados uno más fácil con su segundo hijo, otra niña. Pero cuando vio a Emma, la madre de veinte y cuatro años supo que algo andaba mal. El […]

Stroke survivor finds a ‘new normal’

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS Kristen Powers, an athlete throughout her adult life, was doing a training ride for an upcoming half Ironman competition, when she had a minor crash. With a gashed forehead, the then-33-year-old from St. Petersburg, Florida, was taken to the hospital, stitched up and released. She […]

A California girl with dreams of the Big Apple

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS Paige Garnica recently finished her freshman year of college in New York City. It’s an experience the California teen never thought she’d have. She grew up with three aneurysms, including a giant one in her left coronary artery — the consequence of Kawasaki disease, a […]

E.J. Galloway graduation photo

Cardiac arrest survivor to play college hoops

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS E.J. Galloway had just come off the court during a summer league basketball game when he suddenly collapsed. The seemingly healthy 16-year-old was in cardiac arrest. His coach, Willie Swinney, knew exactly what to do. He started CPR. A parent from the opposing team, John […]

Heart disease at birth, prom dates as teenagers

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS Logan Andrews looked completely healthy when he was born nearly 17 years ago in Concord, North Carolina, tipping the scales at 10 pounds. But he wasn’t. Within hours, doctors discovered a heart condition – hypoplastic left heart syndrome – that caused the left side of […]

John Moses at Enchanted Rock in April with his sons, Justin William (left) and John David

Texas man a ‘first success’ of new treatment for bleeding stroke

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS “I heard a pop in my head and I knew something was wrong,” John Moses said of the Sunday evening in 2012 when he had bleeding deep in his brain. Moses’ ordeal began one year to the day after his father had died. The family […]

North Carolina mom learns the hard way that heart disorder runs in her family

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS For years, Mother’s Day was a bittersweet holiday for Anne Howell. She was only a teenager when her 41-year-old mother, active and seemingly healthy, suffered sudden cardiac death from what doctors later determined was a heart muscle disease called cardiomyopathy. “It was a shock to […]

Choctaw princess finishes final leg a year after her heart stopped during half marathon

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS Those who know Mandy Steele say the things they love most about her are her humble manner and big heart. It was Mandy’s truly big heart – the one with thickened walls due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy – that would lead her to a death-defying experience […]

Stroke survivor confronts fear it could happen again

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS Nicole Enteado woke up on Nov. 29, 2014, thinking about a fun day of holiday shopping she had planned. But after about a half hour of lounging around, a strange sensation suddenly came over her. “It was almost like feeling drunk,” she said, adding that […]

Anabelle Provisor playing basketball

A star is born in 8-year-old survivor

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS Twelve hours after Anabelle Provisor was born, a nurse’s assistant noticed she was having trouble nursing. “She would latch on, but was soon sleepy and lethargic,” recalled Arlene Provisor, Anabelle’s mom. A pulse oximetry reading – a diagnostic test mandated by most states for all […]

Super athlete sidelined by dangerous heart problem

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS Workout queen Kristy Sidlar was doing what made her happy on her 31st birthday. She was training for a triathlon, biking up a hillside in northern California on her way to the gym to swim some laps. “I was super athletic, kind of to the […]

Nurse-in-training’s use of CPR saves his father’s life

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS Ben Bersick learned CPR as a Boy Scout and trained on it plenty while in nursing school. But the first time he actually had to use it was on his father, Michael Bersick. The family had gathered in Salt Lake City last November for an […]

From husband and wife to patient and caregiver

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS Kathy Hutton was a high school junior when she fell in love with her husband, David. “It was love at first sight,” Kathy said. “He was the cutest thing I’d ever seen.” Two years later, they were married and soon had son Graham and daughter […]

Lee Schloss participating in a marathon

Coworkers’ support helps man drop 150 pounds

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS The deck had always been stacked against Lee Schloss when it came to his weight. A family history of obesity combined with a self-proclaimed addiction to food meant that he was seemingly destined to be obese. At 29 years old and 351 pounds, this self-fulfilling […]

Nurse gets a taste of emergency medicine

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS 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 […]

Cathie Lazarus (center) with the paramedics and hospital staff who helped save her

Trip to the gym ends in cardiac arrest for California woman

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS Cathie Lazarus likes to tell people she has two birthdays now. The one when she was born, and the other when bystanders performed CPR after her heart stopped on March 11, 2013. Lazarus, who lives in Sherman Oaks, California, doesn’t remember much about the day […]

Woman bikes through grief after husband dies on honeymoon

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS Pam Shelton-Allen couldn’t have been happier. Only four days before, she had married Jerry Shelton under the oak tree where he’d proposed. Both were avid cyclists who shared a love of the outdoors and went to jazz concerts every chance they got. Jerry loved listening […]

Mother of two endures debilitating stroke, but doesn’t let it sideline her

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS Lisa Satchfield suffered migraines about once a month, and an especially intense one lasted two days. Then she became nauseous and suspected it was food poisoning. In the shower, her left side went limp for a moment. “I thought, ‘That’s weird.’ I thought I’d pinched […]

Super Bowl champion secretly played with an enlarged heart

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS Long before Jesse Sapolu won four Super Bowls as an offensive lineman for the San Francisco 49ers – host for Sunday’s Super Bowl – he was told he couldn’t play sports. Born in Samoa, Sapolu had contracted rheumatic fever as a child. “It was so […]

Teenager turns heart condition into teaching tool for other youngsters

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS Nadia LuQman’s parents were ready to take her home from the hospital shortly after her birth when doctors discovered a telltale sign of a serious problem. Newborn Nadia had a heart murmur. Further tests revealed Tetralogy of Fallot, a heart defect involving four specific problems, […]

Amber Waller Karasawa with husband Tim Karasawa

Actress learns of heart problem after collapsing on soccer field

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS A few summers ago, Amber Waller Karasawa went into cardiac arrest while playing in a co-ed soccer game. Thinking she was having a seizure, the other players stood back. But a teammate with military training knew what to do and quickly started CPR. Two other […]

Young man’s life changes course after stroke

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS At 23, Brent Wylie was a recent college graduate working in real estate investment and making plans for law school. On a Friday night in August 2011, he was on his way to meet up with friends at an Atlanta nightclub, talking on the phone […]

Alicia Boughton at the top of Mount Marcy, the tallest mountain in New York

New Yorker drops nearly 100 pounds, becomes ‘46er’

BY AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS Alicia Boughton dreamed of climbing mountains. But an unhealthy diet and couch potato habits kept her from it. That is, until an exercise and healthy eating program helped her to change her life. The bad habits were ones she developed growing up. “Healthy food wasn’t […]

Undiagnosed heart defect put woman’s life at risk

BY AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS Denyse Wilson was vigilant about her health, working out regularly and active in sports throughout her life. After losing several family members, including her mother to complications from Type 2 diabetes, an aunt to congestive heart failure and her grandmother to stroke, she wanted to […]

DeMarco Family

Texas teen uses babysitter CPR training to save her dad

BY AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS Michael DeMarco and his wife were probably in the best shape of their adult lives. They were slimming down, eating a paleo diet and doing cross-fit training. So when Michael felt weird while riding his stationary bike at home one morning, he called to his […]

Ellen Abbott with her husband and sons

Stroke survivor’s recovery a ‘Christmas miracle of awesomeness’

BY AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS Wade Abbott chokes up when he thinks about last Christmas. “The best Christmas present I’d ever gotten was bringing my wife home from the hospital,” he said. At 3:30 a.m. on December 21, Ellen Abbott got up to go to her weekly early morning shift […]

Idaho girl jumps for her Pau Pau

BY AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS Mikala Hicks had no doubt about who she would be jumping for at her school’s Jump Rope For Heart event last school year. Fanly Lim, her grandmother, or, in Cantonese, her “Pau Pau.” Mikala, 10, is close to her grandmother, who picks her up after […]

Heart attack survivor Andy Trinidad with his wife, Regina.

From heart attack survivor to marathon runner

BY AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS Andy Trinidad was driving back to his office in Los Angeles just as rush hour was starting when he began to feel a crushing in his chest “like an elephant was stepping on me.” Next he felt a pain in his left arm. He immediately […]

CPR training at work helps Oklahoma woman save husband

BY AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS Vicky Conley always grumbled whenever her work-required CPR training session came around. But it may be what saved her husband’s life. Conley and her husband, Andy, were visiting a flea market in Oklahoma City in late August when Andy said he felt dizzy. Initially, Conley […]

Theresa Nakagawa with husband Dan

Caregiver focuses on own health after heart attack

BY AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS Theresa Nakagawa spent her life putting the care of others before herself. In 2012, the family and marriage therapist was caring for her older sister, who was recovering from back surgery, helping her manage daily activities, including walking her two dogs. The sisters were out […]

Washington baby survives stroke, inspires mom to start nonprofit

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS Not long after her daughter Addison was born, Kaysee Hyatt had a feeling something was wrong. By the time Addison was 4 months old, she still had extreme fussiness and a hard time eating and sleeping, and seemed to always clench her left fist. She […]

Photo of Kathy Pacella's family

Mom refuses to let strong family history seal her fate

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS Kathy Pacella knows all too well how devastating heart disease can be. She lost three grandparents to heart disease before she was a born and the fourth when she was a young child. At 16, she was there when her father died at age 51 […]

Dallas man heart failure-free thanks to new heart

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS As Todd Cunningham approached his 52nd birthday, he began to notice some troubling changes. The brisk 3- to 4-mile walk he’d regularly do around a nearby park was getting harder. He just didn’t seem to have as much stamina, and would get short of breath. […]

Cardiac arrest follows years of misdiagnoses

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS Rose Blackwood had spent the afternoon judging middle school and high school science projects and was bidding a colleague goodbye when she had an overwhelming feeling of dizziness. The next thing she remembers was waking up a day later in the hospital as a nurse […]

Kristy Harding and her son Christian

Young woman kept asking questions after stroke symptoms – and found answers

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS Kristy Harding endured vertigo spells so intense the room seemed to spin. When she moved her head even slightly she would vomit. Scans of her brain were inconclusive, and doctors had no solid diagnosis. She suspected that the episodes, which happened about once a month […]

Making a difference, in memory of a son

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS Twins Jacob and Julianna Wells were born five weeks early on June 3, 2004. Jacob weighed just under 6 pounds and Julianna weighed only 4 pounds, 8 ounces. Doctors whisked both newborns off to the neonatal intensive care unit. Julianna needed help maintaining her body […]

Jessica Larche

TV anchor’s high blood pressure diagnosis ‘a wake-up call’

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS A high blood pressure diagnosis at age 27 gave Jessica Larche the motivation she needed to make the lifestyle changes she’d been struggling with her whole life. “It was a wake-up call,” said Larche, who had high self-esteem but “decided it wasn’t about losing weight […]

Tennis lesson ends with CPR, AED

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS Van Gilbert was about 15 minutes into his weekly tennis lesson when the pro asked him to practice his serve. He made it through a couple serves before collapsing at the baseline. His coach ran to the pro shop to call 911. A man on […]

Photo of David Miller with his wife and daughters

Top exec fights his way back after disabling stroke

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS David Miller had made a quick trip to Cambodia in May 2010 for a board meeting at a local orphanage. But he never showed up for the 9 a.m. meeting. The senior executive worked for various technology firms and was never late, something his worried […]

Vietnam vet’s life after his own death on the battlefield

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS Sonny Herr, a 20-year-old from Arcadia, California, was killed in action in South Vietnam on Sept. 16, 1968. He was hit by enemy rocket fire. Shrapnel tore through his body in 16 places. Herr crawled to the nearest bunker, dragging a fallen comrade with him. […]

Family’s loss spurs drive to expand CPR training, AED access

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS In January 2013, Cory Wilson, a junior at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, was sitting in a morning lecture when he suddenly slumped in his chair and then fell to the floor. His classmates thought he was joking, pretending to be asleep. But when the […]