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Healthy Living: Heart disease and the importance of walking to improve heart health

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Rose Shandrow knows the risks all too well.  In early 2017, Rose was diagnosed with Mitral Valve Prolapse.


It’s a condition in which the two valve flaps of the mitral valve do not close smoothly or evenly, instead, they prolapse or bulge upward into the left atrium.   In most cases, the condition is harmless and many people don’t even know they have it.  Rose’s case was more serious.  Rose was in a meeting when she suddenly felt a flutter in her chest.  She says it felt like a bird was in her chest trying to escape.  After that, Rose met with her primary care physician who referred her for an echocardiogram.  The results of the tests left Rose in tears.  She would need surgery to fix the mitral valve, or run the risk of mitral regurgitation which can cause weakness of the heart muscle, known as congestive heart failure.

Rose had surgery in April of 2017 and today says she is doing much better and says she is thankful to be alive.  Getting in to see her doctor was key to catching her condition and receiving the care she needed.

Rose plans to walk as a survivor in Seattle’s American Heart Association Heart Walk, happening on Oct. 14th.

It’s been five months since Rose had surgery.  She says the experience allowed her to reflect on what is the most important things in her life, her relationships with others and approaching life with gratefulness.

Ketul Patel is also passionate about living a heart healthy life.  Patel is the CEO of CHI Franciscan Health.  He’s also the chair of the 2017 Seattle Heart Walk.  Since heart disease runs in Patel’s family, he pays extra attention to his own heart health.  Patel’s father suffered a heart attack at the age of 60.  He survived and now lives for his family and spending time with his grandchildren.  Patel knows the outcome could have been much different, and for that reason he is a fierce advocate for heart health, knowing your numbers and being aware of your own personal risk factors.

The American Heart Association works to fund research and raise awareness about heart disease.   Below is information included in a recent release detailing heart disease statistics and research.


American Heart Association Research

• The American Heart Association does not conduct research. Rather, the organization uses donations to fund research projects. Research applications are carefully weighed and selected by teams of scientists and healthcare professionals who volunteer for the association.
• The American Heart Association has funded 13 Nobel Prize winners and several important medical breakthroughs, including techniques and standards for CPR, the first artificial heart valve, implantable pacemakers, cholesterol inhibitors, microsurgery and drug-coated stents.
• The American Heart Association funds more research into cardiovascular diseases and stroke than any organization except for the federal government.
• The American Heart Association has funded more than $4 billion in research since 1949.
• In 2015-2016, we committed to funding 980 new research projects worth more than $163 million. However, we did not have the additional $116 million to cover 766 other highly meritorious grant and fellowship applications. This means many scientific projects were shelved, and the knowledge that would result from them deferred.


Heart Disease, Stroke and other Cardiovascular Diseases

• Cardiovascular disease, listed as the underlying cause of death, accounts for nearly 801,000 deaths in the US. That’s about 1 of every 3 deaths in the US.
• About 2,200 Americans die of cardiovascular disease each day, an average of 1 death every 40 seconds.
• Cardiovascular diseases claim more lives each year than all forms of cancer and Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease combined.
• About 92.1 million American adults are living with some form of cardiovascular disease or the after-effects of stroke. Direct and indirect costs of cardiovascular diseases and stroke are estimated to total more than $316 billion; that includes both health expenditures and lost productivity.
• Nearly half of all NH black adults have some form of cardiovascular disease, 47.7 percent of females and 46.0 percent of males.


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