Martha Gulati 2017-02-15 22:51:01
Inspirational Individuals the Focus of ACC’s Heart Month Efforts In May of 2014, 12-year-old Jacob Burris of Eugene, OR, was undergoing a routine checkup when his doctor discovered that he had high blood pressure along with a heart murmur. Follow-up tests revealed that Burris had coarctation of the aorta. Surgery to repair the kink with a stent was scheduled for July 2014, but Burris’ doctors discovered that there was more than a kink causing problems for his heart. The aorta was nearly disconnected and would have to be surgically repaired. Burris underwent heart surgery the following September. The pediatric cardiac surgical team successfully grafted a carbon tube in place of the disconnected portion of his aorta. “Now I’m called ‘The Bionic Boy,’” says Burris, this year’s winner of ACC’s “I am CardioSmart” contest. As part of the contest, now in its fifth year, Burris, along with three other finalists, were chosen for their inspirational stories of living well with specific heart disease conditions. Finalist Allison Jamison was just five years old with a cholesterol level of 800, when she was diagnosed with familial hypercholesterolemia (FH). By the age of 35 she had survived two bypass surgeries, an aortic valve replacement and a mitral valve replacement. Today, she works with the FH Foundation to spread awareness about FH and provide support and education for those who have the genetic condition. Phillip Cartozian, a rancher and former Marine, can add heart transplant survivor to his resume. Today, he no longer needs a defibrillator or blood thinners and is living free of high blood pressure, heart failure, atrial fibrillation and coronary heart disease. “I have been given the best gift of all, a new heart and life, and every day I thank God for this chance and mostly for all the doctors and nursing staff who have taken care of me,” he says. Like Cartozian, finalist Roxanne Watson has been living well with a new heart since 2010 and has become a vocal advocate for heart health. “I did my first public event for National Minority Organ Donor Awareness Week, and I was off and running,” she says. “I found it useful to others and myself to share my story to help others. I started doing that everywhere: TV news, talk shows, newspapers, magazines – wherever I could share, I did.” Burris, Jamison, Cartozian and Watson, join a growing list of inspirational “I am CardioSmart” alumni across the United States. This February as we celebrate American Heart Month these individuals and their incredible stories underscore the importance of raising public awareness about cardiovascular disease and its risk factors. They also underscore the value of the ACC and its members in working to transform cardiovascular care and improve heart health. Read more about “I am CardioSmart” winners at CardioSmart.org. Encourage your patients to follow CardioSmart on Facebook and Twitter for regular heart healthy tips and updates. Who knows, they might be next year’s winner!
Published by American College of Cardiology. View All Articles.
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