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Advocate Spotlight: Athena Ramos

Athena Ramos considers herself to be very lucky to have a healthy heart.  Others in her family are not so fortunate.  Since heart disease runs in her family, Athena has taken on a volunteer role as a champion for cardiovascular research and living a healthy lifestyle  Because of her family history, Athena knows the effects that heart disease can have on families and communities.  

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I’m lucky to have a healthy heart, but others in my family are not. Heart disease runs in my family. When I was only 10 years old, my Dad had a heart attack. As a child, this had a tremendous effect on me.  He ended up in the hospital with not just one bypass, but five. I remember walking into the ICU after his surgery and being so scared that I might lose my Daddy. We were lucky. He recovered thanks to a wonderful team of professionals and support from our family, but his heart attack changed our lives. We became more conscious of the foods that we ate, made sure to get some exercise, and learned a lot more about heart health.

Later, I had the great opportunity to work for Dr. Syed Mohiudden.  This was an incredible gift for me because I got to give back to the person who, in my mind, saved by Dad's life many years before.  Part of my job at the Cardiac Center was to educate community members about heart health, especially the dangers of tobacco and secondhand smoke, and work toward policies that improve and protect people's lives.  I continue to work in public health now at the Center for Reducing Health Disparities at the UNMC College of Public Health and have a passion for cardiovascular health.

Knowing heart disease so closely has made me aware of how it affects entire families.  In addition to my Dad, my sister Angie, Uncle Israel, and cousin Tony have all had heart bypass surgery too.  We now know that our family carries a genetic predisposition to heart disease, Lipoprotein(a). I want to be part of the cure - keeping my family safe and healthy and making my community a better place for all by educating others about health lifestyles and advocating for policies that promote health, justice and well-being.  

AHA holds a special place in my heart for the work that they do in providing accurate health information, funding vital research, and advocating for policies that really matter. Thanks for all you do!

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