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Advocate Spotlight, Jack Simono

I had a routine test 12 years ago and was diagnosed with two arteries that were 90% blocked, even though I was a lifelong runner and had no symptoms.  Twelve years later, with 4 stents, a daily statin drug, continued exercise and a healthy diet, I'm still running and healthy.   

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When I realized how close I came to being a statistic, I became a volunteer with the American Heart Association because I know that promoting awareness can save lives.  I have been sharing in their mission as a member of the AHA Wisconsin Advocacy Committee, meeting with legislators in Washington, DC and at the statehouse in Madison, and chairing the Green Bay Heart Walk.

Awareness of your family history and the signs of heart disease and stroke is the crucial mission. My father experienced a cardiac arrest when he was only 47.  Both of my parents and two of my siblings had open heart surgery, and my nephew was born with congenital heart disease.  Thanks to research funded by the AHA, he was the first child to receive a lifesaving pump that gave him the time needed to receive his heart transplant when he was only 12.   When my father was in the emergency room many years ago, my family was told "he is having a heart attack and there is nothing we can do."  Today, thanks to research funded by the AHA, 24/7 cath labs are in every populated area of Wisconsin. For my father, a cath lab would have been a miracle, yet is standard of care today.

It has been extremely rewarding to be a part of the many American Heart Association accomplishments over the years. Thanks to our efforts and the contributions of our supporters, the outlook for heart and stroke patients is getting brighter every year as the AHA dedicates resources to programs to reduce the risks of heart attack and stroke. Further, many lives are being saved due to legislation passed right here in Wisconsin with the help of our You’re the Cure advocates. For instance, all Wisconsin high school students will now graduate having learned lifesaving CPR training, 911 dispatchers are now trained to guide callers through CPR while help is on the way, and every year more AEDs are being deployed in public places. 

In the medical field, all newborn infants in Wisconsin now receive Pulse Oximetry screening so those with a congenital heart condition may begin treatment immediately, and research funding is constantly improving outcomes for victims of stroke and cardiovascular disease. You're the Cure advocates have been directly involved in campaigns for smoke-free air legislation, as well as initiatives for tobacco prevention and cessation, awareness of the dangers of e-cigarettes and funding for water refilling stations in schools. In addition, the AHA remains committed to helping kids grow up at a healthy weight by supporting legislation supporting healthier meals and sugary drinks reduction in schools, as well as advocating for more physical education in schools.

Supporters are helping to save lives in many ways. The outlook IS brighter, but we have our work cut out as heart disease is still the number one killer of both women and men in the US.  Being actively involved in our mission to increase awareness can change that.  A healthy diet and physical activity drastically decrease risk factors. Know your numbers, get a stress test, and join the new AHA "Healthy for Good" movement designed to rally Americans to live healthier lives.  Don't wait to have a heart attack when you can possibly prevent it.

If you are interested in joining the cause, the AHA is always looking for new volunteers with passion.  With more volunteers inspiring meaningful change, we hope to knock heart disease off of the number one killer list!

With Heart,

Jack Simono

 

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