• Raymie Shields

Raymie writes the world: The AHA raises awareness around the country

Before the American Heart Association existed, people with heart disease were thought to be doomed to complete bed rest — or destined to imminent death.

But a handful of pioneering physicians and social workers believed it didn’t have to be that way. They conducted studies to learn more about heart disease, America’s No. 1 killer. Then, on June 10, 1924, they met in Chicago to form the American Heart Association — believing that scientific research could lead the way to better treatment, prevention and ultimately a cure. The early American Heart Association enlisted help from hundreds, then thousands, of physicians and scientists.

“We were living in a time of almost unbelievable ignorance about heart disease,” said according www.heart.org.

Heart disease is the No. 1 killer worldwide, and stroke ranks second globally. Even when those conditions don’t result in death, they cause disability and diminish the quality of life. They want to see a world free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke.

AHA has headquarters based all over the country which allows them to raise awareness across the nation. It has invested more than $4.5 billion in research, more than any U.S. nonprofit organization, according to heart.org. The AHA also has a branch organization called the American Stroke Association, as it has found that strokes are the second highest cause of death globally.

With all the money the organization has raised, it has done historic things for heart issues and heart diseases. It has started correcting heart defects in newborns, it created a drug that helps to lower cholesterol and it just recently created a drug-coated stent that helps open up blocked arteries.

For people with an irregular heartbeat, AHA does a number of things. Most common is helping people fundraise to come up with the funds to provide treatment for the people affected. One possible treatment is an Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator. This device is implanted in the chest and continuously monitors the heart's electrical system and provides an automatic correction when the irregular heartbeat begins to occur. People with irregular heartbeats are commonly given blood thinners as the irregular heartbeat can cause blood clots more easily.

On April 2, 2002, my mom was pregnant with me and she went to the doctor for her 30-week checkup. The doctors found that her blood pressure was so high that she was about to go into a seizure and that if they didn’t deliver me soon either one of us or both of us would die.

After that I became an emergency C-section delivery. I was born hours later weighing a mere two pounds and 10 ounces, with both me and my mom surviving. Because I was born early my heart never fully developed. I have Right Ventricular Hypertrophy which is where the right side of my heart is larger than the left and causes me to have an irregular heartbeat.

When I do normal everyday things, it causes my heart to accelerate and causes me to feel dizzy, lightheaded, nauseous and it can get hard to breathe. Other common side effects include fainting, chest pain, fatigue and in severe cases cardiac arrest. In the morning when I walk from my car after I park at school to my first period class upstairs, my heart rate gets in the 120-130s. Once I get to my first period, I usually have to sit down for a few minutes so I can catch my breath and get my heart rate back to normal.

Through the AHA, people can give back in several different ways. Anyone can volunteer by hosting a fundraiser, being a support network for patients and when shopping on Amazon and selecting AHA as a favorite charity Amazon will give a percentage of the sale to AHA. You can also choose to donate online where you can donate once or set up a monthly donation. You can donate at www.heart.org/donate.

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