Seasonal Fruits and Vegetables For Healthier Families

Summer brings an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables to grocery stores, farmers markets and local gardens. That means more opportunities to add tasty and heart-healthy foods to your everyday meals. Strawberries, tomatoes, cantaloupe and other seasonal produce taste good and help reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.

About one in three American kids and teens are overweight or obese, which can lead to a broad range of health problems. You can help your child develop healthy habits early in life that will bring lifelong benefits by incorporating more fruits and veggies to their everyday diet.

Here are tips to incorporate more fruits and vegetables in your diet, and help you and your family get on the right path to good health.


  • Keep it colorful. Challenge yourself to try fruits and vegetables of different colors. Make it a red/green/orange day (apple, lettuce, carrot), or try for a rainbow of fruits and vegetables during the week.
  • Add it on. Add fruit and vegetables to foods kids love. Try adding frozen peas to mac’n’cheese, veggies on top of pizza and slices of fruit on top of breakfast cereals or low-fat ice cream.
  • Mix them up. Add fruits and vegetables to food that’s cooked or baked, or mix vegetables in with pasta sauces, lasagnas, casseroles, soups and omelets. Mixing fresh berries into pancakes, waffles or muffins is one example to make fruit part of breakfast.
  • Use healthier cooking methods. Steaming, grilling, sautéing, roasting, baking and microwaving vegetables are ideal preparation methods. Use fats and oils low in saturated fats sparingly; don’t use trans fats.
  • Enjoy vegetable dippers. Chop raw vegetables into bite-sized pieces. Bell peppers, carrots, cucumbers, broccoli, cauliflower and celery are perfect with a low-fat or fat-free dressings. Dip tip: Read the food label of sauces and dressings to make sure they are not overloaded with saturated fat and salt.
  • Sip smoothies. Smoothies are a great way to increase the amount of fruit you eat and they’re easy to make. A basic smoothie is just frozen fruit, some low-fat or non-fat milk and/or yogurt, and 100% fruit juice all processed together in a blender until smooth.
  • Try fruit pops. Put 100% fruit juice and fresh berries in an ice tray and freeze it overnight. You can eat the fruit cubes as mini-popsicles or put them in other juices. Frozen seedless grapes make natural mini-popsicles and are a great summer treat.

The American Heart Association offers more resources to help your kids live a longer, stronger life. For information and tips on healthier kids including weight management, physical activity and nutrition go to heart.org/healthierkids.


Christine couldn’t believe she was having a heart attack. She was too young. But her heart stopped four times and she credits the quick action of the healthcare providers who performed CPR. Here is Christine’s story.

I’m 38 now. Single. I live in Stamford CT. I grew up in Westchester County, graduated from Stanford University and have lived a lot of lives between Manhattan, Chicago & Charlotte. I’m the Marketing Director for a restaurant group and I’m an independent consultant and team leader with a premium anti-age skincare company (Rodan + Fields). My father says, if I’m not stressed, I’m bored. I over-analyze everything, I’m stubborn, I’m a procrastinator… And I often bite off more than I can chew because I don’t like to say, “no.” I’m a YES person and despite my party-habits, restaurant-hopping and jet-setting ways, I don’t do drugs. I’m no angel but drugs came up A LOT in the hospital with regards to heart attacks in younger people. That just wasn’t me.LePetitStudio--7

On December 15th, I had gotten plenty of sleep, but I still felt tired. I stayed home and worked from bed and I allowed myself to fall asleep, twice. I had chicken noodle soup for lunch, even though I wasn’t hungry. I didn’t have breakfast, but I drank a ton of water and some OJ. On the horizon I had dinner plans with a college friend that I don’t see often. I didn’t know what to do about it. I kept telling myself that I was fine and that annoying colds like this don’t last long. Kate had hired a babysitter to watch her 3 boys. She was planning to take an Uber from New Canaan; she had marked her calendar. Last time I cancelled on her because of work. Not this time. At just a bit before 6PM, I got into the shower. I had just finished shampooing my hair when I started to cough. I started to condition my hair and became exhausted by the simple act of rinsing. I think that’s when a bit of anxiety set in. I mean, it’s just a shower! I stepped out and reached for a towel. I was too tired to dry myself off. I suddenly felt nauseous. I kneeled down beside the toilet and threw up. I had only had chicken soup, so there wasn’t much to get out. I got up and staggered to my bedroom. I lied down on the bed, soaking wet. No one does that unless something is seriously wrong, right?! I looked up at the ceiling and basically said, “get your sh*t together.” I tried to center myself and focus on breathing. I thought about what I could do next to make myself feel better and I had no answers. The idea of putting clothing on seemed impossible. I thought about calling a few friends. Maybe one of them could drive me to the hospital? I lay there thinking, NO, I need to call an ambulance… BUT this is probably nothing… The ambulance will be expensive… And all of my neighbors are going to see me get rolled out!

Not once did I think heart attack. I reached for my phone, while lying on my back. I called my mom.

Mom: Hello there! (Happy voice)

CW: Mom, I think I’m going to call 911.

Mom: (Gasp) What’s wrong? (Scared voice)

CW: It hurts to breathe.

Mom: Hang-up. Call 911. We’re on our way!

I hung up and started to cry. Clearly I was looking for one person to agree with me in order to make that call… I called 911 at 6:17PM. My call with the 911 dispatcher lasted only a minute, but in my memory it lasted 5. 10? The firefighters were the first to arrive to the scene. They asked me questions about drugs and alcohol. They asked me about what I’d eaten. They checked my pulse and tried to keep me calm. The more calm they wanted me to be, the less calm I became. They seemed to think it was an anxiety attack, and while I didn’t disagree, why did it have to hurt so much? They put a portable plastic breathing thing over my mouth and made me breath in and out into the plastic bag. It was uncomfortable and it wasn’t helping my chest. The EMT’s arrived about 5 or so minutes behind the firemen. It was a man and a woman and they brought in a stretcher. The woman took charge. She asked the same questions that the firemen asked. She told me to calm down and breathe. Once I was on the stretcher, I told them all that I thought I was going to throw up again. I did.

The team wrapped a sheet around me and we were ready to roll. “Can you grab my wallet. And the two phones by the bed.” I heard someone say, “If you have two phones, no wonder you’re so stressed.” Outside I was FREEZING. Inside the ambulance I thought about my crazy crime drama TV show. The sirens sounded and I felt every bump in the road as we made our way across town. I began speaking in gibberish (they say) and then my heart stopped. That’s everything I remember. I went into cardiac arrest just as we were pulling up to the hospital. There was little time for planning. They raced me inside and started CPR again in the hallway. Between 7:04PM and 7:20PM is one big question mark. My heart stopped four times. I almost didn’t make it. 16 minutes of trying to bring me back to life — while my parents waited down the hall not knowing I had even arrived. I did not see a bright light and turn around, but I did wake up and see all of the doctors and nurses standing over me, shouting!Christine_bw

The counting, the pressure on my chest… “Stay with me!” At one point this feisty girl couldn’t take the pain so she started swatting at the person doing compressions. It was all hands on deck and not another body could fit into that room. Today I am doing well and I’m grateful for each person who was there to save my life!

A special thank you to Christine Petit of Le Petit Studio for taking photos of the Hoffman Go Red Gallery women. www.PetitPics.com



December 15th, 2017 marked the one year anniversary of my heart attack and gosh what a special year it has been. I remember when I was leaving the hospital that I was told that I would go through the “stages of grief.” I thought this was CRAZY, because I was so insanely HAPPY + grateful. Even though there was this weight on my chest and it hurt to cough, I felt as though a weight had been lifted. The stressful stuff that used to matter so much before didn’t matter anymore. I wanted to focus all of my attention on people, experiences + love. Shortly after returning to work as the marketing director of a NY-based restaurant group, I decided to give my notice and go all-in on my side-hustle, Rodan + Fields (a premium skincare company founded by the doctors that created proactiv). I figured that if I gout out of my apartment and put all of my stuff in storage, I could make enough money to live month-to-month visiting friends across the country. And so I did that. I flew to California several times, drove North to Boston and South to Key West. It was amazing!!! In addition to being the time I needed to reflect + cry + breathe + laugh, I was able to reconnect with old friends I rarely get to see AND hug new ones that I’d never met in person. 

 I love to write. I love to take pictures. I love to travel. Now I get to put it all together… In a blog. In a book. I’ve been sharing a lot online and people have written me to thank me. A few messages went so far as to say that I saved their life. Goosebumps. 

 After 9 months of living out of a suitcase… We loaded up a moving truck in Stamford, CT. On February 14th, Valentine’s Day, my dad and I drove South to Charlotte, NC. This is my new home. I have a great apartment in the Southend that is significantly cheaper than my Northern digs 🙂 I’m close to my sister and my two adorable nephews and I am driving distance from a few of my new favorite cities! The airport is a 15 minute Uber ride away. The adventure is just beginning. I’m feeling great!   

You can follow Christine on her blog: http://christinexwayne.com/



Stacy-Ann was unaware she had rheumatic heart disease until she was 29 and pregnant. She later had two open heart surgeries and will eventually have another. Here is Stacy-Ann’s story.

I was unaware of my rheumatic heart disease until I was 29 years old on pregnant. I went into heart failure while pregnant as a result of my undiagnosed rheumatic heart disease. My reported symptoms including shortness of breath, weight gain, swollen fluid filled feet, trouble sleeping were all LePetitStudio--4dismissed   as typical pregnancy symptoms. Unfortunately that was not the case. On March 22, 2011 at what was supposed to be a routine OBGYN visit turned into a day filled with multiple pre-natal testing, screenings, which ultimately ended in a decision to do an emergency C-Section in order to save my daughter’s life. Still no one was aware that I was in heart failure. The C-Section was successful and my daughter was who was severely IUGR was born weighing 2lbs 12oz. She was in the NICU and all the focus was on her health and survival.

The following night after my emergency C-Section I had trouble sleeping and breathing became difficult. I reported it to the hospital staff and they brought in a respiratory team to give me a nebulizer treatment. Still no one was aware I was I heart failure. The following morning they sent me to do an echocardiogram and that’s when it was discovered that I had fluid buildup in my lungs and that I had scaring on my valve, which indicated rheumatic heart disease. The seriousness on my condition was downplayed and they gave me some Lasix to help to diurese me. That night I realized how serious my situation was when I went into respiratory distress, which required emergency lifesaving intervention including a large dose of IV Lasix. I was transferred from the maternity unit to the cardiac step down unit and officially became a cardiac patient.

This was a devastating time for my family as my two day old premature baby was in the NICU and I was in the cardiac unit trying to figure out what was happening. I was discharged from the hospital a week later and referred to a cardiologist and that was where my cardiac journey began. My Cardiologist confirmed that I had mitral valve regurgitation and stenosis, aortic valve regurgitation and tricuspid valve regurgitation. I was devastated. He did not know if it was the pregnancy and the hemodynamic shift that caused my disease to worsen so he decided to follow-up with me after a year to see what my baseline echocardiogram would reveal. Sadly a year later my follow-up echocardiogram revealed that the mitral valve regurgitation was severe and there was some heart enlargement as a result.

The decision to repair my valve was made and on December 11, 2012, I underwent my first open heart surgery. It was terrifying. I felt a lot of emotions because I always say myself as a healthy person and did not expect that I would need to undergo heart surgery at the tender age of 31 years old. The heart valve repair was successful and after a 3-6 month recovery period I was cleared to continue living my life as an active 31 year old.

I felt the ordeal was over but surprisingly when I went in for a routine echocardiogram in October 2015, I learned that the mitral regurgitation had returned and the repair did not hold up. I was devastated. The decision was made to replace the trouble valve and on May 6, 2016 I underwent my second open heart surgery. I opted for a tissue prosthetic valve, which means that I am guaranteed a 3rd surgery in the coming years.Stacy_bw

There is nothing I could have done to prevent myself from rheumatic heart disease but I want to help to educate others about the importance of living a healthful lifestyle. I want to share my story in the hope that I can encourage other women to take charge of their health to help prevent heart disease and other preventable chronic conditions.


A special thank you to Christine Petit of Le Petit Studio for taking photos of the Hoffman Go Red Gallery women. www.PetitPics.com


Since this time last year I started a heart disease survivor blog called the heart life. I also launched a heart disease survivor podcast of the same name where I interview other survivors in order to raise awareness and empower other women. I Also got to take a European vacation that was on my bucket list and visited London, Brussels, Amsterdam and Stockholm. I am now training to run my first half marathon later this year. Life is great!


Kim learned the signs of stroke when her children participated in Jump Rope For Heart. So when she couldn’t speak or use her right hand, she knew she needed help right away. Kim called 911 immediately and today she runs Marathons. Here is Kim’s story.

May 26, 2015, I woke up like any other day. I was 3 months out from running theLePetitStudio--10

marathon in Pennsylvania to qualify for The Boston Marathon 2016. My children had

been participating in Jump Rope for Heart for 6 years as a school fundraiser. About 30

minutes after waking up, I felt numbness in my hand and face. I also experienced

dizziness unlike what I had felt before. Within minutes my right leg was heavy and I

couldn’t lift it. I could not grasp my water bottle with my right hand and I had difficulty

speaking. Recognizing the signs of stroke from my kids during Jump Rope for heart, I

called 911 immediately! I was hospitalized for one week and an MRI confirmed that I

had suffered a stroke. The American Heart Association saved my life. I want to spread

the word of the importance of awareness. My story could be very different if I hadn’t

known the symptoms and sought help immediately! Stroke does not discriminate. Any

Kim_bwone at any time can be affected by stroke. Know the signs. I am honored to be part of

Tedys Team Boston Marathon 2016. I cannot wait to raise money in hopes of ending

heart disease and stroke.


A special thank you to Christine Petit of Le Petit Studio for taking photos of the Hoffman Go Red Gallery women. www.PetitPics.com



While at church, Barbara had a massive stroke. She recovered because someone knew something was wrong and she received help immediately. Here is Barbara’s story.

In July, 2012, I was at church and we had just finished communion. I was walking back to my seat and walked by my husband and said “I don’t feel too good”. He told me to sit down for a minute. I satLePetitStudio- down and not even five minutes later, my left leg started to feel numb. When my husband turned around and looked at me, I said “I can’t feel my left leg”.  Then I really didn’t know what was going on. I was told that my second mother was holding my head from the row behind me. My husband had called 911 and they were in their way. I was transported to the hospital where they were waiting for me.  I remember only being able to look around the room slowly and people all around me. My husband told me the neurologist told him he had to make a decision for them to administer a type of medication that could benefit me but there was a chance it wouldn’t. She then told him I had a major stroke.  The neurologist also told my mom to call my twin and get him to the hospital because I was going to need him.  When I woke up I was in the ICU. My speech was slow and I couldn’t feel anything on my whole left side.  I was there for several days and then transferred to Gaylord hospital.  At Gaylord I wasn’t able to bathe myself or walk. They put me on a healthy meal plan and I went to physical therapy after a couple of days. I also had speech therapy and sessions with other stroke patients.  Throughout my stay, I received a lot of support from my family and friends including my co-workers, my Bishop and Co-Pastor and even my hairdresser! Unfortunately, it was overwhelming for me to be with people, not being able to talk clearly to them. My husband was there with me every day and slept there every night. He was my greatest supporter. My mom and sister visited every day / I received so much strength from the them both just by seeing them. My twin surprised me on several occasions coming down from Albany and took me to therapy and spent the entire day with through my sessions.

Before I could leave Gaylord the last thing I had I do was learn how to walk up and down the stairs. I think that was one of the hardest things to do – I was so scared. But I did it. Finally, I was home! My sister-in-law moved into my house and took care of my house and children! What a blessing!!! The love that was shared was amazing and indescribable. And even with all of that support, I felt helpless and less of a woman. I remember nights I cried to my husband and apologized for not being the woman he married. He looked at me and told me “we got this – we got this – I love you”.

This journey has been a long one yet an experience that has blessed my life. I have a different outlook on life now. I still have moments here and there (anxiety attacks, afraid to be alone at times, head pains – some minor some major) but I’m still thankful to God that I made it. A lot that went on thatBarbara_bw day in July of 2012, had to be told to me. To this day, I’m still learning about things that went on during that time.   But most of all, I am grateful for all those in my life that helped me get through my experience.

A special thank you to Christine Petit of Le Petit Studio for taking photos of the Hoffman Go Red Gallery women. www.PetitPics.com



Barbara’s Update:

This has been a great year for me.  I did several things that I haven’t been able to do in 5 years due to the effects of the stroke.  I attended and represented the American Heart Association as a Survivor Ambassador at three health fairs reaching 400 people!  I participated and completed a 5k walk for Domestic Violence.  I was also able to attend the play The Color Purple at the Bushnell.

These may not seem big to many people but it was for me! I don’t do well in crowds and have to make certain arrangements when I attend events! To make it through these meaningful events made me feel awesome! And at the play, I sat in the front row! Check me out!!!

I’m so grateful for the support of my family and true/close friends and most of all I’m grateful to God for bringing me this far! I’m looking forward to greater things! As my twin would say “Let’s go!!!”  To All – remember to “Dominate The Day” JWS forever!



At the age of 28, Vanessa’s heart stopped and was saved with CPR. Diagnosed with Long QT Syndrome she now wears lifesaving technology and urges others to know their risks. Here is Vanessa’s story.

Vanessa Lloyd, 28, was home in Hartford alone with her 2-year-old daughter when she kept fainting.

To be safe, she called her mother to drive her to the Emergency Department at UConn John Dempsey Hospital. But as their car pulled up to the ED’s entrance Vanessa passed out again right there.

Her mother ran into the ED for help and a team of nurses and UConn Health Fire Department paramedics rushed to the car.

“I was really scared,” recalls Lloyd who only briefly remembers the paramedics rolling her into the ED from the car. She figured her fainting was linked to her 2011 epilepsy diagnosis, but she was wrong.

While in the ED Lloyd’s heart suddenly stopped.

“UConn saved my life. The nurses successfully performed CPR on me and shocked my heart with a defibrillator to restart it,” shared Lloyd. “I woke up and immediately, started talking and recall askiLePetitStudio--13ng the medical team- ‘what just happened’?”

“This young woman is very lucky to be in the right place at the right time,” says her treating physician, Dr. Christopher Vetter of the Emergency Department at UConn John Dempsey Hospital. “She went into a dangerous ventricular fibrillation arrhythmia which our nurses immediately recognized, allowing us to defibrillate her heart into normal rhythm.”

Doctors suspect that Lloyd may never have had epilepsy because she never experienced epileptic seizures. UConn Health’s Calhoun Cardiology Center’s heart experts believe that Lloyd has Long QT Syndrome, a condition which can cause an abnormal and chaotic rapid heartbeat leading to fainting or even sudden cardiac death. It stems from a genetic predisposition or could be triggered for example by certain medications. It is common for the fainting spells that people with Long QT syndrome experience to be very similar in appearance as epilepsy, often leading to confusion over the diagnosis. She is awaiting genetic testing to confirm her diagnosis.

Lloyd was completely surprised that her health was at risk by a dangerous arrhythmia as she works daily in a hospital as a telemetry technician specifically monitoring patients for them.

“Thank you to everyone at UConn that helped save my life,” says Lloyd. “I am so grateful and so very happy — beyond happy.”

While in the hospital recovering, a combination implantable pacemaker and cardioverter defibrillator device was minimally invasively implanted under her chest’s skin with tiny wires connecting it to her heart.

“The dual technology allows us to now monitor Vanessa’s heart rhythms from a far, and the device will help regulate her heart beat, preventing it from going too slow, the situation in which her heart rhythm might become dangerous chaotic again – and also even restart her heart if it ever suddenly stops again,” says Dr. Christopher Pickett, her electrophysiologist at the Calhoun Cardiology Center of UConn Health.

Lloyd stressed: “The technology not only protects my heart health, but also gives me peace of mind for when I am alone caring for my young daughter.”

In honor of the lifesaving work of her doctors and nurses at UConn Health, Lloyd nicknamed her new pacemaker device “Jonathan” after the UConn Husky.

“I am so thankful to everyone at UConn so there was no better name. No matter where I go, I now have a little piece of UConn inside me keeping my heart beating.”

She advises others, young and old, that if you feel anything uneasy or abnormal about your body to go get it checked out by a doctor.

“Take your health very seriously,” she says.Vanessa_bw

Lloyd also credits the nurses instrumental in saving her life including Amanda Costello, Sarah Urso and Erica Gomez.

(As written by UCONN Health)

A special thank you to Christine Petit of Le Petit Studio for taking photos of the Hoffman Go Red Gallery women. www.PetitPics.com


Vanessa’s Update:

Each day I wake up I thank God to be alive, and try to live each day according to his purpose. I spend time with my daughter, family, attend school and strive to absorb all life has to offer.”



Sandi’s daughter Shelby was born with a congenital heart defect and required open heart surgery at just one week old to connect her heart and lung. Here is Shelby’s story, told by her mom.

My daughter is “Why I Go Red”. My daughter, who is now 13, was born with a heart defect.  It took the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center pediatric cardiology team a week to figure out what the issue was.  It was a very long week for sure.  I clearly remember walking into the NICU and seeing several members of the cardiology team surrounding Shelby’s crib trying desperately to figLePetitStudio--9ure out what was wrong. They finally determined that her right pulmonary artery was not connected to her lung, so a one week old, she had open heart surgery.  That was also a very long day – an 8 hour surgery! The first concern coming out of the surgery was that her heart did not beat on its own.  The doctors determined that she needed a pacemaker, so at 2 weeks old she had a pacemaker put in her belly.  The second and biggest concern was whether or not the artery would stay attached as she grew.  After several years of closely monitoring the blood flow, etc. the doctors have told us just this year, that they are no longer concerned.  What a relief for us all!

The head cardiologist said to me that if this had happen to my then 7 years son, they would not have had the technology to save him. There were a lot of ups and downs through the years, however we are very grateful for the continued research and support of the American Heart Association.S&S_bw

A special thank you to Christine Petit of Le Petit Studio for taking photos of the Hoffman Go Red Gallery women. www.PetitPics.com


Shelby’s Update:

Shelby Markey has had a fantastic year! Shortly after last year’s Go Red Luncheon, she went in and had the generator (battery) of her pacemaker replaced at CCMC by Dr. Shae and his team. As always, the staff at CCMC took wonderful care of her.  Shelby even got a special visit at the end of the day from her cardiologist, Dr. Salazar.  Shelby and her mom were so touched that Dr. Salazar stopped by to check on her after a long day of work!  It is so increditable the advancements made in 7 short years since her last generator replacement.  She now submits her transmissions via an app on her cell phone and the generator is now scheduled to last 10 years (vs. 5 to 7 years previously).  This would not be possible if it wasn’t for supporters like those who support AHA.

Over the summer she and her best friend spent a week in Cape Cod relaxing and seeing the sights before going into her freshman year of high school. Shelby had a busy fall supporting both the AHA Walk and attending the Heart Ball.  Team Shelby, sponsored by Aetna, raised almost $10,000 during the walk!  She is also very active with after school activities that focus on her love of the theater.  She is involved in the local YMCA production of The Beauty and the Beast as a technical crew member, in her high school play of The Addams Family on the Front of the House support team as well as assisting with Unified Theater.  Even with all this, she has made honor roll both semesters.

She is looking forward to seeing everyone at this year’s Go Red Luncheon!




Julie knew something was wrong and persisted over the years to get checked out. She was found to have a rare heart condition. Here is Julies Story.

I had always lived a very active lifestyle. I ran track all through high school and for a PAC-10 college, and lettered in basketball and volleyball. I was a very competitive skier and at 45 qualified to ski at Nationals, for my age division, at Steamboat Springs. I hiked, I biked, I ran, you name it …..l did it .

But I also complained of my chest “just not feeling right” many times throughout those years. would always described it as it felt like my heart was flip-flopping and if I was very tired my heart woLePetitStudio--5uld feel very heavy in my chest .

Several times I had sought help from the medical profession. Each time I was given various diagnoses: anxiety attack, heart murmur, mitral valve prolapse, stress from being a single mother with teenagers, even gall bladder disease. Also, each time I sought help I did explain to the provider that I do have a strong family history of heart disease and that my father died of a massive heart attack at 46 – but I was still dismissed.

The episode that turned everything around occurred nearly 4 years ago, on March 21st. That morning I woke up and wasn’t feeling 100% and when I got to work we were in crisis-mode the minute I stepped in the door.  As the morning went on I started having a very sharp pain in my left bi-cep. It felt like the vein in my arm was going to pop there was so much pressure.

Then the pain was in my shoulder, my neck and my jaw. We had nurses at our facility so I told my co-workers I needed to go see the nurse, they had no idea I wasn’t feeling well, because as women we just keep plugging along like nothing is wrong .

When I got to the nurse’s office they took my blood pressure and it was off the charts. They waited a couple of minutes and the other nurse took my BP in case it was a malfunction with the cuff, or human error. Again, it was sky-high. They told me they were very concerned that I might be having a heart attack and they needed to call 911- I, of course, became very upset.

When the paramedics got there they quickly assessed me and decided they needed to take me to St. Francis to see my regular physician rather than Bristol Hospital, which was closer. That decision probably made all the difference in my situation.  When I got to St. Francis they did all the usual stuff: EKG, BP, took blood….and they told me this looks like a heart attack, except for the EKG. The EKG still looked like everything was normal. However, the cardiologist knew there had to be something going on.  The course of action at that point was to admit me to the hospital and have me undergo a stress test in the morning.

I was nervous going for the stress test, but everyone kept reminding me I was young, in good shape, and this will help determine what was going on with me. I did the treadmill version of the stress test and the technician confirmed I was doing great and that this episode was probably just acid reflux.

The next part of the stress test was to have the second set of pictures taken with the nuclear imaging machine. {The first set was taken before the treadmill exercise) Again, I was told everything looked fine and I would probably be going home soon.

Later that afternoon the cardiologist came in to talk to me and my husband. He handed me the report from the stress test and the first word I saw was ischemia – I immediately knew what that meant – I had had a heart attack. The cardiologist explained to me that due to the damage to my heart this was probably not the first heart attack I have had and they needed to do an angiogram to determine what the cause was.

The next morning I was taken downstairs for my angiogram and put into a twilight sleep.

During the angiogram, I could hear my cardiologist say, “There it is!” Once they woke me up the cardiologist showed me the tape of the angiogram and you could see the blood flow in its normal pattern and then just disappear, and then reappear again.   Instead of the artery going on the outside of the heart, mine was on the inside of the heart, otherwise known as a myocardial bridge. A condition that only 5% of the population has and most people who are athletes with this condition usually die in their 20’s from overexertion. For me, this meant that every time I underwent stress the increased beating of my heart was decreasing the flow of blood, and creating stress on my heart – and it appears that several of those times I did experience mild heart attacks.

I have since been put on medication which slows down my heart and my metaboJulie Vigillism – which in turn caused a 30 pound weight gain, and beta-blockers to keep my blood pressure low, even though I don’t have high blood pressure. And I will always need to carry nitroglycerin pills with me – just in case.

The key takeaways from my experience: Be a very strong advocate for your health – I knew something wasn’t right. Also, be mindful that even the healthiest person can still have heart disease. I have been told that diagnosing heart disease in an otherwise healthy individual is very.

A special thank you to Christine Petit of Le Petit Studio for taking photos of the Hoffman Go Red Gallery women. www.PetitPics.com



Alexa can tell you the steps for CPR, warning signs of heart attack and stroke

0220-Feature-EchoCPR_WPThe voice-activated Amazon Echo device answers thousands of everyday requests, like setting a timer, playing music, ordering a pizza or changing a thermostat.

Now, this device can help save someone’s life.

Alexa, the friendly voice of the Amazon Echo, will for the first time give all three instructions for CPR, heart attack and stroke warning signs.

The information is crucial because prompt medical attention can make the difference between life or death, or significant disability, said Robert Neumar, M.D., Ph.D., chair of emergency medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School.

“Any system that can reliably reduce delays in medical care for cardiac arrest, heart attack and stroke has the potential to improve health outcomes,” he said.

To access this new information, people simply ask Alexa, starting with the phrase “Alexa, ask American Heart” to ensure they’re hearing the science-based information from the American Heart Association. So, you would say:

— “Alexa, ask American Heart … how do I perform CPR?”

— “Alexa, ask American Heart … what are the warning signs of a heart attack?”

— “Alexa, ask American Heart … what are the warning signs for stroke?”

Every day in America someone has a stroke every 40 seconds on average. About 2,200 Americans die from cardiovascular diseases each day. Cardiac arrest claims more than 350,000 lives a year. Because these are emergencies requiring urgent treatment, Alexa first tells the user to call 911 before offering other instructions.

There are about 8.2 million Amazon Echo devices in the U.S., according to Consumer Intelligence Research Partners. This year, sales of the Amazon Echo line and newer Google Home devices are projected to reach 4.5 million, according to the Consumer Technology Association.

The ability to easily offer assistance in so many homes is enticing to healthcare providers, because time is so important.

“Anything we can do to have not only more bystanders do CPR but have them start sooner is likely to have an impact on survival,” Neumar said.

About 70 percent of cardiac arrests happen at home, but victims are half as likely to survive when they are at home as they are in a public setting. One reason could be that no one at home did CPR, Neumar said.

“We need to create a culture where everybody is expected to be able to perform CPR who has the physical capability,” he said. “It’s not feasible to have everybody do a CPR course.”

Alexa offers the steps of Hands-Only CPR for a teen or adult who suddenly collapses: push hard and fast in the center of the chest at the rate of 100 to 120 beats per minute, the same rate as the classic disco song “Stayin’ Alive.”

Shawn DuBravac, Ph.D., chief economist at the Consumer Technology Association, said he could envision a day when voice-activated services are one day part of the 911 system. A 2015 study reported that about half of all communities do not have 911 dispatchers trained to give CPR instruction, as the AHA recommends.

And, people are more likely to take this step reflexively as they grow more and more accustomed to conversing with their devices.

“When you can order a pizza, one would think certainly that you could request first responders,” he said.

Photo courtesy of Amazon.com



Ivory Ella, founded in 2015, donates 10% of their profits to Save the Elephants as well as othercute tees organizations, making the word a better place.  By selling t-shirts, necklaces and more, Ivory Ella seeks to inspire, guide and motivate with the ideals of an elephant: Empathy, Creativity, Strength and Loyalty.

During the month of February, Ivory Ella will focus on supporting the American Heart Association, raising funds for their Heart Walk teams in Rhode Island and Connecticut.

There is more than one reason to support heart health, but for this company, it’s personal. Matt Fiano, co-founder of Ivory Ella recently had a heart attack. His experience brought awareness to the team at Ivory Ella and the need for education on the risks for heart disease.

“I had no idea that I was in jeopardy to have a heart attack”, said Ivory Ella co-founder Matt Fiano. “I am so grateful to my team of nurses and doctors who helped me through my experience.  I never really thought about my risk. Now I focus on what matters and won’t miss any opportunities to spend time with my children, family and friends”.

During the month of February, Ivory Ella will be selling specially designed tee-shirts and jewelry with a portion of the proceeds going to their Heart Walk Team at the Eastern Connecticut Heart Walk in Uncasville, CT and the Greater Westerly Heart Walk in Westerly, RI.

“At Ivory Ella, we want to give back to the community and the world. During American Heart Month in February, our focus is on heart disease and stroke. I know now that heart disease is 80% preventable through life style changes, and the funds we raise will support that educteesation and research”, added Fiano.

For more information on Ivory Ella, their mission and products, visit www.ivoryella.com. For information on the Eastern Connecticut Heart Walk go to www.EasternCTHeartWalk.org and www.GreaterWesterlyHeartWalk.org for information on the Greater Westerly Heart Walk.

If you would like more information on your risk for heart disease visit www.heart.org/mylifecheck.