Category Archives: American Heart Association (AHA)

National Heart Month: Know the Signs

Heart Attack? Stroke?

Do you know the ways to detect various heart diseases? Listed below are symptoms associated with heart attacks and strokes. Please check them out, and always pay attention to the signs your body is giving you!


  • Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest that lasts more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back
  • Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach
  • Shortness of breath, with or without chest discomfort
  • Breaking out in a cold sweat
  • Nausea
  • Lightheadedness


  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • Sudden trouble seeing or blurred vision in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause

REMEMBER, a simple way to spot a stroke is to recognize FAST:

F: face drooping

A: arm weakness

S: speech difficulty

T: time to call 911!



SUFFERN, NEW YORK –  (July 1, 2014)  When 19-year old lifeguard, Sean Meigh, renewed his CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) Certification in early June, he believed he would use his life-saving skill on a beach or at a pool, not on the living room floor of his home in Garnerville, New York. Neither did he imagine that he would save the life of the man dearest to him; his father, Michael Meigh.

Mr. Meigh, a police sergeant with Amtrak, set out to complete some chores in his yard on what he believed to be a typical day at home.  After pouring cement footings on his property, he felt as if he needed a break from the activity.  He went in his home for a cool drink and a brief rest.  He drank some water.  As his body became extremely hot, he put on the air-conditioner. He began profusely sweating and feeling lightheaded.   Certain he was dehydrated or having a heat stroke, he continued to rest and drink more water.   As Sean prepared to take a shower, he asked that his 11 year-old brother, Connor, stay by their father to make sure that he would begin feeling better. That is the last thing Mr. Meigh remembers before blacking out and subsequently waking up in the Cardiac Care Unit of Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center in Suffern, New York.

Wise beyond his years, Connor quickly dialed 9-1-1 and requested an ambulance for his father while alerting his older brother of the situation.  For the first time, Sean’s CPR skills were put to the test, as he immediately began using them on his father while Connor waited outside for the ambulance to arrive.  “My adrenaline just kicked in and I did what I instinctively knew I should do,” stated Sean.  “It never crossed my mind that I would have to actually have to save my father’s life – and if it weren’t for knowing CPR, I wouldn’t have been able to.  Everyone should know CPR.”

“I never ever thought I was having a heart attack” stated Mr. Meigh, who is only 51 years of age and has no family history of cardiac problems.  “I had no chest pains at all, actually no pain anywhere and just thought I was dehydrated or having a heat stroke.”

What Mr. Meigh remembers next is waking up in the hospital with his wife, Marian, at his side.  He was shocked to learn that he had a heart attack and a procedure to place a stent in his blocked artery, under the care of Cary Hirsch, MD, FACC, of Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center and Bon Secours Medical Group of Suffern, New York.

“Dr. Hirsch, and other members of the medical team, told me several times that the quick actions of my two sons saved my life,” said Mr. Meigh.  “I am so grateful to both of them and so proud.”  Now discharged from the hospital and doing well at home, Mr. Meigh is looking forward to a full recovery under Dr. Hirsch’s guidance.

Sean Meigh is now rethinking the path he chooses for his future and would like to pursue a career in the medical or law enforcement field.  “I like the feeling of saving lives and helping others,” he said. “My father gave me my life, and I was happy to give him back his.”

CPR Classes are available at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center in Suffern, New York.  Call 845-368-5000, extension 6791 for dates and more information.

Learn CPR, Save a Life.

June 1-7th has arrived, meaning it’s officially National CPR and AED Awareness Week. The American Heart Association and other organizations have federally designated this week to spotlight how lives can be saved if more Americans know CPR and how to use an AED (automated external defibrillator). During National CPR and AED Awareness Week, CPR/AED classes and demonstrations are conducted as educational information is distributed on the importance of being trained in CPR and AED use.

Be on the lookout for local events in your area!

Cardiac arrest is an electrical malfunction in the heart that causes an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) and disrupts the flow of blood to the brain, lungs and other organs. Every year, more than 420,000 people experience sudden cardiac arrest outside of a hospital setting, and barely 10 percent survive, making sudden cardiac arrest a leading cause of death in the United States. Early 9-1-1 calls, Early CPR and Early Defibrillation in the first five minutes can mean the difference between life and death.

80% of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests happen in private or residential settings where only 41% of victims get the immediate help they need before professional help arrives. How can you help the survival rate increase? Hands-Only CPR.

Hands-Only CPR only has two simple steps: Call 9-1-1 and push hard/fast in the center of the chest to the beat of the disco song “Stayin’ Alive.” Check out the video below of a Hands-Only CPR demonstration and be sure to share the information with your loved ones

The American Heart Association’s Hands-Only CPR campaign is supported by an educational grant from the WellPoint Foundation. You can find a CPR class near you by visiting


Source: The American Heart Association

Heart Attack is a Medical Emergency – Act Quickly to Save a Life

Heart Attack is a Medical Emergency – Act Quickly to Save a Life

A recent New England Journal of Medicine study reviewed the records of about 97,000 patients with severe heart attacks who were admitted to 515 hospitals between 2005 and 2009. Researchers found that although many hospitals improved the time between when patients arrive at the emergency room and undergo primary percutaneous coronary intervention – or door-to-balloon times – there was not a similar improvement in survival rate. Experts are looking toward improving pre-hospital variables.

Sadly, forty percent of patients with severe heart attack don’t call 9-1-1, causing significant treatment delays. Among the goals of the American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline program is to encourage patients and the community to learn to recognize heart attack symptoms and act quickly during this life-threatening situation. Fast action can reduce the amount of time between first symptoms and treatment and can ultimately save a life.

“A heart attack occurs when blood flow to the heart is blocked. A heart attack is a “circulation” problem. A blocked artery prevents oxygen-rich blood from reaching a section of the heart. If the blocked artery is not reopened quickly, the part of the heart normally nourished by that artery begins to die,” said Michele Hooper, manager in the AHA National CPR/Emergency Cardiovascular Care programs. The heart muscle will no longer be able to pump efficiently—this is a life-threatening event and requires immediate medical care.


Symptoms of a heart attack may be immediate and may include intense discomfort, pressure or pain in the chest or other areas of the upper body. There is often shortness of breath, cold sweats, and/or nausea/vomiting. More often, though, symptoms start slowly and persist for hours, days or weeks before a heart attack. Women are somewhat more likely than men to experience shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, and back, neck or jaw pain.

The heart usually does not stop beating during a heart attack. The victim is often aware and alert but in distress. The longer the person goes without treatment, the greater the damage to the heart which can result in death or permanent damage to the heart’s function (heart failure).


If some or all symptoms are present, even if you’re not sure it’s a heart attack, call 9-1-1 or your emergency response number. Every minute matters. It’s best to call EMS to get to the emergency room right away. Emergency medical services staff can begin treatment when they arrive — up to an hour sooner than if someone gets to the hospital by car.

“Calling 9-1-1 activates the local emergency response system. Patients with chest pain who arrive by ambulance usually receive faster treatment at the hospital, too,” said Hooper.

Most heart attacks do not lead to cardiac arrest—when the heart stops beating. But when cardiac arrest occurs, heart attack is a common cause. The American Heart Association also encourages everyone to be prepared in a cardiac arrest emergency and learn Hands Only CPR by watching a one-minute video at

 This information has been provided by the American Heart Assocation. Visit to learn more about how to recognize heart attacks.

Send kids back to school with healthy meals and snacks

New federal rules on school lunches will help provide children with more nutritious meal options. But, according to the American Heart Association, the best way to ensure healthy and less expensive meals for your kids is to send them with meals from home. So while you’re getting the kids’ backpacks ready with notebooks, pencils and paper, it’s a great time to plan for healthy back-to-school lunches.

The American Heart Association recommends packing a healthy lunch at home to ensure that kids get the nutrition they need without all the fat, calories and salt found in convenience foods and many school lunch meals. Too much salt, calories and fat can contribute to long-term health issues like obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure.

Today, about one in three American kids and teens is overweight or obese; nearly triple the rate in 1963. Among children today, obesity is causing health problems that previously weren’t seen until adulthood, like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and elevated blood cholesterol levels.

Ten Healthy lunchbox tips:

  • Pack healthy drinks such as water, low-fat milk or 100% juice with no added sugar.
  • Beverages boxes frozen the night before can keep a lunchbox cool until lunchtime.
  • Cut out the calorie-rich and nutrient-empty soda and energy drinks.
  • Use whole wheat bread, pita, wraps or flatbreads for sandwiches.
  • Pick lean luncheon meats like turkey, ham or leftover chicken breast.
  • Use reduced fat mayo or salad dressing or mustard to dress a sandwich
  • Add mixed greens or baby spinach leaves for extra nutrients
  • Try protein/iron-rich hummus with fresh veggies and whole wheat pita triangles for dipping.
  • Low-fat or fat-free calcium-rich cottage cheese with carrots, cherry tomatoes, berries, or melon.
  • Top green salads with lean protein like hard-boiled eggs, beans or chicken.

Didn’t pack a lunch? There are many options to choose from in the lunch line at school, some of them are healthier than others. Encourage kids to choose fruits and vegetables instead of French fries or chips and ask for grilled meat instead of fried.

The above information has been provided by the American Heart Association. For more information and recipes, visit the American Heart Association at

You Have the Power To End Stroke

Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death of Americans and the leading cause of death of long-term disability.  Stroke is perceived to be an age-related illness that you have no control over, but the American Stroke Association, a division of the American Heart Association, says that it not the case. They report that you do have the power to end stroke by recognizing and controlling your personal risk factors and knowing how to respond in case of emergency.

The Power To End Stroke movement is the American Stroke Association’s national initiative to empower all Americans to recognize the symptoms of a stroke and take action to reduce their personal risk for suffering from this deadly and debilitating disease.

Stroke is a leading cause of disability and number four cause of death in the United States. Approximately 795,000 individuals will have a stroke each year; of these, 167,000 individuals will die and more will suffer a major disability.

And though stroke can happen to anyone at any time, studies have shown that African Americans are twice as likely to suffer a first-ever stroke compared to Caucasians because of having an higher incidence of stroke risk factors such as family history of stroke, diabetes and high blood pressure.

Simple lifestyle changes like increasing your level of physical activity, quitting smoking, control of your cholesterol and blood pressure levels and maintaining a healthy diet are real areas in a person’s life that can be managed, according to the AHA/ASA. The American Heart Association and American Stroke Association’s Life’s Simple 7™ assessment measures seven lifestyle change areas and makes recommendations to improve each category.  It is available online at

While prevention is key to saving lives from stroke, early recognition of the number four killer can save lives in an emergency.

“More people need to know the signs and act quickly when they recognize it,” said Jason Greenberg, MD, Director of Stroke Rehabilitation at Helen Hayes Hospital and American Heart Association Board Member, “Stroke doesn’t have to mean death or disability. Quick recognition and action by bystanders to get the victim medical treatment will reduce chances for long term damage. A victim may have one or all of the signs. It’s important to call 9-1-1 as soon as possible.”
Stroke warning signs can come on suddenly.  The acronym “F.A.S.T.” is a simple way to remember stroke warning signs.

  • Face Drooping – Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop or is it numb?
  • Arm Weakness – Ask the person to raise both arms. Is one arm weak or numb? Does one arm drift downward?
  • Speech Difficulty – Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence, like “the sky is blue.” Is the sentence repeated correctly? Are they unable to speak, or are they hard to understand?
  • Time to call 9-1-1 – If the person shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and get them to the hospital immediately.

The American Stroke Association’s “Spot a Stroke F.A.S.T.” smartphone app, is available now for free download. The simple tool can help spot the symptoms of a stroke, F.A.S.T. It includes stroke info, warning signs,

For more information on Power To End Stroke go to  You can also find out more about your risk for stroke, and stroke prevention by visiting

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 Source: The American Heart Association

Your eyes may be a window to your stroke risk

In a study reported in the American Heart Association journal Hypertension, researchers said retinal imaging may someday help assess if you’re more likely to develop a stroke — the nation’s No. 4 killer and a leading cause of disability.

“The retina provides information on the status of blood vessels in the brain,” said Mohammad Kamran Ikram, M.D., Ph.D., lead author of the study and assistant professor in the Singapore Eye Research Institute, the Department of Ophthalmology and Memory Aging & Cognition Centre, at the National University of Singapore. “Retinal imaging is a non-invasive and cheap way of examining the blood vessels of the retina.”

Worldwide, high blood pressure is the single most important risk factor for stroke. However, it’s still not possible to predict which high blood pressure patients are most likely to develop a stroke.

Researchers tracked stroke occurrence for an average 13 years in 2,907 patients with high blood pressure who had not previously experienced a stroke. At baseline, each had photographs taken of the retina, the light-sensitive layer of cells at the back of the eyeball. Damage to the retinal blood vessels attributed to hypertension — called hypertensive retinopathy — evident on the photographs was scored as none, mild or moderate/severe.

During the follow-up, 146 participants experienced a stroke caused by a blood clot and 15 by bleeding in the brain.

Researchers adjusted for several stroke risk factors such as age, sex, race, cholesterol levels, blood sugar, body mass index, smoking and blood pressure readings. They found the risk of stroke was 35 percent higher in those with mild hypertensive retinopathy and 137 percent higher in those with moderate or severe hypertensive retinopathy.

Even in patients on medication and achieving good blood pressure control, the risk of a blood clot was 96 percent higher in those with mild hypertensive retinopathy and 198 percent higher in those with moderate or severe hypertensive retinopathy.

“It is too early to recommend changes in clinical practice,” Ikram said. “Other studies need to confirm our findings and examine whether retinal imaging can be useful in providing additional information about stroke risk in people with high blood pressure.”

Co-authors are Yi-Ting Ong, B.Sc.; Tien Y. Wong, M.D., Ph.D.; Ronald Klein, M.D., M.P.H.; Barbara Klein, M.D., M.P.H.; Paul Mitchell, M.D., Ph.D.; Richey Sharrett, Dr.P.H.; and David J. Couper, Ph.D. Author disclosures are on the manuscript.

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute funded the study.

SOURCE: American Heart Association