Monfredo: Lets Make Worcester a “Heart Safe City”

Saturday, February 09, 2019
John Monfredo, GoLocalWorcester MINDSETTER

The month of February is here and for me besides my wife’s birthday I think of this month as “American Heart Month”.  This month was a federally designated event made possible by President Lyndon Johnson in a proclamation dated February of 1964. The reason behind the move was because at that time more than half the deaths in the United States were caused by cardiovascular disease.

Today heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in our nation.  Every year 1 in 4 deaths are caused by heart disease.  Another statistic shows that every 34 seconds, someone has a heart disease related event.  Approximately every minute someone will die from one. Also, according to research, deaths attributable to heart disease, 34% occurred before the age of 75 which is about 4 years earlier than the average life expectancy.

Also, one of the most common reasons many people die from cardiac arrest is because no one nearby knew CPR or, if they did know it, they didn’t attempt to use it.    

Believing in the “whole child” receiving a well-rounded education, about four years ago I initiated a Worcester Public School committee composed of Carol Manning our Health and Physical Education Liaison, Deborah McGovern our director of School Nurses, and Patricia Mallios and Blair Young from the American Heart Association.

Our goal at that time was to have every child in grades 7 to 12 receive training every year in CPR Hands Only.   With over 10,000 students needing to be trained we sought funding for mannequins and AED kits for all secondary schools. The students would be trained in their physical education classes… a subject that all students have to take by law.  The beauty about this idea was if we raised the necessary funds the program would be self-sustaining each and every year.  I felt that this was a win-win situation for our community and for the schools if we could raise the needed funds.

Long story short… we raised the needed funds and we have had a very successful CPR program in our secondary schools.  Our students have learned life-saving measures and many have gone out into the community to teach others about CPR.

The good news is that heart disease can often be prevented when individuals make healthy choices and manage their health conditions.  One of the leaders of the healthy heart movement has been the American Heart Association.  This group depends on the time and the talent of volunteers to help our community create a healthier city free of heart disease and stroke.

They need our assistance!  Won’t you please consider helping out this year by making a donation to the American Heart Association and by participating in the Central Mass annual Heart Walk.  By participating in the Heart Walk you will be raising funds for lifesaving science research.   The idea is to keep hearts beating and help cure heart disease.  The event will take place on May 11th at DCR’s Quinsigamond State Park-Lake Park in Worcester.  Please contact the American Heart Association representative Blair Young at mailto:blair.young@heart.org or call him at 508-499-6266.

The AHA has invested more than four billion dollars in research since 1949, and has invested in the careers of the best and brightest young investigators in research.  Their goal is to fund research that will give individuals the greatest chance of saving lives, improving health and finding cures.   Examples in research led to breakthroughs that have saved countless lives including the first artificial heart value, the implanted pacemaker, and CPR techniques and guidelines.

Let’s make this a community effort by having all groups put together a team for May 11th to walk to save lives.  The Worcester Public Schools has a team registered so sign up.  In addition, let’s get teams from the city, colleges, social agencies, business community and student teams to participate.  I encourage the AHA to establish a committee during HEART MONTH to pull all aspects of this community together for joint meetings and be ready to coordinate the largest group of volunteer walkers for the HEART WALK.  Let’s get our city leaders to make this walk a priority.

We need to make this a special event for Worcester.  Our city is known as the HEART OF THE COMMONWEALTH so let’s prove it on May 11th.  Contact Blair Young today! See you at heart walk!

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