Personal Stories

There are many types of heart disease but no matter what the type, the experience of living with it can have a profound impact on the patient and those who care about them. Read these stories of patients, survivors and their families sharing their experiences and insights. 

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You’re Too Young to Have Heart Disease

My heart story is similar to a lot of women who find out they have cardiovascular issues while pregnant. Luckily for me, I found out before it was too late.

Educate, Advocate & Change Your Ways: Living with PAD

Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is a narrowing of the peripheral arteries to the legs, stomach, arms and head — most commonly in the arteries of the legs. Survivor Elizabeth Beard shares the wisdom of her experience with PAD.

The Anxiety of Survival: Living in the Wake of a Pulmonary Embolism

Ellie Brady was the picture of health, a wife and mother training for a half marathon. On a nine-mile training run she got out of breath. As the week progressed so did her symptoms — back pain, chest pain, uncontrollable chills — until she could no longer ignore them.

Twice the Diagnosis, Twice the Passion

When Kimberly Ketter was diagnosed with heart failure, her first thought was for her identical twin, Shaun Rivers, to be tested. Her diagnosis was the same, so the twins took up recovery together. Today, they are advocates for heart health in their community.

My Number was 350: Lisa Ranson

“I had no idea what cholesterol was or what impact having high cholesterol could have on me,” she recalled. It wasn’t long before she found out. Within two years she was diagnosed with heart disease and had open-heart surgery for a double bypass.

Living with Pulmonary Hypertension: Monica Penaranda

At age 36, Monica Penaranda of California has lived longer with pulmonary hypertension (PH) than without it. She was diagnosed at 16.

Facing the Inevitable

“Your baby’s only hope for survival is a heart transplant.” No parent is ever prepared to hear those words. And you never forget them, nor who said them, nor the day they were spoken.

Lauri Evan's Why

Lauri was walking back inside when she took a few labored breaths and her heart stopped. Lauri collapsed in front of 18 children, including her two oldest — Jacob, now 9, and Audrey, now 7.

The Day I Died

Sometimes it takes a life-changing event to shift your perspective on what’s important in life, and no event is more life-changing than death. Since my own death in November 2014, I have learned more about living.

33 Stents and Counting

My heart trouble started in 1997, when I was 50. Driving to work with my wife, Gerri, one morning, I stopped at a convenience store for coffee. Suddenly I started to get chest pains and could not breathe very well.

What NOT to Do

When a person is having chest pain, within which timeframe should you call 911? The answer may seem obvious, but I became a CPR instructor because we did everything WRONG when my husband, Steve, had a heart attack in 2007.

Kristen Holihan's Why

In 1995, Kristen Holihan got a wonderful Christmas present four days early — the birth of her son, Tyler Matesen. But she would not take him home until after the new year, and then with overwhelming fear and anxiety.

First the Wait, Then the Date

Replacing heart valves can be a tricky business because it involves multiple variables. Knowing that you’ll be needing a serious heart surgery in the future, but not knowing when, can wear on a person.

Learning to Trust My Heart Again

A few weeks after surgery to give me a new coronary artery, I was to begin cardiac rehab in my hometown of Portland. I was scared. No. I was terrified to do anything that would stress my heart. It had betrayed me once, and I did not trust that it wouldn’t do it again. I was deeply shaken by the whole experience.

A Tale of Two Mothers

Janice Taylor lost her mother at age 10, but thanks to technology, her inherited heart disease did not deprive her daughters of a mother.
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Resources For Patients & Families

Answers By Heart

Answers by Heart is a series of downloadable patient information sheets presented in a question-and-answer format that's brief, easy to follow and easy to read. They also provide room for you to write down questions to ask your doctor.

Check. Change. Control.® Tracker for Blood Pressure

Check. Change. Control.® uses self-monitoring and tracking of blood pressure readings at home to help you achieve and maintain a healthy heart. Sign up today to start managing your heart health!

Glossary of Heart Disease

The term 'heart disease' is often used - but there are many types of disease that come under this category. This companion piece to "The Heart of a Woman" in our Spring 2015 issue provides a list of some of the most common conditions in the heart disease spectrum.

My Life Check

My Life Check® was designed by the American Heart Association with the goal of improved health for all Americans. Any person can make these changes and even modest improvements to your health will make a big difference. Start with one or two. Know your heart score.

Patient & Family Support Network

The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association has created an online community called the Support Network. The goal is to connect people living with heart disease and stroke with others who are going through similar journeys.

Stroke Connection Magazine

For over 20 years Stroke Connection has been the award-winning voice of support, information and inspiration for a vast community of stroke survivors and their families. Now offered exclusively as a digital publication, it's available virtually everywhere.

Watch, Learn & Live Video Library

Here you'll find informative illustrations and animations about a variety of conditions, treatments and procedures related to heart disease and stroke.
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Departments

Heart News

Heart health news you can use about new scientific findings, public policy, programs and resources.

Heartfelt

Articles, poems and art submitted by heart disease survivors and their loved ones.

Life's Simple 7

Improving your health is as easy as minding seven simple health factors and behaviors. Tips and information to help you improve your health and enhance your quality of life.

Life Is Why

Everyone has a reason to live a longer, healthier life. These heart patients, their loved ones and others share their 'whys'. We'd love for you to share yours, too!

Simple Cooking

Cooking at home can be a daunting task, but a rewarding one for your diet and lifestyle (and your wallet). Making small changes in your diet is important to your heart health. Here are simple, healthy and affordable recipes and cooking tips.