Contact: Nicole Napoli, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-375-6523
WASHINGTON (Feb. 1, 2014) — David Wang was in his 40s, a healthy eater and a regular at the gym when he started experiencing sweaty palms, numb fingertips and shortness of breath—classic heart attack symptoms—during a business trip. With no family history of heart disease, he assumed he was having an allergic reaction or asthma attack. His quick-thinking colleagues recognized the symptoms and drove him to the emergency room where a physician confirmed he had 100 percent blockage in one of his coronary arteries and was having a heart attack.
Wang, a heart attack survivor from Boston, was named by members of the cardiovascular care community as the winner of the second annual American College of Cardiology “I am CardioSmart” contest, which is conducted through the ACC’s CardioSmart patient initiative to find people living well with heart disease and showcase their stories to inspire other patients.
“I had the shock of my life when the ER doctor said ‘Sir, you are having a heart attack,’” Wang said.
But, Wang is not alone in experiencing a heart attack seemingly out of nowhere. Heart disease is the number one killer of men and women and for many people there are no clear symptoms or warning signs.
“David’s story is an important reminder that heart disease can affect anyone and unfortunately a heart attack may be the first presenting sign that something is wrong,” said CardioSmart Chief Medical Expert JoAnne Foody, MD, FACC. “That's why it's important to know your risk and get regular health care checkups. If you are healthy with no family history of heart disease, you may not be seeing a cardiologist. Developing a relationship with a primary care physician is extremely important in determining your risks and noticing changes in your health.”
Wang was treated that day and recovered from his heart attack. Today he is teaching and taking karate lessons and staying active with his young children. He regularly sees a team of doctors, physical therapists, nurses and nutritionists who help keep him on track with his cardiac rehabilitation at Brigham and Women’s/Mass General Health Care Center, which he considers the No. 1 priority in his life. This includes not just the cardiac rehabilitation clinic and the gym but also being constantly mindful of making healthier lifestyle choices.
“My two elementary school-aged boys help dad make healthier choices at every meal, my fitness instructors inspire me to do my best while working around any restrictions and my wife encourages me each and every day,” Wang said in his contest entry. “Today my life is back online from that major health scare. The heart attack has given me the gift of perspective that life’s most cherished moments are the days with our friends, family and loved ones.”
With the “I am CardioSmart” award, the American College of Cardiology is recognizing Wang for how he’s lived his life post-heart attack and for being an inspiration to others at risk or living life with heart disease.
CardioSmart is the patient education and support program developed by the ACC. Its mission is to engage, inform and empower patients to better prepare them for participation in their own care. In 2013, CardioSmart established a contest to find individuals who were living well with specific heart disease conditions: high blood pressure, heart failure, atrial fibrillation, previous heart attack or coronary artery disease. This year winners were chosen for each condition—with Wang as the heart attack representative—and their winning profiles were featured on CardioSmart’s Facebook page. The public was then allowed to vote on the most inspirational story, and with more than 300 tallies, Wang was selected as the overall winner.
“Heart disease and, in David’s case, heart attacks do not have to be debilitating and limiting for people who’ve experienced them,” Foody said. “David is a prime example of someone not letting a heart attack limit the rest of their lives. He’s the definition of living CardioSmart.
“We encourage people to prevent heart disease through healthy lifestyles. Staying active and not giving up your heart health goals is important to people who are living with heart disease.”
Wang and his cardiovascular care team from Brigham and Women’s/Mass General Health Care Center will be recognized by Foody during a CardioSmart workshop being held March 29 at the Newseum in Washington. The event is being held in conjunction with the American College of Cardiology’s 63rd Annual Scientific Session March 29-March 31 in Washington.
The four other heart disease condition winners from the “I am CardioSmart” contest will be announced throughout February to bring awareness to heart disease during Heart Month.
To learn more about preventing or living well with heart disease, visit www.cardiosmart.org.
To learn more about heart attack symptoms, treatments and prevention, visit www.cardiosmart.org/Heart-Conditions/Heart-Attack.
The mission of the American College of Cardiology is to transform cardiovascular care and improve heart health. The College is a 43,000-member medical society comprised of physicians, surgeons, nurses, physician assistants, pharmacists and practice managers. The College is a leader in the formulation of health policy, standards and guidelines. The ACC provides professional education, operates national registries to measure and improve quality of care, disseminates cardiovascular research, and bestows credentials upon cardiovascular specialists who meet stringent qualifications. For more information, visit www.cardiosource.org.
The ACC’s Annual Scientific Session brings together cardiologists and cardiovascular specialists from around the world each year to share the newest discoveries in treatment and prevention. Follow @ACCMediaCenter and #ACC14 for the latest news from the meeting. For information about registering as press, visit www.cardiosource.org/mediacenter.