More than 800 Putnam residents walked at the Putnam Heart Walk at Brewster High School on Sunday, April 22nd. The funds they raised will support heart disease and stroke research, along with the awareness and advocacy programs of the American Heart Association (AHA). Donations are still being accepted online at www.putnamheartwalk.org. Joseph Roberto, president and chief executive officer of PCSB Bank welcomed the crowd and thanked them for their support of the AHA’s lifesaving mission in the Putnam community.
Kids and adults alike joined in the “Move More” activities at the Heart Walk geared toward getting people active while having fun. An active lifestyle can help heart disease and stroke. The AHA recommends 30 minutes of physical activity daily for adults, and 60 minutes for children.
Diana Mauro from Mahopac was honored as the 2018 Inspirational Honoree for the Putnam Heart Walk. Mauro was born with a congenital heart defect survivor but was only recently diagnosed. Congenital heart defects are structural problems with the heart which are present at birth.
“I hope my story will raise awareness for congenital defects in both children and adults, encourage people to seek medical attention when necessary, and give strength and hope to anyone going through a difficult time,” she said.
At the end of 2016, Mauro began feeling light headed, faint and had low blood pressure. At first, she thought she was dehydrated, but her symptoms persisted. She went to her primary care physician who detected a heart murmur. Further testing by a cardiologist showed she had a rare congenital heart defect known as Scimitar Syndrome, or Partial Anomalous Pulmonary Venous Return. Three veins from her right lung were connected to the wrong side of the heart. Her body had been compensating for this defect her whole life.
On February 2, 2017, she had open heart surgery to relocate the veins so that the oxygenated blood could circulate correctly. The surgery was successful, requiring no further surgeries.
“I am very grateful and blessed to say that I am a congenital heart defect survivor. I am now left with a 6.5” scar on my chest to remind me of how strong I am, what I have overcome and what is truly important in life,” she said, adding, “To those families going through similar situations, I offer you words that helped me this past year: be strong, be brave, be fearless!”
Events like the Heart Walk fund the AHA’s critical research and awareness programs that help save lives from cardiovascular diseases like heart disease and stroke – the number one and five killers in the U.S. The AHA’s funding for pediatric cardiac research is second only to the federal government. Thanks to AHA advocacy, a law was passed NYS to ensure that every baby born receives pulse-oximetry testing, which can help identify heart defects immediately after birth. The AHA also creates guidelines for, and trains parents, caregivers, and medical professionals in infant and child CPR. www.heart.org/CPR.
Research and advanced can save many lives, but more than 80% of heart disease can be prevented with simple lifestyle changes like walking 30 minutes daily and eating a healthier diet including more fruits and vegetables. The Heart Walk is part of the AHA’s Healthy For Good movement designed to help Americans create lasting change in their health and life, one small step at a time. Learn more at healthyforgood.heart.org.
The Heart Walk is sponsored by PCSB Bank, Dr. Patrick W. Thomas and Mrs. Johanna D. Thomas, Putnam Hospital Center, PracticeMax, Lia Honda of Brewster, Stop and Shop, Marshall & Sterling, Park Ford, Unilock, Tompkins Mahopac Bank, VolzAuto, NewYork-Presbyterian and Spirelli Electric, and Always an Angel. Media sponsors are Examiner Media, Mahopac News, Hudson Valley Magazine, and WHUD Radio.
Learn more about congenital heart defects at www.heart.org/CHD. Parents of children with CHD may find support online at the AHA’s Support Network at http://supportnetwork.heart.org/congenital-heart-disease.