There are over 80 million people in the United States living with cardiovascular disease, and every one faces unique personal challenges in managing his or her condition.  The patients featured in the stories below have agreed to share their experiences with us – and with others who may benefit from understanding the struggles and accomplishments they have faced on the road to a healthier heart.
Check back often, as we plan on featuring more real-life stories of heart patients, and how they have worked closely with their cardiologists, families and health care team to achieve the best heart health possible.

Patient Essay: Kim Steele-McNeal

Unable to form words and feeling the left-side of her face start to droop, Kim Steele-McNeal realized she was having a stroke.
Allison Jamison

Allison Jamison is CardioSmart

Family members and friends help Allison Jamison stay motivated to eat right, exercise and keep her medical appointments. She was born with homozygous familial hypercholesterolemia and a heart defect.

Bob's Story: Atrial Fibrillation

Learn how Bob Ek and his cardiologist, Scott J. Pollak, MD, FACC, work as a team to manage Bob’s atrial fibrillation.

Bradley Smith

Bradley Smith is CardioSmart

After a heart attack, Bradley Smith dramatically improved his heart health and reduced his risk for a second heart attack by attending cardiac rehab, changing his diet and taking his medications faithfully.

Brenda Keene is CardioSmart

Heart disease was a common thread in her family, but Brenda Keene was not going to give up after being diagnosed with coronary disease.

Brenda Lubenow is CardioSmart

Brenda was diagnosed with heart failure at the age of 30. Determined to see her children grow up, Brenda followed her doctor's advice and immediately started on medication and an exercise regimen, in addition to significantly improving her diet.
Christian Jacobs

Christian Jacobs is CardioSmart

Born with homozygous familial hypercholesterolemia, Christian Jacobs has managed to beat the odds. Christian uses his experience to inspire others as an FH Foundation Advocate.

Cindy's Story: A Family History of Heart Disease

Cindy Hauck had a family history of heart disease, but has partnered with her cardiologist H.B Karunaratne MD, FACC, to improve her heart health.
Allison Jamison

Collette Sroka is CardioSmart

Being active, eating healthy and taking her medication are among the things Collette Sroka does to live well with heart failure.

David's Story: Advocating for Children with CHD

David Kasnic's daughter Piper was born with a CHD and required immediate surgery to save her life. The life-changing experience inspired David to establish the Pediatric Congenital Heart Association to help other CHD families.

David Wang

David Wang is CardioSmart

A heart attack during a work event changed David Wang's life. After working with his cardiologist and cardiac rehab team, David now celebrates "the gift of perspective."


Deborah Flaherty-Kizer is CardioSmart

Deborah Flaherty-Kizer was born with a heart defect. Instead of allowing her condition to limit her, she regularly challenges herself physically and serves as a mentor to other heart patients.

Deidra's Story: Heart Valve Disease

Deidra Jacobs, her cardiologist, Hani Seifein MD, FACC, and her surgeon, Kevin Accola, MD, FACC, successfully manage her mitral valve prolapse through surgery.

Don's Story: Cardiac Rehab

Don Fick suffered a heart attack while on vacation with his family. After his heart attack, Don made cardiac rehab a priority in his recovery.

Gerry Yumul is CardioSmart

Gerry Yumul didn't ignore the signs and symptoms of a heart problem. Instead, he worked with his care team to undergo the recommended and life-saving tests and procedures he needed. 

Christian Jacobs

Jacob Burris is CardioSmart

When he was 12 years old, Jacob Burris was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect. Today, he is spreading the word about the importance of checking blood pressure and raising awareness about CHDs.

Allison Jamison

Jared Blitz is CardioSmart

Born with aortic valve stenosis, Jared Blitz had open-heart surgery to replace a diseased valve when he was 17. He wants to inspire others to live well by staying fit.

Jaycee Elliott is CardioSmart

Despite living with a congenital heart defect for over thirty years, Jaycee Elliott has learned to be grateful for each day and to face life's challenges with a positive attitude.

Allison Jamison

Kathleen Thompson is CardioSmart

Learning familial hypercholesterolemia runs in your family can be daunting, but Kathleen Thompson has found support from others living well with the condition.

Kathy Webster is CardioSmart

Kathy Webster was born with a heart defect that contributed to her developing atrial fibrillation. After two open heart surgeries, Kathy is dedicated to living an active and healthy lifestyle.


Kimberly Binkley is CardioSmart

Kimberly Binkley was diagnosed with heart failure at 39. Her heart was functioning at less than 5 percent. Today, she's an 11-year survivor committed to maintaining her heart health through exercise and diet.

Lisa Cox is CardioSmart

Triathlete Lisa Cox was on a routine run with friends when she went into sudden cardiac arrest. As a survivor, she now stresses the importance of knowing your family history and prevention.

Lori Cooper is CardioSmart

After being diagnosed with heart failure, Lori committed to the self-care strategy recommended by her doctor and to enjoying life to the fullest.

Marcus McCleery is CardioSmart

An AFib patient, Marcus lost a considerable amount of weight through diet and exercise. He maintains his heart-healthy ways and passes them on to fellow heart patients through volunteer work.
Allison Jamison

Melissa Cappuccilli is CardioSmart

A little more than a year after having a heart transplant, Melissa Cappuccilli ran her first half-marathon. She wants to inspire other women to protect their hearts.
Allison Jamison

Michael Melstad is CardioSmart

Despite being born with a congenital heart defect, Michael Melstad works at being as active as possible and says he's been blessed with a long life.

Myra Robin is CardioSmart

Myra's life was forever changed after a "widow maker" heart attack left her with multiple cardiac conditions, including heart failure. She hasn’t let that stop her from embracing heart-healthy habits and inspiring others with her experiences.

Peter’s Story: Heart Attack

Heart attack survivor Peter Austin and his cardiologist, Pradipkumar Jamnadas MD, FACC, partner to make sure Peter’s first heart attack is also his last.

Phillip Cartozian is CardioSmart

More than 20 years ago, Phillip Cartozian had two heart attacks and quintuple bypass surgery. Afterward, he changed his diet completely and ate fruit, vegetables and fish every day.

Richard’s Story: Heart Failure

Learn how heart failure patient Richard Neuman and his cardiologist, Mark Milunski MD, FACC work as a team to manage Richard’s condition.

Robby's Story: Tetralogy of Fallot

Robby Motta was born with Tetralogy of Fallot—four defects within his heart. Eight years later, Robby is an active second-grader.

Roger Johnson is CardioSmart

Cardiac rehabilitation helped place Roger on the road to recovery after a massive heart attack.
Roxanne Watson

Roxanne Watson is CardioSmart

After surviving a heart attack and heart transplant, Roxanne Watson is sharing her story to help educate people on heart health and organ donations.

Rudy Wilson Galdonik is CardioSmart

Born with an atrial septal defect, Rudy Wilson Galdonik learned early on that while she couldn't control her physical limitations, she could control how she approached her heart condition. 

Sandra Revill Tremulis: High Lipoprotein(a)

At 39, Sandra was on the brink of a fatal heart attack because of elevated lipoprotein(a), a strong risk factor she inherited from her parents.

Sue Chlebek is CardioSmart

A survivor of sudden cardiac arrest, Sue has devoted herself to making necessary lifestyle changes and leading a support group for women with heart disease.

Sue Thomas is CardioSmart

Sue was diagnosed with hypertension in her 20s and lost her father to a heart attack. After her own heart attack, she took control of her lifestyle, since genetics were something she couldn't control.

Tom Weiser is CardioSmart

Tom has had two heart attacks triggered by familial hypercholesterolemia (FH). He has become a vocal and educated advocate for his disease and a positive example for his four children.