By: Staff Reports | Gwinnett Citizen
By: Staff Reports | Gwinnett Citizen

American Heart Association Launches Heart Valve Disease Ambassador Program
Local heart valve disease survivor selected as ambassador for national program to support heart valve community

The American Heart Association is pleased to announce the launch of the Heart Valve Ambassador Program, an initiative designed to provide support to the millions of Americans impacted by heart valve disease.

The inaugural group of volunteer ambassadors includes seven heart valve disease survivors and one caregiver from across the country who represent the face of heart valve disease in America and show that it can affect people of different ages, backgrounds and lifestyles. These ambassadors will serve as leaders in the community and will work with the American Heart Association to raise awareness about heart valve disease and share available resources for patients and families.

Kimberly Goodloe, 48, from Atlanta, GA, has experienced heart valve disease firsthand. Kimberly was born with an abnormal valve, but didn’t begin to develop symptoms until her 40s. She learned she needed an aortic valve replacement in 2009 and underwent open heart surgery, receiving a mechanical valve to replace her damaged aortic valve. Four days after her surgery, she developed a blockage and during a second surgery, she received a pacemaker. A year later, her third surgery took place: pacemaker revision.

In 2010, Kimberly began volunteering with her local American Heart Association affiliate in Atlanta. Since then, she’s become involved in a number of programs, including “Go Red for Women,” “You’re the Cure” and others.

Kimberly will continue to work in the Atlanta community to offer support and to direct patients and caregivers to available resources, including helpful information about heart valve disease, potential treatment options and recovery milestones on the American Heart Association’s Heart Valve Disease Education Center at www.heart.org/heartvalves. Additionally, patients and caregivers can connect with Kimberly on the American Heart Association’s Support Network, an online forum that enables people affected by heart disease and stroke to share their personal experiences and give and receive emotional support. 

The eight ambassadors assembled at the American Heart Association’s Dallas headquarters in July to meet with American Heart Association staff and leadership, including CEO Nancy Brown and Chief Mission Officer Meighan Girgus. The ambassadors shared their personal stories, learned more about the American Heart Association’s history and mission and brainstormed ways to support those affected by heart valve disease. 

Over the next year, the ambassadors will engage with the heart valve disease community, both online via the Support Network and social media platforms and through in-person outreach, including participation in Heart Walks, Go Red for Women Luncheons and Expos and other local events.

Support for the Heart Valve Ambassador Program is provided by Edwards Lifesciences. For more information about heart valve disease, please visit the American Heart Association’s Heart Valve Disease Education Center at www.heart.org/heartvalves. To connect with Kimberly or another heart valve ambassador, visit the Support Network at supportnetwork.heart.org/heartvalvedisease

To follow Kimberly’s  Journey Of The Heart”; visit her health blog visit: http://4wedobelieve.wordpress.com