By Karen Stokes
February is Black History Month and also American Heart Month, the American Heart Association encourages people to Be the Beat by challenging every household or family to have at least one person who knows Hands-Only CPR.
“The purpose of the Be the Beat promotion is to educate people to get trained on CPR. Because it can definitely help save the life of someone who may be having a heart attack.
CPR being applied while the paramedics are on the way can save a life. The press down is being the beat, so while you’re waiting for help be that beat for them and intervene,” said Pastor Veloris Brooks, Chaplaincy Program Coordinator with the Salvation Army Milwaukee County.
Veloris shared her personal story on cardiovascular disease.
“In 2011 after 5 months of doctor appointments and trips to the emergency room telling them I wasn’t feeling good and they just diagnosed me with high blood pressure that they couldn’t get under control. The last time I went to the emergency room my blood pressure would just not stabilize and they decided to do a heart scan and found that I was 90% clogged in my left artery and 50% in my right. I just turned 40 years old that year and I had to have triple bypass heart surgery. I was a month away from losing my life by being misdiagnosed.”
The symptoms that Veloris experienced were that she basically did not feel good. She didn’t have the pain in the chest or the pain in the arm, she did have shortness of breath.
“I was working a lot and kind of always made excuses. I just felt like I had a bad flu and in January the flu was going around. I felt nauseated and sick to my stomach, tired and weak.
Pastor Veloris Brooks Chaplaincy Program Coordinator with the Salvation Army Milwaukee. (Photo/Veloris Brooks)
In February, I chalked it up to the flu, in March, I still wasn’t feeling good and the doctors still said my blood pressure was high,” Pastor Brooks said.
“The first thing Black people can do to be more heart healthy is manage stress because that was my cause,” she continued. “It wasn’t that it was genetic, it was stress, taking on too much. Take time out to de-escalate your day. Exercise, walk 30 minutes a day. Eat healthy and learn to rest.”
The American Heart Association (AHA) has resources for CPR training and information on maintaining a healthy heart. Go to www.heart.org