American Heart Association: A Heart for the Community

By Julie Langley

hen it comes to matters of the heart, the American Heart Association is making great strides in research and educating the public about its mission to ensure equitable health in all communities. “At the American Heart Association, our job can be easy to define: We save and improve lives,” AHA Northwest Louisiana Regional Development Director Jill Lucero said.

Founded in 1924, the AHA provides education to help save lives through the effort of countless organizations and volunteers that help fund research and advocate for the health and well-being of others.

Every year the AHA promotes Go Red for Women, which provides education and connection for women of all ages. “Through initiatives like Go Red for Women and National Wear Red Day, we are giving women (and men) in Northwest Louisiana the tools they need to overcome heart disease and stroke,” Lucero said. The annual awareness luncheon is scheduled for Feb. 28 in Shreveport. 

AHA will also kick off two other campaigns in February: Woman of Impact and Men Go Red for Women. The Woman of Impact participants are selected to be part of a team dedicated to making an impact on the health of the community. 

Men Go Red for Women is for men to support and advocate for the heart health of the women in their lives. Proceeds raised are used to directly impact women’s cardiovascular disease research, awareness, and education.

Also, the annual Northwest Louisiana Heart Walk is scheduled for Apr. 29. The Heart Walk provides an opportunity for companies to get their employees and their families engaged so they can be a part of making a difference.

In addition to fundraising, the local AHA is involved with community education in CPR and AED training and first aid. They reach countless others through CPR kiosks, CPR in Schools programs, and Hands-Only CPR events.

The American Heart Association has worked with several different organizations to get a smoke-free Shreveport. This makes it so people can go into a casino, bar, or restaurant without worrying about breathing in smoke. They also have a focus on nutritional security. Locally, AHA works with food pantries to help better serve the population.

They even have programs on increasing and improving maternal healthcare. Lucero said that, according to statistics from the March of Dimes, Caddo Parish has the highest percentage of low-term babies anywhere in the state. The AHS is working to implement a program where pregnant women can check out a blood pressure cuff to monitor their blood pressure and report those results to their doctors. “We measure our success by the number of lives saved. And we maximize that when we fund the most meritorious research, no matter where it’s done,” Lucero added. “This ensures that we have the greatest impact on lives everywhere – including here in our community.”