Heart of The Gulf – Preventing Heart Disease

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MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — “I said, ‘Sweetie, don’t be afraid’ and she said, ‘I’m not afraid… there was just so much more I wanted to do”, said Edie Jacobs during one of her final conversations with her daughter Elyssa Jacobs. Jeffrey and Edie Jacobs lost Elyssa in December 2013 at the age of 21.

She had received a heart transplant after contracting a virus at just 15 months old that destroyed her heart. The donor heart gave the Orange Beach couple 19 additional years with their daughter.

“So, we feel like that we can give back to our community by hopefully through education and teaching people about taking care of their heart and maybe through a healthy heart somebody else someday could get a transplant as well,” Edie said.

Cardiologist Dr. Kenneth Burnham with Cardiology Associates in Mobile says Elyssa’s case is rare because most heart transplant patients are adults and most problems are preventable.

“We’re all at risk, but recognizing what your risks might be, and what can you do about high blood pressure? Well, there are things like watching out for sodium in your diet. Low sodium diets lead to lower blood pressure. How much alcohol are you consuming? One or two alcoholic beverages for men per day and only one for women is all that’s recommended by The American Heart Association if you’re at risk for hypertension or other cardiovascular disease”, said Dr. Burnham. Other heart health factors include watching your weight and not smoking. Dr. Burnham also recommends knowing your genetic history to learn more about your risks for heart disease and how to prevent problems down the road.

Something everyone can do is join Edie and Jeff Jacobs in supporting The American Heart Association, Saturday, April 4, 2020, for the 28th annual Baldwin Art For Heart Gala in Orange Beach. For more information, go to baldwinartforheart.heart.org or email Bridgett.dunn@heart.org.

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