August 17, 2007

Goals high for this year’s Heart Walk

Featured Image

Vivian Bowen-Adam, right, receives her green Start! pin and team captain packet from Evon Glasgow of the American Heart Association at last week’s Heart Walk Team Captain Kick-Off event. (photo by Dana Johnson)

Goals high for this year’s Heart Walk

Leanne Busby, R.N., has been a nurse for 35 years, yet she ignored the tingling in her arms, sweating and nausea that she often experienced on her late night drives from work to her home in Lebanon.

She did not have a family history of heart disease and these were not typical signs of heart trouble. Or so she thought.

When her Vanderbilt nurse practitioner noticed an elevation in Busby's blood pressure, she suggested she see her primary care physician.

After hearing Busby describe her symptoms, he said, “You're scaring me.”

An arteriogram indicated she may need a stent to open a blocked coronary artery, and her physician referred her to Vanderbilt, where she met with David Zhao, M.D., director of Vanderbilt's cardiac cath lab.

The good news was that she did not need a stent. The bad news was she needed open heart surgery to repair her left anterior descending artery, also known as the 'widow-maker.'

Busby's surgery was nearly two years ago. She recounted her story last week to VUMC employees who gathered for the Nashville Heart Walk Team Captain Kick Off. Busby is on a mission to encourage women to seek care at the first signs of trouble.

“I am a survivor of heart disease. I am back to myself again. I can breathe,” she said. “Vanderbilt has become the heart hospital in Nashville. Because of that we need to spread the word about prevention, especially in women.

“We don't present with symptoms like men. Women can have serious heart disease and never experience any chest pain, therefore they tell themselves shortness of breath and other symptoms are not evidence of heart disease," Busby said.

The 2007 Nashville Heart Walk will take place Saturday, Oct. 20. Festivities begin at 9 a.m. and the walk starts at 11 a.m. on the Natchez Field. Last year, Vanderbilt raised $311,000 for the American Heart Association (AHA) and was the fourth-leading fund-raising institution in the country. The goal for this year is $500,000. Vanderbilt has $4.7 million in active research grants from the AHA, which places it among the top 20 institutions in the country for AHA funding.

“It is very important for Vanderbilt, our Heart and Vascular Institute and our heart patients that this be a successful event,” C. Wright Pinson, M.D., associate vice chancellor for Clinical Affairs, told the team captains. “Those who have taken the time to come here today represent the heart of the Heart Walk.”

The AHA will use the Heart Walk to introduce its newest cause movement, Start!, a national campaign that calls on all Americans and their employers to create a culture of physical activity and health to live longer, heart-healthy lives through walking. The AHA will nationally recognize fit-friendly employers. Also new this year is an executive challenge in which executives encourage their peers to contribute $1,000 each.

“I've contacted 50 of my nearest and dearest friends to contribute. I put my thousand in already,” Pinson said.

The Nashville Heart Walk was the 10th largest in the country last year, said Kelley Tune of AHA.

“We do appreciate your support and we do appreciate you all putting the Nashville Heart Walk on the map nationally. I'm looking forward to Vanderbilt being the first institution to reach the $500,000 goal,” she said.

Vanderbilt needs additional team captains. Each team captain is responsible for recruiting nine team members who together will raise at least $1,000. If you're interested in serving as a team captain, please contact Ed Higgins, assistant director of Marketing Outreach, at 936-0301 or