For Donna Marie Robinson, Health Equity is Personal

Donna Marie RobinsonHealth equity is more than just a talking point for cardiomyopathy survivor and San Diego Go Red for Women ambassador Donna Marie Robinson. 

"Health equity will lead to healthier, more stable, safer communities. That benefits everyone," she said. "Yet all too often, communities of color are left out of the conversations. We don’t have a seat at the table."

Robinson detailed the deficiencies that result in a higher rate of heart disease among Blacks and people of color: poor diet; less access to safe spaces to exercise, such as parks; fewer community health centers and health resources.

She is proud the AHA is working to reduce those disparities. "The American Heart Association is a representative organization that brings everyone to the table. Community leaders are engaged and listening. We are making an impact," Robinson said, citing local tobacco prevention policies and the fight for more affordable health care as two major public health wins that she has worked with the organization to achieve.

Robinson has a severely enlarged heart, an aortic aneurysm and two types of arrhythmias (ventricular tachycardia and atrial fibrillation), and recently had a small clip implanted to treat her leaking mitral valve. Without AHA-funded research into the development of drugs and devices, she said she might not have received the lifesaving medicines she takes daily or her implantable cardioverter defibrillator, which can prevent cardiac arrest.

"The American Heart Association has made a difference in my life," she said. "In fact, they may have saved my life. And together, we are working to address the health inequities in our communities. We have a voice. And that voice is stronger together."