AHA News' most-read survivor stories of 2021

By American Heart Association News

Heart attack survivor Cherée Johnson. (Photo courtesy of Cherée Johnson)
Heart attack survivor Cherée Johnson. (Photo courtesy of Cherée Johnson)

We published nearly 100 inspiring stories of survival this year. These 10 profiles topped the list.

1. Months after learning to walk again, 24-year-old finally learns what caused her paralysis

When Andrea Paez went from athletic to almost immobile, grief nearly overtook her. With determination and family support, she found health and happiness.

2. The night before a big presentation, lawyer-mother has a heart attack

For nearly a year, Cherée Johnson felt occasional chest pain at night. When she felt it one afternoon, it turned out to be different. This time, it was a heart attack.

3. Orthopedic surgeon becomes patient after stroke at 48

Facing serious speech and balance issues, Dr. Mike Knapic put his trademark determination into recovery after a stroke.

4. While mopping, young mom's heart tore

Paramedics said 37-year-old mom Sindi Mafu's EKG was normal and her chest pain wasn't heart-related given her age and lack of risk factors. Turns out, she had a rare kind of heart attack.

5. A heart researcher's heart stopped at a restaurant. His daughter's coaches saved him.

Cardiac arrest kept Dr. Kevin Volpp's heart from beating for 14 minutes. He's fine now thanks to high-quality CPR, an AED and more. He's sharing his story to inspire people to learn lifesaving skills.

6. Retired entertainer thought she slept awkwardly. It was a stroke.

Sharon Murff's sister recognized her slurred speech and clumsiness required immediate attention, so she called 911.

7. A stroke at 34 rocked her family's world

After his wife had a debilitating stroke at 34, Jacob Anderson did all he could to help his wife return home.

8. Misdiagnosed with acid reflux and anxiety, her heart's arteries were blocked

Doctors said the discomfort Katrien Limón experienced while exerting herself could be acid flux, trouble with her gallbladder or anxiety. Finally, she saw a cardiologist.

9. 33 weeks pregnant, an emergency delivery and heart failure

Heart palpitations sent Lupita Garcia to the hospital at 33 weeks pregnant. Within hours, she'd delivered her baby and doctors at one point considered putting her on the heart transplant list.

10. His grandpa and mom died of the same heart condition he has

Jimmy Fremgen was born with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a condition that caused the deaths of his grandfather and mother. Today, the advocate raises awareness about heart disease.

Stories From the Heart chronicles the inspiring journeys of heart disease and stroke survivors, caregivers and advocates.

If you have questions or comments about this story, please email editor@heart.org.


American Heart Association News Stories

American Heart Association News covers heart disease, stroke and related health issues. Not all views expressed in American Heart Association News stories reflect the official position of the American Heart Association. Statements, conclusions, accuracy and reliability of studies published in American Heart Association scientific journals or presented at American Heart Association scientific meetings are solely those of the study authors and do not necessarily reflect the American Heart Association’s official guidance, policies or positions.

Copyright is owned or held by the American Heart Association, Inc., and all rights are reserved. Permission is granted, at no cost and without need for further request, for individuals, media outlets, and non-commercial education and awareness efforts to link to, quote, excerpt or reprint from these stories in any medium as long as no text is altered and proper attribution is made to American Heart Association News.

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