Nancy Lopez and Ray Knight Lend "Heartfelt Support" to Heart Attack Survivors

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Sports Legends Illustrate that Teamwork Extends Beyond the Playing Field.

Our advice to others is to stick together as a team and stay focused on doing everything possible to prevent a future heart attack including living a healthy lifestyle and taking the right heart medications that provide cardioprotection. We hope we can provide support and serve as an example for other families.

Nancy Lopez, Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) Hall of Famer and winner of 48 LPGA titles, and her husband, Ray Knight, former third baseman of the New York Mets and 1986 World Series Most Valuable Player (MVP), today launched “Heartfelt Support,” a new initiative designed to provide a support network to heart patients and their caregivers. Knight’s heart attack and Lopez’s family history of heart disease have inspired this couple’s mission to educate and encourage other heart patients along the road to heart attack recovery. Lopez and Knight are kicking off this program, a partnership between GlaxoSmithKline and Mended Hearts, at the Mended Hearts annual conference in Scottsdale, Arizona. Mended Hearts is a nationwide heart patient support group affiliated with the American Heart Association.

“After suffering a heart attack five years ago, I attribute my successful recovery to my strong and supportive family, as well as the advice of my doctor,” said Knight. “I know how scary a heart attack can be, and I hope our story will empower other heart patients and their loved ones to stick together as a team in order to stay healthy and help prevent future heart attacks.”

According to a recent survey of heart attack survivors, nearly a third of those surveyed wish they had a better support system after a heart attack and 70 percent said they would benefit from the advice of other heart attack survivors. In the same survey, heart attack survivors also said that they rely on their caregiver or support system for various reasons including: to accompany them to medical appointments (74%), remind them to take their heart medication (59%), help them to maintain a healthy diet and exercise routine (58%) and provide emotional support (88%).

“Ray’s recovery was a true family effort and one that demonstrates the importance of teamwork,” said Lopez. “Our advice to others is to stick together as a team and stay focused on doing everything possible to prevent a future heart attack including living a healthy lifestyle and taking the right heart medications that provide cardioprotection. We hope we can provide support and serve as an example for other families.”

About the Campaign

As part of the Heartfelt Support initiative, Lopez and Knight will share their story and tips to illustrate the importance and benefits of a strong support system to patients recovering from a heart attack. The couple will visit local cities across the country and will launch a new support kit at the Mended Hearts annual conference to aid local chapters in their support group offering. Mended Hearts is also offering “virtual support” at http://www.mendedhearts.org, where heart patients can learn more about Lopez and Knight’s story as well as access online support tools.

The Heartfelt Support initiative is part of the Heartfelt Wake-Up Call campaign, a national, multi-phased heart health education program that debuted in December 2005. The campaign was launched by Mended Hearts and GlaxoSmithKline, which provides funding for the campaign.

The first phase of the Heartfelt Wake-Up Call campaign uncovered the emotional impact of a heart attack among survivors via a national survey conducted by Harris Interactive. The results showed that a majority of heart attack survivors characterized their attack as a life-altering “wake-up call,” giving them renewed priorities and a second chance at life. However, many of those surveyed also said their heart attack left them with feelings of depression, hopelessness or fear. In fact, the survey showed that heart attack survivors are more likely to fear having another attack than death. Surprisingly, the survey also showed that while an overwhelming majority acknowledge their increased risk for another attack, 40 percent admit they are not doing everything they can to avoid one.

Additionally, as part of the campaign, there is an interactive patient-support Web site, http://www.heartfeltguide.com, developed to motivate and empower heart attack survivors to lead a lifestyle focused on heart health in order to prevent another heart attack. The contents of the Web site include, “Stories From The Heart,” where heart attack survivors can share their compelling heart attack recovery stories. The site also includes heart attack treatment and educational information, tools, as well as support to heart attack survivors and their families.

“Thanks to today’s technology, many more heart attack survivors are able to access the information and support services they need on the road to recovery,” said Margeret Elbert, president of Mended Hearts. “Mended Hearts is proud to provide the resources these survivors need to live a normal life and to help prevent another heart attack.”

About Heart Attacks

Each year in the U.S., nearly 900,000 people suffer from heart attacks, known medically as myocardial infarction. Within only six years, nearly 20 percent of men and 35 percent of women will have another one. A heart attack occurs when the blood supply to part of the heart muscle is severely reduced or blocked. A heart attack is often linked with risk factors such as smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, physical inactivity and obesity. There also may be risk factors associated with family history.

About Mended Hearts

Mended Hearts is a community-based, nationwide heart patient support group affiliated with the American Heart Association founded more than 50 years ago. More than 21,000 members operate through 280 local chapters across the United States with two in Canada. Recognized for its role in facilitating a positive patient-care experience, Mended Hearts partners with 460 hospitals and rehabilitation clinics to offer heart patient services through visiting programs, support group meetings and educational forums. Mended Hearts is dedicated to inspiring hope in heart disease patients and their families.

About the Survey

Harris Interactive® conducted an online survey on behalf of Mended Hearts between October 12 and October 20, 20051Q among a nationwide cross-section of 518 U.S. adults aged 18 or older who have experienced a heart attack. Data were weighted to be representative of the total population of U.S. adults aged 18 or older who have been diagnosed with a heart attack. In theory, with probability samples of this size, one can say with 95 percent certainty that the results have a sampling error of +/- 6.6 percentage points of what they would be if the entire population of U.S. adults aged 18 or older who have been diagnosed with a heart attack had been polled with complete accuracy. This online sample is not a probability sample.

Mended Hearts wishes to thank GlaxoSmithKline for funding to support this initiative. GlaxoSmithKline, one of the world’s leading research-based pharmaceutical and healthcare companies, is committed to improving the quality of human life by enabling people to do more, feel better and live longer. For information visit http://www.heartfeltguide.com

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