Media Contact: Keith Hautala
LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 23, 2010) − Regan Judd knew that her chest hurt, but she didn’t know why. The then-20 year old University of Kentucky student was in great shape, and as a member of the UK Dance Team she was used to physically demanding practice sessions. But one dance practice left her gasping for breath and struggling with chest pains. After putting off getting medical attention for a few days, she was convinced by her parents to visit a doctor. It was then she received a diagnosis that would change her life.
Judd had Ebstein’s Anomaly, a rare congenital heart condition that requires open-heart surgery to repair. She received her diagnosis in August 2009 at the UK Gill Heart Institute, after seeing Dr. Jorge Alegria. By October 2009, she underwent surgery at UK HealthCare. Judd worked diligently at cardiac rehabilitation, and by the spring 2010 semester – fewer than six months after her initial chest pain episode – the Louisville native returned to Lexington and UK, jumping back into her studies as a communication major and her dancing. She continues to participate in regular rehabilitation exercise through the Gill Heart Institute Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation program.
Given a second chance at life, Judd hopes to help others change their lives for the better by leading the 2010 Central Kentucky Start! Heart Walk, to be held April 24 at Commonwealth Stadium on the UK campus. Her goal is to encourage people of all ages to be aware of heart disease, and to protect their heart health through regular walking exercise.
“I want to encourage people to listen to their bodies, and get their symptoms checked out. If I had not gone to the doctor when I did, I could have been another statistic,” said Judd.
Sponsored by the American Heart Association, UK HealthCare and the University of Kentucky Gill Heart Institute, the Heart Walk offers participants the opportunity to walk either a three-mile or one-mile course, while raising money to support cardiovascular research and innovation. Participants are encouraged to sign up friends, family and coworkers to sponsor their walk with donations to the AHA.
Judd emphasizes the importance of the Heart Walk in creating advances that save lives.
“It is a fact that funds raised through the American Heart Association have saved lives, mine being one of them. For my surgery, I was placed on the heart-lung machine. If it were not for the AHA funding the researcher who developed the heart-lung machine, my open-heart surgery would have been nearly impossible,” said Judd.
Significantly, much of the money raised by the Central Kentucky Start! Heart Walk will stay in the region, supporting research and treatment at UK.
Registration for the Heart Walk will begin at 9 a.m., April 24, at Commonwealth Stadium on the UK campus. Walkers will hit the course at 10 a.m. Adults and children are welcome to participate in the walk, which will also be stroller- and dog-friendly.
The UK Football Blue/White game will be held in Commonwealth Stadium at 1:30 p.m. April 24, with free parking and admission. Heart Walk participants are encouraged to stay, tailgate and make a day out of celebrating heart healthy-lifestyles and UK athletics.
The Start! program is an initiative by the AHA to encourage all Americans to start walking, moving and living a heart-healthy lifestyle.
“Heart disease is the number one killer among men and women in the United States,” says said Dr. Richard Lofgren, UK HealthCare chief clinical officer and vice president for health care operations.
“However, by participating in moderate exercise like walking for at least 30 minutes a day, it’s possible to reduce the risk of heart disease, improve blood pressure and lower levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol.”
The Central Kentucky Start! Heart Walk is one of many Heart Walks to be held across the country on April 24. To learn more, or to register on a UK team, visit www.heartwalk.kintera.org/lexingtonky.
You can read Judd’s entire story, in her own words, here.