Kindness : Where hope inspires…

“We rise by lifting others.” —Robert Ingersoll

Kindness is always  a part of us, a part of our life and a part of our existence. We often realize it in various instances: Helping a blind lady cross the street, helping a puppy not get wet in the rain, donating stuff to care givers, listening to a colleague about their problems even when you yourself have had a bad day at work… Kindness is always there…

DJ Merriman, the namesake and the inspiration of the foundation, DJ’s hope 4 Hearts, was a true example of this… On the Saturday prior to his death, DJ noticed an elderly woman standing in the checkout line in front of him at a Giant Eagle store. The woman didn’t have enough money to pay for her groceries and in a typical generous gesture he provided the lacking funds. “That’s just the way he was,” Merriman said.

After his death, friends sold wrist bands and T-shirts and collected donations to pay for the funeral. Leftover funds were donated to churches and hospitals. Inspired by the selfless act, Merriman said “We’re going to keep it going. It helped us get through the whole thing, if anything really does.

And DJ’s hope for hearts have started their journey, of kindness, of hope, of never giving up. Be a part of this candle against the dark:  Select DJ’s hope 4 Hearts at Amazon Smile and shop… Your shopping might help save a heart beat!!!

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Dj’s Hope for hearts… How the journey started!

Once you choose hope, anything’s possible. ~Christopher Reeve

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Lenny Merriman carries a message of hope in his heart and delivers it through an organization initiated after the death of his 17-year-old son.When DJ was 17 months old medical problems were detected and doctors told Merriman that a virus had attacked the infant’s heart. Later, the virus went dormant and a pacemaker was implanted. For the most part DJ’s life continued normally.

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He attended Madison High School and his welcoming approach to new students earned him an unofficial title of “ambassador” at the school. Among the young man’s future hopes was to pursue a career as a cardiologist.

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On the Saturday prior to his death, DJ noticed an elderly woman standing in the checkout line in front of him at a Giant Eagle store. The woman didn’t have enough money to pay for her groceries and in a typical generous gesture he provided the lacking funds. “That’s just the way he was,” Merriman said. “He touched a lot of people and it’s kind of nice to see friends still posting on his Facebook page. He was a very unique child to say the least. He never gave us any problems.”

Some months before DJ’s death he began to feel something wrong happening within his body. “He’d get these little episodes — sweaty, clammy and he said he felt his heart racing. From the pacemaker it didn’t show anything,” Merriman said. Several diagnoses attributed his uneasiness to panic attacks and anxiety. “That’s how they wrote it off and we accepted that,” Merriman said.

But when he went to sleep on a night last January, he never woke up. “His heart exploded in his sleep. It was extremely large. The virus woke up and it just did what it did,” Merriman said. The coroner told Merriman that the condition is usually revealed through symptoms such as weight gain, fatigue or coughing. DJ showed none of those.

After his death, friends sold wrist bands and T-shirts and collected donations to pay for the funeral. Leftover funds were donated to churches and hospitals. Inspired by the selfless act, Merriman said “We’re going to keep it going. It helped us get through the whole thing, if anything really does.”

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Thus, in DJ’s memory and in hopes of helping others, Merriman and other family members founded Hope 4 Hearts.

“There’s no way of getting reimbursed for parking, food, daycare and expenses (incurred while dealing with illness) most people don’t think about. That’s where we’re trying to pick up for the families,” Merriman said.

Read more about it here. We encourage you to take look at this page to help us help better.

When did you last hear that eating Ice cream can be healthy for you…? It can be, if its made this way…

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Who doesnt love Ice creams?? We all do, be it taken as a dessert, as a snack, as a celebration treat, or for no reason at all, Ice creams have a special place in our tummy and our hearts 🙂 And if we can make them a healthy way, which actually makes them nutritious and healthy as well, then its a win – win 🙂 :).

Here’s how we can do that :

Recipe Particulars:

  • Makes around 750 ml
  • Prep time : 20 mins
  • Freezing time: 3 to 4 Hours
  • Recipe Credit: The recipe was taken from here to promote healthy eating. We are deeply grateful to the author for posting the same: You are helping us encourage a healthy heart :).
  • Approximate Nutrition Facts:  Per serving- Calories: 190, Fat: 14.o gm., Sugar: 25gm., Carbs: 17.0 gm, Protien: 7.0 gm.
    Apart from the above, due to the presence of different fruits this ice-cream is rich in Vit. C, K, B-6, E.
    Addition of avocado brings additional nutrients: 0.5gm poly saturated fats, 3 gm. mono saturated fats, sodium, potassium, zinc, copper, magnesium, 2.4 gm. fiber, Vitamins A, E, C. riboflavin,niacin, folates, thiamin etc. (Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet)
  • This is a Recipe from Jyotsna Pant’s Blog. Refer to the blog for complete recipe with Pictures, suggestions and tips.

 Recipe Ingredients:

  • 750 gm. Ripe Sweet Mangoes (4-5 Medium size mangoes)
  • 200 gm. Ripe Bananas (2 large bananas)
  • 10-12 Red sweet Strawberries
  • 2 Teaspoon Corn flour
  • 150 ml. Milk (1 tea cup milk)
  • 50 gm. Sugar
  • 1 Medium size Avacado (30 gm. approx.)(optional)

Recipe Directions:

  • Wash and peel mangoes. Cut mango to small pieces and discard the seed.
  • Peel and cut bananas to small pieces.
  • Take corn flour in a thick bottom pan and dissolve it in 150 ml. milk.
  • Cook the corn flour milk mixture on high flame with continuous and vigorous stirring for 2 min.
  • The corn flour –milk mixture will become transparent. Remove from heat cover and allow it to cool.
  • In a grinder-mixer take mango pieces, banana pieces, sugar and cooked mixture of corn flour- milk mixture/Avacado pulp and grind all ingredients to smooth pulp.
  • Sieve the pulp through a sieve to get rid fibers if mangoes.
  • Add cream to the sieved pulp.
  • Wash the strawberries and remove the green calyx and stalk.
  • Cut the cleaned strawberries to small pieces.
  • In a glass container / Ice-cream mold pour half of the creamy-fruity pulp.
  • Sprinkle half of the pieces of strawberry pieces and then pour the remaining creamy-fruity pulp.
  • Sprinkle the remaining strawberry pieces on the top of the creamy-fruity pulp.
  • Cover with the lid and keep in freezer at a temperature of -41o F to -47F, for 3 to 4 hours for ice-cream to set.
  • Gently shake the container with creamy-fruity pulp for ice-cream one or twice. Then allow it to solidify without disturbing.

Do you know what mismanagement of Stress can do to your heart?

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Stress can be defined as the brain’s response to any demand. Many things can trigger this response, including change. Changes can be positive or negative, as well as real or perceived. They may be recurring, short-term, or long-term and may include things like commuting to and from school or work every day, traveling for a yearly vacation, or moving to another home.

What happens when you are stressed?

Stress is what you feel when you have to handle more than you are used to. When you are stressed, your body responds as though you are in danger. It makes hormones that speed up your heart, make you breathe faster, and give you a burst of energy. This is called the fight-or-flight stress response.

Some stress is normal and even useful. Stress can help if you need to work hard or react quickly. For example, it can help you win a race or finish an important job on time.

People who don’t manage stress well can have headaches, stomach pain, sleeping problems, illness, and depression.

How stress causes cardiovascular disease
Living a stressful life can cause people to adopt poor habits like smoking and eating badly, which in turn are risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

But being stressed itself can alter the way the body behaves and this can bring about changes to the blood and nervous system, which can have negative effects on your heart health.

Studies show that acute stress triggers reduced blood flow to the heart, promotes your heart to beat irregularly and increases the likelihood of your blood clotting.  All of these can trigger the development of cardiovascular disease.

If you already have atherosclerosis and become acutely stressed you may experience chest pains caused by the arteries to your heart contracting and reducing the blood flow.

When experienced over an extended period of time, all these effects can cause damage to the lining of the blood vessels.  This makes the blood vessels more susceptible to atherosclerosis.

How can you help yourself manage stress?

Breathing techniques, hobbies and other healthy habits can help you manage stress effectively. Follow the blog to keep updated on more ways to manage stress.

Note: We are grateful to authors for posting helpful content related to this article, whose links we have mapped into the article. We give you your due credit: you have helped save a heart.

How about a Fruit Bowl Salad? Try it Honey Mint Dressing…

Fresh Fruit with Honey Lime Mint Dressing

Recipe Particulars:

  • Makes 9 servings of 1 cup each
  • Prep time : 25 mins
  • Recipe Credit: The recipe was taken from here to promote healthy eating. We are deeply grateful to the author for posting the same: You are helping us encourage a healthy heart 🙂
  • Approximate Nutrition Facts:  Per serving- 68 kcal cal., 9 mg sodium, 17 g carb., 2 g fiber, 14 g sugar, 1 g pro. (Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet)

 Recipe Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons snipped fresh mint
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 small cantaloupe melon
  • 1 1/2 cups strawberries, hulled and halved or quartered
  • 3/4 cup red seedless grapes
  • kiwifruit, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

Recipe Directions:

  • For the dressing, in a large bowl, whisk together mint, lime juice, orange juice, and honey. Set aside.
  • Cut cantaloupe in half and remove the seeds. Use a melon baller to scoop out fruit. Add melon balls, strawberries, grapes, and kiwifruit to dressing in bowl; toss lightly to coat. Serve immediately or cover and chill up to 3 hours.

A Step in the direction to prevent cardiac diseases…

Smoking,  the inhalation and exhalation of fumes from burning tobacco in cigars, cigarettes and pipes, has been a common habit, in people of various ages and walks of life. Some smoke due to peer pressure, some for stress relief, some do it just because they like to do it.. and some end up smoking because of the smoke other left around them.. the passive smokers…

Quit Smoking 

  • Don’t start if you already dont smoke.
  • Use a distraction, maybe a chew a gum to overcome the urge to smoke.
  • Surround yourself with people who believe you can do it… And stay away from those who think you cant.
  • There are people who have accomplished this! you are not the first to do so.. find them interact with them, let them mentor you.
  • Keep a track on yourself, be honest with yourself
  • Be aware and alert, no one said it was going to be easy to quit… keep visiting your doctor for guidance, and if needed, medical attention.
  • Keep discussing your progress with your support groups. Their encouragement always helps.
  • Dont give in to temptations easily. Dont give up on yourself. You are your own best friend, but you need not be you own worst enemy…
  • Select goals and rewards which monitor your progress in your path to avoid tobacco
  • If needed, interact with people who have seen the negative side of using tobacco, you need not be one of them…
  • Do not use tobacco chewing gums, they only worsen your addiction
  • Most importantly, stay away from smoke exhaled by others.. passive smoking is more harmful.

A healthy lifestyle habit goes a long way… A healthy life needs a healthy heart. Take your step closer to your healthy heart, move away from the smoke.

Atrial Fibrillation: A Synoptic Report

Atrial fibrillation (say “A-tree-uhl fih-bruh-LAY-shun”) is an irregular heart rhythm (arrhythmia) that starts in the upper parts (atria) of the heart. Atrial fibrillation is the most common type of persistent irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia). Normally, the heart beats in a strong, steady rhythm. In atrial fibrillation, a problem with the heart’s electrical system causes the atria to quiver, or fibrillate. The quivering upsets the normal rhythm between the atria and the lower parts (ventricles) of the heart. The lower parts may beat fast and without a regular rhythm. Atrial fibrillation is dangerous because it greatly increases the risk of stroke. If the heart doesn’t beat strongly, blood can collect, or pool, in the atria. Pooled blood is more likely to form clots. If the heart pumps a clot into the bloodstream, the clot can travel to the brain and block blood flow, causing a stroke. Atrial fibrillation can also lead to heart failure. What causes atrial fibrillation? Conditions that damage or strain the heart commonly cause atrial fibrillation. These include:

  • High blood pressure.
  • Coronary artery disease (CAD).
  • Heart attack.
  • Heart valve disease, especially diseases of the mitral valve.

What are the symptoms? Symptoms may include:

  • Feeling dizzy or lightheaded.
  • Feeling out of breath.
  • Feeling weak and tired.
  • A feeling that the heart is fluttering, racing, or pounding (palpitations).
  • A feeling that the heart is beating unevenly.
  • Chest pain (angina).

Congenital Heart Disease : A Synoptic overview

Congenital heart disease is a category of heart disease that includes abnormalities in cardiovascular structures that occur before birth. These defects occur while the fetus is developing in the uterus and may affect approximately 1 in 100 children. Congenital heart defects may produce symptoms at birth, during childhood, or not until adulthood. Other congenital defects may cause no symptoms.

What Causes Congenital Heart Disease?

The cause of congenital heart disease is unknown. However, there are some factors that are associated with an increased chance of having congenital heart disease. These risk factors include:Genetic or chromosomal abnormalities in the child, such as Down syndrome,Taking certain medications or alcohol or drug abuse during pregnancy,Maternal viral infection, such as rubella (German measles) in the first trimester of pregnancy.The risk of having a child with congenital heart disease may double if a parent or a sibling has a congenital heart defect..

What Types of Congenital Heart Problems Are There?

The most common congenital heart problems include:

Heart valve defects. These can result in a narrowing or stenosis of the valves, or a complete closure that impedes or obstructs forward blood flow. Other valve defects include leaky valves that don’t close properly, thereby allowing blood to leak backwards. Defects in the walls between the atria and ventricles of the heart (atrial and ventricular septal defects). Holes or passageways between the heart’s different chambers may allow abnormal mixing of oxygenated and unoxygenated blood between the right and left sides of the heart. Heart muscle abnormalities that can lead to heart failure.

What Are the Symptoms of Congenital Heart Disease in Adults?

Congentital heart disease may be diagnosed before birth, right after birth, during childhood, or not until adulthood. It is possible to have a defect and no symptoms at all. In adults, if symptoms are present, they may include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Limited ability to exercise
  • Congenital Heart Defects in Children

There are several congenital heart defects that are detected and treated early in infancy. Most of them are abnormal connections among the veins, as well as other arteries of the heart (aortic and pulmonary). These abnormal connections can allow unoxygenated blood to flow to the body instead of to the lungs, or allow oxygenated blood to flow to the lungs instead of to the body. They may also cause heart failure. Some examples of congenital heart disease in infants and children include:

  • Patent ductus arteriosus (when blood bypasses the lungs, preventing oxygen from circulating throughout the body)
  • Tetralogy of Fallot (four different heart defects that occur together)
  • Transposition of the great vessels (blood from the left side of the heart and right side of the heart intermix because the large artery connections are incorrect)
  • Coarctation of the aorta (a pinched aorta)
  • Heart valve problems
  • What Are the Symptoms of Congenital Heart Disease in Infants and Children?
  • The symptoms of congenital heart disease in infants and children include:
  • Cyanosis (a bluish tint to the skin, fingernails, and lips)
  • Fast breathing and poor feeding
  • Poor weight gain
  • Recurrent lung infections
  • Inability to exercise
  • How Are Congenital Heart Defects in Children Treated?

Some congenital heart defects will require surgery or an interventional procedure to repair the problem. Children with congenital heart disease may also need treatment with medication to improve heart function.

Children and adults with congenital heart disease should be treated by a cardiologist who specializes in congenital heart disease. Some types of disease may require a team approach as the child grows into an adult.

A Sick Child Should Never Lose Hope.

DJ’s Hope 4 Hearts Mission is Giving hope to others through the spirit of one child, we are dedicated to the healing hearts of children, So that he or she can grow in love, peace, and happiness. We believe and teach that giving is the way to accomplish our hopes for them. We welcome you to follow our cause and all the Children and families we help.  You can also follow us at djshope.com, twitter @djshope4hearts & facebook.

Please consider us for any future donation as every dollar  given makes a difference to a sick child. Also feel free to share your childhood heart disease story below.  We have helped many Transplant kids & hope they to join us for feedback.

Outlining Cardiomyopathy

Pediatric cardiomyopathy is a rare heart condition that affects infants and children. Specifically, cardiomyopathy means disease of the heart muscle (myocardium). Several different types of cardiomyopathy exist and the specific symptoms vary from case to case. In some cases, no symptoms may be present (asymptomatic); in many cases, cardiomyopathy is a progressive condition that may result in an impaired ability of the heart to pump blood; fatigue; heart block; irregular heartbeats (tachycardia); and, potentially, heart failure and sudden cardiac death.

Cardiomyopathy may be termed ischemic or nonischemic. Ischemic cardiomyopathy refers to cases that occur due to a lack of blood flow and oxygen (ischemia) to the heart. Such cases often result from hardening of the arteries (coronary artery disease). Nonischemic cardiomyopathy refers to cases that occur due to structural damage or malfunction of the heart muscle. Nearly all cases of pediatric cardiomyopathy are nonischemic. This report deals with nonischemic pediatric cardiomyopathy.

Cardiomyopathy may also be termed primary or secondary. Primary cardiomyopathy refers to cases where cardiomyopathy occurs by itself or for unknown reasons (idiopathic). Secondary cardiomyopathy refers to cases where the disease occurs secondary to a known cause such as heart muscle inflammation (myocarditis) caused by viral or bacterial infections; exposure to certain toxins such as heavy metals or excessive alcohol use; or certain disorders that affect the heart and/or additional organs systems.

According to the Pediatric Cardiomyopathy Registry, approximately 79 percent of pediatric cardiomyopathy cases occur for unknown reasons (idiopathic). Nonischemic cardiomyopathy may be further divided into four subtypes based upon the specific changes within the heart. These subtypes are: dilated, hypertrophic, restrictive and arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia

Cardiomyopathy is a disease of the heart muscle. It affects people of all ages and is mostly inherited. It is not curable but can usually be treated successfully, with most of those affected going on to lead a long and full life.

There are several different types of cardiomyopathy three main types of cardiomyopathy – hypertrophic, dilated and arrhythmogenic right ventricular.

Early diagnosis

Increased awareness of the condition in recent years and recognition of subtle symptoms has helped early diagnosis and therefore early management. Without doubt, this can change the outcome of the condition and help to prevent complications. With the knowledge that the disease can be inherited, family screening has also contributed a great deal to early diagnosis. With knowledge of an existing or potential problem, lifestyle modifications and medication can be applied on time. Young people can be given appropriate advice when undergoing preventative screening and this is much better than treating an already severe condition.

Understanding of the condition

Understanding about the mechanisms and progression of heart dysfunction has significantly increased in the last few years. Studies have shown a number of mechanisms are activated when the heart function starts to go down and doctors are now trying to use these mechanisms in a beneficial way for the patient. In the context of a weak heart, the body’s reaction triggers compensatory mechanisms that can be helpful short term but damaging in the long term. Although it was previously thought that a weak heart needs medication that will make it beat more strongly, contemporary cardiology has been able to apply treatment that interferes with the more basic mechanisms.

An example of this is medication that prevents the heart condition from deteriorating further by keeping the heart rate and function mildly suppressed and under reasonable control. This is because studies have shown that the more you activate the failing heart, the worse it becomes in the long run. Whereas the more you protect the heart from its own compensatory reaction, the safer it is for the heart in the long term. So the philosophy in the management of heart dysfunction has changed over the years and isfocusing on the prognosis and prevention of complications alongside the immediate reduction of symptoms.