Help your heart

Agency will offer free CPR kits, training in your town

Heart disease claims the lives of 300,000 victims each year, with roughly 70 percent of those succumbing to a cardiac arrest within their own home. If just one member of the household had the know-how to administer CPR, the chances of survival could double or even triple.
February is American Heart Month, a four-week observance in preventative medicine including CPR education and lessons about the risk factors that lead to attacks in the first place.
Risk factors include high blood pressure, high blood sugar levels, high cholesterol levels, and obesity.
To kickstart the month, North Hudson Community Action Corporation (NHCAC) held a press conference Tuesday to announce its partnership with the American Heart Association (AHA) to offer a dozen free CPR training sessions at various NHCAC sites throughout the month, as well as to distribute 250 free CPR kits.


“It’s all about engaging the community, to start a dialogue and raise awareness.” – Jorge Verea.

NHCAC is a local agency that provides low-cost health services on a sliding scale. It has offices in West New York and Union City.
“It’s all about engaging the community, to start a dialogue and raise awareness,” said NHCAC Chief Medical Officer Jorge Verea, who notes that everybody, and the Hispanic community especially, stands to benefit from preventative training.

Anybody can learn

Throughout February, NHCAC is offering free CPR classes and heart education seminars at various sites. The sessions will be led by certified CPR instructor Ana Gonzalez, RN, and Community Educator Beatriz Amador.
After training, each participant will take home a AHA “Family & Friends Anytime” CPR kit that allows individuals and whole families to easily learn proper CPR procedure through a 22-minute “practice-while-watching” method.
Each kit includes a personal, inflatable CPR mannequin, a bilingual Spanish and English CPR skills practice DVD, and reference cards explaining how best to care for a choking child or adult.
The kit enables proper CPR technique to be passed along to other family members, including teenagers, and friends, said Verea. “It’s great preventative medicine,” he said. “If we ever have a problem, we’ll have someone around that can [administer CPR].”
According to AHA statistics, if no one administers CPR, the chance of surviving a heart attack is less than 8 percent.
To sign up for one of the sessions, call the NHCAC Health Center at (201) 210-0100.

Risk to Hispanic community

“[Hispanics] really have no access to preventative medicine, and that’s something [NHCAC] is very sensitive to…in creating our infrastructure,” Verea said.
Most of the Hispanics, which compose up to 90 percent of NHCAC users at some sites, do not have insurance or do have some coverage, but are refused access to specialty care, he explained.
NHCAC’s 10 sites receive roughly 250,000 medical visits total annually – almost 700 a day.
Verea said he sees a high rate of diabetes in the Hispanic population, which is akin to cardiac disease, and arises from similar conditions, like obesity.
Several cultural elements predispose Hispanics to diabetes and heart disease, according to Verea.
“Overall the Latinos don’t exercise as much,” he said, adding, “Their diet is almost like a cultural problem. They eat well and they eat abundantly.”
In immigrant populations especially, their level of education may exclude nutritional concerns, he pointed out, rendering them helpless against the many fast food options that abound in America.

For Latinas, especially

The AHA also recognizes the concern to Hispanics, especially to Hispanic women, for whom heart disease is the number one killer. Hispanic women are, on average, more likely to develop heart disease 10 years earlier than other women.
To spread awareness in the Hispanic community, the AHA has launched “Go Red Por Tu Corazón,” a bilingual heart-health movement. The movement builds upon Latinas’ strong ties to family and cultural traditions, demonstrating the influence that they can have within their families to prevent risk factors.
For more information on “Go Red Por Tu Corazón,” go to or call 1-888-474-VIVE.

Women, in general

“Go Red Por Tu Corazón” is a continuation of AHA’s “Go Red for Women” campaign started in 2004 to combat the faulty notion that heart disease is an exclusively male disease. In fact, heart disease is the number one killer of women, claiming more lives than the next causes of death combined, according to Courtney Nelson, AHA regional director of communications.
Heart disease in women takes on greater significance when compared to the incident of breast cancer in women. One in three women dies of heart disease in comparison to the one in 30 that die of breast cancer.
The “Go Red for Women” initiative seeks to spread awareness of the disease and its warning signs – which can be very different than those that a man exhibits – as well as to compel women to take charge of their heart health.
“We’re all moving at light speed over here, but if we don’t take time to care about our health, we can’t take care of everyone else,” said Nelson.
For more information, go to and learn how to fight heart disease with the various online tools offered.

More about American Heart Month

Congress declared February American Heart Month back in 1963.
Everybody could benefit from American Heart Month, even children, Nelson said.
According to the AHA website, about 5,900 children 18 years old and under suffer out-of-hospital cardiac arrest each year.
“Cardiovascular disease does not play favorites,” she said. “It affects everyone at every age.”
For more information, go to

NHCAC will offer free CPR instructional sessions on the following dates:
Monday, Feb. 7 at 9:30 a.m. at Garfield – AHA and CPR
Tuesday, Feb. 8 at 9:30 a.m. at Union City Health Center – AHA and CPR
Wednesday, Feb. 9 at 9:30 a.m. at North Bergen – AHA and CPR
Thursday, Feb. 10 at 9:30 Passaic eighth Street – AHA and CPR
Friday, Feb. 11 at 1 p.m. at West New York – AHA and CPR
Monday, Feb. 14 at 9:30 a.m. at Hoboken Center – AHA and CPR
Tuesday, Feb. 15 at 9:30 a.m. at Union City Pediatrics – AHA and CPR
Thursday, Feb. 17 at 9:30 a.m. at Jersey City – AHA and CPR
Deanna Cullen can be reached at


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