Michael Lewis of the Philadelphia Eagles paid a visit to the heart-failure unit of the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania yesterday afternoon to raise awareness for heart research.
As Honorary Chairman of the American Heart Association's 2005 Philadelphia Heart Walk, Lewis serves to increase awareness of heart disease.
Unbeknownst to many people, Lewis is an ideal candidate to promote heart-disease awareness and act as a role model for patients because he suffers from a heart condition called atrial fibrillation.
According to the American Heart Association, 2.2 million Americans suffer from atrial fibrillation -- a condition that makes the upper chambers of the heart beat uncontrollably and not in synchronization with the rest of the heart. This affects the pumping of blood to the rest of the body. It may also cause blood clots which, when they form in the lungs or brain, can lead to strokes or death.
Special medication, along with aspirin and surgery, can treat the condition.
Lewis' heart condition was discovered during a routine physical exam in his sophomore year at the University of Colorado.
"I was scared. It was something I didn't know anything about," Lewis said. He was well aware of other athletes succumbing to heart conditions and dying on the field.
Lewis' initial first-round draft-choice status plummeted when his condition became known.
As he found out more about the disease, he relaxed a little and took charge. He said he was determined not to let the condition control him.
Lewis was drafted by the Eagles and started in the last four games of his rookie year.
The following year, he earned the starting position as strong safety. In the 2004 season -- in which the Eagles made it to the Super Bowl -- Lewis displayed his physical conditioning and tenacity as he not only started all 19 games but also led the team with 129 tackles.
Steven Sabb, 43, suffered from a heart condition that forced him to undergo a heart transplant two years ago.
Sabb said that Lewis' visit as an athlete was important.
Athletes like Lewis "shed more light on the situation," he said.
Garry Scheib, chief operating officer of the University of Pennsylvania Health System, echoed the appreciation.
"It shows the commitment of the Philadelphia Eagles to the community," Scheib said.
The AHA's 2005 Heart Walk is scheduled to take place Sunday, Sept. 25, in Fairmount Park.
The 6.2-mile walk will raise funds to bring money and awareness to the issues of heart disease and stroke. Registration starts at 8 a.m.
As part of the celebration, UPHS will attempt to form the world's largest heart -- an endeavor that they hope will attract many students and community members. This possibly record-breaking event is scheduled for 7 a.m. Sunday.Comments powered by Disqus
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