The American Heart Association of Birmingham is taking a unique approach to heart disease this month. Starting February 1, the Red Couch Campaign encourages survivors and those impacted by the disease to sit on a red couch and share their stories. Matt Hooper is with the American Heart Association in Birmingham. He says some participants are reluctant to share their stories.
“We do occasionally run into folks who have a story and are reticent to share it either because the memory is too fresh or it’s something they just don’t want to talk about,” says Hooper. “And in that case that’s perfectly fine. We certainly don’t want to force people to share something they’re not comfortable sharing. But, almost more often than not, people find catharsis in sharing that story.”
Hooper says the couch made a promotional appearance at Regions Banks headquarters in January. Tonya Hall brought her daughter and told the story of how her father had a heart attack right before her husband’s funeral.
“And it was just such an incredible story and a very painful story for her to tell and for us to listen to frankly,” recalls Hooper. “But, you could tell that by her telling that story that she was raising awareness for other people who have been through similar situations or who might go through similar situations.”
To learn more about Hall's story, watch the video below.
Hooper says that’s not the only story that struck him. Lajuana Bradford is a heart attack survivor. She talked about her heart attack and how being informed saved her life.
“She said her symptoms were fairly vague in the beginning of her heart attack, but she remembered what she had been told at an American Heart Association luncheon about specific symptoms,” says Hooper. “And she knew, just from going to a Heart Association event a couple of years earlier that some of the symptoms she had were similar symptoms to what other women had had when they were describing their heart attack.
To watch Bradford recall her experience, watch the video below.