Student, heart attack survivor promote heart health at PSU event

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Evergreen -- An Evergreen High School student and heart attack survivor was made an honorary coach last month at a Portland State University women's basketball game. The Portland State Vikings match, "Vikings Take Heart," was specially themed to promote heart health awareness. Evergreen student Keilea Swearingen was invited as a guest, along with fellow sudden cardiac arrest survivor and former University of Portland women's basketball assistant coach Kayla Burt. Swearingen was 14 when she nearly died from sudden cardiac arrest, which struck in September 2011 while at school. Burt runs The Hope Heart Institute's "Athletes Take Heart" program, which worked with Portland State on the awareness night. At the Jan. 24 game, visitors learned to use an automated external defibrillator, known as an AED, and some had their blood pressure checked. February is National Heart Health Month.

"It's important for people of all ages to be aware of the risks of heart disease, to get tested regularly, and to know how to respond quickly when someone's heart is compromised," said Burt in a press release.