New Program Gives Heart2Heart

People like to support family and friends in a tough situation, but they don't know what they're really going through unless they've been there.

That's the idea behind a the American Heart Association's new Heart2Heart program.

Mary Ann Mann of the American Heart Association describes it as a one-on-one support network. People who are experiencing a cardiovascular problem themselves or who are caring for someone who has are matched with someone who's experienced the same situation.

Marlene Bush believe it's a program that can make a difference. She cared for her husband when he had congestive heart failure and says you don't think of the things you run into, like helping the person eat, stand up and even restroom care.

Marlene says family and friends tried to help, but it was hard. She says she just needed someone who'd been through it to talk to and tell her she's get through it, too.

Mann says people can look on Heart2Heart's web site to find a trained guide. The guides have been through a range of experiences, including heart attack and heart surgery survivors, caregivers like Marlene, even parents of children with heart conditions. Mann says the guides help people realize someone's gone through the same thing. She says the guides can give them tips on what they did to help the recovery process.

Marlene's husband passed away last October. Now, she wants to use her experience to help others. She's on the list as a volunteer heart guide for caregivers.

"It's my way of saying thank you to my community for helping me through the hard times," Marlene said. "I've been there and if I can help you, I'd be glad to."

People have the choice of meeting their guide in person, or through phone or email. Guides go through a three-hour training to learn about American Heart Association resources and guidelines.

Visit the Heart2Heart website at You can also call AHA's Topeka office at 785-228-3427.