Heart disease patients share stories of survival at Western Mass. Heart Walk & Run

The American Heart Association holds the fundraiser every year

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – Adrieo Gonzalez looks like your average child, but he’s gone through more in his life than most adults.

Adrieo was missing a heart valve at birth, a defect called Tetralogy of Fallot.

His mother, Betzaipa Gonzalez, told 22News he’s been in and out of the hospital for the past 8 years, undergoing surgery, and at times, fighting for his life. “He’s been wonderful, he fought for his life throughout being a baby and getting operated on three times,” she said.

Adrieo was one of several survivors at the Western Massachusetts 5K Heart Walk & Run in Northampton on Sunday.

The American Heart Association holds the fundraiser every year to raise money and awareness for heart disease and stroke.

Heart disease and stroke are the number one and number five killers in the region, and many survivors said it’s not always obvious when you have one of them.

Susan Lawson didn’t think twice about her symptoms eight years ago, until she went to the doctors and discovered what felt like the common cold or pneumonia, turned out to be a heart attack. “Paralyzing fatigue, a little chest pain when I walked, I didn’t connect the dots,” she said.

Lawson said making that doctor’s appointment, is what ultimately saved her life. “I think about what would have happened almost every day of my life since, I probably would have not seen the next sunrise,” she said.

Many factors can increase the risk of heart disease including smoking, high blood pressure or cholesterol, lack of exercise, and an unhealthy diet.

22News is a proud sponsor of the Western Massachusetts 5K Heart Walk & Run. 22News anchor Juliana Mazza emceed this year’s event.

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