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Because of this, keeping up with physical fitness became a passion, and necessity. Due to his dedication and commitment to managing his heart disease, Blitz has been recognized by the American College of Cardiology’s “I am CardioSmart” contest.
An aortic valve stenosis is a type of valvular heart disease that occurs when the aortic valve – which allows blood to flow from the heart’s lower left chamber into the aorta and to the body – is narrowed. The valve is prevented from opening properly, forcing the heart to work harder to pump blood. This can cause pressure to build up and can lead to heart failure.
Blitz played tennis competitively before moving on to earn his bachelor’s degree in kinesiology at Arizona State University, which ultimately launched his career teaching health and exercise science courses at a local community college. Over time, and drawing from his own experiences, Blitz became interested in how to prevent and treat chronic diseases through fitness, leading to his involvement with the American College of Sports Medicine’s “Exercise is Medicine” initiative.
“I wanted to reshape people’s opinions on exercise and help them understand that exercise can prevent chronic diseases and improve a person’s overall quality of life,” Blitz said.
Despite his love for playing sports, Blitz was unable to continue tennis post-college after sustaining multiple injuries. During a routine checkup with his cardiologist, Craig Cohen, MD, FACC, at Phoenix Children’s Hospital, Blitz asked what else he could keep doing to stay on top of his heart disease.
“After I could no longer play sports competitively, it was necessary for me to foster a new outlet for both my physical and mental health,” Blitz said. “My cardiologist made it clear that it was imperative that I remained active to maintain good health.”
Ready with a passion for exploration, one of the ways Blitz stays active and motivated to live a heart healthy life is through hiking. Each summer, Blitz sets a personal goal to hike at least 100 miles. Without medication and purely through his exercise, Blitz is able to keep his blood pressure under control and his replaced heart valves holding steady.
“One of the major driving forces that energizes me is to see the world by hiking through it,” Blitz said. “The best way to experience the most amazing places the planet has to offer is by foot.”
Now, Blitz is a fitness and wellness manager at the Staenberg-Loup Jewish Community Center in Denver. He uses his enthusiasm for physical fitness to motivate and provide others with the opportunities to live “CardioSmart.” This February for American Heart Month, Blitz has launched an initiative at the community center that offers members over 50 cardio classes each week taught by personal trainers, presentations from local wellness vendors and events such as blood pressure checks.
“Through my work and my daily life, I am able to enjoy what I love, with patience and support.” Blitz said. “I am, without question, living well with heart disease.”
CardioSmart is the patient education and support program developed by the ACC. Its mission is to engage, inform and empower patients to better prepare them to participate in their own care. In 2013, CardioSmart established a contest to find individuals who were living well with heart disease conditions. Five individuals are being recognized this year.
Blitz’s story of living CardioSmart will be featured on CardioSmart.org as a positive example to people living with heart disease. To read more about his story, visit https://www.cardiosmart.org/Connect/Patient-Stories/Jared-Blitz
The four other “I am CardioSmart” contest finalists are Melissa Cappuccilli of Carlsbad, California; Michael Melstad of Banks, Oregon; Collette Sroka of Enfield, Connecticut, and Kathleen Thompson of Orange County, California.
To learn more about congenital heart defects, visit https://www.cardiosmart.org/Heart-Conditions/Congenital-Heart-Defects