‘He celebrated everything’: SWFL mom advocates for heart health after losing son

A mother is fighting for heart health after losing her son.

Shelly Church’s son, Kyle, was born with a heart defect, and died when he was 18 years old.

“He celebrated life. He celebrated everything,” Shelly said. “I’m sure he’s very proud of me.”

A report published in the Annals of Internal Medicine showed 60 percent of white-Americans, 75 percent of Mexican-Americans and 85 percent of black-Americans are living with unhealthy hearts.

Cardiologist Dr. Brian Taschner urged people to pay attention to blood pressure, cholesterol, sugar, and tobacco use.

“We tend to be inactive,” Taschner said. “We tend to eat the wrong foods and we eat too much of them.”

Doctors said staying heart healthy is as easy as getting outside and going for a walk.

“We have the ability to make good choices,” Shelly said. “It’s sad when I see people in such terrible condition when they can control that.”

Shelly worked to raise the more than $1 million for the American Heart Association for the last 20 years.

“My son was a cheerleader,” Shelly said. “I’m sure he’s up in heaven cheering.”

Shelly said she’d like to continue helping save lives for years to come.

The study tracked more than 40,000 adults in the U.S. over 25 years. Click here to view the study in its entirety.

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