Fairview Park: Track star has deadly heart defect

7:38 PM, Aug 21, 2012   |    comments
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FAIRVIEW PARK -- More than 10,000 Cleveland area residents are expected to join the Heart Walk on Saturday, August 25 to raise funds to fight heart disease and stroke, America's No. 1 and No. 4 killers.

The annual event begins at 8 a.m. at Voinovich Park at 800 E. 9th Street in Cleveland.

Among them will be 55 members of Jacob Johnson's team.

Jacob was a track and cross-country athlete at Fairview High School. Last April, his days of competitive sports ended when he collapsed during the 400m relay. 

"As soon as he turned the corner, I knew something was wrong, and I saw his face, and I saw him gasping," Jacob's mother, Jennifer Johnson, recalls.

"I started losing my vision once I finally got to the handoff. I made the exchange and I collapsed," Jacob says.

An EKG and MRI revealed Jacob didn't just have a heart attack.

His doctors believe he has a genetic condition called Catecholaminergic Polymorphic Ventricular Tachycardia, or C.P.V.T.

It's a rare condition that affects about one in 10,000 people but is often found too late.

"With C.P.V.T., usually the first symptom is death," Jennifer says.

Jacob's doctors said no more competitive sports, but that was the least of his worries.

"I'm kind of upset that I can't run anymore but I'm glad I'm still alive," Jacob says.

Jacob now takes Beta Blockers to help regulate his heartbeat and an implanted device records his heart rhythm. Every few weeks he uploads the information to his doctors at Cleveland Clinic.

The most difficult part is that Jacob can't be left alone. If he passes out, he may not wake up again. 

Everywhere he goes, he carries a portable recording device that can track his heart rate in case there's an episode. His family and friends all know how to use it.

Jacob and his family are looking forward to the Heart Walk as the money raised will benefit local research into heart disease.

It's even more important now since his Grandfather, John, just had a heart attack on Monday and underwent a heart catheritization Tuesday.

The non-competitive, one or three-mile walk includes teams of employees from local companies, along with friends and family members of all ages.

The Cleveland Heart Walk features vendor booths, entertainment, a kids zone, K9 corner and more.

The event emcee is WKYC anchor/reporter Lynna Lai.





















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