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A story from the heart by AICR co-founder and President Marcello Segre
The Italian Heart and Resuscitation Association (Associazione Italiana Cuore e Rianimazione “Lorenzo Greco” Onlus) was born in Turin, Italy on 27 January 2016. Founded by President Marcello Segre, Resuscitation Doctor Dr Michele Grio and Cardiologist Dr. Daniela Aschieri, the organization aims to support cardiovascular disease prevention, especially among young people, through screening, education, and training initiatives.
The organization is named after Lorenzo Greco, a young middle school student from Torino, Italy, whose heart stopped beating on 3 February 2014. Just that morning, he had brought sweets to school to celebrate his twelfth birthday with his classmates. He was a boy scout who loved animals. reading and sports, and practiced football, basketball, swimming and baseball. Following his premature death, his grandfather and guardian, Nonno Mario, contacted Piemonte Cuore Onlus, a local heart foundation, to help him honour his grandson by teaching other children about the importance of cardiopulmonary resuscitation and train them to use a defibrillator.
Piemonte Cuore Onlus, which was founded by President Marcello Segre, had already successfully implemented the Progetto Vita (Life Project), which led to the city of Piacenza becoming the most “heartprotected” city in Europe, with one Automated External Defibrillator (AED) per 125 inhabitants. The Associazione Italiana Cuore e Rianimazione “Lorenzo Greco” Onlus (AICR) now continues the work of Piemonte Cuore Onlus not just in the region of Piemonte but at the national level as well, with Nonno Mario being named its honorary President.
The organization’s first project was named Progetto Giovani Cuori (Young Hearts Project). The project brought together stakeholders in medicine, education, and civil society with the goal of improving cardiovascular prevention in schools. The project provided free electrocardiograms (ECG) for students in order to identify any cardiac abnormalities, as well as lessons in health education to help students lead healthy lifestyles. As of today, more than 7,100 electrocardiograms have been performed, with lessons being given to over 15,000 students. The results of this successful project were presented at the WHF World Congress of Cardiology & Cardiovascular Health in December 2018 in Dubai.
In January 2019, AICR completed a screening initiative titled Sport a scuola …..in salute (Sport at school … for health), with more than 500 ECGs performed in just three months, and more than 3,500 students attending classes on prevention of cardiovascular diseases with a focus on nutrition, physical activity, and alcohol and smoking cessation.
A Scuola per la Vita (Lifestyle for Life) is another example of a successful initiative from AICR. The project aimed to teach elementary school students how to perform CPR and use an AED, as well as teach them about healthy lifestyles. This was found to be essential following a survey which found that many of the students started smoking at young age, did not practice physical activity, and ate unhealthy food. An abstract about this project was also presented at the Congress in Dubai. A similar project, titled Progetto Vita Ragazzi (Life Project Young People) successfully teaches children as young as eight to use an AED.
The Progetto Vita continues today, with more than 520 AEDs placed in various locations around the region of Piemonte and others. More than 7,000 people have been trained as first responders and 22,000 students and citizens have been trained to use an AED. The AICR also coordinated the donation of three cardiopulmonary resuscitation machines to three different hospitals.
Last year, AICR coordinated the World Heart Day activities in Turin, where they set up information and screening points for people to check their heart rate and BMI. They also illuminated the Turin City Hall and other monuments in red to mark the occasion. Over 20,000 people visited the stands and given its huge success, the initiative will be repeated for World Heart Day 2019!
More pictures from the Italian Heart and Resuscitation Association: