December 8, 2022

It was New Year’s Eve, going into 2014, when Patrick Wright’s life changed forever. 

After getting home from a party at his grandmother’s house, he started to feel odd. “I started feeling really tired. My hand was like really numb,” he said.

He called his wife in the room for help. “I actually said it, am I having a stroke right now?” he said.

His wife Michelle initiated some stroke symptom tests. “She asked me to say ‘Every good dog has a good day’ or something like that. I could not say that,” said Wright.

He was rushed to the hospital. Doctors said he suffered a hemorrhagic stroke and the prognosis looked grim. “Doctors were pretty much letting my family know that if they wanted to see me this would be a great time because we expect in the next three days that his heart is going to stop,” he said doctors told them.

But Patrick kept fighting. “God said it’s not time for you to go man, you have things you have to do in life,” he said.

It took months for him to recover, but ever since that fateful day, he made it his mission to warn others. “If you’ve had a stroke, chances are you need to get your heart checked as well,” he said.

“Heart attack and stroke are related. Stroke is the number five leading cause of death,” said Drew Thomas, Vice President of development at the American Heart Association in Austin.

The American Heart Association is partnering with FOX 7 Austin, working to make heart disease and stroke a thing of the past. On Saturday, the AHA will hold the annual Austin Heart and Stroke Walk.

“With cardiovascular related deaths being the leading cause of deaths here in America and it disproportionately affecting people of color, all sorts of different minority groups, we host events like this to raise awareness, raise funds,” said Thomas.

Every cent raised will go toward their efforts, including advocating for access to healthier foods, in all parts of town.

“On the east side of Austin the average life expectancy is 67 years old, when you get out to the western part of Austin like the Bee Cave and Westlake area the life expectancy is 87 years old,” said Thomas.

Thomas said beating heart disease and stroke starts by encouraging good habits, and also creating equity in healthcare and nutrition access. “You really need to start with the root causes which are managing chronic illnesses, like hypertension, blood pressure, diabetes and bridging the equitable gaps,” said Thomas.

“I hope that me being where I am will be an inspiration for other people to not do the things that I did,” said Wright.

The free Austin Heart and Stroke Walk is open to all and kicks off at the Long Center on Saturday at 8 am. 

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