Stories for the American Heart Association website are produced by a staff of professional writers and editors. The information is obtained through interviews with American Heart Association volunteers who are physicians, other healthcare professionals or experts; and/or compiled from data assembled by the organization’s staff. All stories receive statistical- and science-based reviewed by the American Heart Association’s team of science and medicine advisors. All content is reviewed and published online by our AHA staff.
Because we are a science-based organization, review of all stories by science and medicine advisors is a critical step in all editorial production. Internal staff manages a database of review and assign each for review by at least one advisor. If not approved, there is a feedback loop, which will ultimately require additional review.
These stories are written as a public service in support of the American Heart Association’s mission: Building healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke. This information is designed to help people improve their health, learn prevention information, understand heart disease and stroke risks, and learn about specific medical conditions. This information should support readers’ health and help them deal with their conditions, but it does not replace the advice of a qualified health professional who is familiar with an individual's medical needs. Read the American Heart Association Ethics Policy.
The American Heart Association does not charge anything or require subscriptions for public access to these stories on their website. The content of the Conditions section of our website is available for licensing and syndication for your website. The American Heart Association maintains relationships with sponsors of its digital assets to support its mission.
The target audience for the heart.org website content is the public and people who seek knowledge about various cardiovascular conditions, their relatives, friends and others in their lives who would find this information helpful. The cardiovascular conditions addressed in this section of the website are arrhythmia, cardiac arrest, cholesterol, congenital heart defects, diabetes, heart attack, heart failure, high blood pressure, metabolic syndrome, peripheral artery disease and stroke. We also offer preventive information in the Healthy Living section of our website including Healthy Eating, Recipes, Weight Management, Stress Management, Physical Activity, Workplace Health and Quit Smoking.
The American Heart Association is devoted to saving people from heart disease and stroke – two of America’s leading killers. We team with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies, and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat these diseases. The Dallas-based association is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. To learn more or to get involved, call 1-800-AHA-USA1, visit heart.org, donate, or call any of our offices around the country.
John McFarland, National Vice President of News, Content and Editorial, has overseen editorial processes at the American Heart Association since 2010 and American Heart Association News since 2013. Previously, he was an editor and reporter at The Associated Press and an editor at The Dallas Morning News. He holds a journalism degree from the University of North Texas.
AHA News Staff
Contact at [email protected].
Melissa Weber, National Director, News, joined the American Heart Association News staff in 2014. She is a nationally award-winning health and science journalist who previously served as managing editor of CURE, the nation's largest consumer magazine for people with cancer. She is also a former contributor to Cancer Today magazine, LIVESTRONG Quarterly and the American Cancer Society. She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in journalism.
Rogelio Aranda, Assistant News Editor, joined American Heart Association News in 2022. Previously, he spent nearly 24 years with The Charlotte Observer in various roles, including breaking news and public safety editor, interim sports editor, copy editor and wire editor. He graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a degree in journalism.
Jaime Aron, Senior Writer and Editor, has been part of American Heart Association News since its launch in 2013. He previously spent 20 years with The Associated Press, the last 13 as Texas Sports Editor. He's the author or co-author of seven books. He holds a journalism degree from the University of Texas at Austin.
Michael Merschel, Staff Writer, joined American Heart Association News in 2019. Previously, he worked for The Dallas Morning News, where he edited the Healthy Living section, books coverage and more. He won the Texas Institute of Letters' award for best middle-grade book and graduated from the University of Kansas with a degree in journalism.
Kayla Jackson, Production Editor, joined the American Heart Association News staff in 2019. She previously trained biomedical scientists in professional development at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. She earned her Master of Healthcare Administration from Texas Woman's University.
Lourdes Medrano, Staff Writer, joined the AHA News staff in 2023. She has worked for daily newspapers in Arizona and Minnesota, including the Star Tribune in Minneapolis and The Arizona Daily Star in Tucson. She also has written extensively about science, the environment and immigration for national publications. She earned a journalism degree from the University of Arizona.
AHA Editorial Staff
Contact at [email protected].
Dina Rogers, National Director, Writing and Editorial, leads the AHA's editorial team. Before joining the AHA in 2007, Rogers was employee communications and publications manager for Horizon Health, and managing editor at M. Lee Smith Publishers. Rogers graduated with a bachelor's degree in writing, literature & publishing from Emerson College in Boston.
Roger Campbell, Senior Editor and Writer, has worked for the AHA since 1990. Previously, he was a reporter for the Los Angeles Times, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Star-Telegram and The Associated Press. Campbell graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in journalism and holds a master's degree in biblical studies from Dallas Theological Seminary.
Gloria Catha, Senior Content and Editorial Manager, develops patient content and custom content. Since joining the American Heart Association in 1996, she has spent most of her career managing patient education and consumer health content development for magazines, brochures and websites. She holds a business degree from the University of Texas at Dallas.
Karen Patterson, Writer and Editor, has covered medical science and health care for The Dallas Morning News, NurseWeek, and CURE and Heal magazines. Previously, she focused on cancer research at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. She holds a bachelor's degree in communications and a master's in liberal arts from Southern Methodist University.
Deborah Puccio, Senior Editor and Content Manager, manages healthy living content, including cookbooks. Before joining the AHA in 2004, she was a director for a publishing company providing editorial services to leading educational book publishers. She also was an editor for the elementary textbook imprint of Simon & Schuster. Puccio holds a journalism degree and political science degree from Rutgers University.
Science and Medicine Advisers
Radhika Rajgopal Singh, Ph.D., Senior Vice President, Science, Medicine and Health and Professional Membership, oversees science and medicine review at the American Heart Association. She joined the AHA in 2017. She has over two decades of experience in strategic planning, operations and performance management with diverse academic, public and nonprofit organizations, including Southern Methodist University and the George W. Bush Institute in Dallas.
Anne Leonard, M.P.H, R.N., CCRC, FAHA, Senior Science and Medicine Advisor, joined the AHA in 2007. Previously, she spent 25 years as a neuroscience research nurse at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. She earned her bachelor's degree from UT Health Science Center-San Antonio, and her master's from the UT Houston School of Public Health.
Paul St. Laurent, D.N.P., R.N., Senior Science and Medicine Advisor, joined the AHA in 2016. He has over 25 years of experience as an advanced practice nurse in clinical cardiovascular care. He has a doctorate of nursing practice degree from Chatham University as well as bachelor's and master's degrees in nursing from the University of Southern Indiana.
Sally S. Wong, Ph.D., R.D., CDN, FAHA, Senior Science and Medicine Advisor, joined the AHA in 2013 after a decade as clinical nutrition manager at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City. She also was a public health officer for the Nutrition and Dietetics Board in New York and provided nutrition consultation for the state's Office of Minority Health. She earned her nutrition master's and doctorate degrees from New York University.
Prashant Nedungadi, B.Pharm, Ph.D., Director of AHA Stroke Guidelines, joined AHA in 2015. He has more than 15 years of academic research experience and has authored several peer-reviewed publications. He is a pharmacist and holds a Ph.D. in pharmacology/neuroscience. He previously worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and as research/teaching faculty at the University of North Texas Health Science Center.
Johanna A. Sharp, M.S.N., R.N., Science and Medicine Advisor, joined AHA in 2018. She has over 25 years of experience in acute care nursing in specialties from neonatal to adult ICU, stroke, and clinical research. She earned undergraduate degrees from Texas A&M University and Baylor University with a master's degree from the University of Texas at Austin.
Katherine A. Sheehan, Ph.D., Science and Medicine Advisor, joined AHA in 2014. Her Ph.D. is in cell and molecular physiology. She has over 20 years of experience in basic cardiovascular research focused on the molecular mechanisms that regulate cellular level contractility of the heart. She has published peer-reviewed research papers and taught undergraduate courses.
Barbara Entl, M.D., Science and Medicine Advisor. Before joining the AHA in 2020 she worked as a primary care physician, epidemiologist and tribal health policy analyst. She earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Texas at San Antonio, and her medical degree from St. George's University School of Medicine.
Maggie Eaton, Ph.D., F.N.P, R.N., Associate Science and Medicine Advisor, joined the AHA in 2022. She has over a decade of experience working as a pediatric nurse and family nurse practitioner in neurosurgery and urgent care. She earned her Ph.D. in nursing from Northeastern University and her master’s degree in nursing from Columbia University.
Gail Gannon, A.P.N., F.N.P.-C., Associate Science and Medicine Advisor, joined the American Heart Association in 2022. She has been a nurse for over 25 years, and an advanced practice practitioner for nearly 10 years. Gail has an extensive background in clinical research and critical care and has held several leadership roles at esteemed academic medical centers. She has a Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Administration from National Louis University, and a Master of Science in Nursing-Family Nurse Practitioner degree from DePaul University.
Advisers for Science and Health Advancement
Comilla Sasson, M.D., Ph.D., Vice President for Science & Innovation for Emergency Cardiovascular Care, oversees science and medicine review at the American Heart Association. She also works in a Colorado emergency department and maintains appointments in the Colorado School of Public Health, University of Colorado School of Medicine and as the Special Advisor to the Medical Advisory Panel for the Veterans Health Administration.
Amber Hoover, R.N., M.S.N., Advisor for Science and Health Advancement, joined AHA in 2016 and moved to the Emergency Cardiovascular Care Science Team in 2019. She has over 20 years of clinical experience in emergency, trauma, cardiac cath lab and quality nursing with a strong focus on process improvement and cardiac systems of care.
Becky Lehotzky, Ph.D., Advisor for Science and Health Advancement, first joined the AHA in 2013. She has more than 10 years of experience in medical writing and consulting on topics such as cardiovascular health and disease, oncology and basic science. She earned her doctoral degree in biological chemistry from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.
Melissa Mahgoub, Ph.D., Advisor for Science and Health Advancement, joined the AHA Emergency Cardiovascular Care Science Team in 2019. She holds a Ph.D. in neuroscience and has over 10 years of experience in academia as a preclinical researcher and scientific writer. She has worked as a postdoctoral researcher and served as a scientific mentor to graduate students at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.
Amber Rodriguez, Ph.D., Advisor for Science and Health Advancement, joined the AHA Emergency Cardiovascular Care Science Team in 2014. She earned her undergraduate and graduate degrees in neuroscience from the University of Texas at Austin, and her postdoctoral work was at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas in the Department of Neurology and Neurotherapeutics.
Contributing Writers and Editors
Sarah Amandolare; Genaro C. Armas; Leslie Barker; Deborah Lynn Blumberg; Jerry Bokamper; Lynn Bronikowski; Vanessa Caceres; Luis Campuzano; Thor Christensen; Diane Daniel; Mary Dunklin; Maria Elena Fernandez; Eve Glicksman; Tate Gunnerson; Jodi Helmer; Michelle Hiskey; Stefani Kopenec; Robert Kozak; Kenya McCullum; Teresa McUsic; Casey Miller; Casey Morris; Michael Precker; Will Pry; Karen Schmidt; Kelley J. Shannon; Catherine S. Williams; Laura Williamson