Raising Awareness with Kevin Nealon

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You may know Kevin Nealon from his infectious comedies including Happy Gilmore, The Wedding Singer, Daddy Day Care and Anger Management or perhaps as a former Saturday Night Live cast member (1986-1995). Or, maybe you have seen him more recently on Showtime’s Golden Globe winning hit series Weeds.

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What you may not know is that Kevin is also an atrial fibrillation – or AFib – survivor. Just like so many of you, Kevin has battled a life-threatening medical crisis and also like so many of you, he is passionate about sharing his story to help other patients facing a diagnosis of AFib or who are facing a treatment of blood thinners as a result of blood clots, heart attack or stroke. Kevin has partnered with Mended Hearts, a national non-profit organization committed to providing peer-to-peer cardiac support for survivors of AFib and their caregivers from diagnosis to recovery, and Janssen Pharmaceuticals during March to help raise awareness about blood clots.

Each year up to 900,000 Americans experience a blood clot (DVT or PE), resulting in up to 300,000 deaths. Blood clots do not discriminate based on age, sex, lifestyle – or even fame, as in the case of Kevin. AFib is an irregular, or fluttering, heartbeat that puts people who have the condition at a five times greater risk for a blood clot that can cause a potentially fatal stroke. And in fact, AFib accounts for 15 to 20 percent of all strokes. It is estimated that 2.7 million people are diagnosed with AFib and many more do not even know it (Source).

While these are frightening statistics to say the least, speaking to Kevin about AFib was like talking to an old friend and his passion for raising awareness and ensuring that others do not feel alone as a result of their diagnosis and recovery is the resounding message he conveys.

“I love talking to people about the same health issues,” Kevin said, “It creates an instant connection.

Kevin was swimming in Mexico with his then girlfriend several years ago when he had a racing heart that was concerning enough to cause him to seek medical attention at the hospital. He thought he may be having a heart attack.

“In the hospital,” he said, “I joked about having to use the paddles on me to restart my heart. And then I found out how serious my condition was. They put me out and when I woke up the cardiologist told me the paddles didn’t work.”

Once back at home in Los Angeles, Kevin was diagnosed with AFib, which was an extremely emotional time for him.

“It was so upsetting to me emotionally and it really affected my life,” he recalls, “I was playing less basketball and missing out on playing with me son and that really started to affect me. When you have a family, you really want to be around.” Kevin remembered being very worried because AFib changed his thinking about his entire life and his previously active lifestyle.

As part of his treatment plan, Kevin was initially placed on Warfarin to prevent blood clots, which were the biggest and most concerning risk of AFib to him because of the possibility of stroke.

“I did not want to end up with a stroke,” Kevin said.

Kevin eventually switched to taking Xarelto after speaking to his doctor about his lifestyle and needs. For Kevin, a vegetarian, Xarelto allows him the freedom from known dietary restrictions and the freedom to travel to numerous appearances throughout the year without the constant need for blood monitoring.

His resounding message is that facing a life-altering medical condition is something we, together as advocates, can overcome.

“It’s not the end of the world,” Kevin says, “You can live again.”

Kevin advocates for finding a doctor you believe in, as he did, and to remain in constant communication with your medical team about treatment options.

“Ask your doctors about the benefits and risks of the blood thinners available to you and do what works for you.”

Kevin and Janssen Pharmaceuticals, along with Mended Hearts and myself, have teamed up this month to raise awareness about blood clots and blood clot related stroke and deliver a message of hope to those who are suffering from AFib, blood clots and stroke.

And, the good news is, you can help us raise awareness too. Visit www.Drive4Clots.com to watch a video featuring Kevin’s story (along with the stories of NASCAR’s Brian Vickers and golf legend Arnold Palmer), and for every view received, Janssen will make a donation to Mended Hearts. You can also make a difference for patients living with or who are at risk for blood clots and stroke by sharing this message.

Share this message on Facebook:

Visit www.Drive4Clots.com to watch a video featuring actor/comedian Kevin Nealon’s story (along with the stories of NASCAR’s Brian Vickers and golf legend Arnold Palmer), and for every view received, Janssen will make a donation to Mended Hearts to help raise awareness about AFib, blood clots and stroke during #BloodClot Awareness Month.

Share this message on Twitter:

Visit to watch videos featuring real stories about blood clot survivors and make a difference. #BloodClot Awareness

Share your story. Did you know Kevin Nealon’s story? Have you or someone you know been diagnosed with AFib? What are you doing to make a difference this month?

There is hope for healing and you are not alone,

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Thank you to Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Kevin Nealon and Michele Packard-Milam of Mended Hearts for the opportunity to discuss AFib, blood clots and blood clot related stroke and raise awareness during Blood Clot Awareness Month and beyond. Together we can make a difference.

Comments

  1. Hi Kevin my heart really goes out to you after reading your story about AFib.
    What a shock that would have been for you, and like you said, when you first find out you have AFib its a very emotional time, you can’t help but wonder “what can I do, what will bring on another attack” etc. But it was great to read that you do NOT allow it to “rule” your life and that is very encouraging for us all to read.
    My husband Peter was 27 years old when he first became aware that “something” wasn’t right. Without warning he would get palpations, he would black out, collapse in the shower or while he was working on his car. He is a tall big man, looks a picture of health, so the GP’s he went to never took him “seriously” because by the time they ran tests, everything “seemed” normal.
    It came and went for over 30 years, until he was in hospital for a bowel resection and he ended up with a Mini Stroke (which thankfully didn’t leave any sideeffects) and the Doctors didn’t give it anymore thoughts. A year later he was back in, with bowel Cancer. One night, he had already slept, at approx 8.00pm he woke up feeling panicky, and the Nurse said she would make him a cup of tea, which he had and then dozed off again.
    The Nurse came back before they changed shifts at 9.30pm, asked how he felt, Peter said he felt still panicky so she checked his Bloodpressure……..and then it was PANIC STATION. She ran for the ECG MACHIENE and she saw it straight away, heart and pulse were all over the place.
    The Cardiologist confirmed Peter had AFib. He was put on Betablockers. Three days later he developed a Bloodclot in the vein going from the heart to the bowels and the Specialist rang me to say he could die at any moment. He was put on intravenous Bloodthinners and TOTAL bed rest for 7 days. When his blood levels were right he was put on Warfarin and has been on it for over 7 years now
    Because he still gets a lot of episodes with very bad heart palpitations and fainting, blood pressure dropping drastically, they tried other medication, plus the Warfarin, but because of bad side effects they were stopped bar the Warfarin for which he is lifelong.
    Last year in September he had a day procedure done where they inserted a Looprecorder into his chest which records any episodes he has, MAYBE that will shed more light on his condition.
    He had three bad episodes in the last two months and will see his Specialist again in May.
    He has no cholestral issues and an Angiogram revealed everything was clear.
    It certainly can make life quite challenging, we can sit at a table in a Restaurant and Peters heart starts and he faints.
    But, having said all that, Peter still does a lot of things in his life which bring him joy and he will NOT allow AFib to ruin his life, just like you said Kevin “it’s not the end of the world” he just considers it as a darn nuisance.
    We both wish you Kevin the very best for the future and thank you so much for sharing your story with us all, you are not alone
    Kind Regards,
    Monique and Peter from Australia

  2. Ray Dunn, clinical pharmacist says

    I know this is an older post, but there is no reason you can’t have a healthy salad (or any amount of “leafy greens” with warfarin. I should know; I managed a warfarin clinic for many years (150-200 patients)- we simply adjust your dose based on your diet. The interaction between warfarin and diet only relate to those who make a substantial change in diet (which is considered a relatively minor interaction as compared to interacting medication), and we can easily adjust warfarin doses to match your diet. At first, the tests are more frequent, but it is not unusual to go 6-8 weeks (assuming you are a stable patient) between visits to the clinic for blood testing. It’s a no-brainer, and the trade-off between a drug that we are very familiar with (warfarin) and one we aren’t (rivaroxaban or Xarelto) is much more comforting, especially since the effects of warfarin is so easily reversible if you are over-anticoagulated. Please adjust the advertising to reflect the truth, if you are able to and have the conscience to do so.

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