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Christine and Christina have a common goal: HeartLung

Christine and Christina have a common goal: HeartLung

The Heart and Lung Foundation, just like the National Heart and Lung Association, strives to ensure that the number of people suffering from the disease is reduced, but in other ways. General Secretaries Christina Sparreljung and Christine Cars-Engels met in Brunsviken for a conversation about history, the path to health and the strong personal reasons for Christina's involvement.

Secretaries General of the National Heart and Lung Association Christine Cars Engels and the Christina Sparliung Heart and Lung Foundation.

Hello Christina! Our readers want to know more about what the Heart and Lung Foundation does. Tells!

– I will try to keep it short. The Heart and Lung Foundation is a fundraising organization that supports Swedish cardiovascular and lung research. We carry out advocacy and knowledge dissemination work based on research findings. In addition, we have chosen to work with prevention efforts in key areas such as tobacco, air pollution, physical activity, and diet. We've recently begun to look at how we can work with search policy harmoniously with the rest of our business. What we don't do is follow up on health care issues, which is what you do at the Heart and Lung Association.

Yes, we complement and support each other. Our goals are the same, which is to contribute to the prevention of cardiovascular and lung diseases and provide the best conditions for those afflicted with them. This year, the Heart and Lung Foundation turns 120 years old. Congratulations! Can you name some of the key milestones of the organization?

– There have been different stages over the years: information work, carefully concrete work and research support. It started with the fight against tuberculosis. At the turn of the last century, Europe was hard hit, with one in five children dying. The National Tuberculosis League, as we called it then, made practical efforts and disseminated information. For example, advice was given on how to avoid infection. It was the same advice as now with coronavirus: maintain good hygiene and keep your distance from others.

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How did research support come into the picture?

– In the 1920s, the first Scientific Council was formed, corresponding to our Research Council today. They devoted themselves to finding out which recommended TB treatments should be instituted. From the beginning, the organization has received donations and private gifts. We have also been selling Christmas letter stamps for two via Posten for exactly 100 years. It was me who asked Posten to keep it even after it became a limited company.

Here you brought the concept of the health pathway – Slí na Sláinte – from Ireland in the late 1990s. Now we are the ones running it for 20 years. But how did it start?

– It was our then Secretary General who contacted Slí na Sláinte, which means “Path to Health”, through the cooperation of the European Heart Network. He thought I should establish this concept in Sweden. The Secretary General of the Irish Heart Association came up with this idea in the mid-1990s. He walked by himself every day and wanted to know how far he had come. Then he discovered that if you measured the rings and put columns per kilometer, people could go up and down and count the columns. I translated the concept and prepared a guide for creating new loops.

Sweden's first health trail was built here around Brunsviken in Stockholm. Why did this happen here?

– This is simply because I wanted the healthy track to get attention. She contacted the Royal Zoo, which owns the land. In May 1998, the King opened the episode. He actually walked the length of the twelve kilometer loop. I helped create 13 tracks. Then a colleague took over and in 2004 we turned over the National Heart and Lung Association's Health Pathway to you. We decided to stop working on practical prevention projects, but rather focus on raising money for research.

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We, and not least our members, are happy to be able to continue on the path to health. Many local associations are involved in and around the rings. One of the many examples is Oscarshamn, which organizes competitions and events around the track. Lots of people come and the local business community gets involved. The track has meant a lot to a lot of people. Today there are 161 trails across the country. Christina, when you travel to a city in Sweden, do you check if there is a health route there?

– Yes, of course. I walk with them a lot. Then I think I helped start this.

That was 27 years ago. How long have you worked at the Heart and Lung Foundation?

– For 28 years in many different roles: Gifts Director, Health Pathway Project Driver, IT Director, Marketing and Fundraising Director and since 2014 Secretary General.

My grandfather died of a heart attack when I was 5 years old, and my father had his first heart attack, a massive heart attack, when I was 8 years old and he was 39 years old. My father died at the age of 66 from a heart attack. His heart problems marked my entire upbringing, and I lived in constant anxiety. My uncle also died prematurely due to cardiovascular disease. That's why it was appropriate to apply for a position at the Heart and Lung Foundation. There, I can participate and contribute to knowledge about how to prevent and treat these diseases.

…Why are you still passionate about these issues?

-This activity is really important and meaningful to many people. My greatest calling is to bring in more money for research. I have been very proud to see, over the years, that the research we have supported is actually leading to treatments that can save lives and can provide a better quality of life for people.

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Photo: Stefan Blad

About Christina Sparreljung

age: 57 years old.

Living: Stockholm.

family: A partner, two kids from out of town, and the dog, Loves.

In free time: Exercise, family, walking dogs, books, travel.

Preferred destination: Malaysia and New York.

Home screen on mobile: My lover.