Anthony Miller started the American Foundation for Cardiomyopathy in 2009 with his wife. Miller, was chairman of Legislative District 20 Republicans, has hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Travis Roemhild/AFN

Since his resignation as chairman of the Legislative District 20 Republicans, Ahwatukee Foothills resident Anthony Miller has focused his time on tackling an issue that has affected him personally.

In 2009, Miller and his wife, Stephanie, created the American Foundation for Cardiomyopathy, a non-profit organization dedicated to spreading awareness and providing resources for those affected by cardiomyopathy. One arm of the foundation is to encourage people to be proactive in determining whether or not they have any type of heart disease.

"A heart screen is the first line of defense," Miller, 43, said. "We have developed a network for providing information to everyone that is interested. It is only going to grow."

Miller and his organization are currently collecting used cell phones and have several drop boxes around Ahwatukee Foothills. With the money they are collecting through the phones, as well as donations and business sponsorships, he hopes to bring a free CPR training class to the area this summer. Miller also plans to purchase automated external deliberators for schools and other places that can't afford one.

"We want there to be at least one person in every household that knows CPR," he said. "It was because someone knew it that my life was saved."

Miller has hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and because of it had his first heart attack in 2003. A year later, he had a second one and went into cardiac arrest.

"I died for about 45 minutes," he said. "When I eventually woke up, I had to learn how to walk, talk and eat again."

Miller also went through a spiritual experience.

"I thought I was in heaven," he said.

There are different forms of cardiomyopathy, but the three main ones are hypertonic, dilated and restrictive. It is a disease that can affect the heart function in a variety of ways. In the dilated form, the most common, the heart cavity is enlarged and the heart doesn't pump normally, which can lead to heart failure.

"Cardiomyopathy is the leading cause for heart transplants," Miller said. "A lot of times a person does not know they have it until they have a heart attack."

To find out more about the organization, visit www.AmericanFFC.org.

Drop sites for cell phones in Ahwatukee include the Ahwatukee Foothills News, 10631 S. 51st St., and Edward Jones, 4902 E. Warner Road.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or troemhild@ahwatukee.com

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