The three stories in the half-hour QUEST TV show Pump It Up: Heart Health Special Report investigate the number one cause of death in America, heart disease, which kills 600,000 people each year – more than die from cancer, car accidents or AIDS. We look at the disease from the point of view of a teenager trying to lower her risk; a heart attack patient and the team that saved her life, and a researcher working to one day rebuild a damaged heart from the inside out.

Lorena Ramos, 14, struggles to lose weight.

The show opens with the 14-minute story Childhood Obesity: Kids Fight Back. One in six kids in the United States is obese, a condition that doubles their risk of heart disease. Castro Valley teenager Lorena Ramos, 14, has been overweight since she was a small child. Now, with the help of her mother and the Healthy Hearts clinic at Children’s Hospital Oakland, she’s fighting to exercise, eat healthily and drop weight. Will she succeed?

A heart patient is treated at John Muir Medical Center in Concord.
A heart patient is treated at John Muir Medical Center in Concord.

Rushing to Save Heart Attack Patients tells the story of Arlene Skuba, who survived a heart attack at 72, after doctors at the John Muir Medical Center in Concord rapidly unclogged her arteries. Just 30 years ago, doctors could only watch patients as they suffered their heart attacks. As many as 20 percent of them ended up dying. Now, by opening their blocked arteries while their heart attacks are underway, they save all but 5 percent of those who make it to a hospital.

Research mouse.
After being injected with three genes, the hearts of mice who had suffered a heart attack pumped blood normally. All photos by Gabriela Quirós.

The special report’s final 4-minute story, New Hope for Heart Repair, takes us into the future, to a time when a single injection of three genes might be able to repair damaged hearts and give heart attack survivors their quality of life back. We visit the Gladstone Institutes, in San Francisco, and watch as researchers repair tiny mice hearts using the next generation of cell reprogramming.

You can watch each of the three stories individually, as well, by following the links below:

Pump It Up: Heart Health Special Report 9 March,2016Gabriela Quirós


Gabriela Quirós

Gabriela Quirós is a video producer for KQED Science and the coordinating producer for Deep Look. She started her journalism career 25 years ago as a newspaper reporter in Costa Rica, where she grew up. She won two national reporting awards there for series on C-sections and organic agriculture, and developed a life-long interest in health reporting. She moved to the Bay Area in 1996 to study documentary filmmaking at the University of California-Berkeley, where she received master’s degrees in journalism and Latin American studies. She joined KQED as a TV producer when its science series QUEST started in 2006 and has covered everything from Alzheimer’s to bee die-offs to dark energy. She has won five regional Emmys and has shared awards from the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival, the Society of Professional Journalists and the Society of Environmental Journalists. Independent from her work in KQED's science unit, she produced and directed the hour-long documentary Beautiful Sin, about the surprising story of how Costa Rica became the only country in the world to outlaw in vitro fertilization. The film aired nationally on public television stations in 2015.

Sponsored by

Become a KQED sponsor