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Area heart walk set for Oct. 11

Sept. 26, 2003

By Lindsey Gomez, reporter

According to The American Heart Association, 61.8 million Americans have some type of heart disease. The AHA also said cardiovascular disease is the number one killer in the U.S. It kills more than 40 percent of the nearly 2.4 million Americans who die each year.

Students can help fight heart disease by participating in the 2003 McLennan Division American Heart Walk from 8 a.m. to noon Oct. 11 at Getterman Stadium.

Registration starts at 8 a.m. An aerobic group warm-up exercise will be held before the walk, which begins at 9 a.m.

The 5K walk will begin at the softball field and will go through the Baylor campus and nearby residential areas.

Free food and health screenings will be offered after the walk.

Peggy Lane, corporate market director for the Heart of Texas region's American Heart Association, said the money raised by the walk would go toward education and research. Walk officials' goal is to raise $125,000.

Lane said that money raised from the walk goes toward educating the public about modern devices called automated external defibrillators. According to the AHA, the cardiac arrest survival rate is 2 percent. Lane said AEDs give an electrical shock to the heart and help restore its normal rhythm when someone has gone into cardiac arrest.

According to the AHA, lives can be saved by strategically placing AEDs in sports arenas, concert halls, large hotels, company buildings and other settings. Lane added that employees at such locations, who are trained by the AHA, could use AEDs to help increase the survival rate for cardiac arrest victims.

'Baylor took action the summer before last and bought 15 AEDs,' Lane said. She said they are located in Baylor's main academic and athletic buildings.

Besides the walk, the heart association has other programs to promote health. Lane said one of the programs, 'Snack Attack,' informs grade school students about healthy food choices.

High school students also are taught life-saving information thanks to the AHA's efforts.

'In the 2002 through 2003 school year approximately 280,000 students in Texas graduated knowing CPR,' Lane said.

Lane said educational programs are geared toward those who are at high risk for developing heart disease. For example, 'Search Your Heart,' targets African Americans, one group that tends to have high blood pressure, about the importance of exercise, diet and health screenings.

Women are another group targeted by the American Heart Association. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 65,000 more women than men die from heart disease each year and it is 'increasingly a young woman's disease.'

The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute has joined with Glamour Magazine to form the Heart Truth Campaign. Well-known people, such as first lady Laura Bush, Shania Twain and Jennifer Love Hewitt also have joined in on the campaign against heart disease.

Walkers are encouraged to form teams and raise money for the association.

Prizes will be given to those who raise at least $100. There are eight prize levels and each level offers different prizes to choose from. Once $100 is raised, the first prize-level is reached, and the prize awarded is an American Heart Walk T-shirt. When $10,000 is raised, one of the prizes to choose from is a Philips 27' Flat TV with DVD player.

Vernie Glasson, executive director of the Texas Farm Bureau and the 2003 McLennan Division American Heart Walk chairman, said the Texas Farm Bureau's employees have taken on heart disease as a major cause and have formed a team to raise money for the AHA.

'Heart disease has no regard for age,' Glasson said. 'We are all susceptible and obligated to do whatever we can as volunteers and citizens to reduce heart disease and deaths related to heart disease.'

Pre-race registration and more information is available online at www.heartwalk.kintera.org/wacotx or by calling McLennan County's American Heart Association Office at 299-0880.