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PBC Heart Walk to raise awareness for heart disease, stroke research

Posted at 9:55 PM, Nov 16, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-16 21:55:24-05

The number one and number five killers in this country are heart disease and stroke.

However, there is a way that you can help save lives.

The annual Palm Beach County Heart Walk organized by the local chapter of the American Heart Association will kick off on Saturday morning at 8 a.m. Hundreds of people are expected to fill downtown and the Meyer Amphitheater to walk to raise awareness for heart disease and stroke research.

Just this week, the American Heart Association changed the guidelines on high blood pressure for the first time in 14 years.

With the new data, nearly half of Americans have high blood pressure, now at 49 percent nationally. In Palm Beach County, about 38 percent of residents have been told they have high blood pressure. The new guidelines will affect about 600,000 people in Palm Beach County.

Doctors say just 30 minutes of exercise a day can lower your risk for heart disease. 

This year's event will be the first Heart Walk for local survivor Cheryl Kovalsky. She suffered a stroke last year, with no family history or major health problems.

"I was on the phone on a Monday evening and all of the sudden I felt this immense pressure in my head, something I'd never felt before. It was an incredible headache. I was feeling nauseated," she described. "The next morning I woke up and didn't feel any different."

She said she felt like something wasn't right and ended up going straight to the hospital.

"They explained that I had a bleed, an aneurysm," she said.

Kovalsky spent 15 days in ICU. Now fully recovered a year later, she says it's important to know your body. She hopes participating in the walk can help spread that message to the world.

"It's very important to make people aware of what I went through and realizing that I didn't feel right and I went to the hospital and I was fortunate. So many people feel symptoms of things and ignore them because they don't have time or because it's just not convenient right now," she said. "Listen to the signs that our doctors are telling us. Try to get healthy."

Here are some more health statistics for Palm Beach County:

  • 26 percent have died from heart disease
  • 6 percent have died from stroke
  • 38 percent have been told they have high blood pressure
  • 22 percent reported no physical activity in the past month
  • 23 percent of adults are overweight or obese
  • 16 percent of children are overweight or obese
  • 16 percent of adults smoke

The 2017 Palm Beach County Heart Walk festivities will start at 8 a.m. this Saturday at the Meyer Amphitheater in West Palm Beach.

The path is three miles and covers ground from downtown all the down to Barcelona Street and back up to Currie Park. There is also a shorter, one mile walk for those with heart problems or other conditions to still participate.

WPTV will have a team at the Heart Walk. Anchor Mike Trim will be emceeing the event.

For more information, to donate or to sign up, just click here.