Heartily recommended

In its ongoing mission to build healthier lives, free of cardiovascular disease and stroke, the American Heart Association sets big goals, like working to affect a 20-percent reduction in deaths by heart-related illnesses and a 20-percent improvement in the quality of cardio health in Americans. These goals are achieved by raising awareness of symptoms and conditions of heart disease; advocating for better health practices in medicine, schools, workplaces and the home environment; and reaching out to populations at higher risk. Events like the upcoming Dutchess/Ulster Heart Walks are held around the country to raise funds and bring attention to the facts – and the myths – of heart health.

The importance of leading a healthy lifestyle is a key piece in the Heart Association’s educational component. Proper diet, exercise and abstinence from smoking have been shown to prevent cardiac events, for example – particularly in women. Heart disease is the number-one killer of women. When it was understood that heart attack symptoms are different in women and men, and that Hispanic and African American women are at greater risk of developing fatal or debilitating cardiac episodes, the thrust of bringing these facts to the attention of the American public became even more important.

To that end, the Heart Walk is an event held annually across the country. This year locals can participate in a non-competitive four-mile walk (with an optional two-mile turnaround) at two locations. The Dutchess Walk will take place on Saturday, March 10 at the Walker Field House at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie. The Ulster Walk happens on Saturday, March 24 at Dietz Stadium in Kingston. Registration for each Saturday begins at 8:30 a.m., and the Walk begins at 10 a.m. Organizers hope to register more than 2,000 individuals from 150 companies, to raise up to $410,000 to support cardiovascular research and education.


Additionally, a nationwide campaign “Go Red for Women” was launched on National Wear Red Day for Women in February, bringing colorful attention to heart-healthy lifestyle choices. Like the visible icons focusing awareness on breast cancer and HIV/AIDS, the “Go Red” logo – a swingy red dress – inspires women to incorporate activities in their lives that reduce risks. The campaign advertises research showing that women who “Go Red” increase their exercise, lose weight, change their diets and discuss heart health with their doctors.

Participants can take advantage of online tools, such as Go Red Better U, a free 12-week makeover-to-change-your-life plan; Go Red Heart CheckUp, providing a ten-year personal heart disease risk assessment; and goredportucorazon.org: access to information in Spanish for the Hispanic community. You can even support education and awareness programs by purchasing apparel, accessories and other products at shopgored.org.

There are no registration fees, so you can walk for free in honor of friends and loved ones with heart disease. Walkers who do raise a minimum of $100 are eligible for a Heart Walk tee-shirt. For more information about the Dutchess/Ulster Heart Walks, call (845) 905-2133 or go online to www.dutchessulsterheartwalk.org. Visit goredforwomen.org for details about Go Red for Women or call (888) MY-HEART.