Page 9

May 28, 2011

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Health and Nutrition • North Countryman - 9

Annual Heart Walk planning off and running American Heart Association sets $165,000 goal

By Jeremiah S. Papineau jeremiah@denpubs.com

PLATTSBURGH — Though several months away from the Plattsburgh Heart Walk, those behind the annual event are once again getting people thinking about heart health. The American Heart Association recently hosted its Heart Walk Leadership Breakfast at the State University of New York at Plattsburgh Angell College Center, officially kicking off the effort behind the 2011 Plattsburgh Heart Walk. The breakfast, said AHA regional director Keri Mack, is a way the AHA gets community leaders excited about raising money and awareness for the October event. “The breakfast is a kickoff leadership event for local businesses where we bring in companies and other organizations to discuss the American Heart Association and to give them information,” explained Mack. The breakfast is also an opportunity for attendees to learn first-hand about how the AHA has helped those

with heart-related illnesses and while there, received his or afflictions, said Mack. diagnosis of having congenThis year, those at the event ital mitral stenosis. heard from Chad and Marla The treatment for Luke’s Garcia of Au Sable Forks, condition is unlike how an whose 18-month-old son, adult would be treated, said Luke, suffers from congeniMack. tal mitral stenosis, a rare and “If you were an adult and very serious condition that you had this condition, can cause the heart to imyou’d actually have your properly function and even valve replaced,” she said. fail. “But, with children, and “Chad and Marla shared their heart growing, they their story, which is very can’t replace the valve. So, moving,” said Mack. they may have to expand it a When Luke was born, he few times before it gets to the began to show symptoms point where it can be resomething was wrong with placed later in life.” his health, The Garsaid Mack. cias brought “One in every their son to According to the Garcias, three adults suff ers Boston ChilLuke sufHosfrom some f orm of dren’s fered from pital in heart disease or pneumonia Boston, and was unstroke — those ar e Mass., able to gain where he huge numbers.” weight, she underwent a continued. procedure “They didKeri Mack to have a n’t realize it balloon-like American Heart Association was such a device inserious conserted into dition until they had taken the affected valve in his him to the doctor and the heart, expanding it to funcdoctor thought they heard a tion properly. sound in his heart,” said “He’s a little trooper,” Mack. said Mack. The doctor thought it was Though Luke’s condition a hole in his heart, so the is considered rare, one out of Garcias took their son to a every 10 babies with a heart specialist in Burlington, Vt., defect has that heart condi-

tion. That’s why research by organizations like the AHA is so important, said Mack. “The research dollars we raise in our communities go into the things he had done himself — the surgeries, the medicines, things like that,” said Mack. “The monies we raise in our communities help when families have these types of conditions.” That research goes beyond helping little ones like Luke, said Mack. “One in every three adults suffers from some form of heart disease or stroke — those are huge numbers,” said Mack, adding research for stints, which are used to treat other heart conditions, has also been funded through the AHA. Heart-related illnesses are not only a health-related “epidemic,” but also one that affects the economy, said Mack. Heart-related illnesses have been connected to approximately $226 billion in productivity losses reported by corporate America. “So, behind just the health impact on families and people that have heart disease, there’s a huge expense in the cost of treating heart disease and stroke, and it’s expected to triple in the next 20 years,” said Mack. “It’s on-

Chad and Marla Garcia of Au Sable Forks, hold their 18-month-old son, Luke, during the r ecent American Hear t Association Heart Walk Leadership Breakfast. The Garcias shared their story about Luke’s condition of congenital mitral stenosis, a rare and very serious heart condition. Photo provided

going therapy for high blood pressure, cholesterol, coronary stints.” “It’s a national health crisis, a national financial crisis,” she added. That’s where the AHA comes in with Heart Walks held each year around the nation, said Mack. The Plattsburgh walk is “hugely important” in being part of that effort, she added, with this year ’s goal of raising $165,000. It’s a goal Mack believes is “very attainable.” “We’ve done it in the past,” said Mack, who ac-

knowledged the difficult economic times that have faced the nation in recent years. “The economy is what the economy is. We all struggle but the community is very giving and very generous.” This year ’s walk is slated for Saturday, Oct. 15, to again be held at the PARC Oval in Plattsburgh. For more information, contact Mack at 335-8125 or by e-mail at keri.mack @heart.org. Details about the walk may also be found on-line at www.plattsburghheartwalk.org.

206 Cornelia St. Suite 103 • Plattsburgh • 562-7326 • www.cvph.org

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