More than 1,200 Westchester area residents participated in the Westchester American Heart Association’s Heart Walk, October 4th at Kensico Dam in Valhalla to help raise awareness and funds to fight heart disease and stroke, the number one and five killers.

Patty Macias team

Many teams and individual walkers walked for their own heart health. But many walked in honor of loved ones who survived a battle with heart disease or stroke, or in memory of those lost to cardiovascular diseases.

Patty Macias of New Rochelle, NY (in red) served as Heart Walk Honoree this year to raise awareness for heart disease, and life-saving research. Two years ago, she experienced what she called a sharp shooting pain in her head on her way to work. It went away, but when climbing the stairs at the train station, she felt severe chest, back pain and jaw pain. She attributed the symptoms of chest pain, shortness of breath to being out of shape. She thought the nausea, sweating and rapid heartbeat she had in the weeks prior were symptoms of a panic attack.

Her sister convinced her to go to the emergency room where she was diagnosed with multiple, bilateral pulmonary emboli—or a sudden blockage of lung arteries by clots. An interventional radiologist performed a Catheter-Directed Thrombolysis, removing the clots through a catheter. She was also put on t-PA, a clot-busting drug. She was only 46 years old. Macias walked with her sister and family at the Heart Walk event and was recognized in the opening ceremony.

“I’m alive today because my sister recognized the warning signs of a heart attack,” she said. Heart disease is the number one killer of women. Women can learn more about their risk at www.goredforwomen.org.

One of the largest teams with more than 115 participants, Team Monie, walked in memory of Eugenia Sumone Taylor from New Rochelle, who died suddenly of a heart attack this past March at the age of 44. Dozens of members from the New Rochelle Cheer squad, part of Team Monie, cheered for walkers on the route.Heart Walk 2015

Lisa LaRocca, News 12 Westchester reporter, served as emcee for the event. LaRocca told the crowd that she lost her own father, Anthony LaRocca, to heart disease. He was the Principal at William E. Cottle Elementary School in Tuckahoe.

The Heart Walk is the organization’s largest annual fundraiser that promotes physical activity to prevent heart disease and stroke, while raising funds for life-saving research. American Heart Association-funded research has yielded important discoveries such as the heart-lung machine, CPR, life-extending drugs, pacemakers, bypass surgery and surgical techniques to repair heart defects.

Hands-Only CPR training was provided at the event, sponsored by Westchester Medical Center. New York Medical College students provided blood pressure screening to combat the “silent killer” which affects one in three Americans.

The Heart Walk is sponsored nationally by Subway, and locally by Signature and Regional Chain of Survival Sponsor, Westchester Medical Center, National Walking Day sponSubwaystartlineWestchHWsor New York-Presbyterian Lawrence Hospital, Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital, White Plains Hospital, Fuji Film, Merit Direct and Stop & Shop, and media sponsors Examiner Media, Westchester Magazine, News 12 Westchester and The Peak 107.1 radio.

Donations are still being accepted online at www.westchesterheartwalk.org or by contacting jennifer.gelick@heart.org at 203-295-2943. Photos from the event are online at www.facebook.com/americanheartnewyork. To learn more about the prevention and treatment of heart disease and stroke, visit www.heart.org.