Nearly 1,000 Westchester area residents, including dozens of corporate and community teams, walked at the American Heart Association’s Heart Walk event Saturday at Kensico Dam in Valhalla. They walked for their hearts, and to fund the American Heart Association’s research. This year marks the 25th Anniversary of the Heart Walk event nationally. Donations are still being accepted online at www.westchesterheartwalk.org.

Jennifer Garcia, a 40-year old mom from Peekskill, was recognized as the Survivor Honoree. Garcia survived a heart attack in February and is sharing her story and walking to help raise awareness and fund research to fight heart disease—the number one killer of men and women.

Garcia experienced chest pain and exhaustion during and after a party in February. The next day, she said head was pounding as if someone was hammering at it, and her blood pressure was sky high. She took her mother’s advice to go to the emergency room. It was a lifesaving decision. The doctor there said the diagnosis wasn’t exhaustion or heartburn, as she had thought–it was a heart attack.

Doctors said that her uncontrolled high blood pressure and possibly her birth control medicine were to blame. The American Heart Association cites research shows that birth control pills can increase blood pressure

in some women. It’s more likely to occur if you’re overweight, have had high blood pressure during a previous pregnancy, have a family history of high blood pressure or mild kidney disease. The combination of birth control pills and cigarette use may be especially dangerous for some women.

Many teams walked in honor of survivors or in memory of those lost to heart disease and stroke. Family members and friends on team “Kim’s Heartbeats” walked in memory of Kim Salveggi of Yorktown Heights. She passed away suddenly in March from heart disease. She had served as the Go Red For Women Honoree in 2017 and shared her story of surviving sudden coronary artery dissection.

The Heart Walk featured a healthy kids’ zone with fun activities designed to get kids, and kids at heart, to move more for their health. Many people took advantage of the free blood pressure screening to help identify high blood pressure. High blood pressure accounts for the second largest number of preventable heart disease and stroke deaths, second only to smoking. It’s known as the “silent killer” because often there are no symptoms, despite its role in significantly increasing the risk for heart disease and stroke. Learn more at www.heart.org/highbloodpressure.

 

The Heart Walk is sponsored Dr. Patrick W. Thomas and Mrs. Johanna D. Thomas, Fujifilm, WMC Health/Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital, New York Presbyterian, Phelps Hospital/Northwell Health, Westmed Medical Group, Burke Rehabilitation Hospital, Zedeker DDS, Stop & Shop, Examiner Media, Buzz Creators, and Westchester Magazine.