By Meagan McGone
BREVARD - By the time you are finished reading this article, more than three people will have died as a result of heart disease.
Cardiovascular disease is the No. 1 killer of Americans, taking more lives of women than all forms of cancer combined, and accounting for the most infant deaths due to congenital cardiovascular birth defects.
As a result, the American Heart Association has teamed with walkers, donors and volunteers around the nation to fight heart disease by putting on its annual Heart Walk to raise funds supporting research and prevention of heart disease.
This year's 4-mile walk will come to the Space Coast Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 15 at 7:30 a.m. The walk is free, but walkers are eligible for a Heart Walk T-shirt, once they have raised a minimum of $100. The goal of the event is to raise $100,000 locally.
Melbourne resident Shannon Royer, who will participate in the walk as part of HealthSouth Sea Pines Rehabilitation Hospital, said she is exposed to patients with heart disease on a daily basis. This encouraged her to walk to raise awareness about the preventative aspect of cardiovascular complications.
"I see a great number of stroke patients who come through the hospital doors," said Mrs. Royer, who serves as the hospital's marketing coordinator. "The therapy they receive while at Sea Pines is life-changing and nothing short of miraculous, however, it is still tragic that in many cases, strokes are a preventable incident."
Currently, less than 1 percent of Americans meet the American Heart Association's criteria for ideal cardiovascular health, which requires eating a healthy, balanced diet - with at least three daily servings of fruits and vegetables - and participating in moderate exercise for at least 150 minutes per week, among other factors.
"I would be comfortable assuming that everyone knows at least one person affected by heart disease in some form," Mrs. Royer said. "I hope people participate in their loved ones honor, or at the least, come kick-start their own heart healthy lifestyle by walking 4 miles with a huge support team."
For more information, to make a donation or to participate, visit www.brevardheartwalk.org.