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Start! Santa Barbara Heart Walk Kicks Off Saturday

Festivities at the Chase Palm Park Pavilion include a health festival, risk-factor screenings and more

More than 500 people are expected to turn out for the American Heart Association’s 2010 Start! Santa Barbara Heart Walk this Saturday, Oct. 9, at Chase Palm Park Pavilion, where event participants will embark on a 5K journey to a healthier lifestyle, raising funds in the fight against heart disease and stroke along the way.

Start! Heart Walk participants are invited to visit the Heart Disease Prevention Education Pavilion, sponsored by Pfizer, for a special cardiovascular risk factor presentation and Q&A session starting at 8:30 a.m. Drs. Joseph Aragon and Jeffrey Kupperman will share important information on risk factors for heart disease and simple steps to take to avoid the disease. The session will include information on nutrition, diet and smoking cessation.

The Start! Santa Barbara Heart Walk will feature corporate walk teams, friends and family teams, individual walkers, “lifestyle heroes” who’ve made positive changes to reduce heart disease and stroke risk factors, and survivors of cardiovascular diseases and stroke. Community members who would like to pay tribute to a lost loved one, honor survivors of heart disease and stroke, participate in fundraising, or celebrate individuals and companies who have made significant changes to lead a heart-healthy life are encouraged to participate in the event.

The 2010 Start! Santa Barbara Heart Walk survivor speaker is Carrie Robinson, who had a 100 percent blocked left-coronary artery and survived a double-bypass surgery in 2006 — at just age 31.

Robinson underwent seven months of testing from several doctors who couldn’t determine the cause of her chest pains, but she knew something wasn’t right. When she moved to Santa Barbara, a local pulmonologist finally discovered an abnormal heart rate during one of Robinson’s stress tests. She had major chest pains during the test, which was the key to the diagnosis of her heart problem. Three days later, she had open heart surgery. She is especially grateful for the doctors in Santa Barbara who were so dedicated to finding the cause of her chest pains.

“I could tell there was something wrong,” Robinson said. “I am so thankful to the American Heart Association for their continued efforts to fund the type of research that led to the discovery of my heart condition, as well as the educational programs that keep doctors abreast of recent medical breakthroughs.”

Money raised at the Start! Santa Barbara Heart Walk is used to fund lifesaving research and educational programs aimed at reducing death and disability caused by heart disease and stroke. The American Heart Association is the second-largest funding source of heart- and stroke-focused research in the world. Only the U.S. government funds more research in these areas.

Research funded by the American Heart Association has yielded or contributed to many important innovations, such as CPR, pacemakers, bypass surgery, the heart-lung machine, surgical techniques to repair heart defects, and life-extending drugs such as clot-busters. These and other advances are making it possible for many people to call themselves “survivors.”

Heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death in Santa Barbara County, and stroke is No. 2. Each day, nearly 2,400 Americans die from a cardiovascular disease. That’s an average of one death every 37 seconds. A leading risk factor for heart attack and stroke is lack of physical activity. Research also has found that individuals may gain two hours of life expectancy for every one hour of regular, vigorous exercise.

This year’s Start! Santa Barbara Heart Walk offers a number of options, including a health festival, live music, risk-factor screenings, heart-health information, survivor speaker, Superstar VIP area, prize drawings and giveaways, a light breakfast, Subway sandwich lunch, Kids’ Zone, a bounce house, team photos, warm-ups and a Start! Heart Walk T-shirt contest.

After the walk, this year’s Lifestyle Change Award, presented by Jiffy Lube, will be given to a community member who has been nominated by others for making significant efforts to live a healthier lifestyle.

The Start! Santa Barbara Heart Walk is sponsored nationally by Subway. Local sponsors include Pfizer, Jiffy Lube, the Allergan Foundation, Citrix Online, Rabobank, Wells Fargo, CenCal Health, Cottage Health System, Lazy Acres Market, Montecito Bank & Trust, Senior Helpers, Venoco Inc., Bank of America, the Bank of Santa Barbara and Dole. Noozhawk is among the media sponsors.

KRUZ 97.5 FM’s Matt Stone is returning to the Start! Santa Barbara Heart Walk as emcee. The goal of the Start! Santa Barbara Heart Walk is to raise $180,000 to fight heart disease and stroke.

Registration will begin at 9 a.m., followed by opening ceremonies at 9:40 a.m. The 5K walk is scheduled to start at 10 a.m. The event is family and pet-friendly, and last-minute walkers also are welcome.

For more information, click here or call Lisa Thomas, business development director for the American Heart Association, at 805.963.8862.

— Eric Thompson is the senior director of communications and marketing for the American Heart Association.

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