The Center for Disease Control reports that in 2016 over 600,000 Americans died due to the country’s leading cause of death: Heart Disease.
To advocate for prevention and honor those lost, a sea of red shirts flooded Illinois State University’s Quad on Sunday for the annual McLean County American Heart Association Heart Walk.
“This is about making sure that everybody understands that heart disease and stroke are the number on killers of people in the United States. One in three women is going to die from heart attack or stroke,” Chief Medical Officer at OSF St. Francis Paul Pedersen said.
For many, the CDC statistics hit close to home.
“[There is] no heart attack no stroke at all that I am aware of, so I always tell people: hard work makes us tired and irritable, stress will kill us,” heart attack survivor David Lauby said.
Even the most athletic among the crowd said they have faced clogged arteries and heart disease.
“When I got out of breath it wasn’t simply I got out of breath, it was that I was out of breath and my chest hurt there were signs that completely wore me out with the amount of physical activities i had been doing for years,” heart disease survivor Andrew Gifford said.
Driving home the point that maintaining heart health is a must for everyone.
“You can’t assume that just because I am fit, I am healthy, I am working out because you can’t always see what’s going on in your arteries and in your heart,” Lauby said.
Though survivors feel lucky to be able to advocate for healthy hearts.
“My daughter is here and she is 37 now but when she was 9, she had open heart surgery so she is the main survivor for us so we walk a lot with her. she is with her kids here today and it means a lot to me,” heart disease survivor Dennis Mennenga said.
For more information on the McLean County American Heart Association Heart Walk visit their website.