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Healthy hearts get attention Sunday

In an effort to prevent the rapid growth of heart disease,people all around the globe will observe the first World Heart DaySunday.

The day comes after organizations, such as the American HeartAssociation, predicted an epidemic of heart disease will continueto sweep the world unless aggressive preventive actions aretaken.

“We need to step up prevention campaigns in countries wherecardiovascular diseases already exist and establish campaigns incountries where these diseases are emerging,” said Dr. Antoni Bayesde Luna, chairman of the World Heart Day Steering Committee.

Lincoln County residents have already established a preventioncampaign through the annual Heartwalk, which takes place November 4this year.

Through the fundraising campaign, area residents have raisedthousands of dollars to fund heart disease research over the lastfew years.

Most of the money has been used for research being conducted inthe state.

“Right now, in the state of Mississippi, we have 13 differentresearch projects that the American Heart Association funds,” saidBella Douglas, Heartwalk specialist.

During World Heart Day, health officials are urging people totake a few moments and give special thought to the effects of heartdisease around the world.

“They just need to take a minute to realize how importantefforts, like the Heartwalk, are,” said Douglas.

The central message of World Heart Day is that heart disease canbe controlled through physical activity.

“Physical activity, especially a 30-minute walk a day, is one ofthe best things someone can do to maintain a healthy heart,” saidRose Marie Robertson, president of the American HeartAssociation.

Other preventive steps include eating healthy foods, not usingtobacco products and maintaining a reasonable body weight.

AHA began hosting Heartwalks across the nation years ago as away to raise awareness about heart disease. Officials hope thefundraising efforts can in some way curb the effects of America’snumber one killer, heart disease, which claims 950,000 lives in theUnited States every year, an average of one death every 33seconds.

“It’s very unlikely that anybody will be sitting in a churchservice this Sunday or anywhere else and not be surrounded bypeople who have been affected by heart disease,” said Douglas.