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South Dakotans Raising Money to Help with Heart Health

Thousands of South Dakotans will be walking to raise money for cardiovascular research and education programs aimed at reducing people's risk of heart attacks and strokes. (American Heart Association)
Thousands of South Dakotans will be walking to raise money for cardiovascular research and education programs aimed at reducing people's risk of heart attacks and strokes. (American Heart Association)
August 19, 2016

PIERRE, S.D. - Thousands of South Dakotans will be focusing on heart health this weekend. The annual Sioux Falls Heart Walk starts Saturday, and the idea is to raise money to help fight heart disease and stroke - two of the leading causes of death worldwide, according to the American Heart Association.

People from across the eastern part of the state will join in either a one- or three-mile walk to exercise and raise awareness. Paige Baskerville, public relations coordinator for Avera Health, is participating in the walk because she was born with a congenital heart defect and credits two open-heart surgeries with saving her life.

"Certainly one of the reasons why I am so open to share my story," she said, "because if people are more aware of heart disease, and understand what the risks factors are, they're more inclined to maybe change some of their lifestyle habits or even go into their primary-care physician."

So far, the people have raised at least $94,000 for this weekend's heart walk. The money raised from the event will go toward life-saving cardiovascular research and community education about risk factors and prevention methods.

About 2,000 people are expected to participate in the walk at Falls Park. For anyone who is concerned about their heart health, Baskerville said, the walk can be an easy place to start making changes.

"Getting out there and walking definitely will reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke," she said. "So, this is a great place to start. If you do have kind of a sedentary lifestyle, you can come to the walk and start out here and then maybe just increase the amount of time you walk each day."

According to the latest numbers from the American Heart Association, more than 1,600 people in South Dakota died of heart disease in 2013.

Two additional heart walks will take place in mid- to late September in Rapid City and Pierre. More information is online at heartwalk.kintera.org.

Brandon Campbell, Public News Service - SD