Start! Heart Walk: Cardiac experts ready to help renew heart health

September 23, 2008

Nearly 200 physicians, nurses and other caregivers from the University of Chicago Medical Center will participate in the American Heart Association's Start! Heart Walk on Friday, Sept. 26, in Grant Park from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. The AHA's campaign calls on all Americans and employers to rededicate themselves to healthier lifestyles to improve their heart health.

This year's event offers a complete cardiac health experience in three "villages" participants can visit. These villages offer opportunities for people to make a fresh start by committing to exercise and good nutrition, and consulting heart experts. Supporters can also inspire others by participating in 1- or 3-mile walks to raise funds and renew their commitment to fitness.

The Grant Park event is one of AHA's four walks in the Chicago area that will bring together 20,000 participants and 190 companies. This year's goal is to raise $3.3 million for wellness and prevention programs, as well as valuable cardiac research to combat heart disease.

"AHA's Heart Walk has motivated and energized our staff because it is another way that we can help patients," said Stephen Archer, MD, an internationally known cardiologist and physician-scientist who is chief of the Medical Center's cardiology section. "We have a strong partnership with AHA and share the goal that by 2010, we will reduce the number of deaths from heart attack and stroke by 25 percent."

To some, this goal may sound unrealistic. However, Archer noted that it is absolutely attainable if we continue to focus on cardiac research and translate those discoveries into new ways to cure heart and stroke diseases. He added that when people make a personal commitment to be good to their heart, that promise goes a long way to improving their health.

"My advice to Chicagoans is to take control of your heart health: make sure your blood pressure and cholesterol are normal, exercise 30 minutes a day at least four times a week, and don't smoke!" Archer said.

The Medical Center is a key recipient of funds raised through the AHA. Last year, the AHA granted the Medical Center $1.6 million that was used to study the link between stress and heart disease, in addition to research on gender differences in blood pressure and insulin levels and their effects on heart muscle. Funds were also used to make CPR and heart resuscitation more efficient in order to increase survival rates from cardiac arrests.

Archer, along with Valluvan Jeevanandam, MD, chief of cardiothoracic surgery at the Medical Center, also co-chaired the AHA's sold-out 2008 Chicago Heart Ball, which raised $1.3 million for heart research and heart health education in Illinois.

AHA is America's largest source of funds for heart research. Archer noted that AHA's contribution is even more vital now because funding from many other sources has decreased.

Supporters can register to join the University of Chicago team at www.heartwalk.kintera.org/metrochicago/uofc. Donations to the Heart Walk can be made at www.heartwalk.kintera.org/metrochicago.

About the University of Chicago Medical Center
The University of Chicago Medical Center, established in 1927, is one of the nation's leading academic medical institutions. It consists of the renowned Pritzker School of Medicine; Bernard Mitchell Hospital, the primary adult patient care facility; Comer Children's Hospital, devoted to the medical needs of children; Chicago Lying-in Hospital, a maternity and women's hospital; and the Duchossois Center for Advanced Medicine, a state-of-the-art ambulatory-care facility with the full spectrum of preventive, diagnostic, and treatment functions. Care is provided by more than 700 attending physicians--most of whom are full-time University faculty members--620 residents and fellows, more than 1,000 nurses and 9,500 employees.

The Medical Center is consistently recognized as a leading provider of complex medical care. It is the only Illinois hospital ever to make the U.S.News & World Report Honor Roll, with eight clinical specialties--digestive disorders; cancer; endocrinology; neurology and neurosurgery; heart and heart surgery; kidney disease; geriatrics; and ear, nose and throat--ranked among the top 30 programs nationwide. The Heart and Heart Surgery program is ranked among the top 20 in the country. The Medical Center was awarded Magnet status in 2007, the highest level of recognition for nursing care.

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John Easton
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john.easton@uchospitals.edu