GLEN ROSE – Cardiovascular disease (CVD) – which includes heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure – is the number one killer among men and women in the U.S. The disease claims more lives than all forms of cancer combined.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), one-in-four deaths - or approximately 610,000 people - die of heart disease every year. Statistics also show that in the U.S, someone has a heart attack every 43 seconds. The American Heart Association estimates that 70 percent of both men and women ages 60-79 suffers from CVD, with 66 percent of CVD deaths occurring in people 75 and older.

Key risk factors for the disease include high blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol and smoking. Being diabetic, overweight or obese, maintaining a poor diet, lack of physical activity, and excessive alcohol use are additional risk factors.

CVD has been affecting Americans for many years, and in 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson designated February as American Heart Month in hopes of drawing attention to the staggering number of Americans who were succumbing to heart disease. President Johnson wanted the nation to be aware of the medical, social and economic aspects of CVD. The tradition of heart health month has continued on with each new president signing a proclamation to bring awareness to the disease.

Since 1964 there have been advances in the medical research, technology and treatment of heart disease, along with an increase in awareness, education and emphasis on a healthy diet and physical activity as prevention of the disease.

Maintaining a healthy diet is the one key to healthy heart. Experts and doctors alike agree that a diet consisting of plenty of fruits and vegetables – a good source of vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber – and avoiding things like vegetables with creamy sauces, fried or breaded vegetables, canned fruit packed in heavy syrup and frozen fruit with sugar added is most beneficial.

Another food that positively impact heart health is whole grains, which are a great source of fiber. In a healthy diet, substitute whole grains for refined grain products.

Reducing the intake and amount of saturated and trans fats in a diet are vital to lowering cholesterol. High blood cholesterol levels can lead to atherosclerosis, which can increase your risk of heart attack and stroke. It is also essential to limit sodium, as that too can help to lower blood pressure.

Exercising is also a very vital component to preventing heart disease. Physical activity can help maintain a healthy weight, and also lower your blood pressure, cholesterol, and sugar levels.

Studies suggest that those who do not exercise regularly are twice as likely to develop heart disease than those that do. It is recommended by the surgeon general that adults get two hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, like brisk walking or bicycling, every week. Children and adolescents should get one hour of physical activity every day.

Studies such as these are exactly why Glen Rose Medical Center and Glen Rose Nursing and Rehab are proud to host the second annual Kickstart My Heart 1-mile-fun run, 5k and 10k timed walk and run to bring awareness of cardiovascular disease to the community.

Not only is the race about bringing awareness to heart health, GRMC Public Relations and Community Education Director, Lisa Andersen said that the event also benefits the Roger E. Marks Foundation.

According to Andersen, the Roger E. Marks foundation provides scholarships to two Glen Rose High School seniors interested in pursuing an education in the medical profession. Scholarships are also provided to GRMC employees looking to advance their careers. Furthermore, the foundation helps GRMC purchase necessary medical equipment for patient care.

The cost of the run/walk is $25 and includes the official Kickstart My Heart long sleeve t-shirt. Andersen advises participants to register online by Feb.10 to guarantee a t-shirt.

All fitness levels are encouraged to participate in the race. If you are running in the 5k or 10k, medals will be awarded to the first three finishers. First and second place awards will be given to the top male and female finishers in the timed races.

If you are interested in the race, register online at www.racedayeventservices.com, or pick up a packet at Glen Rose Medical Center between 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 12. Registration and packets will also be available the day of the race between 7:15 - 7:45 a.m.

The race will be held on Saturday, Feb. 13 at 8 a.m. Participants are to meet in the back parking lot of GRMC at 1021 Holden St.