BREWSTER, N.Y. - The Putnam Heart Walk is coming on Sunday, April 28 at Brewster High School and registration for the event is open online at www.PutnamHeartWalk.org. The Walk will raise awareness and funds to help fight heart disease and is part of the American Heart Association's (AMA) Healthy For Good movement designed to help Americans create lasting change in their health and life one small step at a time.

Dr. Patrick Thomas, Division of Cardiology chief at NYP Hudson Valley Hospital, has been involved with the American Heart Association as Putnam Board president, Heart Walk chair, and he currently sits on the eight-state AMA Founders Affiliate Board. He said he supports them because he recognizes their impact in the community, and for patients in his cardiology practice. Over the years, he has seen improvements in medical procedures, treatments and protocols and, as a result, survivability from heart disease.

“What you don’t know can hurt you, Thomas said. “Waiting till you have your first symptom [to see a doctor] is a bad idea because it can be your last symptom. For prevention purposes, especially if you have risk factors, getting checked out and having a screening test can be an important part of preventing that first heart attack or stroke."

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Thomas said high blood pressure is a big risk factor, but noted that the guidelines for blood pressure have changed.

“We have new guidelines that came out about a year and a half ago that suggest that the ideal blood pressure is lower than we used to think,” he said. “When you see your doctor, you might be surprised when he or she says your blood pressure needs some work.”

Jennifer Garcia of Peekskill was selected as one of three Inspirational honorees to be honored at the Heart Walk. Garcia was only 40 years old when she had chest pain while dancing at a party. That night and the next day, she had a severe headache and her blood pressure was very high. She took her mother’s advice to go to the emergency room. It was a lifesaving decision. The doctor there said the diagnosis wasn’t exhaustion or heartburn, as she had thought—it was a heart attack.

Doctors said that her uncontrolled high blood pressure and possibly her birth control medicine were to blame. The American Heart Association cites research shows that birth control pills can increase blood pressure in some women. She is on blood pressure medicine, blood thinners, and is incorporating healthier lifestyle changes like walking and eating a healthier diet.

“Over 80 percent of all cardiovascular disease can be prevented by eating a heart-healthy diet and getting regular aerobic exercise,” Thomas said. “Diet and exercise are so incredibly powerful. If people would just follow the recommendations, the vast majority of heart attacks and strokes could be eliminated."

Events like the Heart Walk fund the AHA’s critical research and awareness programs that help save lives.” from cardiovascular diseases like heart disease and stroke – the number one and five killers in the U.S.

Participants can join the Heart Walk as individuals or on a team of friends, co-workers or family. Organizations and companies are invited to join the Heart Walk by registering teams online at www.putnamheartwalk.org or by contacting Megan Lucas at 203-984-9128 or by email at megan.lucas@heart.org.

The Heart Walk is sponsored by Dr. Thomas and Mrs. Johanna D. Thomas, PCSB Bank, Putnam Hospital Center, and media sponsors Mahopac News, Hudson Valley Magazine, Examiner Media and WHUD radio.