Heart Disease: American’s Number One Killer
Sunday, September 8, 2013

Left: Cameron “Big Perm” Doyle and Aniyah Lake.  Big Perm and Aniyah visiting her school before he passed away. By Deborah Walker

 
Claiming more than 500,000 lives a year heart disease reigns as the leading cause of death in the United States, yet most people are unaware that this threat exists. Heart disease affects all Americans and is the number one cause of death for Whites, African American, and Hispanics alike. Heart disease strikes with little or no warning and most people diagnosed with heart disease showed no signs until it was too late.
 
“Heart disease is the number one killer in Americans,” said Stacy Sawyer, Senior Director of Communications for the American Heart Association. “We’re all affected by heart disease, one out of every 3 people die because of cardiovascular diseases, so there’s no one that not affected by it.”
 
Heart disease is preventable and can be treated, yet early detection and prevention is key. Diet and exercise are instrumental to preventing and treating heart disease. The American Heart Association encourages people to get out and stay active. One way to do this is to attend the annual Heart Walk on Saturday, September 28, 2013 hosted by the American Heart Association. This one day event focuses on community involvement, awareness, as well as physical activity.
 
“This is a disease that you can prevent if your proactive about it so that’s why we’ve incorporate the walking into the event,” said Sawyer.
 
The Heart Walk brings the local community together not only to raise money for the treatment and prevention of heart disease and stroke but to also share stories of hope and inspiration for those affected by the disease.
 
One of these stories is from Chastity Sayre, a young woman who lost the love of her life  in 2012 due to a brain aneurysm. Cameron "Big Perm" Doyle was a local artist who was only 34-years-old when he passed from a stroke of the brain leaving behind his mate and her young child.
 
Sayre says that she never would have thought that something like this could happen to Big Perm because of his age. Sayre says that he was young, normal and other than his high blood pressure that had been left untreated, was completely healthy. It was this confidence that led them to ignore the warning signs.
 
“As humans it’s just rush, rush, rush,” said Sayre. “If you’re not feeling right and you know that this is not normal you need to bring attention to it and actually try to fix the problem, because in the end you might think that oh this is just a little headache, and that’s what he thought, oh it’s just a headache I’ll be fine and then the next day to wake up and you’re dead.”
 
This is common behavior for many people when dealing with heart disease and stroke. Unlike other fatal illnesses heart disease and stroke occur suddenly and without warning. There are however, symptoms that should never be ignored, difficulty breathing; new chest pain that is severe unexpected and occurs with shortness of breath; fast heart rate (more than 150 beats per minute); sudden weakness or inability to move in the arms or legs; fainting spells with loss of consciousness. Those experiencing any of those symptoms should immediately call 9-1-1.
 
There are steps that can be taken against heart disease and stroke. Sawyer says that the first thing to do when diagnosed with heart disease is to talk to your doctor and come up with a plan. Do research on heart disease. Information can be found on heart disease and stroke at Heart.org. Those who take action have a greater chance of surviving the disease. For those who need additional help there are support groups available contact the American Heart Association for more information.  
 
Sayre says that taking action and raising awareness is the best way to fight back. After the death of Big Perm she got involved with the American Heart Association and raised over $600 for the Heart Walk in 2012. She plans to attend the Heart Walk this year helping raise money and awareness for a good cause.
 
The Heart Walk will take place at the Delta Dental campus in Okemos at 4100 Okemos Rd. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. and is open to everyone. Pets are welcome on a leash. There will be a health screening, a kids zone, music, as well as mascots from Delta Dental, the Detroit Lions and United Dairy Industry of Michigan.
 
Donations are being accepted at the American Heart Association and the Heart Walk.
 
This was printed in the September 8, 2013 - September 21, 2013 Edition
 

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