‘Do your victory dance!’

Walk raises heart disease awareness

By Kevin Spradlin

ROCKINGHAM — It was less than a quarter-mile long, but the effort, Nancy Porter said, was more than worth it.

From the Richmond County Health Department across Caroline Street and up the modest hill on East Washington Street that passes Rockingham Hardware and two banks and, finally, to Harrington Square. A even dozen health department employees completed the walk, most wearing cherry red — the color associated with American Heart Month.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

While February is aimed at a nationwide awareness of heart disease, Friday was different. The lone day takes special aim at heart disease in women. According to the American Heart Association, only 1 in 5 women believe heart disease is a woman’s greatest health threat. But heart disease is causes 1 in 3 women’s deaths each year, killing approximately one woman every minute. An estimated 43 million women in the U.S. are affected by heart disease and 90 percent have one or more risk factors for developing heart disease.

Upon arriving at Harrington Square and the end of the walk, the walkers turned toward Porter and asked, “now what?”

The answer was evident.

“Do your victory dance,” then walk back, Porter said.

You see, said Porter, who started her new career as health educator after 30 years as a teacher, exercise is the easiest thing an able-bodied person can do to improve their health. And walking is the easiest, most affordable and most convenient form of exercise.

There are plenty of opportunities in Richmond County for individual or group exercise. Along with local gyms, there’s the Creek Runners Club to paddle local waterways, the Mangum Track Club to pound the pavement and trails on two feet in a variety of running and walking events, and the Richmond County First-In-Health 2020 Task Force’s RichmondFit initiative, among others.

Heart disease is a primary health issue in Richmond County. Tommy Jarrell, health director, recently released the 2014 State of the County Health Report which noted heart disease remains the No. 1 cause of death in Richmond County — more than cancer, and more than chronic lower respiratory disease, cerebrovascular disease, alzheimer’s and motor vehicle injures combined.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

There is good news. The 2013 mortality rate from heart disease in Richmond County declined by 2.3 percent from 2012. A 1.5 percent decline was noted from 2012 to 2011. Porter said diet and exercise are essential to keeping the trend going in a positive direction — that is, a downward spiral.

Porter talked about decreasing sodium intake. Even canned goods have plenty of salt, so there’s no need to add more, she said.

She discussed that as more people are working, families are more likely now than ever before to eat out. The health of the meal, and the size of the portion, are frequently questionable, Porter said.

If a family is in doubt, Porter encouraged anyone with diet questions to talk with their family physician.

The health department has brochures and recipe books available through next week for the public.


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