Every 43 seconds someone in the United States suffers a heart attack, according to the American Heart Association (AHA).
The good news is heart attacks are 80 percent preventable. And one of the most powerful weapons against heart disease does not come from a medicine bottle. It's a dose of daily exercise.
"When you exercise, you decrease risk factors that contribute to plaque buildup in arteries, especially those that supply blood to the heart. A decrease in plaque buildup leads to a decrease in heart attacks," said Dr. Mark A. Lawton, cardiologist at Hilton Head Hospital.
"The heart is a muscle. You want to use it," said Lawton. "The more exercise you do for it, the more it keeps your overall body healthy."
The AHA will kick off the month-long campaign on National Walking Day, April 6, to encourage people to adopt a healthy lifestyle by increasing their physical activity routines.
Week one focuses on walking and the basic tools you need to get started. Because it's easy, free and low-risk, walking is the simplest form of exercise you can do and the gateway exercise to other, more vigorous activities.
Weeks two and three focus on recreational sports and outdoor family activities, and week four centers around stress reduction and mindful movement, such as yoga, Pilates and tai chi.
The AHA recommends adults participate in at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity each week.
This year, there's a fun way for all individuals to participate. Everyone who walks April 6 through April 30 can "donate" their minutes to the AHA by posting their minutes on social media using #PalmettoLaceUp.
All minutes posted will count toward the Palmetto goal of 10,000 physical activity minutes. For every 30 minutes individuals complete and share on social media, they'll be entered to win a prize. Updates, highlights and the winner will be posted all month at www.Facebook .com/HiltonHeadAHA. The program will jumpstart the AHA's preparations for the 2016 Palmetto Heart Walk April 30 at Shelter Cove Community Park.
The family-friendly event is sponsored by Hilton Head and Coastal Carolina hospitals. Jeremy Clark, CEO of Hilton Head Hospital, is chairing the event.
"Cardiovascular Disease in the number one killer of South Carolinians," said Carla Raines, development director for the local chapter of AHA. "We're grateful for all of the residents who participate in this exciting and inspiring event to promote physical activity and heart-healthy living."
For more information on the Palmetto Heart Walk visit palmettoheartwalk.org or contact Raines at Carla.Raines@heart .org or 843-540-6338.