We have a silent killer stalking the streets, homes and workplaces of West Chicago, DuPage County, the state of Illinois and the entire country. And it's up to each one of us to stop it.
Heart disease kills more of our nation's residents than any other cause of death. In fact, heart disease, stroke and cardiovascular disease kill more people than all types of cancer combined.
That's why we've joined together to launch Move with the Mayor in West Chicago. It's a monthlong series of walks to save lives by getting people on the road to a healthier heart.
Each Saturday in September, we will designate a different neighborhood route that will get us moving for 30 minutes.
Why take the time to join us? Research shows that walking just 30 minutes a day can significantly cut the risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke.
Here are some great reasons to walk: It's one of the easiest ways to lower your risk of heart disease. You don't need special equipment, workout clothes or a fitness club membership. You can start simply with a short walk -- anytime that works for you is a good time -- and you'll start feeling better.
There's good reason to get going: An average of 2,200 Americans die of cardiovascular disease each day, according to the American Heart Association. It's a silent epidemic that is wiping out our friends and loved ones, day by day, week by week, month by month.
What makes this even more tragic is that most of these deaths are preventable. Hundreds of thousands of people are dying unnecessarily.
Life after a stroke or heart attack can be extraordinarily tough. Recovery can take months, even years. Or it may never come at all.
If you don't want to do it for yourself, do it for your family. They want you around for all the great dinners, birthdays, graduations and weddings ahead.
Walking, of course, is just one component of keeping your heart sound. There's eating right, maintaining a healthy weight and limiting your alcohol use. And then there are your "ABCS," as outlined by the Center for Disease Control and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in the Million Hearts initiative:
• A is for aspirin: Take aspirin as recommended by your doctor. An aspirin a day can help reduce your chances of suffering a stroke or heart attack.
• B is for blood pressure. Get your blood pressure checked and find ways to lower it if necessary.
• C is for cholesterol. One kind of cholesterol is "good" and can protect you from heart disease; the other kind is "bad" and can put you in danger. Visit your doctor, get your cholesterol levels checked, and learn how to lower your bad cholesterol if it's too high.
• S is for smoking cessation. Smoking doesn't just destroy your lungs, it can wreak havoc on your heart. If you need help quitting, call (800) 784-8669 or visit smokefree.gov.
An average of one American dies every 40 seconds from cardiovascular diseases. That means at least one person died during the time it took you to read this.
Join us now in taking steps to a healthier life. Your heart will thank you, and so will your family.
Learn more about our walks at westchicago.org/city-events/move-with-the-mayor/.
• Ruben Pineda is Mayor of the City of West Chicago, and John Clymer is Executive Director of the National Forum for Heart Disease & Stroke Prevention.