lansing - The American Heart Association and Michigan legislators want residents to know their risk of heart disease - and take steps to lower it.
On Thursday, state representatives and senators rolled up their sleeves for the Legislative Blood Pressure Challenge, sponsored by the American Heart Association and Subway, statewide sponsor of the 2001 American Heart Walk.
The American Heart Walk is a noncompetitive walking event that is supported by companies that form teams of employees, family members and friends. Participants raise money to fight heart disease, then walk about five miles. The Lansing American Heart Walk will take place Sept. 29 on MSUs campus.
The state House and Senate took the challenge to see which legislative body had the lowest blood pressure average. The Senate won by a small margin.
The results of the Blood Pressure Challenge were announced by Jared Fogle and Art Bones Baacke. Fogle is the Subway spokesman who invented the Subway Diet - eating two Subway sandwiches per day, combined with daily exercise - that resulted in his losing 245 pounds. Baacke was inspired by Fogles story and accomplished a similar goal.
My health is very important to me, Fogle said. When I weighed 425 pounds I had high blood pressure, then I began to watch my diet and walk regularly and now I feel great.
Blood pressure screening was conducted by several clinical nurses from Lansings Sparrow Hospital. They also offered advice and provided reading material about high blood pressure and other heart diseases.
Nurse Mary Lou Mitchell said being overweight, exercising little and having a poor diet are some of the ways people get heart diseases, which include stroke, high blood pressure and heart attack.
Cardiovascular diseases are the most frequent killers in the United States, said Sandra Fleming, a stroke clinical nurse. She also said high blood pressure is the silent killer because it usually has no symptoms.
People need to take the active approach (to maintain low blood pressure), Fleming said.
Subway and the American Heart Association encouraged Michigan residents to lower their risk for heart disease by maintaining a low-fat diet and exercising regularly.
A diet that includes foods low in saturated fat, trans-fat and cholesterol, combined with regular physical activity, can help reduce the risk of a heart attack, said Cynthia Hawken, spokeswoman for the American Heart Association.
Experts say younger people should be aware of heart attack risks. Mitchell said young people who smoke, have poor diets or who lack a daily exercise routine increase their chance of a heart attack.
I am a vegetarian, and I try to walk as much as I can, said anthropology senior Amberlee Bardon, who said shes aware of the risks for younger people.