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New Orleans Start! Heart Walk Raises over $360,000 on Saturday at Audubon Park. West Jefferson Medical Center Top Heart Company in history of Walk NO

Over 3,000 New Orleans area residents took giant steps for their heart health on November 15th at Audubon Park in the American Heart Association’s annual Start! Heart Walk.

The non-competitive, three-mile walk raised $360,000 to support heart disease and stroke research and educational programs in the New Orleans community. Teams were made up of employees from local companies, along with friends and family members of all ages.

“Everyone knows someone affected by cardiovascular diseases like heart disease or stroke. That’s why it’s so important for all of us to participate in the Start! movement and do our part to help save lives,” said Glen Golemi, CEO of United Healthcare-Gulf States Region and 2008 Start! Heart Walk Chairperson.

Recognized as the top local company that has raised the most funds in the history of the New Orleans Heart Walk, West Jefferson Medical Center raised over $50,000 for Start Heart Walk 2008. Our community hospital set a fundraising record for the New Orleans Walk. More than the funds raised, the hospital is congratulated on its raising community awareness about cardiovascular and heart disease as the Life Style Change sponsor. Tim Bracey, C.E.P. and Christina Mamolo coordinated the WJMC Team.

Individuals who made healthy changes to their habits were recognized at the event for being “Lifestyle Change Heroes”, sponsored by West Jefferson Medical Center. On December 4th, Lorraine Miller of Marrero received her lifestyle change award at West Jefferson Medical Center. CEO Nancy R. Cassagne presented the award.

In addition, walkers participated in various activities at three Start! Heart Walk communities: Create Hope, Inspire Change and Celebrate Success. Attendees enjoyed free Subway sandwiches and drinks, had blood pressure screenings by Tulane Medical Center, took “Got Milk!” milk mustache photos, and listened to live entertainment from the Burnside Flashers while at the Walk. Awards were given out to top fundraising individuals and companies.

Diseases of the heart are the country’s No. 1 cause of death; stroke is No. 3. These and other cardiovascular diseases kill more than 870,000 Americans each year and cost the nation more than $431 billion in direct and indirect costs. In the New Orleans area, over 32% of all deaths are a result of cardiovascular diseases.

The New Orleans Start! Heart Walk raised over $360,000 this year. The Heart Walk, which has raised almost $600 million nationally for research and education since it was launched in 1994, will take place in about 450 cities this year.

American Heart Association-funded research has contributed to many important discoveries such as CPR, life-extending drugs, pacemakers, bypass surgery, the heart-lung machine and surgical techniques to repair heart defects.

SUBWAY® restaurants, Healthy Choice® and AstraZeneca® are the national presenting sponsors of Start. Local presenting sponsors included United Healthcare and Peoples Health.

American Heart Association officials note Heart Walk and related wellness activities fit nicely with many individuals’ quest to achieve healthier lifestyles as part of their New Year’s Resolutions. Now’s the time to work on the year 2009. New Orleans area residents who want information on participating in next year’s Start! Heart Walk can call the American Heart Association at 504-830-2300.