Heart walks promote community awareness

One stroke survivor is especially glad to be taking part with family and friends.

By: Hannah Nieman .

people take part in the 2017 Fargo Heart Walk
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Each year, Sanford Health takes part in the American Heart Association Heart Walks.

The goal of these heart walks is to collect money to support the AHA’s mission of defeating heart disease in America, while also creating awareness of heart attacks and strokes throughout the community.

This year, the first of four Sanford Health Heart Walks will take place in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, on Thursday, May 31. The others will be Aug. 11 in Bismarck, North Dakota, in August in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and Fargo, North Dakota, in September.

Stroke Survivor’s First Heart Walk

Darren Thorsteinson, a 36-year-old stroke survivor, looks forward to participating in his first Heart Walk in Detroit Lakes. Thorsteinson suffered a stroke caused by a mass on his aortic valve last August.

“These walks are important to raise money and get the word out,” Thorsteinson said. “I have a whole bunch of people walking with me — friends, family, my wife’s parents, old hockey friends. I’m excited.”

Creating Awareness

Nicole Cox, M.D., an internal medicine doctor in Detroit Lakes, said it’s important for the community to be involved in heart attack and stroke awareness, as the two are prevalent and primary health issues.

“For both heart attacks and strokes, timing is so important. Seeking medical attention early is a huge indicator of how those outcomes will turn out,” Cox said. “We want people to be aware of those heart attack and stroke symptoms, not only for themselves but also to be able to recognize them in other people.”

Cox said one goal is to increase community participation each year. This year, her husband, a teacher in Detroit Lakes, created a team with the school district.

“That’s great because those teachers tend to be younger individuals, so getting them aware is important too because this isn’t just an elderly issue — it’s seen in people of all ages,” Cox said. “We want to get people to think about it on a regular basis and start focusing on those healthy lifestyles and their diet and exercise.”

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