6,000 join in Louisville Heart Walk to recognize silent killer

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by Johnny Archer

WHAS11.com

Posted on September 23, 2012 at 12:04 PM

Updated Sunday, Sep 23 at 12:21 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- There is a silent killer that affects millions of Americans directly or indirectly.  Heart disease is the nation's number killer and health officials say a simple change in lifestyle can change that statistic.

There was a battle in downtown Louisville Saturday. More than 6,000 people from Southern Indiana and Kentucky came to fight America’s number one killer.

“My cousin had cardiomyopathy,” Preston Smith. “He died at the age of 26.”

Heart disease affects the lives of millions of people every day, like David Dunn. He's the executive vice president for health affairs for the University of Louisville. He’s also a heart disease survivor.

“I’m not overweight, I exercise like crazy but it’s probably my genes,” said Dunn.

At one point Dunn had high blood pressure, high cholesterol and previous jobs that were very stressful.

“You put all those things together and all of a sudden I wasn't feeling well in the spring,” said Dunn. “The next thing I knew, I was having heart bypass surgery.”

But this number one killer is largely preventable with a change in lifestyle, as Christopher Jones has done. He's already lost 100 pounds.

“It’s been a journey,” said Jones. “It hasn't always been easy but I have the support of the community, my wife, my church. It’s been an awesome experience.”

Saturday’s Heart Walk across the Second Street Bridge raised more than $800,000 for cardiovascular research, prevention and education.  According to organizers, most of the money will stay in the Kentuckiana area.

The walk was led by WHAS11's Claudia Coffee's son, Jack, and his friend Olivia. Both have conditions in their small hearts, but both are on a big mission to combat a silent killer.

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