RWJBarnabas Health will partner with the American Heart Association again this year to raise awareness and funds for lifesaving cardiovascular research.
Bill Arnold, MHA, president of the RWJBarnabas Health (RWJBH) Southern Region, will serve as chair for the American Heart Association Virtual Shoreline Heart Walk taking place this fall.
This year’s goal is to raise $175,000 for cardiovascular research to prevent strokes, correct heart defects in babies and find better ways to treat high blood pressure. The walk is being held virtually to ensure the health and safety of all participants.
With the pandemic keeping people at home, the American Heart Association is embracing a new approach to keep the Shoreline Heart Walk event by going virtual. Heart Walk teams will not meet in person physically, but participants will meet virtually to get moving at home or around their neighborhoods. The walk will take place 9 a.m. on Oct. 25.
Participants are encouraged to share selfies and comment along the way, using #LifeIsWhyNJ.
“We’re thrilled Bill Arnold is leading our 2020 campaign,” said Tara Novak, regional director, of Shoreline NJ at the American Heart Association. “With his involvement, we have the potential to reach new heights of success and community impact. We are grateful for the continued support of RWJBarnabas Health. Many of the system’s leaders serve on our boards and committees or chair events and campaigns. We know that together we can make a difference in fighting and preventing a disease that impacts so many.”
“We are proud to partner with the American Heart Association – an organization dedicated to improving heart health and reducing deaths from cardiovascular diseases and stroke,” said Arnold, who leads the RWJBH Southern Region encompassing Community Medical Center in Toms River, Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch, and Monmouth Medical Center in Lakewood, as well as an expansive network of primary and specialty care offices and outpatient centers in Monmouth and Ocean counties. “This year in particular, we as hospital organizations are so grateful for their help in raising awareness that when an emergency strikes, hospitals are still the safest place – even during a pandemic.”
He notes that while the RWJBH Southern Region hospitals have continued to care for patients experiencing emergencies such as heart attacks and strokes throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Emergency Department visits fell sharply during the height of the coronavirus crisis, in New Jersey and nationally as well.
“That has us worried, as we know that delaying care for many conditions can lead to disability and even death, and those risks are not necessary,” he said. “We want our community to know that they are not protecting their health by staying away, they’re jeopardizing it. And the American Heart Association is helping us spread that message with their ‘Don’t Die of Doubt’ public awareness campaign that stresses the ways that hospitals are keeping people safe and urges anyone experiencing symptoms of a heart attack or stroke to not delay seeking emergency care.”
The Heart Walk supports the mission of the American Heart Association and now, more than ever, is highlighting the benefits of staying physically active. Forty percent of those hospitalized due to COVID-19 are stroke survivors or individuals with heart disease,thus the American Heart Association is investing in new research and training frontline workers, while continuing the fight against heart disease and stroke.
And Arnold notes that the pandemic has introduced a new wrinkle: a striking increase in strokes among COVID-19 patients as young as their 30s and 40s, who had no stroke risk factors and no other COVID-19 symptoms.
“This new risk makes it all the more important for people to act when they have symptoms of a stroke,” he said. “I urge people to pay attention to the suddenness of the symptoms, which could include confusion and severe headache, and call 911 to be taken to the hospital right away.”
To register and to learn more about the Virtual Shoreline Heart Walk, visit www.shorelineheartwalk.org.
To reach a Monmouth or Ocean county cardiac specialist, call 888-724-7123 or visit www.rwjbh.org/heart.
To learn more about the signs and symptoms of cardiovascular disease, visit www.heart.org/.