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Take a Walk to Reduce the Risk of Heart Disease, Stroke

Wednesday is National Walking Day, and organizers in Pittsburgh are hoping to get people in the good habit of taking a daily constitutional as warmer spring weather begins in the region.

Sandy McCurdy, board member of the American Heart Association, said walking is the easiest way to reduce one's risk for heart disease and stroke — two diseases that account for a combined 870,000 deaths in the United States each year.

"Only about 20 percent of heart disease is related to some hereditary issue," McCurdy said. "Most of it is related to the physical risk factors that we all have an opportunity to control."

Those physical risk factors for heart disease include obesity, smoking, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and physical inactivity.

McCurdy said her organization is encouraging Pittsburghers to take a walk during lunchtime on Wednesday. The American Heart Association is hosting an event at the PPG WinterGarden downtown from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., featuring free health screenings, group exercises, a two-mile walk and some prize giveaways.

The group will also host its annual Heart Walk at Heinz Field this fall. For more information, visit the American Heart Association's website.