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CycleNation looks to put a dent in two top WNY killers: heart disease and stroke

A pair of leading cardiac and stroke specialists will help put dozens of Western New Yorkers through the biking paces later this month when the region hosts its first CycleNation fundraiser.

The effort, along with a spring wellness summit, replaces the annual Heart Ball and Heart Walk as community focused events. It looks to raise $200,000 for the American Heart and Stroke associations that will be used to raise awareness about the symptoms of heart attack and stroke, and help fuel programs aimed at prevention.

“The more aware we can make the public about these diseases before someone is stricken with a stroke or heart attack, the better,” said Dr. Chee Kim, a cardiologist and director of electrophysiology innovation and clinical integration at Kaleida Health.

In Erie County, the top five causes of death in 2015, the most recent year for which data is available, were heart disease, cancer, chronic lower respiratory disease, stroke and unintentional injury, respectively. Death from stroke is a more common cause of death in the county than statewide and nationally.

Cycling helps maintain strong brain function, processing speed and mental sharpness, according to both associations, which recommend at least 150 minutes per week of moderately intense exercise.

Kim and Dr. Elad Levy, co-director of the Kaleida Health Stroke Center, chair the ride, which runs from 4 to 8 p.m. Sept. 22 in the ADPRO Sports Training Center, 1 Bills Drive, Orchard Park.

CycleNation teams need to pledge to raise at least $1,000. Team members are encouraged to raise pledges of their own, each riding legs of a high-energy stationary cycling session led by instructors from Revolution Buffalo and Rebel Ride Indoor Cycling and Strength before handing off to another team member. Each team can have up to eight riders.

Prospective companies and teams who look to participate can visit cyclenation.org/buffalo.

“Some corporations have stepped up and donated up to $10,000,” said Kim, who specializes in treating patients with irregular heart rhythms.

Q: Are either you or Dr. Levy avid bikers?

Dr. Chee Kim, a cardiologist and director of electrophysiology innovation and clinical integration at Kaleida Health, recommends seeing a primary care provider to help prevent heart disease and stroke. (Kalieda Health/Special to the News)

Dr. Levy is, for sure. I do it recreationally.

Q: What should more people in the region know about stroke and cardiovascular disease?

There may not be many warning signs before someone has a seminal event, so it's very important to understand the risk factors for developing coronary disease or cerebral vascular disease.

If you have high blood pressure, make sure that you're adequately treated. Same thing with diabetes. Obesity is such a big epidemic now, especially childhood obesity.

Q: What are the top three things people should do to prevent stroke and heart disease?

Making sure they have healthy eating habits and an ideal body weight. Number two would be to exercise on a regular basis, three to four times a week. The third thing is to make sure people see their primary care physician on a routine basis, so if they have asymptomatic hypertension – it generally is – or any other potential risk factors, the doctor can detect and treat them.

Symptoms of a heart attack and stroke *

Heart attack: Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, goes away and returns. Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, as well as the back, neck, jaw or stomach. Shortness of breath, with or without chest discomfort, a cold sweat, nausea and lightheadedness also can be present.

Stroke: Drooping or numbness on one side of the face. Weakness or numbness in one arm, which can't stay raised. Slurred speech.

If the person shows any of these symptoms, even if they go away, call 911 and get them to a hospital.

* Source: American Heart Association

Drs. Robert Spetzler and Elad Levy are among those participating in CycleNation Buffalo. (Kaleida Health/Special to the News)

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