Heart Walk Unites Iowans Affected by Cardiovascular Issues

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  The goal for the American Heart Association of Iowa on Saturday: get people moving.

Hundreds of participants walked a mile downtown and were then treated to heart-healthy foods and exercises at the Meredith Plaza as of part of the organization's Heart Walk. Officials say stroke and heart disease are the number one killers in Iowa.

Many people at the walk say it unites them with others affected by heart-related issues.

"We love talking to people who have gone through this, but it's tough at the same time. It's like a family out here. We're like a tribe," says McKenzie Petermeier of Nevada.

Petermeier's mother died in October after suffering a massive heart attack. Family members say her death was a shock, as she was a healthy nurse at Blank Children's Hospital. It was later determined that Jill Petermeier had a genetic heart issue. After the passing of her mother, Petermeier and her siblings got tested, too.

"We have a new perspective on life, we are more cautious," she says.

Saturday's event raised close to $450,000, which will go towards research and prevention education.