Taking a walk to beat heart disease | Health

BLOOMINGTON — Jerry Hillhouse walked for the next generation.

“My dad wanted every generation to benefit from advances in medicine, treatments and therapies,” said his daughter, Tammy Pistole of Bloomington.

“Research is so important in helping those with heart disease to live longer,” said his wife, Mary Hillhouse. “Research has led to better medications and surgical procedures. That was very important to him.”

Hillhouse also was a charter member of Mended Hearts Chapter 250 and for years was a volunteer Mended Hearts’ visitor, meeting with people about to have open-heart surgery, answering their questions and reassuring them as a heart disease survivor who experienced open-heart surgery.

Hillhouse died of a heart attack on July 8 at age 83 — 38 years after his first heart attack and open-heart surgery, also known as coronary artery bypass grafting.

While his death was sudden and unexpected, his family is doing on Sunday what Hillhouse would have been doing if not for his untimely death — participating in Heart Walk.

“It meant so much to Jerry so we wanted to honor him this year,” said Mary Hillhouse, 79.

“He would be proud that we are continuing to fight that fight,” Pistole said.

“Jerry was an integral part of the walk for many years,” said Carrie Skogsberg, communications director for the American Heart Association Midwest Affiliate. “He was a (heart disease) survivor for 38 years who was out there and involved for so many years.”

Skogsberg hopes people come to Heart Walk, which begins 2 p.m. Sunday at Illinois State University’s Hancock Stadium, to walk in memory of Hillhouse and others who have died of heart disease and to honor survivors.

“Heart disease affects many of us,” Skogsberg said. “It is the leading cause of death in McLean County and in the nation. The more people spreading awareness, the better.”

Jerry…

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