Spartanburg (S.C.) Regional Healthcare System is partnering with the community on a series of educational and fun events to raise awareness about heart disease.

On Saturday, Feb. 21, health system staff and many volunteers will descend upon WestGate mall and offer community members free CPR training and cardiovascular risk screening. In addition, a disc jockey will play fun and upbeat music, and volunteers will encourage shoppers to dance and offer new and fun ways to exercise.

“It’s a fun event to encourage people to get up and move,” said Lori Boyd, coordinator of the health system’s Joe R. Utley Heart Resource Center, which educates patients and the community about heart disease and heart health.

In the past, the health system conducted screenings and training at the hospital and in its cardiac rehabilitation facility, but decided last year to bring the three events together in the hopes of reaching a new population.

“We did access a population that we hadn’t seen before,” said Boyd. “People came who had never had their cholesterol checked before, even young people, and that’s what we wanted to accomplish.”

Last year, 400 people participated in the Day of Dance; 350 people received CPR training; and 120 people received cardiovascular risk screening.

“It was a lot of fun, and everybody loved it,” said Boyd. “It was very successful for us to do it that way. We are doing that again this year, and I think it might be a new model for us.”

About 600,000 people die of heart disease in the U.S. every year, and it is responsible for about one in every four deaths, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). February is American Heart Month, and the CDC and other partners are engaged in a national effort to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes in the U.S. by 2017, in part, by encouraging Americans to know their blood pressure, and if it's high, to “make control their goal.”

In addition to Spartanburg Regional Healthcare’s Feb. 21 event, which has a theme of “Don’t Stop the Beat,” the health system will host a free heart-healthy luncheon for the community. At the luncheon, John Lucas, M.D., who specializes in sports medicine, will share how exercise can impact a person’s heart and overall health.

For more on the health system’s heart education efforts, visit http://tinyurl.com/klbmywb.