The second annual Love Your Heart event is taking place in New Bedford this Sunday, February 12, and it's a chance for people from across the SouthCoast to come together and learn more about heart health.

Cardiologist Dr. Michael Rocha was a guest of WBSM's Phil Paleologos this week, and Dr. Rocha called high blood pressure a "silent killer."

"Approximately one in three adults has high blood pressure, which is approximately 85 million people across the country," Dr. Rocha said. "About 50 percent that have it have it controlled, and about 20 percent don't even know that they have high blood pressure."

February is Heart Month for the medical community, and Mayor Jon Mitchell officially proclaimed Sunday as "Love Your Heart Day" in New Bedford. The Love Your Heart event, put on by the New Bedford Wellness Initiative, will take place at 15 different sites across the city, with programs running from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.

"It's not just blood pressure checks," Dr. Rocha said. "It's going to be providing people with information about how to get healthy, where to get healthy and if they do have high blood pressure, how to get help."

Rocha said people can maintain a healthy heart by doing a lot of different things, such as diet, exercise, not smoking, knowing your cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar numbers, visiting a doctor regularly and making sure they are taking the right medications. He especially warns of the dangers of too much stress.

"It's not all just about medications," he said. "A lot of the ways we can reduce our risk for heart disease is through lifestyle."

Rocha said the next step is educating children on the dangers of heart disease.

"Getting into school systems, and making sure that health and well-being, (meaning) behavorial, mental and physical well-being, they all go hand-in-hand," he said. "When we have balanced kids, they're going to be able to make better decisions. They're going to be healthier, they're going to be happier."

Rocha has already had discussions with School Department Superintendent Dr. Pia Durkin, Deputy School Chief Jason DeFalco, and New Bedford High Athletic Director Tom Tarpey about putting programs into the schools.

To find out more about Love Your Heart Day, the events planned and where to find them, visit

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