September Is Heart Awareness Month – Keep Your Heart Healthy

September is Heart Awareness Month

pic: Pixabay

IN South Africa one in every five deaths is caused by heart diseases and strokes, totalling nearly 82 000 lives lost annually. Despite advances in medical care, contributing factors such as high blood pressure, obesity, a poor diet, lack of exercise and pollution are all on the rise.

Tobacco use has decreased, but 37 percent of men and 7 percent of women in South Africa are still regular smokers, tripling their risk of heart disease. Heart disease in South Africa is further exacerbated by inequality.

While high blood pressure is common across socio-economic groups, awareness and appropriate treatment is much lower among people living in poverty. Making healthier choices to eat better, stop smoking or to get active are far less achievable to South Africans trapped in poverty.

To reduce the burden of heart disease, we need to encourage lifestyle changes in SA. This starts with encouraging South Africans to eat nutritious food, drink less alcohol, exercise more, manage day-to-day stress and giving up tobacco smoking. Early detection and diagnosis of cardiovascular disease (CVD) can further help to prevent the onset of heart disease.

The damage inside blood vessels that leads to most heart disease already starts in childhood. Healthy lifestyles in childhood therefore have a direct positive effect on heart health, but even more importantly, create a blueprint for lifestyle choices made in adulthood.

To start Heart Awareness Month (HAM), the Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa (HSFSA)is raising awareness among young South Africans of the importance of keeping their hearts healthy.

The Skip Smart for your Heart Schools Programme aims to inform primary school children about the importance of their heart and brain health and what they can do to take care of these vital organs by healthy eating, breathing fresh air, avoiding tobacco smoke and being physically active.

Many adults living with high blood pressure (hypertension) are unaware of their condition. The prevalence of hypertension is said to be around 45 percent among adults.

Similarly, many people who are pre-diabetic and have raised cholesterol are unaware, and as a result do not improve their lifestyles nor gain access to medication.


Story Credit: http://southcoastherald.co.za/228508/september-heart-awareness-month/