Heart Awareness Month 2020

Heart Awareness Month, which falls in September each year, is “dedicated to raising awareness about heart disease and its risk factors in South Africa, and the importance of living a healthy lifestyle to prevent disease onset.” And with heart disease being one of the comorbidities that increases the risk of a serious response to Covid-19, this initiative is more relevant than ever.

Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are the number one cause of death around the world, with the risk factors including high blood pressure and high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, smoking, unhealthy diet and lack of exercise.

In South Africa, heart disease and stroke are the biggest killers after HIV/AIDS and these statistics, from the World Heart Federation shed light on some of the CVD-related risks factors affecting the nation:

• 1 in 3 South African adults (33.7%) have hypertension which can increase risk of heart attack, heart failure, kidney disease or stroke.
• 18% of the population smoke tobacco.
• 31.3% adults in South Africa are obese.

Each year, Heart Awareness Month culminates in World Heart Day on the 29th of September. This year, the World Heart Federation is calling global citizens to “Use heart to beat cardiovascular disease,” a campaign that is a call to action to use:

Your head to understand what it takes to live a heart healthy life and to act on that knowledge, changing your behaviour for a better quality of life now and in the future.
Your influence as an individual to set an example for your loved ones.
Your compassion to look beyond the self and act in ways that support the most vulnerable in society; those with underlying heart-related conditions that may put them at greater risk in the time of COVID-19.

(Source: world-heart-federation.org)

Here are some of the ways you can take charge of your heart health…

• Know your numbers
It’s important to check your blood pressure, cholesterol and sugar levels regularly as they can negatively affect your cardiac health if they become too high.

• Keep moving
Getting at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise five times a week is crucial – as is trying to avoid sitting for extended periods of time. And here’s why: “The heart of someone who exercises regularly will beat 45–50 times per minute. The heart of someone who does not exercise regularly will beat 70–75 times per minute. This means 36 000 extra beats per day and 13 million extra beats every year for unhealthy hearts.” (heartfoundation.co.za)

• Watch your diet
The Heart Stroke Foundation of South Africa (HSFSA) recommends a diet based on grains, vegetables and fruit, with moderate amounts of lean meat and low-fat dairy products. It also advises cutting down on unhealthy saturated and trans fats and salt, limiting sugar and limiting alcohol to “no more than 1 drink per day for women and 2 per day for men.”

Its ‘healthy plate’ model is a blueprint for good nutrition and looks like this:

• Half of your plate consists of non-starchy vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, tomatoes, cucumber, carrots etc.
• One quarter of your plate consists of high fibre starches such as brown rice, whole wheat pasta, sweet potato, butternut.
• The other quarter of your plate consists of lean protein such as grilled skinless chicken, fish, lean mince, ostrich meat, soya.

(Source: http://www.heartfoundation.co.za)

• Quit smoking and vaping
Smoking is “the second leading cause of cardiovascular disease and cerebrovascular disease, after high blood pressure,” but what about vaping? While the HSFSA acknowledges that “the truth about vaping is still very much up in the air, as the studies haven’t been able to run for long enough to be conclusive,” it adds that “there are many things which have demonstrated that vaping is far from benign.”

• Get the right amount of sleep
Getting sufficient good quality sleep is critical to your overall health and wellbeing. And research shows that’s it’s just as important to your cardiac health. According to WebMD, “In one study, young and middle-age adults who slept 7 hours a night had less calcium in their arteries (an early sign of heart disease) than those who slept 5 hours or less or those who slept 9 hours or more.”

Have you considered Serious Illness Cover?

Serious Illness Cover from Standard Bank’s direct life insurance services is a long-term insurance product designed to protect you financially by paying out a cash lump sum in the event that you suffer a stroke, have a heart attack, are diagnosed with cancer, or require open heart surgery. If you’d like to find out more, get a quote today or ask a customer service agent to call you back.

Frank Financial Services is a juristic representative of the Standard Bank of South Africa an authorised financial services provider (FSP11287). Products are underwritten by Liberty Group Limited.

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

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