The month of February in America is recognised as national heart month. It is the month for raising awareness of heart disease. Some activities for promoting cardiovascular disease awareness include wearing red, encouraging people to organise events that promote cardiovascular health at home, work-place or in the communities and share their stories on social media platforms (NIH, 2019).
Cardiovascular diseases can be described as diseases affecting the heart and blood vessels. They include medical conditions like heart attack, hypertension, stroke, abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmia) and congenital heart problems. They are a leading cause of death worldwide. About 30% of deaths in the world are caused by cardiovascular disease and about 75% of these deaths are in low and middle income countries (WHO, 2017).
Certain behaviours and health conditions such as smoking, physical inactivity, overweight/obesity, eating unhealthy foods, high cholesterol, diabetes and hypertension can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. Health promotion and disease prevention when used effectively can help reduce this burden of untimely deaths associated with cardiovascular disease.
Here are some simple things lifestyle choices that can help your cardiovascular health.
- Exercise for at least 30 minutes a day for at least 5 days a week.
- If you can’t run or cycle, brisk walking is an option.
- You don’t need a gym membership.
- A practical way is taking a brisk walk in your neighbourhood most evenings. - You can choose to walk rather than drive if the distance is close.
- Eat healthy.
- Eat more vegetables
- Reduce the size of your servings. - If you need a snack choose a fruit option or healthy nuts
- Quit smoking.
- Quitting smoking can decrease your cardiovascular risk by 50%
- Limit your alcohol intake
- No more than 14 units of alcohol/week as a woman.
- No more than 21 units of alcohol/week as a man.
- One unit of alcohol= ½ glass of wine OR ½ pint of beer or 1 measure of spirit
Check your blood pressure
- Monitor your blood pressure to check for high blood pressure.
- If you have high blood pressure lower your salt intake, take your prescribed medications and see your doctor regularly.
Check your blood sugar
- Check your blood sugars to check for diabetes.
- If you have diabetes manage your diabetes by eating healthy, taking your prescribed medications and seeing your doctor regularly.
Wishing you all healthy hearts!!!!!
National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NIH), 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/education-and-awareness/american-heart-month/about.
World Health Organization (WHO), 2017. Retrieved from: https://www.who.int/cardiovascular_diseases/en/.