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Have a heart for your heart

Written by Sekgabo Kedijang
Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. In South Africa, more than 195 people die each day from heart diseases.

To make people more aware of the dangers of heart disease, September is National Heart Awareness Month. This is an opportunity for the Department of Health to educate people about how they can avoid heart disease by adopting healthy lifestyles and to look out for the warning signs of heart disease.

Heart awareness

Heart Awareness Month in South Africa coincides with World Heart Day on 28 September, which was created by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to inform and educate people around the world about heart disease.

This year, World Heart Day is centred on the theme “Take responsibility for your own heart”.

Apart from leading a healthy lifestyle, people should also be aware of the possible warning signs of heart attacks and strokes. Knowing the warning signs is very important as this will help you, your family or friends to seek help before it’s too late.

Who is at risk?

Anyone can get heart disease, but people with the following, are at a higher risk:

  • a family history of heart disease
  • high blood cholesterol
  • high blood pressure
  • overweight.
Did you know?
  • Worldwide, more than 17 million people die every year from heart diseases and strokes.
  • 33 heart attacks and 37 heart failures occur in South Africa every day.
  • 60 strokes occur in South Africa every day.
  • One in three men and one in four women will develop a heart condition before the age of 60.
How to avoid heart disease
  • follow a healthy, balanced diet
  • get regular exercise
  • do not smoke
  • drink alcohol in moderation
  • maintain a healthy body weight
  • have your blood pressure checked regularly
  • have a medical check-up regularly
  • when you are in stressful situations, breathe deeply to help you relax.
Tips for a healthy balanced diet:
  • eat small and regular portions
  • include five servings of fruit and vegetables daily
  • include fish as part of your diet twice a week
  • limit your intake of red meat and fat
  • limit your intake of refined sugar and sugary food and drinks
  • limit your intake of refined starches like white bread
  • limit your alcohol intake.