World Heart Day: Heart care – start from home | Sunday Observer

World Heart Day: Heart care – start from home

The World Heart Day on September 29 was on the theme - “a simple promise for my heart, for your heart, all our hearts”

A promise as an individual, to prepare and have a healthier diet, to do more exercises and encourage your children to be more active, to say no to smoking.

A promise as a health care professional to save more lives. A promise as a politician to implement a non communicable disease (NCD) action plan.

Cardio vascular disease (CVD) is the world’s number one killer, today. It is killing 17.5 million people a year - one third of the deaths and half of all NCD related deaths. Around 80% of these deaths are in low and middle income countries when human and financial resources are inadequate for the CVD burden.

World Heart Federation in Geneva which is the biggest platform for making awareness about CVD, including heart disease and strokes, initiated the World Heart Day in 2000.

Together with its member countries the World Heart Federation, spreads the news that at least 80% of premature deaths from heart disease and strokes could be avoided if main risk factors like smoking, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and diabetes are controlled, to live longer and better heart healthy lives.

Around September 29, national activities and events such as, public talks, cardiac screening, heart walks, runs, concerts or sports events are organized worldwide to spread the word about how we can combat pre mature deaths caused by CVD and strokes, by members of the World Heart Federation.

In Sri Lanka, public seminars and heart walks have been organized by the Sri Lanka Heart Association (SLHA) in Colombo, today (30) in collaboration with Lanka Hospitals, to create public awareness.

We call on individuals to reduce their own and their family’s risk of heart disease and stroke. The household is the ideal place to start taking action to improve one’s health.

You and your family can take four steps:

1. Stop tobacco smoking at your home to improve your own and your children’s heart health. Tobacco use and exposure to passive smoking kills six million people a year and are estimated to cause nearly 10% of CVD. Each year, exposure to passive smoking kills 600,000 people in the world. (28% of this are children according to WHO figures) Within two years of stopping smoking the risk of CVD is substantially reduced.

A campaign against tobacco smoking by the Ministry of Health has been highly appreciated even by the WHO.

2. Healthy food options at home.

a. Start the day with a piece of fruit and prepare your own lunch at home to ensure healthy meals.

b. Make sure every evening meal contains at least 2-3 servings of vegetables.

c. Be careful of processed food which often contain high level of cholesterol, Trans fatty acids and salt.

d. Drink plenty of water.

3. Be active

a. Families should limit the amount of time they spend watching TV, to less than two hours a day.

b. Organize outdoor activities, exercise, cycling, playing in the garden and hiking.

c. A 30 minute walk, at least five days a week would help prevent heart disease and strokes.

4. Know your numbers.

a. Visit your doctor or health care professional to check your blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels together with body mass index (BMI).

Obesity which is a harmful threat to health is becoming an increasing risk factor in the world, causing CVD and stroke.

CVD is responsible for 17.5 million deaths every year and by 2030 this is predicted to rise to nearly 23 million according to WHO figures.

Along with other NCDs, CVD is a heavy burden on the economy of low and middle income countries.

Strict lifestyle changes can make a significant difference to our heart health. By sharing knowledge we can inspire each day to become more heart healthy.

The burden of CVD can be reduced if everybody takes prompt action “Now”.

a. Everybody must take control of their own heart health by understanding their own and their family’s risk of CVD and act to improve it.

b. The Government and the Ministry of Health must accurately understand the scale of problems by investing in CVD surveillance and monitoring.

If everybody promises FOR MY HEART, FOR YOUR HEART AND FOR ALL OUR HEARTS people all over the world can have longer and better lives through the prevention and control of heart disease and strokes.

(The writer is a Consultant Cardiologist and Former President of the Sri Lanka Heart Association).