Heart Awareness Month: Know your health status

Heart Awareness Month: Know your health status

My Heart, Your Heart and the hearts of all South Africans. That's this month's core message as Heart Awareness Month kicks off in South Africa. 

Cardiology, heart, stethoscope

The Heart and Stroke Foundation is in this year's campaign, encouraging South Africans to know their health status.   

One in every five deaths in the country are as a result of cardio-vascular disease, this amounts to the deaths of nearly 82 000 people per year. 

Cardiovascular disease is caused by, and not limited to - tobacco use, high salt intake and an overall unhealthy diet.

"Lifestyle behaviours such as poor eating habits, lack of physical activity, obesity, smoking and excessive alcohol consumption drives CVD. If you have a family history for heart disease or stroke, your risk profile increases as well. An unhealthy lifestyle - in combination with other conditions such as hypertension and obesity increases your risk for CVD," the foundation's Dana Govendar said.

 ALSO READ: Is salt killing you?

The good news, Govendar says, is research shows that 80% of heart disease and strokes are preventable. So, it's never too late to start making changes to your lifestyle habits.

According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, here's how to start making small dietary changes.   

- Use fresh and dried herbs, spices, and salt/sodium-free seasoning blends when cooking and at the table instead of salt, canned soups, salad dressings, stock powders/cubes.

- Choose food products with the Heart Mark as these are lower in fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium (salt), and added sugar. 

- Limit the intake of sweetened beverages (like fizzy drinks and sweetened juices) - to replace with unflavoured water, maas or low-fat or fat-free milk.

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