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Our hearts face multiple threats throughout our lives. These threats range from lifestyle habits, hereditary conditions to a variety of environmental settings. Therefore, we must take each beat seriously.
Created by the World Heart Federation, World Heart Day on 29 September 2021 focuses on educating people regarding cardiovascular disease (CVD).
Including heart disease and stroke, being the leading cause of death globally.
Highly versed on the topic, Mediclinic Newcastle’s Specialist Physician Dr Mthunzi Thusi explains that approximately 40% of deaths in South Africa result from non-communicable diseases (chronic diseases, not passed from person to person).
Of which, cardiovascular diseases account for about 1 in 5 of these deaths.
Dr Thusi adds, “Newcastle is no exception, as more and more persons aged 35-59 years get diagnosed with hypertension and diabetes.”
The question now stands, is cardiovascular disease biased towards a particular gender?
Dr Thusi notes that the risk towards females is skewed due to the perception that South Africa has the highest prevalence of overweight and obese women (apparently up to 70% in some communities).
However, Dr Thusi also points out that alcohol and tobacco consumption continues at very high usage levels. Men are the culprit gender, thereby providing a balancing factor to the gender skew caused by obesity.
While the same pattern is observed in our community, the doctor has observed that women generally take health care more seriously.
Attending to health issues earlier than their male counterparts. “They tend to form the bigger part on the health-seeking members of the community,” he says.
Dr Thusi explains that it is crucial to point out that the issues mentioned above can result in lifestyle diseases. All of which can be prevented if specific measures are put into place.
Lifestyle diseases include diabetes, chronic respiratory diseases, cancer, and other non-communicable diseases. The major risks factors are alcohol abuse, physical inactivity, smoking, and unhealthy diets.
As the healthcare sector and organisations focus on World Heart Day, the Specialist Physician points out precise steps to protect your heart.
Firstly, he stresses that the problem needs to be addressed at its root cause. As Dr Thusi points out, “Know your numbers” is an excellent initiative: know your blood pressure, fasting glucose, cholesterol level, weight, height, and body-mass index.
“These will enable people to make informed decisions about their lifestyle choices,” elucidates Dr Thusi.
Once the numbers are all added up, one can calculate cardiovascular risk through various online calculators. This is not to start major worries and increase stress, but to numerically estimate the risk and lay ground to taking responsibility.
According to Dr Thusi, the individual actions that can be taken include reducing alcohol consumption to levels appropriate for gender. At the same time, refraining from cigarette smoking (including electronic and other inhalable forms of smoke). Additionally, abiding by the WHO recommendations for physical activity regarding age, gender, and healthy diet.
Secondly, knowing the numbers also means taking the necessary steps to modify health-seeking. This is because lifestyle measures on their own “do not always meet the required heart protection and risk reduction.”
He elaborates further, stating that health care workers at different centres and levels are available to aid with treatment. This includes prescribing the appropriate diet, assessing the risk, and prescribing a safe level of physical activity for individuals with intercurrent illnesses.
When looking at maintaining a healthy lifestyle, Dr Thusi says the treatment of diseases occurs at a primordial level. This is where an individual, if in total health, works on staying healthy and enhancing their well-being.
Looking at the different levels of healthcare, the doctor points out that the primary level is where screening for diseases takes place. Measures are then put in place to stay in good health.
Further stating, the tertiary levels are where illnesses have resulted in complications. The secondary level is where diseases have been identified, and therapeutic measures are instituted to meet treatment goals. And measures to slow disease progression and prevent further complications are implemented.
The doctor declares that all of these are essential to remember when considering your heart’s health.
As a medical professional dealing with cardiac cases regularly, the significance of World Heart Day is never lost on Dr Thusi. “World Heart Day comes as a reminder to always delve deeper, look harder and assess properly all the members of the community who entrust their health to our care. Everyone has one heart, therefore, know the cardiovascular risk and once that is known, the measures to institute result from adding the numbers.”
As Dr Thusi shares his valuable insight, take the appropriate steps to protect your heart, allowing you to live life to the fullest.
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This post and content is sponsored and provided by Mediclinic Newcastle.