In light of World Heart Day, A Tomorrow Trust tertiary student, Anelisa, is currently studying towards her bachelor’s degree in pharmacy and she unpacks why heart health is important. Read her detailed article below.
Your existence is courtesy of the 90 000 daily beats of the human heart. The pumping of your heart supplies your body with the oxygen and nutrients that it needs for you to be able to carry out your daily activities. The heart carries out numerous important functions which we are not consciously aware of, but which we could otherwise not function without.
A strong, healthy heart is important because it lowers blood pressure, preventing hypertension and heart failure. The heart also maintains blood sugar levels, preventing associated health conditions. In order to keep the body operating normally, the heart transports hormones and other necessary compounds to various parts of the body. Poor care of this incredible organ may lead to dire consequences. A study done by the Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa found that every hour, 5 people will suffer a heart attack and double that amount will have a stroke. Of those events, 10 people will die.
More South Africans die of cardiovascular diseases than all the cancers combined. More than half of deaths occur before age 65 in what was once thought to be a disease that only affected the elderly. The good news is that 80% of cardiovascular diseases and strokes can be avoided through leading a healthy lifestyle. One of the most effective tools for fighting heart disease is making wise dietary decisions. Subtle dietary changes such as portion control, cutting down on unhealthy fats and salt, as well as adding more fruits and vegetables to the diet can have a huge impact. Because it is a muscle, regular exercise is essential for maintaining the health and strength of the heart. Any form of physical exercise, be it working out at the gym, or taking the stairs instead of the lift, has beneficial long-term effects. Another important preventative measure is to refrain from smoking. The second most common cause of cardiovascular disease is smoking.
Take precautions to safeguard your health and the health of those around you because smoking and passive smoking both pose very serious health risks. As we celebrate World Heart Day, think of all the good your heart does for you, and vow to take better care of it.