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Heart Health

Typically, we live a rushed life and our health takes a back seat to our daily routine. We don’t have time to prepare healthy meals and we ignore risk symptoms, even those associated with heart disease. As a pharmacist, I can testify to seeing an alarming amount of patients daily with either an expired prescription, uncollected repeats of cardiovascular medication and simply patients who try to reduce medical expenses. In reality there are many articles and campaigns on being healthy but we would like to not only promote heart health this month but to encourage and assist our community in knowing their score and living a quality life without everyday hassles. In co-operation with South Africa’s leading cardiovascular generic medication provider, Pharma-Dynamics, we would like to show patients how to look after their hearts in the easiest possible way. We need to create awareness not only of heart disease but the related health risks and how to possibly prevent it. Having an imbalanced lifestyle, being stressed, not getting enough nutrients and even not taking medication correctly; are all factors contributing to a decrease in health.
Firstly, we need to look at our family history. Diabetes, high or low blood pressure and past cardiovascular disease all have a risk since some of these could be inherited. Secondly, we need to look at current health. If we have underlying conditions already, we need to focus on how to keep it under control at all times. When you have high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease or cardiomyopathy; you could experience various symptoms such as: possible nausea, irregular sweating, chest pains, shortness of breath and dizziness. Lastly, we need to look at our lifestyle. Identifying all possible factors that could lead to a decrease in heart health is imperative. Heart diseases are commonly caused by poor lifestyle choices and typically not knowing whether you are at risk.
There are various ways to ensure that you take good care of your heart.   Avoid smoking and second-hand smoking. Cigarettes contain harmful chemicals that can damage your heart and lungs. Smoking around children could have a long-term effect on their health as well.   Exercise regularly.  We simply do not have the time to go to the gym anymore. We all live in the fast lane and we compromise wherever possible. Making small changes in the ways we do things could assist in ensuring we get the most out of our days such as taking the stairs; taking your pets for a walk and even quickly sweeping a room.   Avoid eating fatty foods as much as possible.  There is no need to buy all your meals ready-made. Simply adjust your portions, reduce your salt levels, including all of the food groups and avoiding take-away meals is already a good start!          Make sure to snack between smaller meals and avoid overeating. Eat before 7pm and avoid sparkling soda drinks.  Drink more water.   Have a screening test at least once a year to know your scores. Most medical aids allow for one test per anum per member. Make the most of your money’s worth and get tested every year for cholesterol, blood pressure and diabetes.   Take your medication correctly. Most patients on cardiovascular medication do not adhere to the stipulated doses and do not collect their medication on the correct days. Check in with your health care practitioner every six months to ensure your current medication is still working.   Limit alcohol intake.   A healthy mind is very important. Depression and anxiety also have negative effects on our health.  Stress causes release of stress hormones and prolonged exposure to these elevated levels puts a strain on the heart. Having a good support system is important when it comes to everyday life. Engage in relaxing activities at least twice a month.   Diabetes increases the risk for a stroke or heart attack by two to four times. Take special care if you are diabetic. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in diabetes patients.
Some interesting facts provided by Pharma-Dynamics: Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of deaths in SA after HIV/AIDS. One in five deaths in SA are heart disease and stroke related and over 200 deaths occur daily in this category meaning there are over 82000 deaths per year related to heart and cardiovascular disease.. Only about 40% of patients have their blood pressure under control with medication. There are over 6 million people in South Africa with High blood pressure. Four out of ten adults older than 25 have high blood pressure with 50% of them unaware. Up to 70% of women and one third of men are overweight and obese leading to diabetes and increasing the risk for heart disease. The risk of a stroke doubles every decade after the age of 55. People who don’t get enough exercise have a 50% increased chance of heart disease and stroke.
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