Get your Heart Health tested

September is Heart Awareness Month

Heart disease kills ONE in THREE men and ONE in FOUR women in South Africa. Up to 80% of these deaths can be prevented by lifestyle changes! You only have ONE HEART.

What is a heart attack?

When arteries become too narrow or a clot forms, it restricts blood flow to the heart. The heart muscle is then deprived of oxygen and a heart attack occurs. The severity of the attack depends on the extent of the damage to the heart muscle.

What causes a heart attack?

Coronary artery disease (disease of the arteries leading to the heart) is the most common cause of heart attacks. Although a heart attack is often a sudden and dramatic event, it is the result of a gradual process over many years. The build-up of fatty deposits in the walls of the arteries leading to the heart (this process is known as atherosclerosis) causes gradual narrowing of these arteries and can cause a total blockage of the arteries and the blood flow to the heart muscle, resulting in a heart attack.

Frightening facts

  • In South Africa 195 people a day died due to some form of heart and blood vessel disease (cardiovascular disease) between 1997 and 2004.
  • About 33 people a day die due to heart attacks.
  • About 37 people a day die due to heart failure.
  • Despite the high rate of AIDS-related deaths in South Africa, actuarial projections suggest that chronic disease, including heart disease, is also going to increase after 2010.
  • More than half the deaths due to chronic disease, including heart disease, occur before the age of 65 years. These are premature deaths that affect the workforce in the country and have a major impact on the economy.
  • Premature deaths due to heart and blood vessel diseases in people of working age (35 - 64 years) are expected to increase by 41% between 2007 and 2030. The negative economic impact of this will be enormous.

According to Dr Natie Finkelstein, chairman of Fedhealth's Managed Healthcare Committee, cardiac artery bypass procedures currently have the greatest impact on increases in hospital costs, followed by the insertion of cardiac stents. Someone who undergoes bypass surgery spends on average 13 days in hospital, of these 7 days are spent in ICU at an average cost of R9 700 per day. In 2011 to date, Fedhealth has covered 39 members for heart bypass surgeries.

Top 10 tips to boost your HEART's health:

  1. Get active. Enjoy at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day.
  2. Eat at least three balanced meals per day. Have nutritious meals - and don't skip breakfast!
  3. Quit and avoid smoking. Smoking doubles your risk of heart disease and a stroke!
  4. Fruit and veg out! Have at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables per day.
  5. Cut down on your alcohol intake.
  6. Know your numbers, know your risk. If you are a "high-risk" individual, i.e. have a history of high blood pressure, are over the age of 35 years, etc. - it's important to have your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar (glucose) tested to understand your risk. Knowledge is power.
  7. Avoid a salt overdose. A tablespoon of salt per day.
  8. Read nutrition labels. Read the nutrition label before you buy.
  9. Snack healthily. Snack on fruit, nuts, yoghurt and healthier alternatives.
  10. Moderate your weight. Choose an eating and exercise plan that works for you and be moderate about what you are eating and doing.

For more information click here:


Heart Foundation of SA
FA News

The "Heart Disease in South Africa" report commissioned by The Heart and Stroke Foundation SA (HSFSA) released by the Medical Research Council (MRC) - 2007.

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