Let Spring be the start of new heart care habits

September, the bringer of Spring and new beginnings is here. In South Africa, September is also Heart Awareness Month. Heart disease remains one of the leading killers in our country so why not use spring-cleaning fever to take a new look at your habits and trade the bad ones for some new healthy lifestyle changes this season.


Jeremy Yatt, Principal Officer of Fedhealth says that unhealthy lifestyle factors like the lack of exercise, stress, smoking, unhealthy eating patterns and the harmful use of alcohol can lead to high blood pressure and cholesterol, which subsequently may cause heart disease and heart attacks.


He points out that the medical scheme’s number of admissions per 1000 lives for cardiac catheterisations or angiograms increased by 20% in the first quarter of 2015 when compared to the same period in 2014. “This is worrying for the scheme and our members alike. Besides the health and emotional trauma of these events, the costs these procedures incur add even more pressure to the mix,” says Yatt, citing the average cost per admission for cardiac catheterisations or angiograms to be in the region of R43 000. “Cardiac related events may not rate in the top ten of our most frequent admissions, but they do rank within in the top five of most expensive procedures.”


The scheme’s cardiac-rehabilitation programme, which was initiated back in 2006 for members who have already had a cardiac event, continues to have positive results and feedback from members participating in the programme. “This programme demonstrates and proves that individuals can do a lot to improve their health and cut down the threat of further heart disease,” says Yatt. “And, by addressing and tackling the risk factors such as smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, poorly controlled diabetes, being overweight and not exercising you can greatly decrease the risk of ever developing heart disease.


“The best advice we can offer people concerning their heart health is to know your numbers. Make sure you have your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood glucose tested regularly and also make sure your body mass and waist circumference are within medically acceptable limits. Deviation from medically acceptable levels are indicators of possible cardiac risk,” Yatt adds.


“It all comes down to making simple lifestyle changes like trying to eat healthily and participating in moderate exercise. These small changes can make a big difference to the health of your heart.”


Another way to greatly reduce your risk of a heart attack is by giving up smoking. It is no secret that smoking is bad for you but did you know that the risk of a heart attack and/or sudden death drops by half within one year after you stop smoking? After two years the risk associated with previous smoking is almost zero!


“It all comes down to making healthy choices and for people choosing heart health over unhealthy Western habits,” concludes Yatt. Why not start taking care of your heart today; there is no time like this Spring.