With Valentine’s Day top of mind this month it is a good time to turn our attention to matters of the heart. No, we don’t mean your latest romance or your fortieth wedding anniversary, we mean one of your most vital organs, your heart.
According to The Heart and Stroke Foundation, cardiovascular disease (CVD) kills 2.5 times as many people as do all cancers combined. They go on to say that CVD is likely to cause more deaths in Africa than AIDS, TB or malaria.
Consider these words from Dr Vash Mungal-Singh, CEO of the foundation: “CVD is now the biggest single killer-disease worldwide. Over 17.5 million deaths are caused by CVD every year, and it is projected that this figure will rise to 20 million by 2020 and 24 million by 2030. Yet 80% of these deaths are preventable with diet and lifestyle changes.”
As frightening as these statistics might sound, let us focus on the good news: 80% of all the deaths are preventable with diet and lifestyle changes. So what are these changes, how can you win the war against CVD?
The Heart and Stroke Foundation dietary guidelines are as follows:
- Eat a variety of foods
- Eat high-fibre starchy foods with most of your meals, for example brown or whole-wheat bread, coarse maize meal, oats and brown rice
- Eat chicken, eggs, meat or fish every day but choose low fat options with less saturated fat
- Try to include low-fat milk, maas or yoghurt in your daily diet
- Replace the meat in some of your meals with dried beans, split peas, lentils or soya at least twice a week. Eat these foods twice a week
- You know this one: eat 5 vegetables and fruit every day from different colour groups (orange, green, red etc.)
- Reduce your intake of salt and sugar
- Eat less fat: Limit your intake of saturated fat, for example fatty red meat, butter, cream, lard etc. and try to use more unsaturated fat, for example vegetable oils, in small amounts
- Drink 6 – 8 glasses of water a day
- Drink alcohol in moderation
In addition to a healthy diet the foundation also emphasises the need to stay aware of other risk factors like smoking, drugs, high blood pressure, obesity, stress and a lack of regular exercise.
From prevention to protection. While we must focus on preventing CVD we also need to ensure that we are financially protected against the serious illnesses like strokes, heart attacks, cancer and organ failure. Dread disease cover will provide a pay-out if you ever fall victim to one of the illnesses listed in your policy document. These funds can be used to replace your income or even pay medical bills not covered by your medical aid.
This February make a promise to do the best you can to look after your heart and protect your family against the financial impact of serious illnesses.