Do you know how many Filipinos die daily from heart attack and stroke?
Heart attack, stroke and cancer remain three of the top killers of Filipinos and pose a significant threat to millions of others, according to the Department of Health.
But unlike cancer, heart attack and stroke strike more than half of its victims by sudden death—276 die from heart attack every day while stroke claims the life of one Filipino every minute.
“Filipinos can drastically reduce their risk of heart ailments through these mostly common-sense measures: having a healthy diet, exercising in regular intervals, staying away from tobacco and controlling alcohol intake. It is no longer surprising that these healthy lifestyle choices would lead to a reduction in heart attacks,” said Dr. Adolfo Bellosillo, head of the Makati Medical Center’s Cardiovascular Rehabilitation and Preventive Cardiology Unit.
According to the 2013 National Nutrition Survey, fruit and vegetable consumption of Filipinos is very low and presents risk to diseases and death. In fact, one out of 10 adults is chronically energy-deficient and three out of 10 are overweight and obese.
The Nutritional Guidelines for Filipinos (NGF) and the National Nutrition Council (NNC) are suggesting that the public limit their intake of salty, fried, fatty and sugar-rich foods in order to prevent cardiovascular diseases; attain normal body weight through proper diet and moderate physical activity to prevent obesity and maintain good health.
Exercising regularly can reduce the risk of early death by 40 percent, recurrent breast cancer by 50 percent, having stroke by 27 percent, and developing Alzheimer’s disease by 40 percent.
28 percent of adults smoke tobacco
According to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, an organization that seeks to combat tobacco use in low- and middle-income countries, 28 percent of the adult Filipinos, smoke tobacco.
This figure does not include those aged 13 to 15, wherein 17.5 percent also smoke cigarettes aside from the 8 percent Filipino youth who use tobacco products other than cigarettes.
For years, the organizers of World Heart Day work to create heart-healthy environments. They believed the environments in which we live, work and play can have a huge effect on our ability to make the right choices for our heart health. However, because healthy food or smoke-free zones are not readily available, Filipinos frequently cannot make heart-healthy choices.
“At home, you could start by stocking your home with healthy food that does not include prepacked items that are often high in sugar, fat and salt. Incorporate fresh fruit and vegetables in your meals or swap sweet treats for mango or other fruits. Prepare school or work lunches at home. Most especially, ban smoking in your home. If you are a smoker, quitting smoking is also a great way to be a positive role model for your children,” said Bellosillo, who suggested the following:
- Limit TV watching at home by organizing outdoor activities such as cycling, hiking or simply playing in the garden.
- Cycle or walk to school or take the stairs or go for a walk during breaks.
- Recognize your CVD risk by visiting a doctor who could measure your blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels, weight and body mass index, and advise on your risk.
- Community-wise, demand a smoking ban in the workplace and encourage your employer to provide help to your colleagues who want to quit smoking.
- Make a complaint when you see smoking zones located near playgrounds, schools or close to entrances.
- Ask for healthy food at the canteen not only near your workplace but also in your children’s school.
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