World Heart Day is an annual practice, held on September 29. The intention is to increase the public awareness about cardiovascular diseases, their prevention and impact. CVDs are the biggest cause of death worldwide, the number one killer.
The idea for this event was conceived and devised by the president of World Heart Federation, Antoni Bayés de Luna in conjunction with the WHO in 1999. It was founded to inform people and make them realise on creating “heart-healthy environments” and how risk for cardiovascular disease can be lowered by making healthy lifestyle choices.
Coronary artery disease has been identified as the most common type of heart disease, which occurs when cholesterol plaque builds up on the walls of the arteries carrying blood to the heart. This can lead to heart attack, angina (chest pain), heart failure and arrhythmia (irregular heart beat).
A stroke can be referred to as a ‘brain attack’ or the loss of brain function. It occurs when a clot blocks the blood supply to a part of the brain (lack of blood flow) or when a blood vessel in or around the brain bursts (haemorrhage), causing parts of the brain to become damaged or die.
Majority of these diseases can be prevented if the primary causes of CVDs are taken care of through efficient health care programmes. Poor diet, lack of exercise, smoking and harmful use of alcohol, overweight or obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes are the main risk factors that are responsible for 80% of premature deaths from cardiovascular disease (CVD). Most heart disease is preventable.
International efforts, about World Heart Day have proved to be effective in spreading information about cardiovascular health. They are aimed at helping individuals to identify the factors that place them at risk of cardiovascular disease and take preventive steps. Most of these steps are simple and seem like common sense yet people do not follow them.
For e.g., Healthy eating - includes avoiding processed foods with saturated fats and high salt, eating five portions of fruit and vegetables, exercising for 30 minutes a day, maintain sensible intake of alcohol and avoiding tobacco.
Take steps to protect your own heart and share healthy habits with your family and friends to protect their hearts too. Promote and organize health checks, fitness sessions, Public talks, or promote the day through posters, leaflets, brochures etc.
Heart Day is the perfect day to pledge improving health, quit smoking, make lifestyle changes, get exercising and start eating healthy.
Heart Day ‘2014 is marked for women and children. Till recent times it was believed the ‘males’ were at high risk of CVDs but latest statistics and reports reveal that cardiac ailments are claiming women too. Indian women account for 15 % of the global burden of heart disease.
Promote Healthy choices
World Health Organization repeats the need to reduce the consumption of excess salt which is linked to CVD. Eat a healthy diet; low in sodium and saturated /Trans fats.
BMI is an indicator of body fatness and is based on your height and weight. To maintain a healthy weight:-
• Calculate your body mass index (BMI).
• Get a check up for high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
• Encourage people to take the stairs and add walking into your daily routine.
• Let’s pledge and contribute towards building a healthy society by combating heart disease this world Heart Day.
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