Saturday, February 5, 2011

How's your heart? DOH says take care

MANILA, Philippines - Matters of the heart take center stage this February. Not only will Filipinos celebrate Valentine's Day on the 14th, February is Heart Month as well.

Presidential Decree No. 1096, which was signed in 1973, coincides a national effort to increase awareness about the physical condition of the heart with all the romantic trappings during the season of the heart.

After all, the top 2 killer diseases among Filipinos are diseases of the heart and vascular system, according to Health Secretary Enrique T. Ona.

About 90% of Filipinos have one or more risk factors for cardiovascular diseases, he said.

Among these risk factors are physical inactivity, smoking, hypercholesterolemia, hypertension, obesity, and diabetes. These triggers can be managed, unlike age and hereditary risks, which are a given.

The health chief, thus, reminded Filipinos to take care of their hearts, to adopt a healthy lifestyle, and avoid vices to lessen their risk of getting heart diseases.

Prevention is better than cure

Ona also said prevention is the most cost-effective way to reduce the rising trend of morbidities and mortalities arising from heart diseases and diseases of the vascular system.

And prevention should start early.

Eat more fruits and vegetables to have a healthy heart.

"While still young, our children should be encouraged to be more active and practice a healthy lifestyle in order for them to develop the habit and lead a more productive life when they grow old," Ona said.

A healthy lifestyle, he added, can help prevent increased blood pressure, blood glucose count, abnormal blood lipid, and obesity or being overweight.

Among the ways Filipinos can adopt to achieve a healthy lifestyle concern diet (eat fruits and vegetables, reduce intake of salty and fatty foods), exercise (do it regularly), shunning of vices (avoid smoking, drink alcohol moderately), and stress management through relaxation.

The Philippine Heart Association leads efforts in observing Heart Month yearly. The association partners with the DOH, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Food and Nutrition Research Institute, non-government agencies, medical societies, and pharmaceutical companies in mapping out activities to increase awareness about the importance of caring for one's heart and overall health.

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