MANILA, Philippines — An official of the World Health Organization urged Filipinos yesterday to practice a healthy lifestyle to prevent cardiovascular diseases amid the rising number of people with heart problems in developing countries like the Philippines.
Acting WHO Representative Michael Voniatis said heart disease has remained the no. 1 killer disease in developed countries and its occurrence is increasing in developing countries.
“About 17 million people worldwide die annually due to cardiovascular disease. In the Philippines, heart disease and stroke are the leading causes of mortality with 120,000 Filipinos dying each year because of these diseases,” Voniatis said during the annual celebration of Heart Month at the SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City.
He said the most dominant risk factors for the development of heart disease are smoking, physical inactivity, high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity or overweight and diabetes.
“Healthy lifestyle can lower heart disease risks,” said Voniatis.
His recommendations include a stop to smoking, improve diet and nutrition by eating at least five servings of fruit and vegetables everyday, avoid food rich in animal fat, sugar and salt; eating fish and white meat like chicken and turkey instead of red meat; and staying active and maintaining an ideal weight.
He advised people to take the stairs instead of elevator, or walk instead of drive. Avoid sitting in front of the television too long. Take 30 minutes of physical activity five days a week. Reduce high blood pressure and check blood pressure regularly. Take the appropriate treatment recommended by your physician. Avoid stress and enjoy.
This year’s celebration focuses on women’s heart, said Ma. Belen Carisma, president of the Philippine Heart Association (PHA).
“Heart disease is the number 1 killer of women over 25 years old, accounting for 500 deaths of women each year. One in every 2.5 women will die of heart disease and stroke,” she said.
The theme of this year’s event is “Mabuhay ka, Pusong Pinay!”
The PHA and leading pharmaceutical companies in the country held a one-day “heart fair” at the Music Hall of the SM Mall of Asia yesterday.
Among the activities yesterday were free ECG, aerobics, belly dancing, etc.
According to the Department of Health, cardiovascular disease cases are rapidly increasing in Third World countries.
In 2007 more than 30 percent of deaths in the Philippines were due to cardiovascular causes making the diseases of heart and blood vessels the top two causes of mortality in the country today. Of these, 40 percent occurred in women.
The National Health and Nutrition Survey 2003-2004, conducted by key medical associations and government agencies, showed that more than 90 percent of Filipinos had at least one risk factor for developing heart disease.
“More women had risks factors, nearly 92 percent,” it said.
The study surveyed more than 25,000 respondents aged 20 years old and above.
The PHA said the status of women’s health in society is deteriorating for several reasons.
“At times women themselves are putting their health behind as they give more attention to their family,” the PHA said.–Helen Flores, Philippine Star