In South Africa, deaths related to heart and blood-vessel diseases are reportedly increasing and expected to rise by 41% in the next 13 years, according to the South African Rooibos Council (SARC). World Heart Day was celebrated at the end of September and as part of awareness, experts are saying there may be merit in incorporating alternative ways to prevent and treat heart disease. The challenge, according to Dr Dawie van Velden, a medical professional with an interest in integrative medicine and whole-person wellness, is that the prevalence of the major risk factors behind cardiovascular disease (CVD) has increased substantially in the last decade.“The biggest single risk factor by far is high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, which affects one in three South African adults. Hypertension is exa-cerbated by poor eating habits, obesity, lack of physical activity and excessive alcohol intake,” he said. Drinking rooibos tea has been identified as one means of prevention. “Drinking rooibos tea ticks a lot of the boxes when it comes to maintaining heart health. Make it a daily health choice. Rooibos tea as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle may play a significant role in preventing cardiovascular disease.” According to the SARC, the main heart-healthy substances in rooibos may be attributed to the polyphenolic antioxidants in this herbal tea.Rooibos tea reportedly contains flavones and flavo-nols such as quercetin that exhibits an angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitory action. According to the SARC, these help to prevent and treat cardiovascular disease by inhibiting the migration of smooth muscle cells inside the arteries, a key cause of the narrowing or hardening of the arteries that may lead to a heart attack. These phytochemicals help to lower blood pressure and may relieve vasoconstriction.The public is encouraged to eat more healthily, reduce alcohol consumption and stop smoking to improve heart health and overall well-being.