Love your heart

September is Heart Awareness Month - an entire month dedicated to reducing the incidence of heart disease and empowering South Africans to live a longer, healthier life.

The Heart and Stroke Foundation SA (HSFSA) will be offering free Blood Pressure screenings at community centres, offering health talks by dieticians an will be involved at various health expos, as well as provide information to the general public through the media. The theme for Heart month: Work with Heart… encouraging all South Africans to take responsibility for their heart health not only at home but also at work. 

The overall vision of the Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa is to reduce the incidence of heart disease through education, support and research.

The shocking CVD statistics that motivate the HSFSA 365 days a year are:

  • 1 in 3 men and 1 in 4 women will develop a heart condition before the age of 60.
  • 17.1 million people die globally every year from heart disease and stroke.
  • 33 heart attacks and 37 heart failures occur daily in South Africa.
  • 60 strokes occur in South Africa every day.
  • Over 195 people die per day in South Africa due to cardiovascular disease, that’s 13 taxi loads of people.

How to work with heart

A healthy workforce can add to the overall health of a business in many ways - even during an economic downturn. The benefits of promoting and implementing corporate wellness:

  • Increased productivity
  • Reduced absenteeism
  • Lower medical costs
  • Fewer workplace injuries
  • Improved employee morale and loyalty
  • Enhanced staff retention 

Heart smart health tips from the Heart and Stroke Foundation SA to take up during Heart Awareness Month and thereafter:

  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet including a variety of foods.
  • Eat smaller, more regular meals.
  • Choose the Heart Mark! When shopping, look out for products bearing the Heart Mark logo as these are heart healthier food choices i.e. lower in saturated fat, cholesterol, salt and sugar and often higher in fibre.
  • Include at least five servings of fruits and vegetables per day.
  • Try to include fatty fish as part of your diet at least twice a week.
  • Limit the intake of red meat to two to three times per week.
  • Eat fats sparingly, limiting 'bad' fats and including more 'good' fats in your diet.
  • Limit your daily intake of foods high in cholesterol such as egg yolks, organ meats, calamari, shrimps and prawns.
  • Limit the intake of refined and sugary foods.
  • Have at least two servings of low fat milk/dairy products every day.
  • Use salt sparingly. Intake should be limited to one teaspoon a day (6g), remembering that processed foods also contain a lot of hidden salts.
  • If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. Limit to one drink a day in women and two drinks a day in men.
  • Control your weight through regular physical activity - aim for 30 minutes five times a week.
  • Manage stress. High stress is often linked to cardiovascular events.
  • Quit smoking or don't even start.
  • Know your numbers i.e. blood pressure, cholesterol and BMI.

World Heart Day

Show the world how much you love your heart by wearing red on World Heart Day, Sunday the 26th September. And telling at least five people how to take care of their hearts…using heart as an acronym:

Heart healthy meals – look out for the Heart Mark!
Annual health checks i.e. blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol
Reduce salt and fat intake
Toss out the cigarettes

For more information on the HSFSA's activities during Heart Awareness Month, or heart health visit or for free heart smart advice, contact a Registered Dietician on the Heart Mark Diet Line on 0860 223 222.

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