Many of us still think that heart attacks are suffered by mostly old, rich people. However, a review of current statistics of heart disease in the country show that it afflicts rich and poor.
Moreover, while most patients are 45 years and older, more and more young people are having heart problems. Nearly 20 percent of all deaths in the Philippines are caused by heart disease.
According to the World Health Organization and our own Department of Health, heart disease is still the number one killer in the Philippines.
Diet and lifestyle
According to Dr. Enrique Campos, an interventional cardiologist at ManilaMed, practicing a heart-healthy lifestyle should start when one is younger.
For example, health diet choices should be taught to kids by both parents and schools.
“I think health education, including proper food choices should occur at various levels in our society. At the very basic level, good health and nutrition should be promoted within every family unit. Similar efforts at promotion of healthy lifestyle can be provided in cooperation within the communities / local government units, and in schools.”
Preventing heart disease
Dr. Campos also emphasized that a nutritious diet is just one part of a heart-healthy lifestyle. He gave the following tips for maintaining one’s heart health and preventing disabling or fatal heart attacks:
- A healthy, nutritious diet
- Stopping smoking
- Regular physical exercise for 150 minutes a week.
- The best exercises are those of moderate intensity
- Maintaining tan ideal weight. For Filipinos this means having a BMI (body mass index) of 18-23 kg/per meter2.
Young people having heart attacks
Usually, people at a more advanced age are at greater risk of heart attacks. However, Dr. Campos also pointed out that, disturbingly, more young people below 45 years of age, those in their 20s and 30s, are being diagnosed with heart disease.
Some are suffering heart attacks (the medical term is “myocardial infarction”) while others are having strokes. Hypertension (high-blood pressure) is also affecting more young people nowadays.
Again, Dr. Campos said that an unhealthy diet is to blame. More young people are consuming mostly processed foods and fast foods. Such meals are usually high in fat, salt, and sugar. “Processed foods include things like hot dogs, corned beef, bacon, are high in fats and salt. Soft-drinks and other sweetened beverages are clearly high in sugar. Candies, cakes, cookies are usually high in sugar and fats.“
“These foods can be served with minimal food preparation and are therefore convenient and ‘fast’. But these are the dietary culprits that can promote the development of hypertension, obesity, high cholesterol, and even diabetes,” he explained.
When these conditions develop, even a young person will have an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, including heart attacks and strokes–that can be fatal.