Heart disease, ‘top killer’ in PH: Tips on how to avoid, prevent it
CEBU CITY, Philippines — As the country celebrates Heart Month this February, an official of the Philippine Heart Association (PHA) shared some tips on how to avoid ischemic heart disease — the top cause of mortality here in the country.
Dr. Luigi Pierre Segundo, director, and chairman for advocacy of the PHA, told reporters on Friday, Feb. 23, 2023, that ischemic heart disease or coronary artery disease (CAD) continued to be No. 1 on the list of all the top 20 causes of mortality in the country.
This is according to the Oct. 31, 2022 data of the Philippine Statistics Authority.
Segundo said that CAD was caused by blockage of the coronary artery that would supply blood to the muscle of the heart.
According to PSA data, aside from CAD, other diseases in the top 20 causes of mortality list include cerebrovascular disease, neoplasms, diabetes mellitus, among others.
Segundo described patients with ischemic heart disease as those suffering from a discomfort referred to as angina, a chest pain felt over the left side of the heart that was very similar to a heart attack.
Angina is one of the early symptoms of ischemic heart disease, wherein patients feel sensations of either squeezing, heaviness, or tightness in the chest due to reduced blood flow to the heart.
The pain is very progressive and can radiate to other parts of the body such as the left arm, chest, jaw, shoulders, and back. Angina is usually relieved after around 10 minutes without any medication.
Segundo said the symptoms of angina would include feeling extreme pain in the chest after any type of physical exertion.
The term “angina” may not be familiar to many individuals in the Philippines. But there are national surveys that determined that angina is actually prevalent among Filipinos.
A national survey in 2003 came up with the results that show that 5.2 million people in the country suffer from angina bringing the prevalence estimate to 12.5 percent. Ten years later, the estimate was doubled to 25.4 percent with 12.4 million Filipinos having angina.
The most recent survey was conducted by the PHA where it was found that the prevalence of angina is estimated at 28.45 percent for 2019.
“What’s sad about it, 50 percent lang yung nagpapacheck-up. Not a lot of Filipinos consult their doctors for a possible chest pain that can be ischemic heart disease,” stated Segundo.
(What’s sad about it, (is) that only 50 percent would have a checkup. Not a lot of Filipinos consult their doctors for a possible chest pain that can be ischemic heart disease.)
Risk factors for angina
Segundo also cited the risk factors for angina and these were age, gender, and family medical history, although the risks were the same for males and females.
The modifiable risk factors for CAD are hypertension, dyslipidemia, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, high blood sugar, smoking, and obesity related to physical inactivity.
In order to prevent developing Angina, Segundo recommended controlling risk factors and seeing a doctor for health assessment.
He also discussed more on the mentioned factors that would increase the chances of developing angina, and, consequently, ischemic heart disease, and what individuals could do to avoid these health complications.
He recommended having a healthy balanced diet, exercising daily, drinking moderately, stopping smoking, and modifying lifestyle to be more active and healthy.
“It’s important to treat coronary artery disease to prevent heart attack, heart failure, and cardiac arrest. It’s easier to prevent it, madali lang eh (it is really easy),” Segundo said on why Filipinos need to be more aware of what angina is and how to avoid it.
Heart Month’s activities
In celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Philippine Heart Month, the Philippine Heart Association Cebu Chapter will hold a free heart fair on Feb. 26, 2023 at the SM Seaside, Cebu City.
With the theme, “Seasons of the Heart: Keeping the heart healthy across all ages,” the goal of the event is to encourage the public to support the advocacy centered on cardiovascular health and wellness.
There will be stations set up where attendees can avail free services such as screening for blood pressure, blood sugar, and total cholesterol, and an Electrocardiogram (ECG) test for eligible individuals. In addition to that, there will also be a free hands-only Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) training.
The PHA has invited members of the Philippine National Police(PNP), Bureau of Fire Protection, Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation, Inc.(CESAFI), Barangay health workers, and nursing students to join the celebration. Walk-in patients will also be welcomed. | Emmariel Ares – CDN Digital Intern
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