Use heart to prevent heartbreak

CHS staff at the 2019 World Heart Day Fun Run/Walk. This year they are going digital with a virtual race for students and staff of Stellenbosch University .

September is Heart Awareness Month in South Africa, September 29 is World Heart Day and the World Heart Federation’s theme for 2020 is to #UseHeart.

Annually Stellenbosch University has an educational campaign on heart health headed by Campus Health Service.

This year we #UseHeart to reach out to you with information and challenge you to #UseHeart to fight Covid-19.

Heart disease and the risk factors for it such as diabetes,

hypertension advanced age and smoking, increase your chances

of becoming more severely ill if you contract Covid-19.

Using heart in this context means looking after yourself and your loved ones, by checking in with your doctor.

The six-monthly repeat prescription is not just about a piece of paper, it is about looking for complications of the illness, assessing side- effects, re-evaluating dosages, addressing life-style risk factors, etc.

Most GPs have implemented measures to make it safe for you as the patient to physically have a check-up. Call your doctor’s rooms to find out, and please do not skip these important visits.

Many of the risk factors for heart disease are strongly impacted by lifestyle.

If you are struggling to quit smoking, visit your doctor and ask for a prescription to help you quit. Rethink your eating habits and how your family can help you achieve your goals.

The Heart Stroke Foundation South Africa’s website has more

information on this, as well as recipes with healthier choices.

In diabetes, exercise improves sugar control. Diabetics should never go more than two days in a row without exercise, and it can be as simple as walking.

Exercise also improves blood pressure control, and reduces

the chance that you will develop both hypertension and Type 2 diabetes.

It also reduces your chance of developing heart disease and

strokes apart from assisting in the management and prevention of a host of other illnesses.

Exercise is medicine. With lockdown, many people have also been struggling with their mental health.

Exercise assists in managing stress anxiety and depression.

For more information on how much exercise is needed, have a

look at the Exercise is Medicine Website or the Campus Health

Services (CHS) website Heart Health Section #UseHeart to thank essential workers who have placed their own lives and those of their families at risk during lockdown.

Thank you, clinical and support staff, at all the hospitals and clinics for your hard work, thank you municipal workers for continuing to provide essential services.

Thank you, fellow colleagues for the adaptations you have made to keep health care alive in South Africa during this time.

#UseHeart in your business, with your colleagues, at your school, with your family at home, in caring for the vulnerable.

For useful links, visit www. exerciseismedicine.org/support_page.php/rx-forhealth-series; or www.sun.ac.za/english/CampusHealth/hearthealth; or www.heartfoundation.

co.za/healthy-eating/

Dr Jo-Anne Kirby is the coordinator for the Heart Awareness Campaign at Stellenbosch University (SU), she is a sports and exercise medicine practitioner, and GP at SU Campus Health Service, and is on the academic staff of the Institute of Sports and Exercise Medicine (ISEM) in the department of Orthopaedics.

She is the regional representative for the Boland on the executive of the South African Sports Medicine Association (SASMA).