Concerns raised about continuous rise of heart disease deaths globally

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There are concerns about the continuous rise of heart disease deaths globally and the behaviour of heart disease patients towards their medication. This as September is Heart Awareness Month in South Africa. The month is dedicated to raising awareness around cardiovascular diseases.

South Africa is commemorating the month leading up to World Heart Day on the 29th of September.

Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death globally with nearly 18-million deaths per year reported. This is according to a report by the World Health Organization (WHO).

In South Africa, cardiovascular diseases are the second leading cause of death after HIV/AIDS. Despite this, a recent study published in the South African Family Practice Journal revealed that only just over 41% of patients in the country are taking their medication as prescribed.

The spokesperson of Parma Dynamics, which are the country’s leading cardiovascular medicine provider, Nicole Jennings says there are many factors contributing to customers not taking their medication effectively.

“Having very complex regimes, so patients who are on more than one medication and who need to take their medication at different times of the day could play a role. Forgetfulness, a lack of understanding potentially because hypertension is known as a silent killer so it usually presents without much symptoms. Patients might not feel ill and then decide to stop taking their medication.”

The South African Heart and Stroke Foundation, who are the founders of the National Heart Awareness Month, are extremely concerned by the high number of heart patients not taking their medication as prescribed. The foundation’s Health Promotion Officer, Emmah Siluma explains:

“The reason why there is a diagnosis is because whoever is giving you the medication knows that, one some of these medications are actually life long. That is why they are called chronic, meaning life-long condition which requires life-long medication. You cannot decide that okay not today, I am not taking any and then tomorrow I will take double the dosage. You are taking it the wrong way which is actually harmful.”

Siluma says cardiovascular diseases have no age, young people also need to adopt a healthy lifestyle.

“We see children that are born with heart diseases. You find that some were born healthier but because we don’t get the necessary education around how to care for for our hearts, you find that the child is actually now obese. Obesity is another pandemic13.5% of our youth is obese. As time goes on you find that these children are now suffering. Some from hypertension, some its cholesterol, eventually leading to heart diseases.”

BELOW: Infographic illustrating what HAM is all about.

Heart Awareness Month by SABC Digital News

Meanwhile, the Department of Health in Mpumalanga has revealed plans for the province to have hospital units that will specialize in cardiovascular diseases. Director for non-communicable diseases in the department, Sarah Gumede eloborates:

“We do have 292 clinics that are doing the health promotion and also even treatment for those who are having health issues in terms of the heart. However, plans are there to make sure that we are also able to provide a fully domain for tertiary hospitals.”

Members of the public are urged to visit various health facilities on a regular basis to ensure that their hearts remain safe.

In commemoration of the Heart Awareness Month, the Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa have teamed up with Dis-Chem to offer free heart health screenings at all Wellness Clinics in the country.

Discussion of Heart Awareness Month: