“Start making healthy lifestyle habits and practices your choice during the Heart Month and beyond.”
This message was stressed by a team of heart, hypertension and lipid (cholesterol) experts at a virtual forum aimed at increasing awareness on risk factors to put poor cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) at bay. CVDs are lifestyle-induced and hereditary.
That is why knowing your risks, practicing healthy habits daily will lessen your chance of developing CVD.
Use the PHA 52100 as guide. The 52100 stands for 5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily; not more than 2 hours of video time daily/not more than 2 gms of added salt daily; 1 hour of physical activity daily; 0 sugared beverages and 0 Smoking.
Since the 1990s, the PHA has been harping on preventive cardiology tips via a live media forum. But amid the pandemic the usual Heart Month 2021 press conference and nationwide action-packed celebration in the 13 PHA Chapters was broadcast via a virtual platform.
In attendance were at least 150 hundred from print, TV, radio, and digital media and 300 Netizens around the globe, who were given the freedom to throw questions to the panelists — Drs. Orlando Bugarin, PHA president; Elmer Jasper Llanes, chair PHA council on Preventive Cardiology, Debbie Ona, Associate Professor of Hypertension at the Department of Medicine at the UP-Philippine General Hospital; Lourdes Ella Gonzalez-Santos, head of preventive cardiology at cardinal santos medical center and head of hypertension at the Philippine General Hospital and Gilbert Vilela, PHA Vice President and chair of Heart Month 2021.
The office of the president of the Philippines proclamation no. 1096 declared February every year as Heart Month and named the PHA as the lead agency of the celebration.
The forum was hosted by Zamboanga-based Dr. Walid Amil, PHA director.
The live media conference themed “Your Heart’s Health, Your Choice” marks the second major event of the organization this year that has been facilitated fully by a cloud-based video communications app.
In his lecture about Minding the Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) Burden: Mending the Gaps and Inequalities, Llanes said that “CVD remains to be the most common morbidity and mortality in the Philippines. CVD risk factors are common and seen more in the urban and educated Filipinos,” he said, while citing the LIFECARE Study as his reference.
LIFECARE is the first prospective cohort in the Philippines to look into the epidemiology of CVD.
“The study also revealed that lack of health facilities and health workers remains to be a problem in the provinces outside Metro Manila,” Llanes added.
With the lack of health facilities, reducing CVD mortality remains a struggle especially with no doctors to closely monitor patients to guide them what medications to seek or how to modify their lifestyle.
“Being able to identify the risk factors early gives you a better chance in stopping CVD because poor lifestyle like a sinful diet which includes sugared drinks, lack of physical activity, smoking and stress are modifiable,” said Bugarin.
Most Filipinos are into fast-paced living. They want quick results and gratification.
They prefer convenience foods over home-cooked dishes. They have a sit-down lifestyle because they are always on the computer. This all boils down to discipline.
“Maraming risk factors ang cardiovascular disease. Mangungana na rito ang highblood, diabetes, cholesterol. Marami sa mga ito ay lifestyle risk factors,” said Bugarin.
Ona said that Hypertension factors include smoking, obesity, lack of exercises, salt, fatty foods. To know whether the patient is high blood, the patient should get a high blood pressure check daily for one week. If the high blood pressure is 140/90 on two separate occasions or frequently, he or she is at risk. The person is considered highblood.
“The cornerstone of the treatment is lifestyle modification. If hindi kaya na mamodify ang lifestyle at mataas ang level ng blood pressure, umpisahan na ang pagtake ng gamot.”
Another risk factor for CVD is cholesterol. Santos discusses dyslipidemia, the study of the increase in cholesterol.
“Marami sa atin ang nagpapa lipid profile, ito ang test na ginagawa upang malaman natin anong component sa cholesterol natin ang mataas,”
Santos continued there are 3 components of a lipid profile:
a. Good or HDL cholesterol – we want this in our system. We get this from nuts salmon, fatty fish, whole grains, high-fiber fruits, etc.. HDL cholesterol protects us from heart attack or stroke.
b. Triglycerides – these are fats we get from sugar from starchy food such as white bread, white rice, white pasta and sugary beverages. When you have high triglycerides, this results to insulin resistance that in time can lead to diabetes. We don’t want this to be high.
c. LDL or bad cholesterol – When we eat foods high in cholesterol, we can have cholesterol deposit build-up that can also result to heart attack or stroke. Most food high in LDL are animal fats and processed fried foods.
Aside from cholesterol, diabetes is another risk factor that should be addressed.
“Ang diabetes ay hindi sakit sa blood sugar, ito ay sakit sa puso,” Vilela reiterated saying that 1 in 20 patients who have diabetes have had heart attack.
Dr. Vilela discussed further the two ways how diabetes attacks the heart.
The first is through the Advanced Glycation End-Products or the harmful
compounds that are formed when protein or fat combine with sugar in the bloodstream. This, according to Dr. Vilela is toxic to the heart and in simple terms presence of these products leads to heart failure.
The second way is through the blockage of the arteries or what is called ischemia.
“Kapag ikaw ay diabetic, considered ka ng may sakit sa puso” Vilela added.
CVD and patient consult in the pandemic
Patients are too scared to visit the hospital during the pandemic.
Meanwhile, the doctors advised the patients that for emergency cardiac cases, they have to go to the hospital ER.
“All our hospitals have formal system of triage by which CoVID patients are directed to a different ER and Covid ward. And non-COVID patients are prioritized and attended to based on the seriousness of their case and on a first-come-first-served basis,” Santos emphasized encouraging patients to eliminate fear of going to hospitals.
There are three strategies to prevent CVD.
“Primary prevention refers to the steps taken by an individual to prevent the onset of disease. Secondary prevention focuses on reducing the impact of the disease by early diagnosis prior to any critical and permanent damage. Tertiary prevention is given once long-term effects sets in. It helps the patients to manage pain, improve quality of life and increase life expectancy,” Llanes said.
Llanes emphasized that these strategies are the main representatives of studies done in western countries. Although we still need to device our own, the main message is the same, we have to start preventing the onset of the disease.
Fighting CVD starts with knowing what your risk factors are. When you understand the risk factors, you can reduce them by making healthy choices. Nobody else can decide for you. Your heart health is your choice. Choose to be healthy now!