Showing extra love and affection to family, friends and that special someone is what Valentine is all about for many. Often overlooked is the importance of love and care for oneself. February, after all, is not only the month of romance; it is also the month dedicated to heart health.
Many initiatives were launched last February to encourage mindfulness about having a healthy and happy heart in celebration of Philippine Heart Month. These were especially important as cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) remain the world’s leading cause of death, accounting for about 1 in every 3 deaths globally. In the Philippines, the incidence of deaths caused by hypertension and diabetes mellitus, both of which can lead to heart diseases, rose in 2021.
Looking after and maintaining heart health, however, should not be limited to February. It is important to show our hearts extra love and attention even beyond the heart month. Here are easy-to-remember steps you can add to your everyday routine to keep your heart healthy and happy year-round.
In a recent webinar by the Philippine Heart Association, heart doctors encouraged Filipinos to follow the 5-2-1-0-0 regimen. What this means is that the daily diet should have at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables, only 2g (or one teaspoon) of salt and 0 sugary drinks. Aside from this, the regimen also advises at least 1 hour of daily physical activity and zero smoking.
Additional healthy alternatives for guilt-free eating include:
- Choosing natural seasoners such as calamansi instead of high-sodium condiments like soy sauce, fish sauce or ketchup
- Having fresh fruits instead of sweetened snacks such as cakes and cookies for dessert
- Drinking more water and less artificially sweetened beverages
Working or studying from home means being glued to one’s seat for 8 hours or even more a day unlike when commuting to work or school that requires some walking or even running at times. As such, it is crucial to allot some time to stretch and move around. As mentioned, heart experts also recommend getting at least 1 hour of exercise or physical activity per day to strengthen the heart.
An entire hour dedicated to just exercise may sound daunting, but there is a workaround: This 1 hour can be spread throughout the day. Small amounts of moderate physical activity that increase the heart rate such as brisk walking, climbing stairs, gardening or doing household chores are already a good start. Gradually increase the duration, frequency and intensity of these activities to maybe engaging in actual exercises or workouts even at home.
Say no to smoking
According to the Department of Health (DoH), 15.5 percent of Filipino adults are tobacco smokers and approximately 1 in 10 Filipino adult men smoke tobacco on a daily basis. These statistics are alarming as tobacco use and exposure to second-hand smoke are common heart killers.
Quitting smoking can reduce the risk of CVDs. In fact, within a year of quitting, the risk for heart attack drops dramatically. Within five years, reformed smokers are about as likely to experience a stroke as a person who has never smoked. So, quitting or not smoking at all is a big gift of health that you can give your heart.
Monitor your blood pressure
Hypertension is the one of the biggest risk factors for various cardiovascular diseases, including stroke, coronary artery disease and heart failure. Data from the DoH reveal 25.8 percent of adult Filipinos were diagnosed as hypertensive and 54.5 percent are currently on medications to control their hypertension.
Hypertensive or not, listen to your heart. One of the best ways to do this is to make it a habit to monitor your blood pressure. Products such as OMRON’s line of digital blood pressure monitors (BPM) have made this easier than ever, and from the comforts of home.
OMRON’s digital BPMs are equipped with the latest technology to make heart health monitoring as intuitive as possible. They are also easily accessible through the most trusted local pharmacies and drugstores or online via OMRON’s flagship e-commerce stores.
So, whether it be the love month or any other day of the year, always show your heart some love. You can start with these simple reminders.