September is heart health awareness month, with September 29 being World Heart Day.
The day is commemorated to promote different preventative steps and changes in lifestyle to avoid cardiovascular events and diseases, such as heart attack, stroke, heart failure and any other related conditions.
According to The Heart and Stroke Foundation of South Africa, cardiovascular disease (CVD), including heart disease and strokes, are the leading cause of disabilities and death worldwide, accounting for 17 million deaths a year (31% of total global deaths).
In South Africa CVD is the leading cause of death after HIV and Aids and is responsible for almost one in six deaths (17.3%), equating to 215 people dying every day from heart disease or strokes
“At Novartis we believe in a world where heart health services and education is a fundamental human right and a crucial element to ensure universal health and wellness.
"The Novartis Lego Heart campaign, which coincides with World Heart Day is an important initiative to raise public awareness about heart and heart-related diseases. It is also intended to educate the public on how to manage their disease once diagnosed, - which symptoms to look-out for, the importance of regular medical check-ups, and adopting a responsible lifestyle including a healthy diet and regular exercise”, says Dr Miles Braithwaite, Medical Therapeutic Area Head – Primary Care, Novartis South Africa.
A lack of awareness around cardiovascular disease results in people being undiagnosed and untreated until it is too late. This year for World Heart Day, The Heart Federation is on a mission to ensure heart health equity for all by creating a global community of Heart Heroes.
Here are some symptoms to be aware of, to be able to effectively manage or recognise heart failure:
Shortness of breath
Heart failure can cause the fluid in your body to gather in your lungs which may cause you to feel short of breath during everyday activities.
Heart failure means less oxygen-rich blood is circulating the body. Because your muscles and tissues need oxygen for energy, this means people with heart failure can feel tired very easily.
Shortness of breath when lying down
Lying flat may also make you feel short of breath so that you need to sleep sat up or with multiple pillows.
Swelling in the ankles, legs and abdomen
Clothes or shoes might feel tighter as fluid in the body builds up in the legs, ankles or abdomen causing them to swell up.
The heart sometimes starts to speed up to compensate for its reduced ability to pump blood around the body.
The above symptoms are non-specific and are not intended to diagnose heart failure or replace medical advice but may form the basis for discussion between patients and their healthcare professionals.