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The Heart and Stroke Foundation SA to commemorate World Heart Day

26 September 2023

‘Use Heart, Know Heart’ is this year’s  campaign message for Heart Awareness Month (HAM) and World Heart Day. It is a theme championed by the World Heart Federation (WHF) and their membership. The HSFSA is a member of the WHF. The theme for this year is underpinned by the need to encourage individuals and communities to get a deeper understanding of how to maintain good heart health. World Heart Day (WHD), celebrated annually on the 29th September, is the highlight of HAM, bringing the four week-to-week themes together in the ultimate light up of  iconic buildings and sites around the world in order to put a spotlight  on cardiovascular disease (CVD).

During HAM we conceptualized   weekly themes highlighting key  CVD risk factors. We themes encompassed Young Hearts; Mature Hearts; Hypertension and Diabetes and finally, in week 4, Cumulative Risk. In week 4 which culminates on WHD, emerging evidence on climate change, environmental pollution and so on, was considered as factors making up cumulative risk.

During HAM, the Foundation implemented  many activities  in community-based settings in the provinces of KZN, Western Cape, Eastern Cape, and Gauteng. Our flagship programme, the School Health Promotion Initiative (SHPI), reached young South Africans at a public-school level to make them aware of the benefits of making healthier choices  for their heart health as well as overall health.  Within a life course approach, detecting CVD  risk  in children can prevent cardiac conditions during teenage years and  adulthood. Acknowledging the burden of  hypertension and diabetes as key drivers of CVD, along with other CVD risk factors  such as  climate change, pollution and co-existing conditions, will help impart knowledge on the importance of calculating or considering ones’ cumulative risk in order to take preventive action. It is also important to remember that one’s genetic predisposition is also a consideration when assessing vulnerability.

In South Africa, CVD is responsible for almost one (1) in six (6) deaths, claiming more lives than that of all the various types of cancers combined. Every day, 225 South Africans die from heart disease and strokes and is the second leading cause of mortality in the country. The World Health Organisation (WHO) report (2021), states that CVDs carries the largest burden of disease, and resulted in 17.9 million deaths in 2019, which represents 32% of all global deaths.  85% of these deaths were due to heart attacks and/or  strokes. It is estimated that 75% of CVD related deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). SA is a middle income country by World Bank standards. CVD is one of the leading causes of death in the non-communicable disease (NCD) cluster in SA. The HSFSA stands with the NCD Alliance in the Global Week for Action on NCDs and with a call for combined efforts to help reduce the NCD burden globally and improve health equity for all.

Adopting healthy behaviours at every age and stage, even in the face of a genetic predisposition, helps lessen the risk for CVD onset and reduces morbidity and mortality. Our preventative and empowering messages through our various programs and media platforms, target  South Africans on every level. As a Foundation we hope to inspire the nation to take their health into their own hands and look after their hearts through self-management.

On WHD  look out for the various landmarks, nationally and globally,  lighting up in red to raise awareness about CVD burden. Further to this, our teams across  provinces, especially in the Western Cape, Gauteng, KZN and Eastern Cape provinces will be hosting activities  on 29 September. Amongst these include Paddagat shopping centre in George, Ushaka Marine World in Durban, Cedar Square in Fourways – Gauteng and the V&A Waterfront Clock Tower in Cape Town.

Join the HSFSA to meet the SDG targets and mobilize with us for Universal Health Coverage, Access to Medicines and improvement of overall health and well-being.


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