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By Gynna P. Gagelonia

The Philippine Heart Association (PHA) is taking on the challenge of the World Heart Federation (WHF) to work on an ambitious goal: 25 percent reduction in premature cardiovascular disease (CVD) mortality by 2025.

The announcement was made by the PHA Board of Directors who was in full force at the Philippine College of Physicians Health Forum @ Annabel's at T. Morato Ave., Quezon City. The theme was: "Take the Road to a Healthy Heart".

 

Latest statistics show that death rate from non-communicable diseases (NCDs) like CVD (which includes heart disease and stroke); diabetes; cancer and chronic respiratory diseases; is on the rise.

"There is an ominous trend of NCDS because of unhealthy practices. Only 7 out of 100 adult Filipinos exercise; obese children and adult is a growing breed. Physical inactivity and obesity are risk factors for CVD", said PHA Secretary Dr. Alex Junia and concurrent WHD 2013 Committee chair.

Premature deaths from CVD can be curbed. That is why the PHA has been strongly endorsing Healthy Lifestyle to
prevent the onset of lifestyle-induced diseases like heart ailments and stroke. The WHF 2025 goal is a colossal task but the PHA is honoured to be part of such an endeavour. "Realistically, the PHA, or the medical community cannot do this alone. An intensified strategy needs enormous and continuous support from a cohesive group and our own government," said PHA President Dr. Eugene Reyes.

He hailed the passage of the Sin Tax Reform, which can result in a significant reduction in smoking prevalence. The influence of the World Heart Federation to the United Nations and subsequently to the Philippines, has resulted in a P10-billion contribution from the President's Funds to Philhealth for national health reforms. However, policy makers need to be urged to craft and ratify more laws so that every Filipino will receive quality if not excellent healthcare.

The government has to address more problems like: poverty, healthy food production, pollution and lack of infrastructure. Due to poverty, the poor cannot afford even simple, balanced and nutritious foods. Seventy percent of the population belongs to the social class D & E. Pollution is now an emerging risk factor for CVD. Lack of infrastructure to protect the population from pollution adds up to burden.

In developed countries, very affordable fresh fruits, vegetables and freshly prepared foods in packs are
available in convenience stores. Singaporeans are shielded from fumes because they have underground passageway for pedestrians. Amsterdam has bikers' lanes and pocket parks, said Reyes.

CVD prevention is a lot cheaper than management. "Definitely it is both inexpensive and effective. Children, adults and seniors should engage in at least 30-minute exercise daily in the form of dancing, running, or brisk walking, with household chores. To make it a lot easier, it is best to settle for a form of exercise that you love best, and make sure to consult your doctor about the exercise that is good for you," Junia added.

What is the message of "Take the Road to a Healthy Heart"? You plant the seed of Healthy Lifestyle in the womb.
Parents, especially the mother, take full charge of the family's well-being. But the mother has to take good care of herself too while nurturing her loved ones. A healthy family results in a healthy society and a healthy country.

Dr. Helen Ong-Garcia, PHA director said, "The mother is the central figure in the family because she does
multi-roles: mother, wife, cook, disciplinarian, and many more, while keeping a job or building a career. She has to prioritize her own health issues."

The September 11 Health Forum was the jump-off point of the month-long celebration of World Heart Day 2013 to a string of activities that will have simultaneous culminating events (Heart Fairs with Risk Factor Screenings and Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation Lecture/Demos) in the nine PHA Chapters – NCR, Northern Luzon, Central Luzon, Southern Tagalog, Bicol, Cebu, Bacolod Western Visayas, Northwestern Mindanao and Davao-Southern Mindanao on September 29, 2013.

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(L-R) Dr. Eugene Reyes, Dr. Alex Junia, and Dr. Jonas del Rosario, during the open forum of the Philippine College of Physicians Health Forum @ Annabel's at T. Morato Ave., Quezon City.

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(L-R) Dr. Raul Lapitan, Dr. Eugene Reyes, Dr. Alex Junia, Dr. Helen Ong-Garcia, and Dr. Joel Abanilla.