by Gynna P. Gagelonia     

     On 29 September 2012, the sudden downpour did not dampen the enthusiasm of nearly 1,000 Makati residents at the Makati City Hall grounds to celebrate World Heart Day (WHD) with the Philippine Heart Association (PHA), which marked the global celebration with risk factor screenings, inter-high school jump rope competition and mother/child dance contest and lay lectures on healthy lifestyle.

     “One World, One Home, One Heart” was adopted from the WHD Celebration 2011, but this year’s theme focused on educating women to take action and adopt heart-healthy behavior not only to prevent exposure to risk factors for themselves but also for the well-being of their children.


               N       On year 12 of the WHD in the Philippines, the PHA and World Heart Federation (WHF) challenged individuals to take charge of their family’s heart health and focus on mother and child’s heart health. Recognizing the very efficient health agenda of the local government unit was the reason the PHA chose Makati City as its partner city for WHD 2012.

     Dr. Joel Abanilla, PHA Secretary and WHD 2012 chair, encouraged the Makati folks to avail of the “free risk factor screenings – blood pressure taking; body mass index determination; sugar and cholesterol tests; electrocardiogram; and ankle branchial index for early prevention or intervention.” 

     As in previous years, the residents were given each a Healthy Lifestyle (HL) Passport to record their health history, blood chemistry results and the doctor’s diagnosis. The HL passport holders were then encouraged to have follow-up consultation after six months of the screening. On hand to help with risk factor screenings were the chairs and members of the PHA councils, training fellows of the accredited training institutions and friends from the pharmaceutical industry.

     PHA Director and Advocacy Committee Chair Dr. Jonas del Rosario, a pediatric cardiologist, said majority of heart diseases in adults are preventable at an early stage.  He stressed that cardiovascular disease (CVD) gradually develops over the years, and that adults should make the young understand unhealthy habits pave the way to various diseases, and physical inactivity doubles the risk of developing coronary heart disease.

     According to the WHF, about 1.7 million people around the world die every year from heart disease and stroke, and 82 percent of these cases come from the developing world. The report states heart disease is the number one killer of women over 25 years old and that one in every 2.5 women will die of heart disease and stroke.

     Parents, most especially mothers, have direct hand in the family’s lifestyle and teachers have major influences on children’s views on healthy habits. Nowadays, however, many competing influences such as television, computer games and electronic gadgets, and the proliferation of convenience food serve as major distractions from kids practicing healthier routines.

     Dr. Saturnino Javier, PHA President, said heart disease is still the top killer disease, and silent killer, in the Philippines and globally. “I urge every mother/woman, being the gate keeper to their family’s health, to be home advocates for heart-healthy living, but prior, she has to ensure that she is heart-healthy,” Javier said.

     The PHA, WHF, Department of Health and World Health Organization have been unyielding in advancing the rules of a healthy lifestyle – eat right, exercise more, stress management and no smoking.

     During lay fora, the lectures centered on “Why focus on prevention of CVD in women now?”, “How to deal with hypertension”, “The Diabetes Scare”, “Importance of a Healthy Diet”, “Why children are also at risk of CVD?”, and “Dangers of second-hand smoke”.

     Health Undersecretary Jasmin Peralta talked to barangay health workers on the need to create a culture of positive behavior and attitude towards lifestyles.  Usec Peralta said public health intervention was crucial in environments heavily influenced by Western habits.  She added that convenience and fast foods, addicting gadgets that put a halt to one’s regular physical activity, had become part of the cosmopolitan Filipinos’ daily habits.