Reduce stress and HaveHeart

Online since 15.09.2015 • Filed under Industry news • From Issue 2 - September 2015 - February 2016 page(s) 54-55
Reduce stress and HaveHeart

The Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa (HSFSA) wants all South Africans to HaveHeart in September for Heart Awareness Month by showing you care.

September is dedicated to raising awareness about cardiovascular disease in South Africa and culminates on World Heart Day on September 29. Heart Awareness Month has long been a platform for raising awareness about heart disease and highlighting the importance of a healthy lifestyle and appropriate treatment. This year, the theme for Heart Awareness Month is to HaveHeart and show you care. One aspect of heart health includes managing stress levels.

Is work stressing you out?

You may feel that you are coping well with stress, but stress can cause cardiovascular disease, and it is particularly important to reduce stress if you have other risk factors or have already had a cardiovascular event.

Although it is not a major risk factor, there is evidence that stress can contribute to cardiovascular disease in some people. Research has found that people are more likely to feel stressed when they believe they have little control over their work and have lots of demands placed on them. It may not be practical to change your job, but you can take steps to manage stress at work. Bear in mind that it is not stress by itself that causes heart disease or stroke, but an unhealthy response to stress that may lead to other risky behaviours, such as smoking, drinking too much alcohol, overeating or skipping meals, and eating high-fat, convenience foods. Other risk factors such as physical inactivity, high blood cholesterol, and a family history of cardiovascular disease all act together with stress and contribute to your risk of heart disease or stroke. For some people who have angina or who have had a heart attack, extreme stress could trigger an angina attack.

Some stress is good

Be wary of cutting out all forms of stress, as some may actually be positive and help speed up your recovery, especially if it is a rewarding activity. A certain amount of stress may help you feel motivated and enthusiastic. It is only when there is too much stress for too long that it becomes unhealthy.

Reducing stress at work

Identify what you are feeling and talk about it to a sympathetic colleague or friend.

• Work out what your priorities are and drop the less important things – tomorrow is another day.

• If you have trouble managing your workload, talk to your team and work out a time management strategy.

• Become more assertive by learning to say no or delegate when you feel over-burdened.

• Handle challenges and face difficult decisions – don’t ignore them or procrastinate. Effective problem solving and decision-making will help relieve stress.

• Let go of perfectionist ways and allow for mistakes or delays that are inevitable.

• Make the effort to leave work on time at least twice a week and use the extra time to do your favourite hobby or physical activity.

• Make more time for rest and relaxation. A good night’s sleep will help you cope with stressful situations.

• Make sure you have lunch every day, even when you are really busy, and eat more fruit and vegetables. Avoid too much refined, processed or convenience foods that are high in fat and salt. A healthy diet is a good stress coping mechanism.

• Drink plenty of water and reduce you caffeine intake (cola, coffee, tea or chocolate).

• Quit smoking and cut down on alcohol.

• A lunchtime walk can help you to take a break and return feeling refreshed and invigorated.

By making a few small changes and getting the balance right, you will be well on the way to a healthier lifestyle. You will probably find that you feel more positive, have more energy, and are better able to cope with stressful situations in your workplace.

What does the HaveHeart campaign mean?

We can all HaveHeart by getting screened to identify what puts us at risk for heart disease and strokes.

Following that, we can show we care by beginning to take charge of our own health. We can HaveHeart for our families by encouraging a healthy home environment. Make it easy for your family to be healthy and take care of their hearts for the future. Additionally, we can HaveHeart by helping to create awareness about heart disease and making South Africa a healthier country. You can help us do it!

Why a month-long focus?

Heart disease and strokes are the second biggest killer in South Africa, after HIV/AIDS. Once thought to be a disease of the elderly, heart disease now affects people of working age, with more than half of deaths occurring in people under the age of 65 years. Our lifestyles are largely to blame for this growing problem – we eat too much, smoke and drink too much, and are not keeping active. Our children are particularly vulnerable and influenced by our unhealthy environments, and are at risk for heart disease from a young age. Here are some of South Africa’s shocking statistics:

• South Africa has one of the highest rates of high blood pressure worldwide: one in three adults

• High blood pressure is a silent killer – 75% of people with high blood pressure don’t even know they have it

• One in five children in South Africa smoke

• One in two adults, and a quarter of children, in South Africa are overweight

• 210 people die from heart disease every day

• 80% of these premature deaths can be prevented by eating better, moving more, and avoiding smoking.

Help spread awareness about heart disease and win a heart healthy hamper

The HSFSA needs everyone’s help to create awareness about heart disease and calls on the public to get screened. Here’s how you can help:

1 Get screened at your nearest Dis-chem during September

2 Join the campaign by posting a photo of you getting tested along with your numbers on our Facebook wall to stand a chance of winning great spot prizes! Help us spread the word about looking after your heart by using


3 Challenge all your family and friends to get tested too.

4 Terms and conditions apply. Visit

About the Heart and Stroke Foundation

The Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa (HSFSA) plays a leading role in the fight against preventable heart disease and stroke, with the aim of seeing fewer South Africans suffer premature deaths and disabilities. Established in 1980, the HSF is a nongovernmental, non-profit organisation. For more information, contact the Heart and Stroke Health Line on 0860 1 HEART (43278) or visit

Issue 2 - September 2015 - February 2016

Issue 2 - September 2015 - February 2016

This article was featured on page 54-55 of SABI Magazine Issue 2 - September 2015 - February 2016 .

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