As non-communicable diseases remain in the spotlight around the world, cardiovascular or heart diseases are among those diseases health experts say need higher awareness.
Cardiovascular diseases are conditions that directly affect the heart and blood vessels. According to the World Health Organization, heart diseases remain the number one cause of deaths globally: more people die annually from heart diseases than from any other cause.
And in Zimbabwe statistics show cardiovascular diseases like heart attacks and strokes accounted for 9% of deaths from non-communicable diseases in 2014.
Heart diseases are characterized by blood clots, high blood pressure, stroke, cardiac arrest and even heart failure, some of which can be treated with medicines and surgery when necessary.
General physician and Mandela Washington Fellow, Dr. Marlon Ralph Nyakabau, said Zimbabweans should begin to view their health differently, adding some conditions of heart disease can be prevented.
“To a certain extent it is quite true that looking at the statistics most of the people that get heart disease are older people but now we are seeing a very sad trend that it’s now affecting more and more younger people. We are seeing young people that are getting heart attacks and even going into heart failure,” said Dr. Nyakabau
He attributed this to the changing trends in diet and lifestyle that have long been pinpointed for the increasing numbers of some non-communicable diseases like cardiovascular disease.
“Prevention is always better than the cure; it starts from eating right making sure there is a low fat diet, people paying attention to their carbohydrates, eating the right kinds of fat. And then the other thing is exercise, a heart muscle that is regularly exercised is stronger.”
Health experts have pointed out often that there is great emphasis on communicable diseases like HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis while less talked about non-communicable diseases, and are quietly killing many Zimbabweans.
Statistics by the WHO also show that an estimated 31% of deaths in Zimbabwe in 2014 were a result of non-communicable diseases.
Doctors recommend portions in a normal dish to be half vegetables, a quarter starch and a quarter proteins.
They also advise people to becoming active by walking, jogging or even joining group activities like dancing.