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World Heart Day — At the Heart of Health

Home is where the heart is. This phrase is not all that figurative as it is biological. As one of the vital organs, the heart has been long identified as the center of the entire body and the seat of life. Founded in 2000, World Heart Day is celebrated in more than 100 countries around the world to raise public awareness about heart health and the prevention of cardiovascular disease through the promotion of healthy living. As of 2011, World Heart Day is celebrated every 29 of September and no longer on the last Sunday of September.

Cardiovascular diseases are defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a group of disorders of the heart and blood vessels, which usually affects the flow of blood to critical organs such as the heart and brain and may result in acute events of heart attacks and strokes. Physical inactivity, unhealthy diet, smoking and stress are factors that increase one’s risk of cardiovascular diseases. The cardiovascular disease epidemic is particularly rampant in developing countries. The social and economic changes, such as globalisation and urbanisation may result in an increase in alcohol and tobacco use or a decrease physical activity. The shift in the people’s lifestyle choices increases their predisposition to developing heart diseases.

According to some suggestions for World Heart Day 2015, these are some ways we can practice to keep our hearts healthy and beating.


In our work environments, we could take note of saying no to smoking, bringing exercise to work, watching what we eat and reducing stress.

One could demand a smoking ban in one’s workplaces and ask our employer to provide help to colleagues who want to quit smoking. Cycling, walking to work or getting off the bus a stop or two early is a healthy option for the heart as well.

With the advent of technology, we can encourage employers to use pedometers or a smartphone app to track steps and even hold walking competitions within the office. It is also critical to watch what we eat – make a point to always opt for healthier yet affordable food choices. Though stress has not been shown to be a direct cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factor, stressful people tend to practice unhealthy lifestyle such as smoking, excessive drinking and unhealthy eating which are all risk factors for heart disease. Trying taking adequate amounts of break throughout the day to stretch or exercise for 5 minutes at regular intervals.

Daily Practices in Life

Our personal lives could also do with some alterations to help take care of our hearts.

Stocking your home with healthy food options by limiting prepacked food that are often high in sugar, fat and salt. Incorporate fresh fruit and vegetables in our meals or swap sweet treats for mango or other fruits. Preparing healthy school or work lunches at home is another great option as food at our office canteens or neighbourhoods are often oily. Ban smoking in your home can help with children’s heart health. Quitting smoking is also a great way to be a positive role model for our children. Visiting a health professional who can measure your blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels, weight and body mass index, and advise on your risk is extreemely vital in heart health. Once you know your CVD risk, you can make a specific plan to improve your heart health and your healthcare professional can also advise on appropriate treatment options where necessary.


Play is often underestimated as a waste of time or mindless distraction. Play can contribute greatly to the prevention of heart diseases and is a huge protector of the heart. Encourage our children to be active is one step towards a healthy heart. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), children aged 5-17 years of age should aim for at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity a day. Be active with your children by walking or cycling to school together as a bonding activity. Getting ourselves active is crucial as it is important for adults to play often too! It's never too late to start! Begin small and gradually increase, aiming for 50 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise throughout the week. We should always talk to our personal doctors before we begin any programme of exercise. The best types of activities include aerobic exercise, brisk walking, jogging, swimming and cycling. Muscle strengthening exercises also help us to burn more calories to keep our weight gain healthy. Stretching exercises, like Taichi and yoga, can help to improve our flexibility.

In a nutshell, protecting our heart is as important for a kid as it is for an adult. It is never too late to protect your heart or prevent any CVD. Many of the activities introduced in the article are not new information and they are often taken for granted. The next time you find yourself in need of extra time for exercise - try spending time with your loved ones by exercising together to protect the heart! What will you be doing this coming World Heart Day?

(The theme for World Heart Day 2016 is still pending. Do check out the World Heart Foundation for more information)


Written by Clarrie Ng
Clarrie Ng enjoys researching on issues pertaining to politics, identity and communication. She just graduated with a master's degree from the University of British Columbia and is currently teaching.
You can spot her on Twitter @clarrieng.

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