Liberty Newsletter September 2018 View the newsletter online

Guard your heart and your finances

By Dr Dominique Stott, Chief Medical Officer at Liberty

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On 29 September, we observe World Heart Day. Heart and cardiovascular conditions are the number one cause of death and disability globally. World Heart Day pools resources from public health organisations, individuals, government and insurers to create awareness around this preventable public health issue.

Studies indicate that more than 17 million people die from a poor state of heart health. Hypertension is one of the main risk factors for heart disease and strokes. It’s highly prevalent in South Africa and Statistics SA estimates that it impacts about 4,4 million South Africans and 1,13 billion people worldwide.

The growing prevalence of cardiovascular-related diseases is particularly worrisome for low- and middle-income countries where health systems are already strained and struggling. The prevalence of cardiovascular diseases and the cost of treatment put a huge strain on the economy and your household finances. When the main income earner in a household has a heart attack or stroke, the impact on the household is immediate and severe.

The financial risk of heart-related illnesses can be managed by having the right level of insurance cover in place. The role of long-term insurance is essential in maintaining the financial stability of a household. Liberty’s Claim Statistics for 2017 show that cardiovascular conditions led to claims under life, loss of income and lifestyle protection. Cardiovascular conditions were the second highest cause for claims, second only to cancer claims.

We’ve all heard the adage, “Prevention is better than cure.” When it comes to heart disease, nothing could be truer. However, learning about the causes of heart disease and how to prevent it is another important step to avoiding the risk factors from occurring in your home. It’s possible to modify your lifestyle to reduce the risk of heart disease occurring in your family.

Three ways to improve your heart health

1. Avoid or quit smoking
Smoking triples the risk of cardiovascular disease, coronary diseases and heart attack, doubles the risk of strokes, and leads to numerous forms of cancer. If you already smoke, cut down or see a non-smoking specialist for help. Quitting smoking has been shown to decrease the risk of having heart attacks, strokes and heart diseases sharply.

2. Eat well and be physically active
Eating a varied diet of healthy foods, which are low in salt and bad fat, and having regular moderate physical activity can help you maintain a healthy lifestyle. Take steps to manage your weight and blood pressure, regulate your glucose and cholesterol levels and boost your mood. Research shows that physical inactivity increases the risk of heart disease and stroke by 50%.

3. Get checked
Having regular check-ups with your doctor can help you with prevention of diseases, early diagnosis and early treatment if needed, which is all beneficial to vital living. Getting yourself and your family members screened for cardiovascular-related diseases is just one way to catch them early.

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The information contained in this communication, including attachments, is not to be construed as advice in terms of the financial advisery and Intermediary Services Act of 2002 ("FAIS") as the writer is neither an appointed representative of Liberty, nor a licensed financial services provider as contemplated in FAIS. Please consult your financial adviser should you require advice of a financial nature and/or intermediary services.