While the whole world has been scrambling for protection against COVID-19 in the past two years, silent killers in the form of heart disease and diabetes have been overlooked. In fact, Philippine Statistics Office data alone reveals that heart disease remains to be the top cause of death in the Philippines from 2020 to 2021, while diabetes milletus fatalities also marked a 22 percent increase to 44,000 in 2021. This caused doctors and health industry experts to sound the alarm and remind people that the battle against non-COVID illnesses are far from over.
To help Filipinos jumpstart their healthy lifestyle journey in the simplest ways, For Your Sweetheart Philippines — a nationwide movement initiated by Boehringer Ingelheim Philippines among health industry stalwarts, was put up in hopes of raising awareness on the critical link between diabetes and heart disease. For better recall of the tips, here are reminders in the form of acronyms that doctors shared during the recent Confessions of a Sweet Talker: How Your Sweet Tooth Can Cause Heartaches media briefing:
WORDS TO REMEMBER
“Beat the three Ks to prevent hypertension and diabetes: Katakawan, Katabaan, Katamaran (gluttony, obesity, and laziness),” says Dr. Carolyn Narvacan-Montano, president of the Philippine College of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism (PCEDM).
As for Dr. Rodney Jimenez, Secretary of the Philippine Heart Association (PHA), people should start following the 52100 practice daily. The said numbers stand for:
- 5 servings of fruits and vegetables
- 2 hours of screen time if possible
- 1 hour of exercise or at least 1 minute of movement per hour
- 0 smoking, and
- 0 sugary drinks.
“Sitting is the new smoking,” explains Dr. Jimenez. With a lot of people working from home, slouching in front of their computers almost `12 hours a day, and just going straight to sleep, it’s important to stretch our legs even for a bit and walk around for a few minutes each day. Such lifestyle changes caused by the pandemic has contributed to the rise of medical conditions.
“Pandemic lockdowns and quarantines have seriously impacted the health of many Filipinos by limiting their movement and keeping them from engaging in exercise and this was exacerbated by heightened anxiety, as well as the availability of streaming services and social media,” he adds.
For Leyden Florido, President of the Philippine Association of Diabetes Educators (PADE), she encourages everyone not to forget MEND, which stands for:
- Nutrition and healthy eating habits, and
- De-stress in order to watch over our mental health
FREE HEALTH RISK ASSESSMENT TOOLS
Hypertension and diabetes are preventable. In fact, there are simple online tools that people can use to get an indication of any health risks they may have.
One such tool, called the Framingham Assessment Test, is a web-based written exam that computes the risk for developing cardiovascular disease based on a series of information including cholesterol levels and blood pressure. The test is free and anyone aged 30 to 74 can take it to find out if they are at risk of getting a heart attack within 10 years.
“Accessible online tools like the Framingham Assessment Test help provide a picture of one’s health prior to consulting a doctor,” says Florido. “Results can be brought to a doctor for proper interpretation and necessary action.”
The free Framingham Assessment Test takes only 10 minutes and can be found at www.foryoursweetheart.ph. Even people without a history of heart ailments are encouraged to take it.
RETURN TO REGULAR CONSULTATIONS
Aside from the healthy practices mentioned, the panelists at the media briefing all encouraged patients to look after themselves more as healthcare providers can only do so much in every consultation. Healthy practices must be maintained, healthy eating habits must continue beyond the pandemic, and return to regular consultation — may it be physical or online, should return.
“We’re in the new normal now. While online consultation remains a good option to get medical attention, hospitals and clinics can once again accept patients with other conditions by putting in place policies and measures that will protect the health and safety of everyone coming in their building against COVID-19. The best way to know how to keep your diabetes in control and from developing heart disease is still to see your doctor regularly,” added Dr. Narvacan-Montano.
First launched in 2020, For Your Sweetheart PH aims to continuously educate Filipinos about the correlation between diabetes and heart disease, as well as how to properly manage the condition. The campaign is supported by the Philippine Heart Association (PHA), the Philippine College of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism (PCEDM), Alliance of Clinical Endocrinologists (ACE), Diabetes Philippines (DP), Institute for the Studies of Diabetes Foundation (ISDF), Philippine Association for Diabetes Educators (PADE), and Philippine Alliance Patient Organizations (PAPO).
*Thumbnails from Freepik.com