Sep 2, 2008

The Heart and Stroke Foundation logo

September is Heart Awareness Month – an entire month dedicated to creating awareness and preventing heart disease in South Africans. The Heart and Stroke Foundation SA (HSFSA), a non-governmental organisation, is calling everyone to have their cholesterol and blood pressure checked, often termed ‘silent killers’ because there are no visible symptoms when levels are raised. 

Currently about 195 South Africans – or 13 minibus loads – die each day from heart disease. Of these, heart attacks are responsible for about 33 deaths per day and are twice as prevalent among men as in women, while about 60 people die a day due to strokes and about 37 due to heart failure. 

High blood pressure (hypertension) - is a major risk factor for heart attack and stroke. “Your chances of developing hypertension are high if you are overweight”, says Shân Biesman-Simons, Director of Nutrition and Education, HSFSA. “About a quarter of all South Africans 15 years and older – 6 million in total – suffer from hypertension, a key risk factor leading to heart disease and strokes, and of these only 26% of men and 51% of women are aware that they have the condition. There are no marked differences between the rates of hypertension among the different population groups.” 

High blood cholesterol - can lead to a build up of fatty material in the walls of arteries, reducing the blood supply to the heart or brain so increasing your risk of heart attack and stroke. Blood cholesterol is influenced by the amount of fat, especially saturated fat (mainly found in foods of animal origin) in your diet. 

Diabetes - increases your risk of having heart disease, heart attack or stroke. Diabetics often have high blood pressure, high cholesterol and are overweight, which increases their risk even more. 

“By knowing your cholesterol, blood pressure and glucose levels, you have already limited your chances of becoming another victim of heart disease. Once you know your risks, you will be able to make the necessary changes required to live a heart healthy lifestyle”, said Michelle Kearney, Communications Director, HSFSA. 

During September, Heart Awareness Month, the HSFSA is offering free blood pressure screenings country-wide - for more details or nutritional advice, contact the Heart Mark Diet Line on 0860 223 222 during office hours, or visit 


FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Michelle Kearney, Project Director: Communications & Public Relations, The Heart and Stroke Foundation SA - +27-21-4474222 - email: . 

The Heart and Stroke Foundation SA 
The Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa is a community-based organisation established to reduce the incidence of heart disease and stroke in the population of South Africa by providing education and supporting vital research. For further information visit

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