Heart attack is No. 1 killer in PH


Heart attack or stroke is the number one killer in the Philippines. This was the joint declaration of participants in the recently concluded 47th annual convention of the Philippine Heart Association (PHA).

Dr. Jorge Sison, overall chair of the medical event, revealed that PHA’s data for the past 10 years show that there is an increase in the number of cardiovascular diseases in the country. Sison said the main challenge for them in PHA now is how to reach Filipinos with heart disease.

Medical doctors say cardiovascular disease (CVD) remains the number one killer both locally and globally.

In the Philippines, Sison said 60-70 percent of Filipinos have not been treated or seen by a cardiologist. Aside from that, Sison noted that Filipinos also deal with the burden of healthcare cost.

This is why he would like to appeal to the Department of Health (DOH) and PhilHealth to help the indigents with heart disease. Also, the PHA hopes the incoming administration will extend the government’s support in terms of information dissemination, and extending health coverage or insurance for those suffering from heart disease.

In a study done by Sison and his team, they found out that there’s a need for better control in hypertension rate, which can only be possible through dissemination of latest statistics on hypertension detection, treatment and control.

Apart from observing a healthy lifestyle, there are certain types of drinks that people should avoid to save themselves from heart disease, the doctors said.

In an article written for the PHA convention by Dr. Ramon Abarquez, National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) academician, he mentioned that one should avoid alcoholic drinks, caffeinated and energy drinks, and salt surfeit.

“Salt can make high blood pressure (BP) much worse although in others, with appropriate renal salt excretion, it may not result in further BP elevation,” said Dr. Abarquez.

He explained that excess salt can retain water and increase volume load to the heart. “Thus, reduced salt or sodium intake is a strongly recommended as part of a healthy diet,” he said.

For coffee lovers, Dr. Abarquez also noted that caffeine in coffee is a stimulant that activates the central nervous system, producing tachycardia, elevating metabolic rate and BP rise on a temporary and long-term basis.

Dr. Abarquez also mentioned that another caffeine issue is arrhythmia.Even decaffeinated coffee and other drinks are not totally free of caffeine, according to him, as he shared the following data:

Energy drinks: 72 to 150 mg per bottle
Coffee: 60 to 150 mg per cup.
Non-Rx pain killer, appetite suppressants, cold-cough remedies: > 65 mg.
Colas: 47 to 64 mg per 12-ounce can
Tea: 40 to 80 mg per cup
Chocolate bars: up to 35 mg per ounce
Cocoa: up to 8 mg per cup
Decaffeinated coffee: up to 7 mg per cup

According to the American Heart Association, one to two cups of regular coffee is okay, but more than that could be risky, especially among those at risk for heart disease.

The PHA said lowering one’s risk factors for CVD can help prevent a heart attack. Even if you already have coronary heart disease, you still can take steps to lower your risk for a heart attack. These steps involve following a heart-healthy lifestyle and getting ongoing medical care.

They said a heart-healthy lifestyle includes healthy eating, being physically active, quitting smoking, managing stress and weight.

Managing chronic conditions can also help lower the risk for a heart attack. These conditions may include diabetes, high blood cholesterol and high blood pressures. (Daniel Llanto)