Preventing heart attacks

‘€œI had no idea I was having a heart attack when I suddenly felt funny and nauseous. I was then rushed to the doctor where I was informed that I was having a heart attack, following an electro-cardiogram (ECG). The test revealed that I had two blocked heart valves’€, says Angelina Mbhele.

The ECG test measures the electrical impulses while the heart is pumping blood into the body.

The prognosis was not good. Angelina had to make some changes to her lifestyle. At age 68, weighing 70 kilograms and short in height, the doctor said she was over-weight. He decided that she needed a strict dietary programme.    

‘€œI was put on a special diet immediately because the kind of life I used to live was not so good. I ate anything without any worry’€, Angelina says.

She now watches what she eats and has also started exercising. Her weight has gone down to an impressive 60 kg.

Explaining what a heart attack is, Dr Lucas Ntintyane, a research fellow at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital Cardiology Division, says ‘€œputting it roughly, heart attacks occur when a certain muscle in the heart stops functioning because it is not getting the necessary oxygen to survive’€.

To prevent a heart attack one needs to follow a good lifestyle, according to Shan Biesman Simons, of the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

‘€œThe three most important facets of a good lifestyle are: not smoking, eating well and exercising regularly’€, she explains.

‘€œFocus on having a wide variety of foods and that all foods are in moderation, cutting out on the saturated fats. Those are generally of animal origin and hard at room temperature, the trans-fats that we find in processed food’€¦ making sure you get enough fruits and vegetables to get the anti-oxidants and vitamins you might need. And also looking at fibre and not drinking too much alcohol’€, Simons says.

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