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European Society of Cardiology

Clinical Articles, News & Views

Try something new this World Heart Day, urges the ESC

The theme of this year’s World Heart Day is creating heart-healthy environments, as highlighted by European Society of Cardiology (ESC) spokesperson Professor Stephan Gielen (Halle, Germany) in a statement on the number of cases of cardiovascular disease in India and China – more than in all other developed countries combined.

“There has been a steady increase in metabolic and cardiovascular disease around the globe and while treatment is helpful, prevention is the best way to reverse this trend,” said Professor Gielen. He suggested that countries focus on educating people about healthier diets and the dangers of sedentary lifestyles.

“Simple lifestyle changes can dramatically reduce the risk of prematurely dying from cardiovascular disease,” he said. “This World Heart Day, try something new; take a Tai-Chi class, walk up a flight of stairs instead of taking  a lift or go for a long walk.”

Professor Pedro Marques-Vidal (Lausanne, Switzerland) said that the answer to a healthier heart can be found by simply looking down. “There is a transportation system that is available on demand 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It is inexpensive, does not pollute the environment and is perfect for going short distances…This outstanding and extremely sophisticated system is called the feet.”

“Walking is the easiest way to exercise and improve your heart health, and it also has considerable environmental benefits. In heavily populated cities improving pedestrian walkways could decrease pollution and increase quality of life. Make a difference this World Heart Day by using your legs to get around your town,” added Dr Marques-Vidal.

ESC spokesperson Dr Sania Nishtar (Islamabad, Pakistan) agreed, saying: “healthy diet and physical activity are tickets to a longer healthier life; science, policy and the market must converge to ensure that their benefits have universal outreach. We should make a conscious effort to create an enabling environment in homes and workplaces so that physical activity and a healthy diet get woven in the fabric of our daily lives and the societal culture”.

“Responsive public policy is key to this change, but we have to be cognisant that polices are shaped by public demand; hence the role of individual awareness and action should not be underestimated,” she added.

While pushing for policy change might be out of the reach for some, shopping locally and leaving vehicles behind is not, the statement went on. “In most places today, it is possible to eat exotic foods that have arrived by plane from distant countries,” said Professor Marques-Vidal. “Consuming foods produced locally and according to seasons is healthier and saves money and the environment, while favouring local producers and the local economy. This is called solidarity.”

This World Heart Day: focus on prevention. Leave your car at home and walk to work; ride your bicycle to the park; walk a few blocks to take public transportation and visit a local market for some fresh vegetables. You will be making your heart and the world a little healthier.

Published on: September 26, 2014

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