MANILA, PHILIPPINES – According to the country’s premier organization of heart specialists, it is about time that women — who often take the backseat or prioritize the people they care about most in their lives, especially when it comes to health concerns — begin focusing on their own heart health.
The Philippine Heart Association has stressed that women should value their self-worth and prioritize the health of their own heart.
“In empowering women, we should educate them to take charge of their health — for nobody else will. They (women) must be educated very well on the reality of cardio-vascular diseases, its hurting consequences and the preventive measures that can be taken,” said Dr. Leni Iboleon-Dy, a PCP member and chairperson of PHA’s Council on Women’s Cardiovascular Health.
Iboleon-Dy noted that due to the prevailing Filipino culture where women are raised as caring partners, mothers, daughters, most women usually take the backseat, get submissive and think less of themselves or dismiss the need for them to give priority to matters pertaining to their own health.
She said that their loving and caring heart, which is facing a risk of developing cardiovascular diseases due to presence of some multi-factorial conditions, also needs check-up and consultation as a preventive step to avoid risk factors.
“Usually, women give way to their husbands — being the breadwinner — so they give top priority to men’s health and dismiss signs or symptoms that indicate they need to have check-up also,” Iboleon-Dy noted.
She cited the need to spread more awareness on the women that cardiovascular disease is the most common cause of death among women. She cited a study showing that only 15 percent of women in Metro Manila are aware of this.
With that lack of awareness, she warned that one out of three women is likely die of heart disease and stroke in the country, where it is known to be the leading cause of death among women and not exclusive to men alone.
The lady heart specialist said that for heart disease to occur, there are multi-factorial conditions which consist of both non-modifiable and modifiable factors.
She said that the non-modifiable risks (those that cannot be changed) are age, sex, and family history.
“It is most likely that as women age or reach the age of 45 years upward, chances of developing cardiovascular diseases can occur because it is in that particular age where the onset of menopausal period begins among women which results to loss of production of hormone-estrogen level,” Iboleon-Dy added.
Family history, on the other hand, pertains to the pre-existing conditions wherein family members of a woman had been sick or died of heart diseases.
She said that such presence of non-modifiable risk factors should serve as a means for women to be more concerned in taking the lead in the prevention rather than in the curative aspects.
She added that certain modifiable risk factors can be changed to prevent cardiovascular disease and these must be remembered.
Having high blood, high blood sugar, obesity, sedentary lifestyle, and engaging in smoking can contribute to developing cardiovascular disease which, the PHA official said, can be prevented through regular compliance on the promotion of healthy lifestyle like proper diet, regular exercise and eliminating vices such as smoking.
Some symptoms to watch during assessing of oneself for the needed check-up are shortness of breath, fatigue and bloated feeling after eating which could also be indicative of other related illness, that is why she emphasized that it is very important to see a doctor and be examined.
To highlight their campaign of encouraging more women to put attention to their heart, the PHA has come up with different versions of advocacy campaign being endorsed by different movie personalities supporting it.
One popular version of the health infomercial is the one showing actress and Batangas Gov. Vilma Santos-Recto as a “speaking heart” of a woman calling on fellow women to take a look at their heart as there are problems that may occur such as occurrence of heart diseases and death if left unattended.
This thought-provoking message is contained in “Pansinin Mo naman ang Puso Mo: Ang Puso ni Ate Vi” infomercial which is conceptualized as “a way to awaken women to focus on what their heart says and what it feels”.
With the ad campaign, the PHA, through its CWCH, wants to educate and equip more women on the awareness that only a healthy heart of a woman will be able to actively continue to give and fulfill the role of a women in the family, community and society which deserves much attention and should not be dismissed.
– DFF, Medical Observer