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In light of February being Heart Month, Affinity Health, a leading provider of high-quality healthcare, reminds all South Africans to focus on the sobering fact that heart disease is still among the leading causes of death in men and women, and take precautionary measures to protect your heart.


What Is Heart Disease?

Heart disease is a catch-all phrase for a variety of disorders affecting the heart and blood arteries, including coronary artery disease, heart failure, and arrhythmias.


According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death globally, accounting for 17.9 million deaths annually. This is an alarming statistic, but it is important to note that many risk factors for heart disease can be managed or prevented.

The Prevalence of Heart Disease in South Africa

The prevalence of CVD has been increasing in South Africa over the years. This is likely due to a combination of factors, such as high rates of hypertension and diabetes, as well as unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as smoking and poor diet.


Additionally, socioeconomic factors such as poverty and lack of access to healthcare have also been found to contribute to the high rates of heart disease in South Africa.


The government and various non-profit organisations have been working to raise awareness and address these issues, but there is still much work to be done to tackle this public health crisis.

Common Risk Factors of Heart Disease

One of the main risk factors for heart disease is high blood pressure (hypertension).


High blood pressure strains the heart and blood arteries, increasing the risk of a heart attack or stroke. It is estimated that around 1 billion people worldwide have high blood pressure.

An important risk factor for heart disease is high cholesterol. High levels of LDL cholesterol,  generally known as “bad” cholesterol, can accumulate in blood arteries and raise the risk of heart attack and stroke. Visit your doctor to determine your cholesterol level (through a blood test) and what you should do if your levels of bad cholesterol are high.

Obesity also increases the risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes, all of which are risk factors for heart disease. A balanced diet and regular exercise are essential for achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.

Other risk factors for heart disease include diabetes, smoking, and excessive alcohol consumption.


Diabetes raises the risk of heart disease because high blood sugar levels can damage blood arteries. Tobacco use destroys blood vessels and raises the risk of heart disease, whereas excessive alcohol intake raises blood pressure and raises the risk of heart disease.

Signs And Symptoms of Heart Disease

Some common signs and symptoms of heart disease include chest pain or discomfort, shortness of breath, fatigue, and palpitations. Other symptoms include pain or discomfort in the arms, back, neck, jaw, or stomach, dizziness, fainting, and sweating.

“It’s important to note that some people may not experience any symptoms at all,” says Murray Hewlett, CEO of Affinity Health.


“It’s crucial to be aware of your risk factors and to schedule regular check-ups with your healthcare provider.”

About Affinity Health 

Affinity Health is South Africa’s leading provider of health insurance, offering you a range of options at affordable rates including access to the widest national provider network. We understand the importance of having medical insurance that meets your needs, your budget, and your lifestyle. Our range of healthcare products are designed to protect you and your family when it matters the most. We strive to always give our clients peace of mind and the highest standard of service at all times. For more information, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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