In Thailand, an average of 150 people per day, or six people per hour die from heart disease according to the Ministry of Public Health who reported that from 2012 to 2016, the average number of deaths caused by heart disease was approximately 54,530 people per year.
After cancer, it is the second highest cause of death amongst Thai people, despite being preventable and manageable through healthy lifestyle changes. Other serious medical afflictions, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity, are all linked to the development of heart disease, but can also be alleviated by dietary and routine measures. To help provide tips for Thai people to address rising levels of heart disease, Cardiologist, Dr. Wiwat Sanglertsilpachai, M.D., is passionate about educating how to take better care of the cardiovascular system.
“In order for all parts of the body to perform well, the heart must be able to pump the blood constantly, without any obstructions. Thus, if the heart is not strong, other parts of the body will invariably be affected as well. The heart is the centre of all organs in the body, and thus needs good care,” says Dr. Wiwat Sanglertsilpachai, M.D. who has shared the top three heart disease causes and how to prevent them:
1. Genetics and Aging Genetics and aging are unavoidable.
The older you get, the higher chance that you may get various diseases. In addition, if your parents have a history of heart disease, you are at a higher risk. What you can do proactively is get regular medical check-ups. This is very important to closely monitor your health and warning signs of developing any heart issues. If you are aware that you may be prone to a disease, a regular checkup will help give you enough time to take action and positively protect your health.
2. A bad diet
Being careful about what you eat is very important for a healthy heart, and overall wellness. Eating a beneficial diet full of fresh vegetables and fruits, healthy proteins and fats and more, will balance your body and allow you to maintain a healthy weight. This assists to reduce risk factors associated with various diseases, including heart disease. As heart disease is the result of high levels of fat in the blood, high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity, people should avoid very high-fat processed foods. However, you cannot simply avoid consuming any fat, as the body requires some fats to sustain energy. Everything must be balanced.
Within one day, we should consume 15-30% fat, from our total calorific intake. And more than half of that 15-30% should be “good cholesterol” or HDL (high-density lipoproteins), because it helps reduce “bad cholesterol” or LDL (low-density lipoproteins). This can help reduce the chance of developing heart disease. Foods that are full of beneficial HDL are olive oil, salmon, avocado, and walnuts.
3. Not exercising
With modern, busy lifestyles, many people overlook exercising. Physical activity is as important as the food you eat for your health. Exercising for 30 minutes daily will control weight, and reduce the overall amount of fat in the body. It is also proven to release stress, releasing endorphins to support better mental health and allow improved sleep patterns. If you cannot find the time to exercise everyday, Dr Wiwat recommends that you exercise at least 150 minutes per week. You can divide each section to fit with your schedule.
Do not exercise for 150 minutes in one go – spread it over one week, so it is sustainable. For those with heart disease, you should consult your doctor about the type of exercise that is suitable for you. This varies from person to person and depends on the severity of the heart disease.
With heart disease at the highest level in Thailand’s history, now is the time for us as nation to make actions to take care heart health, before it is too late. Dr. Wiwat says “My top three tips are simple: have medical check-ups regularly, pay attention to what you eat, and finally, make time to exercise.”