‘Your heart, your choice’

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CAN a broken heart develop into heart disease? “It’s related to stress. Stress can lead to unhealthy habits such as overeating, and overeating can lead to diabetes,” said Dr. Iris M. Garcia, a cardiologist from the Philippine Heart Center, during a recent forum organized by the Philippine College of Physicians and the Philippine Heart Association.

Diabetes is one of the risk factors for angina, also called angina pectoris, a symptom of an underlying heart problem such as coronary heart disease. Caused by reduced blood flow to the heart, angina is often described as squeezing, pressure, heaviness, tightness, or pain in the chest. It may also feel like indigestion. “It is not life-threatening but it can resemble the symptoms of a heart attack,” Ms. Garcia said.

Treatment for such are lifestyle modification, medications like aspirin, and invasive procedures like coronary angioplasty (a procedure used to open clogged heart arteries). Doctors advised seeking medical attention for unexplained chest pain.

Apart from diabetes and stress, the other risk factors for angina are smoking, obesity, physical inactivity, kidney disease, hypertension, and dyslipidemia (having unhealthy levels of one or more kinds of lipid or fat in the blood).

The Philippine Heart Association has a “Let’s Do 52100 daily!” movement, a heart health advocacy that encourages everyone to consume five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, limit screen time to two hours a day, carve out one hour of moderate physical activity a day, and avoid smoking and sugary drinks.


“Tobacco breaks hearts. It narrows the blood vessels going to the heart,” said Ms. Garcia. She also recommended choosing favorite fruits and vegetables to increase one’s chances of consuming them often, and breaking physical activity down into smaller periods of time. “Exercising improves the circulation of the heart. It’s like taking a pill to improve your health.”

“Even if you have a bad family history, if you can manage the risk factors, you can still be free of complications and live long,” said Dr. Luigi Pierre S. Segundo, a cardiologist from The Medical City, at the same forum.

“All the risk factors are manageable,” he added. “Your heart, your choice.”

Coronary heart disease and cardiovascular diseases are the top one and top three leading causes of death in the country, respectively, according to Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center cardiologist Dr. Ray Aswat. Based on 2017 data from the Department of Health, 84,120 individuals died due to heart disease and 59,774 others from cardiovascular diseases that year. — Patricia B. Mirasol