Heart disease in South Africa has moved from a disease affecting mostly white males to one that affects younger, black people. This is largely due to lifestyle choices.

The cardiovascular patient profile is changing in South Africa

Formerly a disease affecting mostly white males, heart disease has moved to one that affects younger, black people. This is largely due to lifestyle choices.

Increase in heart attacks among young black people

Fatty foods, smoking and lack of exercise are big contributing factors to cardio-vascular disease. Yet, many of us seldom heed messages cautioning us to change our lifestyles, especially our diet.

Fast- and fatty foods dominate bad eating habits of young black people

Many people, such as Zethu Phaliso, admit to bad eating habits. â??I just buy whatever I find. I donâ??t think, maybe, I should eat healthily. I do eat a lot of fats and after that I drink lots of water and jog. Itâ??s not a problem,â? says 27-year-old Zethu. 
Twenty-eight year-old Nolufefe Magoda also likes fatty foods. “When Iâ??m at home I eat fatty foods… fried eggs, fried fish, fried Russians [sausages], amagwinya [vetkoek]. Everything on my plate would be like fat. But in the mornings I go jogging. So, itâ??s like I eat my fat, then I go jogging to reduce fat in my body,â? she says.

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Unhealthy junk food is convenient and affordable

Some, like 24-year-old Junior Buhlebodwa Dludla, from Soweto, blames the convenience and affordability of unhealthy or junk food for bad eating habits.
â??We eat bunny chow â?? i-kota, you know. I-kota is not actually healthy. So, yeah, I donâ??t eat healthy, I think. Getting a non-healthy meal is like a phone call away. You can call them and tell them, â??this is what I wantâ??.  And you get it in minutes,â? says Junior Buhlebodwa Dludla.

Difficult to change to healthy lifestyle

It would seem that young South Africans do know that eating healthily and exercising is important. However, they find it difficult to actually change to a healthy lifestyle. But they best be warned as fatty foods and lack of exercise contribute to increased cholesterol levels, high blood pressure and diabetes, which can all lead to a sudden heart attack.

Fast/junk foods responsible for increase in high cholesterol levels

Professor Derrick Raal, head of the Endocrinology Department at Charlotte Maxeke hospital, says new eating habits are responsible for an increase of high cholesterol levels in the black population.
â??As people are changing from their traditional diet coming to now eating fast foods – KFC, Mc Donaldâ??s, etc., their cholesterol levels are starting to go up. We are starting to see much higher cholesterol levels in our black population and whatâ??s coming with that is more and more heart attacks,â? says Professor Raal.

Heart disease no longer a â??white manâ??s diseaseâ??

â??At this point in time in South Africa, there are about 80 heart attacks a day and as many strokes. It used to be considered as sort of a â??white manâ??s diseaseâ??.  But now, particularly in the urbanised black population with more fast foods, we are increasingly starting to see more heart attacks, obesity and more diabetes,â? says Professor Raal.

Non-communicable diseases on the rise

Professor Raal says statistics show that non-communicable diseases are on the rise. When he was a medical student at Baragwanath Hospital he says heart attacks were rare, but now theyâ??re seeing two or three heart attacks a day.
He adds that people should be aware that there are hardly any warning signs for cardio-vascular or heart disease.  People only realise theyâ??ve been at risk after theyâ??ve had a heart attack or a stroke. He urges people not to smoke and to keep their weight down â?? with special attention to their waist measurement â?? to help avoid high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels or heart attack.
Professor Raal says that up to 80% of the incidence of heart disease can be prevented if people start making baby steps towards living a healthier lifestyle.
For complete article see: http://www.health-e.org.za/news/article.php?uid=20033435