On the occasion of World Heart Day, which takes place on Saturday, 29 September, the Cayman Heart Fund is reminding people to keep their hearts happy and open to enjoy the people, places and things they love.
Dr. Sook Yin, medical director of the Cayman Heart Fund, said: “The health of our heart can depend a lot on nutrition and exercise – how we eat and live.
“Heart disease and stroke are avoidable and are caused by risk factors such as, poor nutrition and lack of physical activity, smoking and excessive alcohol drinking, as well as by being overweight or obese and having a high blood pressure, high cholesterol and/or diabetes. Children are vulnerable too if they are exposed to unhealthy diets, lack of exercise and smoking.”
The Cayman Heart Fund, a nonprofit, non-government organisation dedicated to the reduction of heart and circulatory disease in the Cayman Islands, points out that cardiovascular disease is the No. 1 health problem in the Cayman Islands. The fund aims to help prevent and reduce the early deaths, long-term disabilities and widespread suffering that heart and circulatory diseases cause.
The Cayman Heart Fund is urging greater collaboration between policy makers, healthcare professionals, patient organisations and individuals to work together to reduce the burden of heart disease and stroke. “For continual change to happen, we believe it is crucial to focus on specific objectives and actions,” Dr. Yin said.
The fund organises and is involved in many events throughout the year to promote heart health.
These include free medical screenings for the public several times a year. At its annual Heart Health Fair in March, more than 800 people usually attend, with 300 received free screenings. The programme provides people with a chance to get free blood glucose, pressure and other screenings, which they may not be able to afford otherwise.
The Cayman Heart Fund also runs the annual War on Weight challenge, which assists contestants with nutritional counselling, exercise programmes and psychological counselling to achieve the highest weight loss through healthy lifestyle changes. War on Weight has helped more than 40 contestants lose more than 1,000 pounds and learn the essentials to a permanent healthy lifestyle since its launch in 2008.
Each year, the organisation also holds the popular Red Dress Gala, its key fundraising event, which is an opportunity for its partners to enjoy a fun-filled night of food, music and dancing. There is also the Red Dress Luncheon, usually held in March, in which attendees are educated on heart disease prevention by world-renowned specialists in the field.
The fund, in cooperation with St. Matthew’s University, also invites specialists to Cayman for a free seminar for the medical community at the annual Cayman Heart Fund Medical Symposium at which those in the medical profession in Cayman can Continuing Medical Education certificates.
The organisation is also involved in the Children’s Health Task, which comprises a team of nurses, doctors and dieticians and which was set up to combat the dramatic rise in the number of Cayman’s children who are either obese or at risk of becoming obese.
The Cayman Heart Fund has been coordinating the purchase and installation of life-saving Automated External Defibrillators, or AEDs, throughout the Cayman Islands, along with AED and CPR training offered by St. Matthew’s University School of Medicine. “Our initiative has been quite successful, as it has resulted in AED machines being installed in several public places and businesses. Further, in an effort to give back to the community, CHF will donate a unit for every 12 AED units purchased from Cayman Heart Fund. As a result, AED machines have already been donated to Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands Red Cross and Body Sculptor Gym,” said Dr. Yin.
Dr. Yin shared some tips to help guide individuals on the path to maintaining a healthy heart:
Moderate your drinking. If you consume more than two drinks per day, you probably need to cut back.
Start each day with a healthy breakfast that includes fat-free or low-fat dairy, fruit and cereal or whole-wheat toast. Doughnuts typically contain high amounts of trans fats.
Make healthy living a shared family endeavour. Some cardiovascular disease has its beginning in childhood. Help your kids eat healthy and encourage them be active. Model these behaviours.
Switch from vegetable oil to canola oil, which has the least saturated fat of all cooking oils and also does not contain trans-fat or cholesterol.
Exercise moderately and regularly. Physical activity can reduce body fat.
Think global, walk local. Walking is a good way to connect with someone while burning calories. Find positive ways to cope with stress by listening to music, talking with friends, exercising, and practising deep breathing or yoga.
For more information, contact the Cayman Heart Fund at 325-2243.