In 2020, heart disease was the leading cause of death for women and the second leading cause of death for men in Luxembourg. Prevention and taking action as soon as possible are critical to protect oneself from risk factors.
On World Heart Day, the phrase Listen to your heart! takes on a whole new meaning. The goal is to raise awareness of heart diseases, which were the leading cause of death for women (526 deaths or 24.1% of female deaths) and the second leading cause of death for men (560 deaths or 24.8% of male deaths) in 2020. On Thursday, a conference at the hospital in Ettelbruck highlighted the detection, treatment, and, most importantly, prevention of cardiovascular diseases (CVDs).
While most people should already be aware of what they can do to protect themselves from CVDs, it is important to revisit the key points on a regular basis.
Serge Koch, head of care unit 31, stresses that smoking is "one of the most significant risk factors since it clogs the arteries." The second issue is a lack of exercise, which is common in Luxembourg due to the high standard of living and the high number of office jobs. According to Koch, a lack of exercise combined with higher levels of stress constitutes an additional risk factor.
Societal diseases such as high blood pressure or diabetes can increase a person's risk even further. A well-balanced diet also plays an important role in preventing CVDs.
According to nutritionist Hermine Hornick, this should include "five portions of fruits and vegetables each day, whole-grain products, and using vegetable oils instead of animal fats." People should also watch their salt intake because "a healthy diet should include no more than five to six grammes of salt." Hornick recommends that people adjust their food intake according to their needs, i.e., the number of calories they burn every day.
Excess weight, especially around the stomach, can potentially raise the risk of cardiovascular disease. If there is a family history of heart disease, prevention and frequent examinations are even more vital because a late diagnosis can be fatal.
On Thursday, visitors to the Centre Hospitalier du Nord (CHdN) could benefit from blood pressure, diabetes, and cholesterol rapid tests, as well as weight and waist circumference checks. Aside from patients, several school classes also attended the conference to learn about cardiovascular diseases.
How to better protect yourself to reduce risk factors
In order to protect yourself and decrease the risk factors for cardiovascular disease, the Ministry of Health has published a (non-exhaustive) list of some everyday actions and prevention methods:
- Cook and eat healthier,
- Engage in 30 minutes of daily physical exercise,
- Consult a general practitioner to assess the value of screening for diabetes and cholesterol,
- Monitor your blood pressure,
- Quit smoking,
- Take as much time as possible to rest in order to minimise stress levels.
Full report by RTL Télé (in Luxembourgish):