MANILA, Philippines — With most of Filipinos quarantined in their homes due to the coronavirus pandemic, heart experts on Friday feared this may lead to a prevalence of heart diseases such as heart failure among them.
“During this pandemic, we may expect the increased prevalence ng mga heart diseases like heart failure,” Philippine Heart Association (PHA) president Dr. Orly Bugarin said during the heart failure media briefing Friday.
Heart failure, as defined in a study published in the European Heart Journal in 2016, is characterized by “the inability of the heart to pump enough blood to supply the whole body.”
Such symptoms of heart failure include shortness of breath even when lying down, extreme tiredness or no energy, rapid heartbeat or palpitations, gaining weight in a short period of time and loss of appetite, among others.
According to a 2017 study led by Dr. Bernadette Tumanan-Mendoza, approximately 1.6 million—or 16 cases for every 1,000 Filipinos—suffer from heart failure. This condition affects both Filipino male and female patients equally.
The aforementioned study also showed that compared to Western and Asia-Pacific countries, the Philippines’ local mortality rate due to heart failure was “relatively higher.”
Quarantine contributed to prevalence
It started in mid-March, when most parts of the country were placed under the community quarantine to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Currently, the Philippines has 348,698 COVID-19 cases.
During community quarantine, the government restricted the movement of people, with public transportation and businesses shut. This also meant that the public was encouraged to stay home.
But with most Filipinos staying home, Bugarin said that one factor that led to the prevalence of heart failure was the sudden change in their lifestyle.
“Yung nagagawang lifestyle activities before ay na-limit po during this pandemic,” he said. “Hindi po nakakalabas ang ating mga kababayan, nasa bahay lang po. and sometimes yung kanilang mga pinagsasaluhan ay kung ano po yung available, or nawawala po sa consciousness nila yung pagkain nila ng healthy food.”
(Their lifestyle activities were limited during this pandemic. They can’t go out of their homes, they stay at home. And sometimes, they consume on what is only available, or they lose consciousness on eating healthy food.)
Aside from this, Bugarin added that those having hypertension, diabetes and even anxiety are also at risk of having heart failure.
So what can one do to lessen his or her chances from gettting heart failure? For starters, they have to watch their diet, Bugarin said.
“They have to watch their diet, kung kaya po nila mag-exercise (if they can do exercise), that will be better, good control of your blood pressure, good control of your sugar,” he said.
Another step that would help is to completely cut bad habits, the PHA president added.
“Of course, yung mga vices, yung mga modifiable factors na pwedeng gawin like smoking, kung pwede na pong itigil, yung mga pagkain po ng fatty meals, kung pwedeng ma-avoid po natin or ma-minimize po natin,” he said.
(And of course, cut the vices, the modifiable factors such as smoking, if they can completely stop it. Even eating fatty meals, if they can minimize or completely avoid.)
The Inquirer Foundation supports our healthcare frontliners and is still accepting cash donations to be deposited at Banco de Oro (BDO) current account #007960018860 or donate through PayMaya using this link .
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.