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Heart and Stroke Foundation SA paints the town red for healthier hearts this Valentine’s Day

This February, the Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa (HSF) is celebrating Valentine’s Day with a difference with its Dress Red campaign to raise awareness of the risks of heart disease and stroke for women and children. Funds raised will go towards combating heart disease and stroke in various communities around South Africa.

By purchasing a R5 sticker from the HSF or making an online donation and dressing in red this Valentine’s Day, organisations, individuals or schools will not only help this worthy cause, but also stand a chance to win a Frédérique Constant “Hearts of Children” watch to the value of R20,000.

Programme Director: Projects at HSF, Ashleigh Kuttner, says that while awareness of heart disease and stroke in women and children is growing around the world, people in developing countries such as South Africa are simply not aware of the risks, causes, and treatments:

“In South Africa, heart disease and stroke kills more women than men, but there’s very little awareness around this. Added to this statistic is that two out of three women are overweight or obese, which heightens the risk. In fact, breast cancer is often perceived as the biggest health threat to women, when in fact, heart disease and stroke are the greatest threats globally, killing more people each day than all cancers combined.”

Kuttner says that children are vulnerable too, with 23% of children in South Africa overweight or obese, thus increasing their risk for heart disease and stroke from a younger age: “Across the world we are facing a crisis, with more and more children overweight due to leading sedentary lifestyles. In South Africa, we also have many babies born with a low birth weight and 26% of our children one to three years old are stunted, not reaching their full potential height for their age. Research has shown that these factors also increase the risk for heart disease and stroke later in life. So a child’s risk can even begin before birth – during foetal development, and increases further during childhood with exposure to unhealthy diets, lack of exercise and smoking.

Through funding from the campaign, HSF will be able to continue its work in the communities, where awareness of the risk of diseases of lifestyle is especially low. The Foundation offers free services such as awareness and education workshops, distributes pamphlets containing vital information, and offers free blood pressure, cholesterol, body mass index and blood glucose screenings tests – all funding dependant.

“Women in developing countries who develop cardiovascular disease (CVD) are more likely to die from it than comparable women in developed nations. In South Africa, the proportion of heart disease and stroke-related deaths in women aged between 35 – 59 years is 150% higher than that of women in the United States. Most of the population of the communities we work in are not aware of the risks they are facing – which is why our work is so important,” said Kuttner.

To ensure eligibility for the competition, entrants can visit the HSF website to view the terms and conditions. Winners will be announced on 17 March 2014.

A spokesperson for Swiss luxury wrist watch manufacturer Frédérique Constant, which along with the World Heart Federation has partnered with the HSF to run the campaign, say that the organisation is passionate and proud to support the fight against CVD – the world’s number one killer.

“The partnership is a joint commitment to raise global awareness of CVD and focuses on women and children as vulnerable populations. We share a passion to educate people about their risk and help avoid the millions of needless deaths that occur each year. By uniting our efforts we strive to give families more quality time together.”

For more information on the competition go to the HSF website, visit the Facebook page, or follow them on Twitter @SAHeartStroke.


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