1Life, a leader in the direct life insurance industry, recently conducted a Heart Awareness Month online survey – in the aim of educating consumers to better understand their lifestyles and, as a result, manage and reduce their risks towards heart disease. Through this, the survey indicated that, while South African consumers are reasonably good at preventative measures, they are somewhat predisposed to heart disease as a result of their eating habits and family history – coupled with increasing levels of obesity.
“At 1Life, we continuously keep in touch with consumers to ensure we understand their lifestyle and related needs. Therefore, in aid of Heart Awareness Month and World Heart Day on the 29th of September, we ran an online survey with 272 consumers, through our social media channels, to assess whether South Africans understand key facts about-, as well as how predisposed they are to-, heart disease,” says Laurence Hillman, Managing Director at 1Life.
“The reality is that anyone can suffer a heart attack and so, similarly, we wanted to educate consumers around the impact of their lifestyle choices on their hearts and health.”
“Our results revealed that only 27% of consumers exercise regularly (30 minutes of any physical activity that increases your heart rate, for example: gym, playing sports, playing with your children, doing housework). We know that inactivity contributes towards obesity and therefore, it is evident that consumers need to take the effects of their lifestyle choices more seriously. As an industry and country, it is important that we start educating consumers far more about the benefits of a healthy lifestyle – consisting of regular exercise and a balanced diet,” continues Hillman.
The 1Life survey also indicated that almost 50% of consumers eat high fat foods (including: offal, fried meat, meat with visible fat and foods cooked using vegetable or coconut oil) more than 3 times a week. This places them at very high risk of heart disease and in fact, according to the Heart and Health Foundation1, this is not only prevalent for adults, but clearly where 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 5 boys, between the ages of 2 – 14 years are obese – there is no doubt that children are a concern here too. The foundation has also indicated that South African’s present the highest obesity rate in sub-Saharan Africa.
Another key factor to take into account when identifying predisposition to heart disease, is family history. The results from 1Life’s Heart Awareness Month online survey, indicate that 28% of its respondents have family members who have experienced heart disease.
“While this statistic is not as high as one would expect, we know that other leading lifestyle factors, mentioned above, as well as nicotine usage, are leading causes of heart attacks, strokes and other cardiovascular diseases, and as such, the results are concerning,” adds Hillman.
The good news, however, is that the 1Life survey revealed that 61% of respondents are able to identify the symptoms of a heart attack and 68% regularly check their blood pressure and cholesterol (at least once a year). Further to this, only 16.5% of consumer surveyed are smokers – which is much better than one would expect.
“Regular check-ups and continued exercise goes a long way in preventing heart disease and other related illnesses,” says Hillman. “The fact that such a high percentage of consumers can identify symptoms of a heart attack indicates that early diagnosis and care can be taken.”
Identifying the symptoms of a heart attack, and taking the necessary precautionary measures, will also save people money. Consumers with unhealthy habits will fall into a higher-risk profile when it comes to insurance, which results in higher monthly premiums.
“Even though we all have busy lifestyles, it’s important to pay attention to living a healthy lifestyle. Therefore, this Heart Awareness Month, we want to remind all South Africans on the importance of eating well and going for regular check-ups – to prevent falling victim to a heart attack,” concludes Hillman.