A resounding 98% of the 1 500 South Africans polled at the start of the new year have pledged to take drastic steps in order to give heart disease the boot starting this Valentine’s month!

The public poll forms part of Pharma Dynamics’ national Hug your Heart campaign, launched in partnership with the Heart and Stroke Foundation SA (HSF) every February to shine the spotlight on heart-health. This year’s focus is on how making certain lifestyle changes could avert heart disease – a condition which claims the lives of more than 78 475 Mzansians annually.

Nicole Jennings, spokesperson for Pharma Dynamics says given that Valentine’s Month is all about the heart, it makes for the perfect time to re-evaluate our relationship with our hearts.

“Our survey results point to a positive change in consumer attitudes toward heart-health with a whopping 99% of participants acknowledging the link between unhealthy lifestyle behaviours and heart disease. Even though the majority vowed to take charge of their own heart-health, a disappointing 36 didn’t see the need to. Some (42%) said it’s too difficult to keep up a healthy lifestyle, while 14% felt they were too old for it to have any effect.

“The good news is that the majority of SA men and women are serious about making changes for the sake of their hearts:

  • 71% pledged to eat right by limiting junk food, confectionary (desserts) and sugary soft drinks
  • 66% is going to exercise more regularly (at least 3 times a week)
  • 65% promised to drink more water (at least 6 to 8 glasses a day)
  • 53% is going to limit their intake of processed food, such as cold meats (ham, salami, paté etc) and convenience foods, such as ready-made microwave meals
  • 50% will get their blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol tested annually
  • 49% pledged to sleep at least 8 hours or more per night
  • 48% said they would cut back on salt (a high daily sodium intake has been linked to high blood pressure)
  • 45% will make a point of reading food labels and buy foods that are low in
  • 41% aims to reach and/or maintain a healthy weight goal
  • 40% will try to reduce cholesterol (should diet and exercise alone not reduce cholesterol, ask your doctor to prescribe a cholesterol-lowering medication since high cholesterol heightens your risk of a heart attack)
  • 39% will cut down on alcohol intake
  • 36% will reduce their intake of red meat
  • 36% is going to manage stress by applying relaxation techniques
  • 28% will quit smoking
  • cholesterol, saturated fat and trans fat
  • 28% aims to improve their time-management skills to help juggle work and family demands better, which will help ease unnecessary strain on the heart
  • 24% promised to seek help for depression and anxiety as these conditions puts one at greater risk of heart disease

“According to research, the five most harmful habits include tobacco smoking, lack of physical activity, being overweight, not eating right and drinking too much alcohol. The reality is that up to 70% of heart disease and stroke cases can be prevented by simply living a healthier lifestyle. The challenging part however is to stick to these health resolutions. Rather than going all out, set yourself achievable goals, which is a key strategy for successful, long-term change. Secondly, track your progress every day – whether it’s via a health or fitness app, device or notebook. Lastly, identify a support network, such as friends, family or an online community that will keep you motivated, when you’re tempted to throw in the towel,” recommends Jennings.

To help generate social engagement and much-needed funds for the Heart and Stroke Foundation SA, Pharma Dynamics will be donating R100 000 to the organisation as part of the #hugyourheart campaign. The public is also encouraged to donate any amount via SnapScan. Donors can visit or, simply scan the QR code on the home page and donate the amount they wish.

Pamela Naidoo, CEO of the HSF says the funds will be used for campaigns and activities that address risk-reduction for cardio-vascular disease (CVD) such as high , blood pressure,   glucose screenings, body mass index and family history of CVD.

“Every year we set a goal to have at least 10 500 South Africans’ blood pressure tested, but this year we want to exceed this target. If R200 000 worth of funds are raised, it will allow us to screen more than 13 500  South Africans countrywide – many of whom we suspect are in urgent or emergent hypertension, which requires immediate medical referral.

“Furthermore, by bringing blood pressure screenings outside the doctor’s office and into non-traditional settings such as shopping malls, corporate offices and the like, it makes it more accessible to a broader audience.

“When it comes to taking care of your heart, you can never start too soon and you will be surprised how small lifestyle changes can make a big difference over time. Give yourself the best Valentine’s Day gift this year – the gift of a healthy heart,” says Naidoo.

To ensure this Valentine’s Day is heart-healthy, try any of the delectable Heart and Stroke Foundation-approved recipes at

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