Stay fighting fit to diminish risk

PUBLISHED : Monday, 20 March, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 20 March, 2006, 12:00am

According to cardiology specialist Godwin Leung Tat-chi, heart disease is the second-biggest killer in Hong Kong (cancer is the biggest), with about 5,000 people dying from it each year.

He says one of the causes of heart disease is a sedentary lifestyle.

Regular physical activity can improve the way you look, feel and work. Studies show that it helps reduce the risk of heart disease. It also helps control high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity and diabetes, Leung says.

Regular physical activity has been shown to be effective in reducing the risk of developing hypertension (high blood pressure) by up to 30 per cent, and is advocated as a preventive measure.

Regular exercise can keep blood vessels free from narrowing, which is the main cause of heart attack.

'Although the heart is a pump made of muscles, it can't be exercised directly,' he says. 'It can only be exercised through the larger muscle groups, particularly the leg muscles. That's why brisk walking, running, cycling, swimming and jogging are so beneficial.'

If you want to improve the fitness of your heart and lungs, you should keep track of your heart rate. Exercising above 75 per cent of your maximum heart rate may be too strenuous unless you're in excellent condition. Exercising below 50 per cent offers little conditioning. 'Any activity that gets you moving around, even if it's only for 10 minutes a day, is better than none.'

Leung says that symptoms of a heart attack are severe compression-like pain in the chest, sweating and problems with breathing. Because this can be confused with other problems such as a panic attack, it's best to get to hospital as soon as possible.

'You should get to a hospital, even just for the tests to be sure.'

For more information, call the Cardio-Med education hotline on 3607 7700