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February should not only be a love month but a heart month as well, an association of cardiovascular specialists said Monday.

The Philippine Heart Association (PHA) advised the public once again to include taking care of their heart as a "valentine tradition" by keeping a healthy lifestyle.

"We urge Pinoys to take control of their health and live well everyday. A healthy lifestyle paves the way to lesser diseases, including the three leading causes of death in the country Tuesday: heart disease, stroke and cancer," said Dr. Ma. Belen Carisma, PHA vice-president and heart month committee chair.

"This month, we not only celebrate the day of hearts and loving, but we actually celebrate February as heart month. It was officially declared as heart month through Presidential Decree 1096 in 1973," Carisma said.

According to PHA, six out of ten leading causes of death in the Philippines are lifestyle-related. Number one are heart diseases followed by cancer and other chronic diseases

Dr. Rachel Garcia of the Department of Health(DoH) said cardiovascular diseases are on the rise and the number one killer in society Tuesday. This is because of the Pinoys like to eat salty and fatty foods but shun exercise.

The PHA said Filipinos can prevent the onslaught of heart diseases by adopting a healthy lifestyle.

"In a nutshell, a simple recipe to a healthy lifestyle is to eat less fats and take more fiber, stop or don’t start smoking, spend 20-30 minutes at least three times a week on physical activities, maintain healthy body weight and learn to manage stress," Carisma said.

But she said nothing is achieved overnight and making lifestyle changes doesn’t come easy.

"You must continue those habits, that’s why it is called a lifestyle, it doesn’t stop next month or next year, it’s a continuing process," she said.

Those who find it hard to change right away may start slowly by having minor changes in their activities and diet, according to Carisma.

Among the recommended activities are walking, jogging, swimming or biking instead of just sitting on the couch and watching television.

The PHA also advised the public to consult their doctors before making any drastic changes in their diet and find out what kind of nutritional plan would work best for them.

"Taking stock of your heart’s health is important and one of the best things you can do for yourself because being healthy means you can have more time to do the things you love with your family," Carisma said.

The PHA conducted a heart fair last Sunday at the Mall of Asia as their way of raising awareness on heart diseases. They held free risk factor screening services like ECG, blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar count. They also had a hiphop competition and aerobics challenge among members of the PHA councils and pharmaceutical industries.

Consider pleasures as they depart, Not as they come.

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