Health and fitness

8 things to avoid and to do to take care of your heart health

The world celebrates American Heart Month every February and here’s how to better focus on your heart health and physical wellbeing.

Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) or diseases of the heart and blood vessels are responsible for a third of deaths in the Philippines, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA). A WHO report says these diseases accounted for 72% of deaths in the country in 2021.

Globally, an average of 50,000 people dies each day from heart and circulatory diseases like heart attack and stroke. That’s one death every 1.7 seconds. Here are ways to take better care of your heart and physical wellbeing.


4 things to avoid for better heart health

1. Smoking

Cigarette smoke causes the blood to thicken and form clots inside veins and arteries, which can lead to the narrowing of arteries and cardiovascular diseases like heart attack and stroke. There are 19.9 million smokers in the Philippines or 16% of the population (approximately 3 million of whom are female). Smoking rates in the Philippines are higher among men (40.9%) versus women (8.2%), according to 2022 statistics. Don’t be one of them! Look after your physical wellbeing by first quitting smoking. Here are tips to help you quit.

2. Fatty diet

Lechon—a Filipino favorite for birthdays, weddings and fiestas—tastes so good, but it’s also so bad for your heart because it contains the wrong kind of fat or saturated fats which are primarily found in animal-based food. That lechon skin—along with chicharon that many love to snack on—may be roasted to perfection but it increases your cholesterol off the charts.

Unfortunately, you still hear of healthy people (or vegetarians who don’t eat animal products at all!) who still get a heart attack, stroke or cancer due in part to genetics. These three are the most common diseases in the Philippines. FWD Life Insurance’s BIG 3 Critical Illness Insurance is a protection plan that covers these diseases and is available to 18 to 60-year-old Filipinos. Big 3 gives you 100% of the benefit amount when you’re diagnosed with either early or late-stage cancer, heart attack, or stroke. Talk to an FWD financial advisor to know more or visit for more.

3. Sedentary lifestyle

In 2022, WHO warned that approximately 2 million deaths per year are attributed to physical inactivity. “A sedentary lifestyle increases all causes of mortality, double the risk of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and obesity, and increase the risks of colon cancer, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, lipid disorders, depression and anxiety,” the report said.

4. Obesity

Once considered a problem only in rich countries, overweight and obesity are now problems of developing and third-world countries as well. In fact, majority of overweight or obese children live in developing countries, “where the rate of increase has been more than 30% higher than that of developed countries.”


4 goals for better heart health

1. Eat a healthy diet.

A healthy diet is a one that’s rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats for protein, eggs, legumes, nuts and seeds, and low-fat dairy. It is low in added sugars, sodium, saturated and trans fats and cholesterol. Stay within your calorie needs and avoid high-calorie snacks.

2. Exercise regularly.

Physical activity can lower your blood pressure, blood cholesterol, and blood sugar levels. For adults, 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate exercise—brisk walking or bicycling, swimming—is recommended every week. For children and adolescents, experts recommend an hour a day. Check with your cardiologist the ideal physical activity for you.

3. Break unhealthy habits.

Quitting smoking, withholding from snacks filled with trans fats and sugars can dramatically reduce your weight and your risks of heart and other diseases. It may sound simple but, as smokers say, quitting is one of the hardest things they’ve had to do in life. When trying to quit an unhealthy habit, avoid tempting situations, prepare yourself mentally, get support from family and friends, and reward yourself from time to time (but not with the things you’re quitting from!).

4. Maintain a healthy weight.

Weight is a silent heart risk, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. “Basically, being obese seems to be a ‘solo player’ associated with heart injury—that is, regardless of high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol and diabetes,” says Johns Hopkins cardiologist Chiadi Ndumele, M.D., M.H.S. “Down the road, this can lead to heart failure.”

Check your BMI or body mass index (BMI), a measure of body fat based on height and weight, and make it your goal to stay within your healthy range. The ideal BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9, which means you're in the healthy weight range; below 18.5, you're underweight; between 25 and 29.9, you’re overweight; 30 or over, you’re obese. Check your BMI with this healthy weight calculator.


Take your heart health seriously. Schedule a visit to your doctor so you can monitor and take care of your health even before illness strikes. FWD Life Insurance’s Vibrant Critical Illness Insurance helps you with this as it gives you cash for health screenings so you can prevent sicknesses from getting worse though early detection. FWD Vibrant also gives you cash for health supplements, up to 6x claims for major critical illnesses, and minor critical illness coverage worth 25% of your benefit amount. So, you’re covered from screening to treatment to recovery! Schedule a free consultation with an FWD financial advisor to know more and start living a happy, healthy, and vibrant life!