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Heart Disease


This is a collection of conditions in which the heart fails to propel blood forward normally resulting in congestion in the lungs or the systemic circulation and a reduced blood flow to the tissues because of reduced cardiac output.

Information booklet on Heart Disease

Isifo Senhliziyo

Common signs and symptoms depend on which side of the heart is affected.  But the following may be seen:-

Swelling of the body due to retention of fluid in tissues.
Shortness of breath
Blueness of the skin - more visible on the mucous membranes
Cough which may be productive of a frothy watery sputum - if the fluid is retained in the lungs
Distention of the neck veins, etc.

Risk Factors

Diet high in cholesterol and fat in a person predisposed to the condition
High blood pressure
Tobacco smoking
Family history
Lack of exercise

Prevention is the first step

Regular exercise for at least 20 - 30 minutes every day as follows:

  • Walks
  • Housework
  • Gardening
  • Aerobics
  • Swimming, etc.


  • Avoid high fat intake, especially saturated fats
  • Limit the use of salts in cooking
  • Avoid foods high in salts (read food labels carefully)
  • Avoid foods high in refined carbohydrates such as sweets, cool drinks etc. Rather increase high fibre foods by eating more vegetables, fruit, legumes, whole wheat bread and cereals.
  • Eat less dietary cholesterol.  This is contained in foods such as shellfish, organ meats e.g. liver, kidneys - as well as eggs, fresh cream
  • Limit the use of fast foods and takeaways
  • Drink plenty of water (at least 6-8 glasses per day) 
  • Limit intake of coffee

Stop smoking or do not start

Limit alcohol intake

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Copyright KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health, 2001

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