September is Heart Awareness Month, dedicated to raising awareness about cardiovascular disease in South Africa, culminating with World Heart Day on 29 September.  

According to The Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa:

  • 80% of heart disease and strokes can be prevented
  • 1 in every 5 deaths are due to cardiovascular disease
  • 10 people suffer a stroke every hour in South Africa
  • 13% of deaths are caused globally by high blood pressure

To find out more on how South Africa compare globally, as compiled by the World Heart Foundation.

Cardiovascular disease is also among the top 3 causes of death in sub-Saharan Africa.  According to an article by Paediatric cardiologist and President of the South African Heart Association Dr Liesl Zühlke, this is partly because of rapid urbanisation, which has resulted in an upsurge of coronary heart and coronary artery disease (also known as ischaemic heart disease) and metabolic disorders.

When considering the contributing factors, stress alone doesn’t cause heart disease, but stress has been linked to increased risk for heart disease.  Stress often leads to unhealthy behaviours like avoiding physical activity, smoking, alcohol abuse, and poor food choices, and these all contribute toward the risk factors for developing heart disease.

In a recent article by Anthonia Obokoh for the Business Day Nigeria, following an awareness campaign organised for Nigeria BusinessDay staff, Clement Ogeleyinbo, a pathologist and managing director of CoA Health Check, commented that “If you look after your heart, your heart will look after you.  Awareness like this will actually enhance the productivity of the organisation because once you have a healthy workforce, you will have a vibrant environment.”

The Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa is available to assist employers in their employee wellness initiatives to help employees understand that being healthy is not about a diet, but rather about long term habits which are a lifestyle.

Although prevention is better than cure, too often people attribute heart attack symptoms to anxiety, indigestion, fatigue, or stress, and therefore delay looking for quick medical attention.  Early diagnosis and treatment saves lives.

In addition, in the unfortunate event of a heart attack, there is a recovery period and rehabilitation is often required.  Treatment and changes in lifestyle are often required for ongoing symptoms of many types for heart diseases – an important part of living with heart disease is to prevent existing heart disease from worsening and causing further cardiac events such as heart attacks or strokes.

Sanlam’s IMPACT RANGE of Severe Illness insurance cover is the first targeted cover of its kind in South Africa and assists employees, employers and benefit consultants to manage the financial risks associated with severe illnesses in the workplace.  It offers the following 3 benefit options:

  • A unique impact-based Cancer benefit covering 50 cancer-only claim events, including 3 catch-all claim events, for further peace of mind.
  • An industry first impact-based Cardiovascular benefit covering 45 cardiovascular-only claim events (including diseases of the heart, large arteries, vascular system and blood vessels of the brain/strokes).
  • An impact-based Comprehensive Severe Illness benefit covering a wide range of over 200 severe illnesses, impairments, injuries and infections and includes a market-leading number of claim events.

Sanlam’s offering is tailored not only to offer comprehensive insurance to assist with the most prevalent diseases, but also:

  • To be more cost effective, because pay-outs are based on the actual impact the illness has on the employee’s health and finances; as well as
  • To allow for the opportunity to claim multiple times up to 100% of the insured cover amount for related and/or bundled claim events, or unlimited times if you suffer multiple claim events that are medically unrelated. 

This means that the total percentage of the insured amount you could potentially claim for over the lifetime of the policy could exceed 100% of the cover amount for which you were originally insured.

Click here to read more on SEB: Group Risk’s Severe Illness Insurance: Impact Range.

For more information, please speak to your Employee Benefits representative.