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World Heart Day 2017 Celebrations in Cape Town

19 October 2017
(L-R) Professor Liesl Zühlke, Professor Pamela Naidoo and Professor Karen Sliwa-Hanle

World Heart Day is a global initiative of the World Heart Federation to raise global awareness of cardiovascular disease and its prevention. To commemorate World Heart Day in South Africa, Cape Town’s iconic Table Mountain was illuminated in red lights for the second year.  This year the Big Wheel at the Victoria and Alfred Water Front in Cape Town was also lit up in red for the first time.
The theme for the 2017 World Heart Day theme was ‘share the power’. The message is to focus on small changes, such as eating a healthy diet, getting more exercise and giving up smoking, to make big improvements to your heart health.  People were asked to commemorate the day by sharing how they power their own hearts to inspire people around the world to be heart healthy.
World Heart Day in Cape Town also marked the final day of the Cardiac Disease in Pregnancy symposium hosted by Professor Karen Sliwa-Hanle the President–Elect of the World Heart Federation which focused on heart disease in pregnant women with particular focus on rheumatic and congenital heart disease and peripartum cardiomyopathy. The gala dinner on the 28th September was opened by the MEC for health Minister Noma-French Mbombo, herself a long-standing advocate for women and child health.

Professor Liesl Zühlke, current President of SA Heart, practicing paediatric cardiologist at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital and Director of the Children’s Heart Disease Research Unit hosted the team from the Children’s Heart Disease Research Unit and clinicians from the Cardiology Division at Red Cross War Memorial Hospital for a whirl on the wheel and a team dinner to mark the special day.
Professor Pamela Naidoo from the Heart and Stroke Foundation of South Africa was also present with her team and handled out raffle prizes to winning participants who rode the red-lit Big Wheel. Fareed Matthews, founder and director of Brave Little Hearts, brought his family, including his seven-year-old daughter, Thaakirah, who is a survivor of a rare heart defect and patient advocate for people living with congenital heart disease.
All of this followed Professors' Zühlke and Naidoo’s long week of speaking on radio talk shows and giving interviews about the significant toll cardiovascular diseases take on the health and lives of the people of South Africa and how simple measures can prevent or lessen the impact of that toll.
The Cape Town cardiology community is proud and excited to have been a part of the global recognition of World Heart Day again this year.  This year’s celebrations will be hard to surpass next year but plans are already in the making for having yet another landmark illuminated in red and expanding the local audience for messages and actions on the important of maintaining a healthy heart.

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Big Wheel at the V & A Waterfront illuminated in Red for World Heart Day

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CHDRU Team celebrating World Heart Day at Cape Town’s Victoria & Alfred Waterfront