If Malaysia went for a full health check today, this is what doctors will say, writes Kasmiah Mustapha
LIKE most other countries around the world, Malaysia is grappling with non-communicable diseases (NCDs) which include heart disease, diabetes, stroke and hypertension.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the top five contributors to the health burden in the country are NCDs, similar to those of developed nations.
WHO, which described NCDs as an invisible epidemic, stated that these diseases were driven by forces, such as rapid unplanned urbanisation and unhealthy lifestyles.
At the same time, Malaysia also have to deal with other issues, such the emerging and re-emerging of infectious diseases. Here’s a look at the major health issues the country is facing at this time:
CORONARY HEART DISEASE
In Malaysia, coronary heart disease has been the number one killer for the past three decades. According to the National Cardiovascular Disease Database, the average age of heart attack sufferers is 59. While there is no official data, there are cases of people younger than 40.
Data also showed that of the 16,866 patient admissions from 15 main hospitals in Malaysia from 2006 to 2010, the rate of in-hospital mortality for heart attack was 10 per cent. Sudden death cases are almost usually determined as due to heart attacks. Between 70 and 80 per cent of sudden cardiac deaths are caused by coronary heart disease.
Factors that increase the risk of coronary heart disease include being overweight, high levels of cholesterol, lack of exercise, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, stress, high blood pressure and diabetes.
What we can do: With the increasing number of childhood obesity and young smokers, it is likely that younger people will suffer from coronary heart disease. This is because many risk factors start during childhood and some can even develop within the first 10 years of life. Behavioural changes are important to prevent coronary heart diseas and avoid fatal heart attacks.
In the second National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS) in 1996, it was found that 4.4 per cent and 16.6 per cent of the adult population were obese and overweight respectively. In the latest survey conducted in 2011, the figure have increased to 5.4 million or 33.3 per cent of adults are pre-obese and 27.2 per cent or 4.4 million are obese.
It seems that obesity in the country has even surpassed that of neighbouring countries. A recent study published by the British medical journal The Lancet has put the country as Asia’s most obese. The study showed that 49 per cent of Malaysian women and 44 per cent of men were either obese or overweight.
Childhood obesity is also another problem that the country is facing. Results from a study by the Institute for Public Health of the Health Ministry found that the prevalence of overall overweight among Malaysia’ primary school children — between 7 and 12 years old— was at 19.9 per cent. One out of five are overweight.
What we can do: Sedentary living and an unhealthy diet have been blamed for the rising number of people who are overweight and obese. It is important that each individual and parents be aware of the impact of obesity as it is not a solitary health issue. Obesity poses a major risk for serious diet-related NCDs, including diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, stroke and certain forms of cancer.
The fourth NHMS 2011 showed that there has been an increase of 20.8 per cent rate of diabetes from five years earlier. In 2001, it was 8.3 per cent among adults above the age of 30. In 1986, the first NHMS reported a prevalence of diabetes at 6.3 per cent.
by KASMIAH MUSTAPHA.
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