Embracing a Healthy Lifestyle

IT is hard to change unhealthy behaviour but we should keep trying. That is the advice of health educators who agree that making healthy changes is easier said than done. We know the good habits that we need to establish: exercise regularly, eat a variety of nutritious food, keep our weight down and undergo regular medical check-ups. Smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol are definite no-no’s and we should do our best to avoid them. We must also reduce stress, besides improving relationships with family and friends as well as engage in activities which contribute to a wholesome lifestyle. These modifications are necessary because they not only affect our risk for disease but also our health and ability to function independently in old age.

However, these recommendations have taken on an urgent tone following revelations that early vascular ageing (EVA) is common among many young and middle-aged Malaysians, placing them at risk of premature cardiovascular diseases (CVD), such as heart attacks and strokes. These diseases are among the top five causes of mortality among Malaysians. That was the major takeaway of two studies conducted by researchers at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia and UKM Medical Centre. The first study found that 80 per cent of those tested had a higher vascular age compared to chronological age. The researchers concluded that “young Malaysians are ageing faster than they think due to early arterial ageing”. Researchers tested male and female subjects in urban and suburban areas, and discovered a significant difference between the chronological age of a majority of subjects and the age of their arteries. Intriguingly, people in their 30s have the arteries of 70 year olds. Ageing causes the arterial walls to stiffen, placing us at higher risk of heart attacks. Still, our chronological age is not the only thing that affects the arteries. Poor lifestyle habits also influence vascular ageing.

The second study found that EVA was common among young people with CVD risk factors, such as smoking, dyslipidaemia, hypertension, obesity and a family history of premature CVD. But these are preventable if patients adopt a healthy lifestyle and adhere to proper guidance with or without medication. Researchers also observed that a growing number of young people were suffering from heart attacks. The Malaysian National Cardiovascular Disease Database 2006 showed that of the 3,422 patients admitted to the Coronary Care Unit due to acute coronary syndrome (heart attack), 23 per cent were under 50. Embracing a new, healthy tradition or breaking an old, poor one can be terribly difficult, even for strongly motivated individuals. The good news is, we can do it. Some of our family members and friends have done it. They stop smoking, give up sinful desserts and start working out. And, replacing negative habits with positive ones is something scientists and psychologists have been preaching for years. Books are available to explain the steps to break a destructive practice and keep it broken. We need to keep on the path to change as our wellbeing depends on it.

Source : http://www.nst.com.my/news/2016/04/141115/embracing-healthy-lifestyle