Taking Steps to Ward Off Heart Disease

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I REFER to the article “Young and riskier” (The Star Fit for Life, Aug 7). The fact that Malaysians are getting cardiovascular disease at a younger age compared other countries possibly due to many having multiple risk factors is really heartbreaking.

In the article, it was reported that the average age of Malaysians suffering a heart attack is 58.5 years, which is considered a prime age.

What is more heartbreaking is that one in four of the heart attack patients is less than 50 years old, the age when most people would have acquired the necessary experience and skills in their professions and would be most productive at work.

Furthermore, many Malaysians marry late these days and for those who suffer heart attacks at 50, their children would still be very young and would surely be badly affected financially and as a family.

It was also reported that 77% of heart attack patients in Malaysia are obese, and that high intake of fatty foods and inactivity are the main factors behind the high prevalence of heart diseases, strokes, etc.

Food like nasi lemak, bak kut teh, roti canai and the like are meant to be taken in moderation.

Our forefathers could eat these food every day and not suffer from cardiovascular disease because the environment back then required them to be physically active.

In contrast, Malaysians today are generally inactive and also tend to eat a lot more.

When I was 45 years old, I weighed 90kg and at 160cm tall, I was obese. I had high blood pressure and with a history of heart disease in the family (my father had it), my doctor was very concerned. He warned me that with my high pressure job, regular entertaining and general inactivity, I would have a stroke or heart attack at an early age. He strongly recommended that I reduce my weight.

I also realised that my children were still young as I married late, and acted on the doctor’s advice.

It was very tiring when I started to exercise but I knew I had to do it not just for me but for my family as well. I exercised five to six times per week, cut down on my food intake and ate healthily when I entertained or attended functions.

After one year, my weight went down by 20kg and my blood pressure was back to normal. I am now 68 years of age and I’m still healthy although I am on medication for hypertension and diabetes.

Many years ago, I had a good customer in Klang who ate bak kut teh nearly every day for breakfast.

I warned him of the danger of doing this but he told me drinking Chinese tea would keep him safe. He died of a heart attack at the age of about 50 years.

Malaysians not only suffer cardiovascular disease at the age of around 50 years but other diseases like kidney failure as well. I recently visited my friend’s husband with kidney disease who was hospitalised. I felt sad when I saw many patients aged around 50 in the ward.

We hope people with a family history of non communicable diseases will take steps to lead a healthy lifestyle to ward off heart diseases, strokes, etc.

THOMAS FOO
Subang Jaya

Source : http://www.thestar.com.my/opinion/letters/2016/08/12/taking-steps-to-ward-off-heart-disease