Loving Your Heart With Our Cardiologist

12 January 2022


Article by: Nur Yee Jie Min, Corporate Communications
Our hearts speed up when we feel happy or when we are nervous. In fact, emotions do not come from the heart but the brain that tells the heart to speed up. Essentially, the heart’s main role is to pump blood around your body and is susceptible to a range of conditions affecting the blood vessel, rhythm, valve and muscle. In this issue’s feature, our cardiac experts share about conditions close to the heart.

 

Dr. Mohd Kamal Mohd Arshad
Consultant Cardiologist

 

Coronary Artery Disease: Know Your Risk
Understanding health risks is crucial to help you find ways to avoid health problems.

Coronary artery disease is the No.1 cause of death in Malaysia and knowing this statistic should spur you into taking action to understand the risk factors that cause this condition.

Although some risk factors cannot be changed such as age, gender and family history, there are modifiable risk factors which you can take charge of and avoid becoming a statistic.

"Many patients go undiagnosed as they aren’t aware of their Health condition. I would advise those above 30 years old to get their health checked once a year and for those with more risk factors to see their doctors more regularly."


Dr Mohd Kamal said, adding that making lifestyle changes such as healthy eating, regular exercise and stop smoking can reduce your risk of heart disease.


DIABETES
You are twice as likely to have heart disease if you have diabetes than someone who doesn’t. However, 1 in 5 adults in Malaysia have diabetes based on statistics from the National Health and Morbidity Survey 2019. That is 20% of the population and the survey also found that 8.9% of the respondents didn’t know they have diabetes. This is because Malaysians do not go for health screenings.

OBESITY
Malaysia has the highest prevalence of obesity among adults in South East Asia. More than half of our population are overweight or obese, and 30% of our children aged 5 to 17 years are overweight. Obesity increases the risk of health conditions such as cardiovascular disease and cancer compared with normal-weight individuals.
HYPERLIPIDAEMIA
Cholesterol is a type of fat that circulates in your blood and having too much cholesterol in your bloodstream will result in cholesterol deposits in the walls of your arteries, causing heart disease. A diet high in saturated fat and trans fat increases your cholesterol levels. Eight million adults in Malaysia have high cholesterol however 1 in 4 persons are not aware that they have this condition.
LACK OF EXERCISE
Physical inactivity is the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality. Improving your levels of physical activity can be as simple as climbing stairs or taking short walks. The recommended physical activity is at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of high-intensity physical activity throughout the week, or an equivalent combination of both.
HYPERTENSION
Untreated high blood pressure can lead to serious consequences such as heart attacks, strokes and other cardiovascular diseases. Any blood pressure value above 140/90 mmHg is considered high and among those who have hypertension, 90% are on medication but only 45% have their blood pressure under control. It is one thing to be diagnosed but another to be able to manage it.
SMOKING
Nicotine in cigarettes reduces the amount of oxygen your heart gets, speeds up your heart rate, makes blood clots more likely, and harms your blood vessels. Cigarette smoke is also bad for people around you as second-hand smoke can cause heart disease.


 



Dato’ Dr Yap Yee Guan
Consultant Interventional Cardiologist

 

Sudden Cardiac Arrest: When The Young Start Collapsing
 
"Sudden cardiac arrest is a condition in which the heart unexpectedly stops beating and when that happens, blood stops flowing to the brain and other vital organs in our body. This can result in death if not treated immediately."
 
said Dato’ Dr Yap Yee Guan, Consultant Interventional Cardiologist, adding that in contrast with a heart attack that is caused by blocked coronary arteries, cardiac arrest is an electrical problem in the heart.

We are seeing more incidence of sudden cardiac arrest in the young and among those who are perceived to be fit and athletic. Dato’ Dr Yap said sudden cardiac arrest in people below the age of 40 is considered young and the cause is quite different from someone above 40.
 

 Dato’ Dr Yap adds, “For someone below the age of 40, we would think about inherited cardiac conditions while we would think of coronary disease for someone above the age of 40.”

Sudden cardiac arrest doesn’t often present with specific symptoms. Most individuals experience non-specific symptoms like chest pain, palpitations and dizziness but some symptoms are quite telling like seizures and epilepsy.

"When the latter symptoms are present it may be too late so I always encourage individuals to go for regular medical check-ups and seek medical attention if they have a family history of sudden death."

Quick action is key to saving a person experiencing a sudden cardiac arrest. Learning to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and knowing what is an automated external defibrillator (AED) can improve the person’s survival rate before the emergency medical team arrives.
 


 

Denmark midfielder, Christian Eriksen, collapsed during his country’s match against Finland at Euro 2020. His heart had stopped briefly and he was saved by the quick action by the medic team in performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and resuscitating him with a defibrillator. The 29-years-old had suffered a cardiac arrest and he is set to receive an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) which can prevent fatal cardiac arrests.

This was adapted from BFM Health & Living Interview. Listen to the full podcast here.

 

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