The statistics make for grim reading: Approximately two-thirds of Malaysians have at least one of three lifestyle (non-communicable) diseases (NCDs) – diabetes, high blood pressure (hypertension) or hypercholesterolaemia. This is according to the 2015 National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS). In fact, 7.2% of Malaysians have all three NCDS, while 26.3% have two.
The number of Malaysians with diagnosed high blood lipids was 9.1%, but this masks the fact that an estimated 38.6% were undiagnosed. This means that for every one person diagnosed with high blood lipids, there were four undiagnosed. High blood lipids increase the risk of diseases like heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure.
High Blood Pressure
NHMS 2015 revealed 13.1% of Malaysians had been diagnosed while 17.2% had not been diagnosed. Hypertension can affect different tissues and organs in the body through damage to the blood vessels in the body. This could potentially affect the heart, brain, kidneys and eyes.
According the NHMS 2015, diabetes was diagnosed in 8.3% of Malaysians and undiagnosed in 9.2%, leading to an overall prevalence of 17.5%. To make matters worse, the survey revealed that only 38% of diabetics had blood glucose levels that were within treatment targets.
We should all be aware of the risks of diabetes – it’s been talked about a lot in the last 10 years. In general, diabetes increases the risk of complications such as heart disease, nerve damage, kidney damage, eye damage and foot damage.
Partners In Crime
If there’s one thing in common with such lifestyle diseases, it’s that they can “work” together to exponentially increase the risk of harm to the body. While high blood pressure weakens blood vessels, high blood lipids “encourage” cholesterol plaques to stick to blood vessels, and the body is hit with a double whammy of risk and destruction. Diabetes just wreaks havoc in the body, increasing the risk of heart attacks, strokes and kidney damage.
No Endgame In Sight
It’s been talked about ad nauseam – eating a healthy diet and regular exercise cuts down the risks of lifestyle diseases. But the numbers don’t lie – an increasing number of Malaysians afflicted with lifestyle diseases must mean that such talk has fallen on deaf ears. Perhaps it’s time to consider more draconian options, ones that might not be popular but will affect change for the better.