Malaysians have a healthy perception but an unhealthy reality

A RECENT survey has indicated that health screening has a high incidence with 85% of Malaysians between 40 to 60 years old claiming that they have done a health screening in the past and 66% doing it annually.

The survey entitled the State of Health of the Nation by The Green Zebras on behalf of the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) and Novartis Malaysia, a leading pharmaceutical company, also found that seven in 10 respondents exercise at least once a week with 51% responded that they have healthy eating habits.

This sums up to almost all (98%) of them thinking that they have good or average health.

In spite of their optimistic perception of their healthy habits, three-quarters of those who attended a health screening in the past were diagnosed with some form of non-communicable disease (NCD). High cholesterol accounts for 37%, high blood pressure for 29%, diabetes for 13%, and other health issues for 10%.

“It is worrying that many Malaysians do not give much importance to health. Many skip health screenings.

While observing a healthy diet and exercising will lower the risk of heart disease, it should be noted that regular check-ups are equally important as other factors such as age, gender, stress management and family with a history of high cholesterol can have an effect on heart health,” said MMA president Dr Muruga Raj Rajathurai.

Dr Muruga pointed out that in the survey conducted, 46% of the respondents indicated that someone in the family had suffered from a heart or cholesterol-related issue. Of this group, 42% resulted in death. Despite having a family history, respondents in this group did not take any notable steps to prevent heart disease.

In healthcare, prevention is key as better outcomes can be achieved with early detection, added Dr Muruga.

“Therefore, we urge all Malaysians with a family history of high cholesterol to go for scheduled health screenings in order to be up to date on their health status. Most importantly, seek advice from your doctor on any necessary treatments if cholesterol levels need to be managed.”

Meanwhile, Novartis Malaysia president Mohamed El-Wakil said, “It was no surprise that high cholesterol topped the list of health issues following a health screening. In fact, four out of ten Malaysian adults have high amounts of bad cholesterol, medically termed hypercholesterolemia, in their bodies.”

This is why Malaysians with cardiovascular disease are 10 years younger than those from advanced countries, of which 25% are below 50, according to him.

“Today, there are new and transformative therapies available to treat hypercholesterolemia effectively. Malaysians are encouraged to seek their doctor’s advice on the best treatment available.”

The State of the Health of the Nation survey was conducted online in December 2022 in both Peninsular Malaysia and East Malaysia. It is nationally representative of the overall population by location, gender and race. A total of 500 Malaysians responded to the survey. — March 30, 2023


Main photo credit: Qmed.Asia

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