Brunei Darussalam
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Focus on heart health

Cardiovascular diseases have emerged as the second leading cause of death in the Sultanate, trailing behind cancer, according to recent statistics. In 2022, 669 deaths were attributed to cardiovascular diseases, highlighting a concerning trend.

Data also revealed that 29 per cent of these deaths were premature, occurring before the age of 70, marking a three per cent increase compared to figures from 2012. In the same year, 1,702 individuals were admitted to hospitals with diagnosed cardiovascular conditions.

The steady rise in the number of people afflicted by cardiovascular diseases year after year is a cause for alarm. These diseases have increasingly affected the younger age groups, imposing economic and social burdens on the society.

Addressing the growing concern, Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar emphasised the need for early intervention and preventive measures in his message for World Heart Day 2023.

Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham pointed out that cardiovascular diseases, encompassing heart disease and stroke, rank as the leading global causes of death.

According to the World Heart Federation, heart-related conditions such as heart attacks, strokes, and heart failure claim over 20.5 million lives annually. In 2019, an estimated 17.9 million individuals succumbed to cardiovascular diseases, with 85 per cent of these fatalities attributed to heart attacks and strokes.

Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar. PHOTO: MOH
The Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien bridge illuminated in red in conjunction with World Heart Day. PHOTO: RAFI ROSLI

The minister underscored various risk factors contributing to cardiovascular diseases, including behavioural factors such as tobacco use, unhealthy dietary practices involving excessive fat and salt consumption, and a sedentary lifestyle.

Other risk factors include obesity, high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol levels, and diabetes – all of which are preventable or manageable when detected early.

World Heart Day, an annual global initiative, is celebrated to raise awareness of the importance of heart health through various activities.

This year’s theme, ‘Use Heart, Know Heart’, emphasises the use of heart emojis to promote awareness and the significance of World Heart Day.

The minister highlighted that heart emojis are a popular form of communication that resonates with the public.

‘Know the Heart’, a component of the theme, encourages individuals to understand their heart health, recognising the characteristics of a healthy heart, such as normal blood pressure, heart rate, and cholesterol levels.

It also involves recognising symptoms of heart disease, such as shortness of breath, dizziness, or chest pain.

The campaign aims to enhance awareness and knowledge about cardiovascular diseases, preventive measures, and the importance of following medical advice, undergoing health screenings, and adopting a healthy lifestyle.

To further promote healthy living, the Ministry of Health (MoH) introduced two new initiatives within the BruHealth application.

‘BN on the Move 2023’ encourages increased physical activity among the community by setting daily step targets. Regular exercise, like daily brisk walks, contributes to better heart health, quality sleep, and improved mental well-being, ultimately reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Another initiative, ‘Health Index and Risk Assessment’, encourages the public to assess their health status and undergo health screenings for the early detection of behavioural risk factors and non-communicable diseases, including cardiovascular conditions.

Early detection through health screenings facilitates timely treatment and helps prevent related complications.

Given the current trend of an ageing population, the minister urged individuals to take immediate responsibility for their health, particularly heart health, to enhance their chances of leading healthy, high-quality lives in their senior years.

He concluded by calling for collective support in prioritising health, adopting positive behaviours, and taking recommended steps to care for and protect heart health, ensuring a high quality of life for all. – James Kon