Since its foundation in 1979, the National Heart Association of Malaysia (NHAM) has played a definitive role in the development of cardiology and cardiovascular care in Malaysia. NHAM has been a platform for all people who work in various areas in cardiology in Malaysia coming together to further their common cause. The promulgation and development of cardiology in Malaysia, in terms of education and awareness has always been the central focus of NHAM members.

NHAM has also played an influential role in shaping and forming the cardiology landscape in the country. This would have necessitated NHAM, as an organisation working through its members, sitting on boards which presided over healthcare policies and clinical practice guidelines in Malaysia.

Today, NHAM has grown to about 1000 members and continues in its leadership role in the country, in particular, in the field of medical education through our well-established annual conferences and courses. We have also forged strong ties with our regional ASEAN neighbours, and currently helm the permanent secretariat office for the Asean Federation of Cardiology (AFC).



The history of the National Heart Association is also the history of the growth and development of cardiology as a specialty in the country. The latter is closely associated with improvements in the socio-economic standards of the population and increased public demand for a better service for the community.

Among the several factors that prompted the growth of cardiology and became the stimulus for the start of NHAM are the growth and development of private medicine, the increasing influence of American Cardiology and the discovery and practice of selective coronary angiography, CABG surgery, and later coronary angioplasty.

Dr Nik Zainal who arrived as a trained cardiologist in 1977 organized the first fully equipped cardiac catheterization laboratory at General Hospital, Kuala Lumpur. CABG surgery then commenced in 1982. The challenges he faced were explained in his Sukaman Lecture in 1994.

The need for a heart association became pressing after the inauguration of Asean Federation of Cardiology in Bali, Indonesia in 1975. Malaysia represented by Dr R P Pillay, Dr NK Yong and Dr Joseph Eravelly were committed to hold a Congress of Cardiology by 1981. It was the only country in the Asean region that did not have a national cardiac society at that time.

It was only in 1978 that sufficient interest was generated for an inaugural meeting of the NHAM. The first President was R P Pillay, the Vice President was Dr N Krishnan, a thoracic surgeon working at Lady Templer Hospital and the first Secretary was Dr Joseph Eravelly. A Constitution was drafted and the Society obtained registration in 1979. The founding members of the National Heart Association were:

(Term: 1979-1980)


Dr. R. P. Pillay

Vice President

Dr. M. Krishnan

Hon Secretary

Dr. Joseph Eravelly


Dr. Khoo Kah Lin

Committee Members

Dr. K T Singham
Dr. Nik Zainal Abidin
Dr. Osman Yahya
Dr. Ng Weng Hwa
Dr. Joseph Ong

During the Congress of the Asean Federation of Cardiology in Singapore in 1980 the President and Secretary of NHAM firmly committed Malaysia to hold the next Congress of the AFC in Malaysia in 1981. Our total funds at that time amounted to some RM300; we had 27 members of which 14 were in the Council. We were promised support and help by Singapore Cardiac Society and the Philippine Heart Association.

In October 1980 Dr R P Pillay suffered a severe heart attack and died of complications in December 1980. We were thus left without a President and without an organizing committee for the Congress of the AFC.

At an emergency meeting in January 1981 Dr J S Eapen was elected the new President of NHAM. Dr K T Singham was appointed Chairman of the organizing committee for the Congress. Dr Eravelly continued as Secretary and was appointed as Vice Chairman of the organizing committee. The Council of the NHAM at the time of the 4th Asean Congress of Cardiology in Kuala Lumpur consisted of:

(Term: 1981-1984)


Dr. J. S. Eapen

Vice President

Dr. V. Thurasingham

Hon Secretary

Dr. Joseph Eravelly


Prof. Sidek Nontak

Committee Members

Prof. K. T. Singham
Prof. Osman Yahya
Dr. Khoo Kah Lin
Dr. Joseph Ong
Dr. Kenneth Chin
Prof. Ng Weng Hwa
Dr. George D Ananda
Dr. M. Krishnan

Although this was a new learning experience for many of us at that time, a successful Congress of the AFC was held on schedule in September 1981. NHAM gratefully acknowledged Dr Eapen's central role in the success of the Congress. For the first time NHAM had a surplus of some RM150,000. At this Congress Dr Eapen was elected the first Malaysian President of the AFC and Dr Eravelly became the first Malaysian Secretary- General of the Organization.

NHAM has contributed to teaching and training in cardiology. It mooted the idea of the Sukaman Lecture, nominated Dr Charles Toh as the first recipient of this Award and Dr Nik Zainal as the second speaker. The NHAM was responsible for stimulating research in cardiology. It has organized several teaching seminars in echocardiography, coronary angioplasty, heart failure, cardiac pacing and electrophysiology.

NHAM is now a success story. It owes its success to many members who were willing to serve in the Council and sacrifice their time and effort. But success is a journey not a destination. It cannot end.

NHAM endeavours to journey forward into the next decade, driven by our vision and mission:

The Vision

To reduce the burden of cardiovascular disease in Malaysia.

The Mission

To promote quality cardiovascular care through education & research; and to influence health care policies.

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National Heart Association of Malaysia
D-13A-06, Menara Suezcap 1, KL Gateway,
No.2 Jalan Kerinchi, Gerbang Kerinchi Lestari,
59200 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

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