Heart Disease Top Killer In Government Hospitals

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 25 (Bernama) -- Heart disease and diseases of the pulmonary circulation are the top killers in government hospitals.

For instance, 16.5 per cent of the 45,936 deaths in government hospitals in 2008 were due to heart disease, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.

"This is a big number and we want to get the support of all sectors to look into ways and means to reduce heart disease, which is on the rise," he told reporters after the opening of the Heart House, National Heart Association of Malaysia (NHAM), here, on Sunday.

He said it was estimated that in the country, coronary heart disease afflicted 141 persons per 100,000 population each year, which meant that for a population of 27 million, about 38,000 new cases of coronary heart disease were expected each year.

"It is a heavy burden for our healthcare system. About 60 per cent of these cases will be managed at the ministry's coronary care units, while the rest will seek treatment at private and non-MOH cardiac facilities," he said.

To reduce this burden, Liow advised the people to watch out risk factors for heart disease, including high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, smoking, diabetes, physical inactivity and poor nutrition, and seek early treatment.

"One of the ways is carrying out prevention programmes. We have to launch more of such programmes to encourage people to have a healthy, active lifestyle and eat a healthy diet," he said.

As for treatment, Liow said two more cardiothoracic centres would be built -- in Kuantan for the East Coast and Kota Kinabalu in Sabah -- to provide comprehensive cardiology, cardiothoracic surgery and cardiac anaesthetic and perfusion services.

"At the moment, there are four regional cardiothoracic centres; at Penang Hospital, Serdang Hospital, Sultanah Aminah Hospital in Johor Baharu and the Sarawak General Hospital.

"Besides these, cardiology service is also provided by cardiologists at the Alor Setar Hospital, Kota Baharu Hospital, Kuantan Hospital and Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Kota Kinabalu, and the service is soon to be extended to the Ipoh Hospital and Kuala Terengganu Hospital."

Liow said the government also would train more cardiologists to meet the need.

"Currently, we have 24 cardiologists in the ministry's hospitals and another 15 doctors are undergoing training in cardiology. We take five or six new trainees each year for the three-year cardiology fellowship programme," he said.

This article was first published in www.bernama.com on 25 October 2009