M'sians getting heart disease at younger age

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysians are suffering from heart attacks about 10 years earlier than their counterparts in developed countries, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.

He said Malaysian patients who had severe heart attacks were far younger, with an average age of 56 compared with people from developed countries in the West, where the average age was 65.

“In Malaysia, coronary heart disease or heart attack affects 141 out of every 100,000 people each year,” he told a press conference after launching the National Heart Association of Malaysia (NHAM) Heart House in Jalan Tun Razak here yesterday.

He said this meant that for a population of 27 million, the ministry expected about 38,000 new cases every year. “It is a heavy burden on our healthcare delivery system,” he said.

Liow added that the amount of expected new cases was worrying because it almost exceeded the number of new cancer cases yearly, which was between 30,000 and 40,000.

Heart diseases and diseases of the pulmonary circulation were the top killers in government hospitals last year and accounted for up to 16.54% of the 45,936 deaths.

In a bid to improve treatment for heart diseases, Liow said the ministry would extend cardiac healthcare services to Kuantan and Kota Kinabalu under the 10th Malaysia Plan if the financial situation permitted.

It would also consider extending the ministry’s specialist cardiology services to Hospital Ipoh and Hos-pital Kuala Terengganu and eventually to all state hospitals as more cardiologists are trained in the future.

During the event, Liow visited the building which would serve as a “home” for NHAM to carry out activities in a bid to tackle heart diseases.

This article was first published in www.thestar.com.my on 26 October 2009