World Heart Day as reminder to lead healthy lifestyle

National 3 minutes, 7 seconds


WORLD Heart Day is observed today.

First founded in 2000, World Heart Day aims to inform and create awareness among people around the globe that the world’s leading causes of death are heart disease and stroke, claiming 17.3 million lives each year.

Themed “Heart-Healthy Environments”, this year’s celebration is dedicated to exposing how much our environments can impact upon and increase cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors. It aims to spread the news that at least 80 per cent of premature deaths from CVD could be avoided if four main risk factors – tobacco use, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and harmful use of alcohol – are controlled.

According to the World Heart Federation, many individuals frequently cannot make heart-healthy choices due to environmental factors, such as the unavailability of healthy food or smoke-free zones.

The organisation also estimates that the number of deaths per year from cardiovascular disease will rise to 23 million, in 2030.

Based on World Health Organisation (WHO) statistics, 80 per cent of deaths in 2012 in Brunei were caused by non-communicable diseases.

CVD was identified as the main cause of death for that year, accounting for 34 per cent of total deaths, followed by cancer at 17 per cent, diabetes at 11 per cent and chronic respiratory diseases at seven per cent.

Meanwhile, available Ministry of Health (MoH) statistics showed that there were 276 Bruneian deaths from all types of cardiovascular diseases in 2012 (out of which 152 were caused by heart diseases, specifically). There were 329 cardiovascular deaths in 2011, and 335 in 2010.

The ministry data also showed that heart disease was specifically the leading cause of death in Brunei in 2008.

Speaking to The Brunei Times, Jerudong Park Medical Centre (JPMC) physiotherapist Murugavel Manivasagam said it was important for Bruneians to consider three of the risk factors – physical inactivity, unhealthy diet and tobacco use – when trying to make their lifestyles, and hearts, healthier.

“If you want to have a healthy heart, exercise will have to be an essential part of your life,” Murugavel stressed.

According to Murugavel, there was more risk of getting heart attacks and stroke in Brunei, compared to other countries.

“We have witnessed more patients in Brunei – younger patients in their mid thirties – getting strokes and heart attacks because of bad lifestyles, as well as no exercising,” he explained. The physiotherapist recommended brisk walking (an activity which does not require any prescription from physiotherapists or health care nurses) for at least 20 to 40 minutes a day, to help get the heart flowing and to improve its elasticity.

When asked, Murugavel said that there was equipment available such as standing frames and body support hoists which help paraplegics to stand and exercise. Progressive upper limb exercises can also be done through the use of weights, thera bands and medicine balls, he said.

"Any type of exercise has effects on the heart rate," he explained.

Murugavel also emphasised on the significance of creating awareness of “mixing in healthier food options” in Brunei.

“People here are very fond of eating oily food, such as fast food and nasi katok. They’re not very bothered about their amount of intake, and taking in fried items as the main course.

“Once you take in such food materials, you need to utilise the extra energy created from the food, through exercise. But, people are not really doing the exercise part,” the physiotherapist further said.

Murugavel also briefly touched upon the disadvantages of smoking towards the heart, saying that there were many chronic (long-term) smokers in Brunei who were addicted to the habit, calling it the “second worst risk factor to the heart”.

The MoH and Gleneagles JPMC already marked World Heart Day (in conjunction with the National Campaign in Combating Non-Communicable Diseases) with a walkathon last week, which saw participation by more than 100 people.

The Brunei Times