Rise in cardiovascular diseases, a cause for concern: Minister

James Kon

Cardiovascular diseases are the second highest cause of death after cancer in Brunei Darussalam contributing to almost 25 per cent of causes of death in 2019. The increase in cardiovascular diseases among the younger generation is also a cause for concern, stated Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar.

He said, “In 2019, cardiovascular diseases caused about 26 per cent of premature deaths (death before 70-years-old) in the country, an increase from 20 per cent in 2013.”

The worrying high number of cardiovascular diseases in the country was highlighted by the minister in a message in conjunction with World Heart Day today with the theme Use Heart to beat Cardiovascular Disease.

Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham also revealed that the volume of heart treatment procedures relating to cardiovascular diseases also increased.

Gleneagles JPMC recorded an increase of heart treatment procedures like Angiogram procedure which saw an increase from 965 in 2013 to 1,241 in 2018, Angioplasty increased to 725 procedures in 2018 from 550 procedures in 2013, and heart and related surgeries increased from 138 in 2013 to 183 cases in 2018.

Cardiovascular diseases which include heart disease and stroke, are the main cause of death worldwide. It is estimated that 17.9 deaths annually or 31 per cent of deaths globally are caused by cardiovascular diseases.

World Heart Day is one platform aimed to increase public awareness and understanding on cardiovascular diseases while reminding the public that cardiovascular diseases can be prevented by taking steps against the risk factors of heart disease.

Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar. PHOTO: MOH

Risk factors contributing to cardiovascular diseases include the use of tobacco, unhealthy eating habits such as excessive intake of fatty food and salt and living an inactive lifestyle.

Meanwhile risk factors relating to obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol level and diabetes can be prevented if detected early.

With the theme Use Heart to beat Cardiovascular Disease, Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham said, “The World Heart Day celebration this year urges the public to understand what needs to be done for a healthy heart and changing behaviours towards living a healthy lifestyle.”

The minister reminded the public of their responsibility and compassion to help the vulnerable and high risk groups, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic including those with cardiovascular diseases.

“Senior citizens and individuals with chronic diseases including cardiovascular diseases, chronic breathing disease, high blood pressure and diabetes, if infected by COVID-19, would be at higher risk of complications from the infection.

“Everyone plays a vital role in protecting the vulnerable and high risk groups by practising precautionary measures.

“With the threat of COVID-19, let us take care of our hearts and prevent cardiovascular diseases by practising a healthy and balanced diet as well as reducing salt intake, saying no to cigarettes and being more active.”

Patients who have health problems including heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure or obesity must follow the advice and instructions of health professionals and not to let the COVID-19 threat prevent from attending appointments, the minister said.

In conjunction with World Heart Day and upcoming international health awareness days, he revealed that the MoH will host a non-communicable diseases (NCDs) awareness campaign from October to December aimed at raising understanding on NCDs, prevention measures, identifying risks and early signs of NCDs as well as encouraging the public to adopt a healthy lifestyle. Webinars, exercise and roadshows are among the activities planned for  the campaign.

The minister said, “In conjunction with World Heart Day this year, play a role in contributing to positive changes in our lifestyle and people around us, especially family members and loved ones so we can reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

“We can increase the quality of life by setting a good example for the future generation. Insya Allah we can reduce the burden of cardiovascular disease and in turn prevent other NCDs while improving the quality of life.”