Shining light on the heart

Izah Azahari

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the second highest cause of death, accounting for almost 25 per cent of deaths in 2019 in the Sultanate, more than 1,438 individuals hospitalised with a CVD diagnosis in 2020, and each year, the Sultanate recorded about 500 deaths from CVD.

This was shared by Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar in his message in conjunction with the World Heart Day Celebration 2021 following the theme ‘Use Heart to Connect’.

“Every year, CVD threatens and takes lives, causing 18.6 million deaths worldwide. This number is expected to continue rising to approximately 23 million deaths by 2030 if no further action is taken by each individual to prevent and control the disease,” said the minister.

CVD (including heart disease and stroke) is among the top four diseases besides cancer, diabetes, and chronic respiratory diseases, accounting for about two-thirds (69 per cent) of premature deaths among adults aged 30-69 in the country. Controlling risk factors is important to prevent it.

Among the factors include adopting a balanced diet in moderation; activate oneself by carrying out 30-60 minutes of physical activities between five to seven days a week; stopping smoking; staying positive; and getting adequate sleep. These will protect the body from disease and prevent at least 80 per cent of premature deaths due to heart disease and stroke.

“At this point, while the world is still struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic, we need to realise how important the health of ourselves and our loved ones is. For the 520 million people living with CVD, the COVID-19 pandemic is devastating – they are at a greater risk of being infected and experiencing severe symptoms, especially with the widespread transmission of the Delta variant,” said the minister.

He said in the Sultanate, the second wave of the COVID-19 outbreak has been shown to cause serious symptoms among the vulnerable population, such as the elderly and those with chronic health problems including CVD, high blood pressure, obesity, chronic respiratory diseases. and diabetes, especially among those who have not yet been vaccinated.

As part of the government’s efforts in preventing and controlling CVD, the minister said the Ministry of Health (MoH) is participating in the World Heart Day Celebration themed ‘Use Heart to Connect’, which urges people to use knowledge, love and compassion, as well as influence of each individual to ensure that they, their loved ones and the community around them have the best chance of living a healthy life through the use of digital health technology.

This year’s World Heart Day Celebration focusses on equity as technology and information can help us bridge the gap in access to needed prevention and treatment services quickly, enabling and empowering everyone, everywhere to use digital tools for better prevention, diagnosis and heart healthcare.

“If you have a chronic illness such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure or obesity, do not let COVID-19 stop you from taking preventive and control measures as recommended.

“The final focus of the World Heart Day Celebration is community as the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in various problems such as compromised medical appointments; less or severed contact with family and friends; and a reduction in physical activity. Use digital networks to connect you with family, friends, other patients, doctors and caregivers.

“So in conjunction with the World Heart Day this year, let us all #UseHearttoConnect, to make changes in our lives towards healthier choices, so that we can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. With the efforts and commitment of each individual to achieve the goals, the burden of CVD, Insya Allah, will be reduced, preventing other non-communicable diseases and improving the quality of life for all,” said the minister.

He added, “Don’t let you or your family feel isolated. Use technology to connect and take care of your liver and heart health. #UseHearttoConnect.”