Public Awareness Brings Down Heart-Related Deaths

Bandar Seri Begawan – The number of deaths caused by heart diseases and stroke has come down and stands second to cancer in the Sultanate over the last two years as members of the public have become more conscious of their heart or cardiovascular health. This decrease in prevalence is also linked to the concerted public-health effort over the past decade on prevention and treatment programmes.

Speaking to the Bulletin in an interview at the sidelines of the World Heart Day 2011 launch yesterday were two senior cardiology experts, Dr Hj Nazar Luqman, Head of Cardiology Unit, Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha (RIPAS) Hospital and Dr Peter Tay, CEO of Gleneagles JPMC Sdn Bhd.

Our efforts over the last 10 years are bearing fruits now, heart diseases used to be the number one cause of death in Brunei about two years ago but cancer has toppled it to be the number one cause of death now, Dr Hj Nazar said.

It does take a long time, but it is remarkable that the peoples mindsets are changing. From my experience, about 10 years back, patients who came to clinics would never ask for a check on their cholesterol levels. Now, every person coming in to see the doctor would request for his/her cholesterol levels to be checked.

They have more sense of awareness now, and all we need to do after that is to hammer it in, he said.

The next step is, if you know you have high cholesterol level, how to bring it down and how to analyse the risks, he added.

The Government of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam has already invested and developed so much in cardiology expertise and care here with the collaboration between RIPAS Hospital and Gleneagles JPMC. We have all the advanced tests, treatment, surgery such as angioplasty. We can catch people with the symptoms early here and prevent heart attacks, he added.

Describing how they hope the World Heart Day event will make an impact on the public to raise more awareness, Dr Peter said it is a situation of complacency. We dont want people to be complacent because a lot of people do not even know what the symptoms and signs of heart attack are. Even if they knew, they would still carry on eating a very poor diet and lack the initiative to exercise.

Dr Peter also revealed that statistics have shown Brunei as having the highest incidence of diabetes, which is a major contributing risk factor to heart diseases.

He said the theme for World Heart Day 2011 is an important message because it drives to the homes of people, where good or bad habits are inculcated. If we can stick to the five simple measures that the World Heart Federation (WHF) has pointed out (stop smoking, watch out on your diet, exercise, know your risk and education about heart disease) and follow them judiciously, there should be no issues with the heart and the number will come down, he added.

Dr Hj Nazar pointed out that people have to be well-informed about heart problems and they should adopt the means to prevent and diagnose it early. Many times, heart problems dont have symptoms, so those under high risk (factors) should know they are facing the threat and should go to their doctors to be screened, investigated and prevent it, he said.

We want to make this more public to instil awareness about heart diseases. Smoking, diabetes, hypertension, cholesterol and diet are some factors that can be controlled but for those who have the risk but do not already know they have heart disease have to go and see their doctors to check if it is present and then we can do the right thing, he added.

The Bulletin also asked about initiatives for the younger generation, especially schoolchildren, in leading a healthy lifestyle to prevent heart diseases in the future. The Health Promotion Centre is very much involved in school programmes such as the Children Obesity Programme and a lot of other initiatives have been in place and are under way. We have to instil this information in our younger generation now because this will reflect on the countrys future well-being, Dr Nazar said.

This is why the theme for this year is central to the environment. Children grow inside home and their family is a crucial agent of health education for them. If a family is well-informed on these steps for prevention, then chances are there that their children will follow suit, he added.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

On October 17th, 2011, posted in: Latest News by
Comments are closed.