Most of us have heard it by now: the 2019 National Health and Morbidity Survey from our Ministry of Health revealed that more than half of Malaysians are overweight or obese. Given that type 2 diabetes is closely linked to overweight and obesity, it’s therefore not surprising that the prevalence of this chronic disease in this country is high—the highest in Asia, in fact!
Furthermore, there is a misconception that, for people with diabetes, eating healthily means giving up all the foods and beverages they used to enjoy. This is not true, that the key to a healthy, balanced diet for people with diabetes lies with keeping count of one’s carb and calorie intake, so that these are within the recommended amount for the person.
Recognizing the prevalence of type 2 diabetes and the need to empower Malaysians with this condition to prepare healthy, diabetes-friendly meals that they will enjoy, Alpro Pharmacy together with sugO35, a personalized diabetes care service provider, has prepared a series of recipe books for people with diabetes.
Last November, Teroka FUN Resipi Diabetik was released in conjunction with World Diabetes Day.
This is the second volume in the series, following the first volume, U-Turn Diabetic the Fun Way.
“One of the most frequently asked questions from our diabetic patients is ‘What can I eat?’,” dietitian Chua Kai Jia shares with us.
5 GREAT THINGS ABOUT TEROKA FUN RESIPI DIABETIK
It contains 25 diabetes-friendly recipes utilizing common ingredients used in Malaysian dishes. Each ingredient gets a chapter of its own, with fun facts and nutritional information about these ingredients.
These recipes are prepared by nutritionists and dietitians.
These dishes will appeal to Malaysians of all races, and they are also affordable to prepare and tasty to eat—proof that someone with diabetes can still enjoy delicious meals as long as they pay attention to what and how much they eat.
Chua shares that this book will be useful to people with diabetes and their loved ones when it comes to adhering to a healthy, well-balanced (and tasty!) diet while keeping their blood glucose levels within a healthy range.
The content is in Bahasa Malaysia and Chinese, making it accessible to a large majority of Malaysians.
HOW TO GET YOUR COPY
Digital You can sign-up to get your free copies of the 2 recipe books using the links below. All links open in a new tab.
The first volume is out of print. Volume 2, Teroka FUN Resipi Diabetik, is still available, however, for RM59.90. You can obtain a copy here (link opens in a new tab).
HealthToday is not associated with Alpro Pharmacy and sugO35. This article is presented for information purpose only, as we believe that these books can be of use to readers. We do not get any income from downloads or purchases through the links on this page.
In Malaysia, flu can occur year-round. Older persons, especially those with chronic diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure, are advised to make flu vaccination an annual priority, especially during the holiday seasons when mingling and traveling are often inevitable. It’s important to strike a balance between staying safe and creating beautiful memories!
DO YOU KNOW THAT YOU COULD END UP WITH A HEART ATTACK OR STROKE WHEN YOU GET THE FLU?
Recent studies have cautioned that influenza increases the risk of heart attack by more than 10 times in the first 7 days after contracting the flu.
This is especially so if you are 65 and over, regardless of whether you have a history of heart disease or are living with chronic illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, lung disease and kidney disease. In industrialized countries, most deaths associated with flu occur among older persons aged 65 years and above!
Among older persons, influenza can present as a relatively mild respiratory illness; it may also present without any symptoms (no fever and/or no cough). It can also lead to fatigue and confusion, potentially setting off a sequence of catastrophic events.
Professor Datuk Dr Zulkifli Ismail, Technical Committee Chairman of the Immunise4Life Programme, explains: “It is not just a fever, runny nose, cough and body aches, it could seriously harm your heart.”
HOW THE FLU AFFECTS YOUR HEART
When the flu virus enters your system, your immune system strings into action.
Just like fights in real life, collateral damage may result; when an infection triggers a strong response from your immune system, the immune cells can alsodamage your own healthy tissues and organs.
One example is COVID-19, which can trigger very high activation of the immune system, resulting in the uncontrolled release of cytokines, small molecules that aid cell-to-cell communication in immune responses and stimulate the movement of cells towards sites of infection.
This uncontrolled release (“cytokine storm”) may lead in failure and death of many organs in the body.
Studies suggest that the same inflammatory response described above can trigger effects that can damage the heart (cardiovascular events) when you have an influenza infection.
Dr Alan Fong, the President of the National Heart Association Malaysia (NHAM) and a consultant cardiologist, shares that your body’s immune response, when present along the direct effects of flu on the inner lining of your blood vessels or atherosclerotic plaques, may cause rupture of such plaques or blockage in the arteries–effects that can lead to a heart attack or stroke.
OLDER PERSONS ARE ESPECIALLY AT RISK WHEN THEY CATCH THE FLU
In older persons, there are changes that occur in the immune system that leads to a decline in the ability of the body to fight off infections such as the flu; this is known as immunosenescence.
Professor Dr Tan Maw Pin, a consultant geriatrician that chairs the Flu & Older Persons Sub-Committee of the Malaysian Influenza Working Group (MIWG), tells us: “In addition to this, ageing contributes to chronic, non-infectious, low-grade inflammation—known as inflammaging—which plays a key role in the cause and progression of chronic conditions such as cardiovascular diseases.”
She further adds that ageing also promotes the development and progression of atherosclerosis, the most common cause of acute coronary syndrome. This syndrome gives rise to situations in which the blood supplied to the heart is suddenly blocked.”
“Hence, when an older person gets the flu, all these factors put them at higher risk of developing a heart attack and stroke,” Prof Tan reiterates.
FLU VACCINATION CAN PROTECT YOUR HEART
Studies have found that the flu vaccination was associated with a 34% lower risk of major adverse cardiovascular events, and those that have recent acute coronary syndrome had a 45% lower risk.
There is also an 18% reduced risk of death reported in patients with heart failure.
For people with type 2 diabetes mellitus, studies have shown that the flu vaccination reduces the risk of heart failure by 22%, stroke by 30%, heart attack by 19% and pneumonia by 15%.
Flu vaccination does not require behaviour change or a daily intervention, yet it prevents cardiovascular events as well as as other evidence-based approaches such as statin therapy, antihypertensive therapy, and smoking cessation.
This article is contributed by Immunise4Life (IFL), a collaboration of the Ministry of Health Malaysia with the Malaysian Paediatric Association (MPA) and the Malaysian Society of Infectious Diseases & Chemotherapy (MSIDC).
The article has been edited by HealthToday for publication on this website.
For more information on flu, you can visit IFL’s website Act of Love (link opens in a new tab).
Warren-Gash, C., Blackburn, R., Whitaker, H., McMenamin, J., & Hayward, A. C. (2018). Laboratory-confirmed respiratory infections as triggers for acute myocardial infarction and stroke: a self-controlled case series analysis of national linked datasets from Scotland. The European respiratory journal, 51(3), 1701794. https://doi.org/10.1183/13993003.01794-2017
Michos, E. D., & Udell, J. A. (2021). Am I getting the influenza shot too?: Influenza vaccination as post-myocardial infarction care for the prevention of cardiovascular events and death. Circulation, 144(18), 1485–1488. https://doi.org/10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.121.057534
Modin, D., Jørgensen, M. E., Gislason, G., Jensen, J. S., Køber, L., Claggett, B., Hegde, S. M., Solomon, S. D., Torp-Pedersen, C., & Biering-Sørensen, T. (2019). Influenza vaccine in heart failure. Circulation, 139(5), 575–586. https://doi.org/10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.118.036788
Vamos, E. P., Pape, U. J., Curcin, V., Harris, M. J., Valabhji, J., Majeed, A., & Millett, C. (2016). Effectiveness of the influenza vaccine in preventing admission to hospital and death in people with type 2 diabetes. CMAJ : Canadian Medical Association journal = journal de l’Association medicale canadienne, 188(14), E342–E351. https://doi.org/10.1503/cmaj.151059
Vetrano, D. L., Triolo, F., Maggi, S., Malley, R., Jackson, T. A., Poscia, A., Bernabei, R., Ferrucci, L., & Fratiglioni, L. (2021). Fostering healthy aging: The interdependency of infections, immunity and frailty. Ageing research reviews, 69, 101351. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.arr.2021.101351
Stem cells are a unique type of cell in our body. This is because they are the only type of cells that can develop, under the right triggers and condition, into a variety of more specialized cells, such as blood cells, muscle cells, bone cells, and more.
HOW STEM CELLS ARE USEFUL
Researchers can generate a variety of human cells from stem cells in the laboratory. These cells are then used to test new medications for possible side effects.
Research is also conducted on generating healthy cells that can replace those in our body that are dying or damaged due to age or disease. Such use of stem cells is called regenerative medicine.
THE 2 TYPES OF HUMAN STEM CELLS
Hematopoietic stem cells (usually abbreviated as HSCs), which are found in cord blood, bone marrow, and peripheral blood
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), which as found in the gel-like substance (Wharton’s jelly) of the umbilical cord, bone marrow, fat tissue, and tooth pulp
REGENERATIVE MEDICINE IS THE FUTURE?
Judging from the versatility of stem cells when used to produce of a variety of healthy human cells, regenerative medicine has obvious benefits for people whose tissues are damaged or dying due to diseases as well as people in need of tissue transplant.
Promising for treating heart diseases
Dr Lee Tjen Jhung, a cardiologist affiliated with the National Heart Institute (IJN), says, “While heart diseases are usually treated with medication, angioplasty and by-pass surgery, cell-based regenerative therapy is gaining popularity in the cardiovascular field due to the ability of mesenchymal stem cells to provide new blood in areas affected by restricted blood flow as well as promote the formation of new blood vessels.”
An answer to ageing-related health issues?
Dato’ Dr Rajbans Singh, the President of the Malaysian Wellness Society, points out that stem cells can play a crucial role in treating aging-related health problems.
He elaborates: “At birth, the human body has approximately 80 million active stem cells However, by age 40, less than 25 million active stem cells are functional. Ageing leads to a massive loss of stem cells in the body, affecting the ability of organs and tissues to repair and regenerate as the body gradually ages and deteriorates.”
Here’s a general, simplified overview of how the whole procedure works
Stem cells are grown in a laboratory, and then manipulated to grow and specialize into a more specific type of cells (heart muscle cells, blood cells, etc)
These cells are then implanted into the person that can benefit from this procedure, for example a person with heart disease could be implanted with heart muscle cells, injected into their heart
These transplanted cells will then play a role in repairing and/or replacing the affected damaged tissue or organ of that person.
In reality, the procedure is not so straight forward, as there are many potential complications to take into account.
Nonetheless, the promise of regenerative medicine is too good to resist, hence researchers are continuously looking into creating and fine-tuning various procedures that can hopefully one day reduce or even replace our reliance on medications!
THE STEM CELL CONTROVERSY
There is considerable ethical debate on the use of stem cells that are sourced from fertilized egg cells or embryos that are donated for research.
These days, many centres that offer stem cell therapy claim to source their stem cells ethically—from the umbilical cords of young and healthy women after they have delivered their babies.
In Malaysia, the sourcing and processing of stem cells are governed by the Current Good Manufacturing Practices or cGMP, issued by the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA). You can view it here (link opens in a new tab).
LIM CHAIN YIN
SEA Nutrition Lead
TIP 1 Portion Out Your Snack
Be sure to pace yourself throughout the equal halves.
Once you’ve decided what you want to eat, portion it out. This can help you slow down, so that you enjoy your snack.
Check in with yourself to see if you’re full and satisfied before having another portion.
To keep tabs on how much you eat, always check the serving size per package on the label and put your snack in a bowl or on a plate.
TIP 2 Alter Your Choices
If you’re watching the game late at night, you might have a craving for something to eat. Remember that your body works harder when it’s sleeping, so try to snack on something light that will give you energy to keep going, but won’t make it hard for your body to digest.
TIP 3 Enjoy Every Bite
Snacking while engaging in other activities—in this case, watching the game—can easily lead to unconsciously eating more than you should.
Take a moment during the interval to savour your snack with all of your senses. To fully enjoy your snacking experience, pay attention to the smell, taste, texture, shape, and colour of your food.
Take small bites and chew slowly and be sure to finish one bite before starting the next.
TIP 4 Put Your Snacks Out of Reach
When watching a game in your living room, make sure your snacks are beyond arm’s reach. That way, you will be less likely to keep going back for more and inadvertently grab more than you need.
TIP 5 Drink Water, Lots of It!
Your brain tends to trick you into wanting to snack more, but you might just be thirsty. So, drink a glass of water and wait for a couple of minutes before deciding whether or not you’re hungry.
Snacking mindfully is a simple way to tune into your body’s needs. It can be practised by anyone, anywhere, and at any age. It is a great habit in cultivating a positive relationship with food by making deliberate and conscious choices to promote your well-being as well as keeping a balanced lifestyle. But habits take time to build and change, so taking small steps is a good way to start out!
DR NIK MUHD ASLAN ABDULLAH
Sunway Medical Centre
BREAST CANCER AFFECTS MEN AS WELL AS WOMEN
Breast cancer in both men and women share many similar attributes.
The most common kinds of breast cancer in men are the same kinds that are present in women, namely:
Invasive ductal carcinoma
Invasive lobular carcinoma
Ductal carcinoma in situ (or DCIS)
Dr Nik Muhd Aslan Abdullah says that breast cancer is, however, rare among men.
According to Dr Nik, many of the most pressing early warning signs of breast cancer in men are also similar to those found in women, such as:
Lumps in the breast tissue
Skin dimpling or puckering
Unusual discharge from the nipple
HORMONAL CHANGES CAN GIVE RISE TO BREAST CANCER
One reason why breast cancer is rare among men is that the hormone testosterone inhibit the growth of breast tissue, while oestrogen stimulates breast tissue growth.
While men and women have both hormones in their bodies, men have higher levels of testosterone compared to women. On the other hand, women have higher levels of oestrogen.
Some breast cancer cells have special structures at the surface, called hormone receptors. These cells are called hormone-receptor positive (HR positive for short). Oestrogen can bind to these receptors to cause the growth of these cells. Dr Nik explains that men have a higher possibility of developing breast cancer cells that are HR-positive, when compared to their female counterparts.
“Breast cancer cells in men are sensitive to hormonal imbalances,” Dr Nik explains, “so any factors or conditions that can lead to an excess of oestrogen and a lack of testosterone will increase their risk of developing breast cancer.”
What can cause the raise in oestrogen levels in men?
Klinefelter syndrome, a rare genetic condition in which a male has an extra X chromosome and produces lower levels of androgens
Injury to the testicles
Use of androgen inhibitors
Liver cirrhosis (scarring of the liver)
Family history also plays a factor
About 1 out of 5 men with breast cancer is found to have had a family history of the disease.
This is because men can also inherit a mutation in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes or in other genes, such as CHEK2 and PALB2. These mutations will highly increase their risk for breast cancer.
“Unfortunately, we do not have a say in the types of genes we inherit,” Dr Nik says.
He recommends that men with a family history of cancer should consider seeking counsel from their doctors about going for genetic screening tests as soon as they can, especially those over the age of 50.
Genetic screening tests involves taking a blood sample for analysis. A genetic counsellor will then advise the person, based on the results given, on what the next best steps would be for him.
MEN WITH HR-POSITIVE BREAST CANCER ARE MORE LIKELY TO RESPOND TO HORMONE TREATMENTS
Dr Nik explains that hormone therapy can be used to help lower the risk of the cancer cells spreading or treat cancer that has come back after treatment.
Why then do men with breast cancer have lower survival rate compared to their female counterpart?
“Through many of the studies that I’ve seen, men who are diagnosed with breast cancer have a 8-9% lower survival rate than women,” Dr Nik says.
He attributes this to the fact that men with breast cancer are often diagnosed late.
“Men will sometimes wait too long to seek out a diagnosis for the symptoms they may be experiencing,” he explains, “or not recognize the warning signs of breast cancer in their bodies.”
As a result, they delay seeking help, and tend to do so only when the cancer has become advanced and spread to other parts of the body.
Dr Nik encourages men to seek a doctor’s opinion if they find themselves experiencing any of the mentioned symptoms related to breast cancer. “Breast cancer can be cured, and it is very treatable if detected early on,” he says.
The Malaysian Meteorological Department (MetMalaysia) recently announced that Malaysia will experience continuous heavy rainfall from mid-November, leading to probable major flash floods in several states, and the monsoon season will last until early next year.
We would like to outline several precautionary measures for residents in flood-prone areas, from a community pharmacist’s point of view, to proactively mitigate flood damages ahead of the period and in the aftermath.
BEFORE A FLOOD
Closely monitor your surroundings and stay up to date on weather forecasts and warnings
Assemble disaster supplies, including long-term medications and first aid kits in water-proof bags in case of evacuation.
People, especially the elderly, with chronic diseases, are advised to visit their nearest pharmacy and bring along with their chronic medications, in order to keep a record in the pharmacy and have an up-to-date medication list; this will be useful should one lose the hard-copy of their prescription and face difficulties in retrieving their medication
AFTER A FLOOD
Due to poor sanitation and hygiene in flood areas, there is a high risk of flood-borne diseases such as leptospirosis, cholera, and dengue fever. Keep an eye out for general symptoms such as fever, headache, diarrhoea, muscle aches, and vomiting. In the case of any such symptoms, please visit the nearest healthcare centres immediately.
Alpro Pharmacy and DOC2US have launched the Life-saving Medication Care Programme, which provides a one-time supply of medications for up to 7 days for free. Those with contaminated or lost chronic disease medications can visit an Alpro Pharmacy outlet and speak to the pharmacist for more details. Note that a police report copy of the flooding is required for verification purposes.
DR LOW LEE LEE
Infectious Disease Physician
Sultanah Bahiyah Hospital
FUNGI: OUR FRIENDS & FOES (IT’S COMPLICATED)
Fungi are found naturally in our environment. There are many different types of fungi, over 2 million species however about 600 fungi have caused diseases.
Invasive fungal infections typically manifest as a severe and aggressive form of the disease, leading to corresponding to high prevalence and death rates if left untreated.
These infections include invasive mold infections.
INVASIVE MOLD INFECTIONS AT A GLANCE
Usually caused by Aspergillus (giving rise to invasive aspergillosis) but can also be caused by other rarer molds such as Mucormycetes (giving rise to mucormycosis).
These molds produce spores; most of us encounter these spores every day without getting ill, but people with compromised immune systems may develop complications as a result of these spores.
Despite invasive aspergillosis and mucormycosis being relatively uncommon, invasive mold infections are often life threatening. If left untreated, the mortality rates can reach 100%!
Various parts of the world reported superinfections of invasive aspergillosis and mucormycosis in patients with COVID-19, which are associated with increased risk of death. COVID-19 likely increases the risk for fungal infections because it weakens the immune system or due to certain therapies used for treatment such as steroids.
There are no specific symptoms, as symptoms can vary depending on the type of infection. This makes diagnosis an infection a challenging and sometimes complicated task!
Invasive aspergillosis is uncommon and occurs primarily in immunocompromised people.
Commonly seen in people that have undergone stem cell and other organ transplants (especially lung transplant), as well as in patients with blood-related cancers such as acute leukemia.
Typically affects the lungs, but it can also spread to other parts of the body.
Mucormycosis is rare and estimated to affect approximately 10,000 cases worldwide, barring India. If India is included the numbers rise to 910,000 cases annually!
Typically occurs in the sinuses of the nose or lungs; however it can spread to the brain and other organs as well.
COMMON SYMPTOMS OF A POSSIBLE INVASIVE MOLD INFECTION
Typical pneumonia symptoms including fever, chest pain, cough, coughing up blood, and shortness of breath
Sinus infection, which may be painful
Pain, tenderness, swelling and pressure around the eyes, cheeks, nose or forehead
One-sided facial swelling
Nasal or sinus congestion
Black lesions on nasal bridge
HOW TO REDUCE YOUR RISK OF AN INVASIVE MOLD INFECTION
When performing activities that involve close contact with soil and dust, such as yard work or gardening, take care to wear shoes, long pants, and long-sleeved shirts
Whenever possible, avoid dusty areas like construction or excavation sites; wear a N95 mask when you have to visit these areas
Keep your house dry and mold-free
Avoid staying in a moldy home (even while it is being cleaned)
DR CHEONG FOOK MENG
Gleneagles Hospital Kuala Lumpur
Dr Cheong Fook Meng shares that it is normal to develop cataracts as you age.
However, this condition can also be caused by eye injuries as well as certain diseases or medications.
As one’s cataract progresses, the lens in their eyes gradually become hard and cloudy, allowing less light to pass through. This leads to diminished vision and even complete blindness in severe cases.
“Presbyopia is another condition that occurs naturally as a person ages; your eyes gradually lose the ability to focus on nearby objects,” says Dr Cheong.
With presbyopia, the lens inside the eye progressively loses its flexibility, making it harder for the affected eye to focus the light reflected from objects.
A common sign that someone may have developed this condition is having to hold reading materials at arm’s length to make out what they are reading.
BOTH CAN BE TREATED WITH SURGERY & IMPLANTATION OF INTRAOCULAR LENS
“This surgical treatment allows the removal of the eye’s cloudy natural lens and replacing it with an intraocular lens,” explains Dr Cheong.
The intraocular lens is clear, made to fit one’s eye shape and personalised according to the patient’s condition and needs.
TYPES OF INTRAOCULAR LENS AVAILABLE IN MALAYSIA
Monofocal lenses correct a single range of vision, usually to see distant objects. Additional issues will need to be fixed through other means.
Toric lenses are suitable for patients who also have astigmatism but, similar to monofocal lenses, they restore vision for only one area of focus.
Multifocal lenses are designed to provide clear vision for distant and near vision.
GOING FURTHER WITH EXTENDED DEPTH-OF-FOCUS INTRAOCULAR LENS
Extended depth-of-focus intraocular lens delivers an enhanced range of vision with a reduced frequency of glares and halos, regardless of the lighting conditions.
During the day or when driving at night, these lenses deliver great vision and clarity.
Extended depth-of-focus intraocular lens can be used to correct presbyopia, by creating a single elongated focal point to enhance one’s range of distance for which their eye can see an object clearly.
While all lenses can fix cataracts, extended depth-of-focus intraocular lens may improve one’s quality of life.
They provide distant, intermediate (at arm’s length, such as for reading a newspaper or working on a laptop) and functional near vision (up close, such as for reading books and mobile phone screen), with minimum visual disturbances.
They may even decrease a patient’s need to wear glasses after their cataracts have been removed.
DR PATRICK TIAU WEI JYUNG
Sunway Medical Centre
Dr Patrick Tiau reveals that silent heart attacks, also known as silent myocardial infarction, account for 45% of heart attacks.
These heart attacks are “silent” because they occur without the usual, recognizable symptoms of a heart attack.
COMMON SYMPTOMS OF HEART ATTACK
Chest pain (often described as heavy or pressure sensation)
Radiating pain in the arm, neck, or jaw
Sudden shortness of breath
HOWEVER, THESE SYMPTOMS ARE USUALLY NOT PRESENT WHEN ONE HAS A SILENT HEART ATTACK!
Because of this, many people may not know that they have experienced one until days or even weeks after.
However, Dr Patrick shares that there are some early warning signs to look out for.
SIGNS THAT YOU MAY HAVE HAD A SILENT HEART ATTACK
It’s good to consult a doctor when you have concerns, especially if you experience these signs and fall under the high-risk below (see below).
Dr Patrick says, “We have come across many patients who have dismissed the early warning symptoms as simply feeling tired, indigestion, nausea or sweating. By the time they seek out medical treatment for these symptoms, they are shocked to learn that what they are experiencing is actually due to a reduced blood flow to their heart, and that has caused them to have a silent heart attack.”
Silent heart attacks can lead to more serious health complications if left untreated over an extended period of time, such as an increased risk of another, potentially more deadly heart attack.
COMMON RISKS OF SILENT HEART ATTACKS
RISKS THAT CANNOT BE AVOIDED
Age. The risk increases as we grow older.
Gender. Men are more at risk than women. However, women are more prone to a higher risk of complications after experiencing one, especially if they are diabetic.
Family history. The risk is higher for people with a family history of heart diseases.
RISKS THAT CAN BE MODIFIED
Smoking. Chemicals in cigarettes stimulate one’s heartbeat and can dramatically increase one’s risk of heart attack.
High cholesterol. Individuals with elevated cholesterol levels can lead to formation of atherosclerotic plaque in the blood vessel and reduce blood flow to the heart.
High blood pressure: Having high blood pressure puts extra strain on the heart muscle. Over time, this causes the heart muscle to stiffen, thicken, and perform less optimally.
Individuals that are overweight or obese, especially when their weight tends to sit at the waist, are more at risk even if they do not have any other risk factors.
Physical inactivity. Doing regular exercise helps protect the heart by keeping under control other risk factors such as cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity.
“Undeniably our heart health is essential to allowing us to have a well-balanced and fulfilling life,” he says. “The heart itself is the first and last sign of life that is responsible for, quite literally, keeping us going. In combatting heart attacks, the most important thing to remember is that prevention is definitely better than cure.”
DR PATRICK’S TIPS TO REDUCE YOUR RISK OF SILENT HEART ATTACKS
Make the necessary small changes to daily lifestyle to reduce one’s risk factors. These changes include:
Regularly monitor blood pressure and cholesterol
Get sufficient exercise
Eat a balanced diet of fruit, vegetables, lean meats and whole grains
Ensure that one’s blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar are well-controlled
Inform a doctor as soon as possible about any unusual symptoms that may indicate a silent heart attack
Once you go home from the hospital, it is essential that you keep taking your medications as prescribed. “This will ensure your heart health is kept in check, possibly for the rest of your life,” says Dr Patrick.
Consider joining a support group. Dr Patrick acknowledges that heart attack survivors may start to develop feelings of shock, sadness, and anxiety. This is normal, and these feelings can be managed with the right support.
“Some people find it helpful to join a support group where they can talk with others that have gone through a similar experience, or seek out companionship and encouragement through avenues such as the gym, or yoga classes,” he advises.
The University Malaya Medical, Business, Computing and Software Engineering teams have launched a free app, called Age Plus.
“The main objective of the project is to develop a health management application for users to self-manage their health,” shares Associate Professor Dr Mumtaz Begum Mustafa, the creator of the Age Plus app.
WHAT DOES THE APP CURRENTLY PROVIDE?
Provides visualization patterns of your daily activities as well as personalized recommendations for a healthier lifestyle
Information on healthy foods
Calorie calculator to help you plan healthy meals
Seat goals for and track your water intake, caffeine consumption, sleep, and exercise
PERSONAL MEDICAL DETAILS
Useful for managing medical information such as medication and consultation detail
Record and keep tab on your medications
Record and keep track of your medical appointments
Find nearby hospitals
Improve awareness on disease-related conditions among older persons.
Get useful advice and tips on health-related matters
AGE PLUS IS USER-FRIENDLY
Dr Mumtaz explains that the app boasts design solutions to improve its usability especially among older persons. Features of the app that reflect this include:
Increased action time and reduction of multiple tasks