Heart Disease can happen to anyone
PREVENTATIVE heart care is not a top-of-mind consideration for most Malaysian adults, as heart disease is usually perceived as an illness that affects the elderly. Research has proven this is not the case - in fact, Malaysians in their thirties are now more likely to have arteries similar to a person aged seventy years old due to their lifestyles. The sad conclusion is that Malaysians are simply succumbing to heart disease at a younger age.
For single parent, Linda Chan, 57, long working hours in her younger years coupled with regular seafood feasts now with her family when eating out pose a challenge for her to manage her heart health. To balance it up, she will try to be more vigilant with her diet the next day, such as opting for steamed dishes at home and drinking milk with added plant sterols to block cholesterol.
"I've had friends who passed away at the age of 37 from heart health issues, just gone in their sleep," she recalls. "Don't think that heart disease or fatalities only happen to people at my age, cholesterol and heart problems don't develop overnight and I would definitely urge my daughter to look into ways of managing her heart health as early on as possible."
The 2015 National Health and Morbidity Survey revealed that nearly 20 million Malaysians above the age of 18 years are at risk of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), which may in turn lead to the development of heart disease. One out of two Malaysians are suffering from high cholesterol. Heart disease manifests itself in many different forms - a heart attack, narrowing of arteries, abnormal heart rhythms, breaking down of the heart valve or heart muscle and degeneration of blood vessels, among others. Collectively they are known as cardiovascular heart disease, or CHD.
To encourage Malaysians to take action for their heart health now instead of much later when the symptoms of heart disease have already manifested, brands such as Nestle Omega Plus have made it their mission to be Malaysia's heart health advocate. Sept 3rd will see Malaysians, young and old, converge on Lake Gardens (Perdana Botanical Gardens) for Walk-A-Mile, Malaysia's longest running walk for heart health advocacy, jointly organised by Nestlé Omega Plus and Yayasan Jantung Malaysia (YJM).
"For the past 14 years, Nestlé Omega Plus has reached out to Malaysians to take charge and care for their heart through Walk-A-Mile in collaboration with YJM and we look forward with great excitement to sharing heart healthy activities with everyone at Walk-A-Mile. Caring for your heart does need to be a big monumental step, simply taking the stairs or swapping sugary treats with fresh fruits and drinking two glasses of Nestlé Omega Plus with added plant sterols daily to manage cholesterol can improve your heart health," said Ng Su Yen, Business Executive Manager, Milks of Nestlé Malaysia.
There are three key factors to manage your heart health holistically. Aim to get some form of physical activity every day - the American Heart Association suggests a combination of moderate and vigorous activity thirty minutes a day, five times a week. Anything that makes your body move and burn calories is considered physical activity. Walking more is a great way to improve heart health.
Even if you don't have any heart issues, it's important to not miss your heart health check-ups with your doctor. Ask questions about your numbers: blood pressure, cholesterol, heart rate, blood glucose and weight. These numbers will help to provide a benchmark for upcoming check-ups.
Eat a balanced diet - at the dining table, aim to fill half your plate with vegetables and fruits, consume milk with added plant sterols to block the absorption of cholesterol into the bloodstream. Plant sterols are especially effective in lowering cholesterol levels - according to Heart UK, the Cholesterol Charity, plant sterols can reduce cholesterol levels by up to 10% when taken at optimal doses and as part of a diet low in saturated fat in just over 3 weeks. They are considered to be the most effective single food that can lower cholesterol as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle. Plant sterols can be found in small amounts in many grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, and seeds. However you may have to eat very large amounts of these items to have an effect on your cholesterol, with Nestlé Omega Plus, you only need to drink two glasses a day to manage cholesterol levels.