Shocking Facts The Younger Generation Should Know

Cardiovascular disease or better known as heart disease is still a number one killer globally. If you think that this is only affecting people from the age group of 60 years above, then think again.

It can also be you, regardless of any age.

In 2009, Bernama reported that more young Malaysians below the age of 40 years old are at risk of getting heart attacks mainly due to poor eating habits and an unhealthy lifestyle.

Earlier this year, National Heart Institute’s (IJN) General Director, Tan Sri Dr. Robaayah Zambahari told Utusan Malaysia that individuals as young as in their 20s are diagnosed with heart disease.

Almost half of the patients registered in the national cardiovascular registry involved individuals aged 40 to 60 years old with the population getting younger and have even been detected in individuals as young as 26.

Recently, UiTM’s consultant cardiologist, Dr. Sazzli Kasim told Bernama that the rising number of heart illness among young people is a growing concern at the recent World Heart Day Carnival in UiTM’s Faculty of Medicine campus.

Worldwide, heart disease has escalated among the younger generation with a significant risk in both males and females. Many studies have shown that the main cause is poor lifestyle choices of young working adults in urban cities who lead increasingly sedentary lifestyle, choose unhealthy eating habits out of convenience combined with work-related stress.

For most people in their teens, 20s and 30s, taking care of their health and ultimately their heart is the last thing on their mind but given this rising trend of heart disease among the younger generation, more effort must be made to educate the target group as soon as possible, starting with awareness of risk factors and warning symptoms.


Creating awareness of heart disease among younger generations

Heart Foundation of Malaysia’s (YJM) Executive Secretary, Fazaludin Ibrahim said that the rising number of young people with heart disease is due to unhealthy food consumption from a young age.

“School children are exposed early to the risk of heart disease since their eating habits are not being monitored properly. This leads to obesity and later, obesity can cause other complications,”

“Our mission is to create greater awareness about heart diseases. There are people who have never done a check up on their blood pressure, which can help detect if you have the early signs,” he said.

Making lifestyle changes can often help in preventing heart disease. A healthy diet is the most important one. By consuming a proper food pyramid and cutting down sweet and salt can help to reduce high blood pressure and cholesterols, thus maintaining a healthy weight.

“It also depends on the person’s way of seeing things too, as there are people who came to us and are reluctant to know the risks when they did their checkups as they prefer not knowing it rather than knowing the fact that they can save themselves,” added Fazaludin.

He noticed that there are still people who are unaware of the risks as some people do not have the interest to learn about heart diseases.

“We will continue to push for more awareness in the society. Emphasizing on social media network is very important, especially the Gen Y, where this is their way of communicating and learning information,” he said.

YJM mission for the future is that they will stick to their objective on creating heart disease awareness with a lot more programs being created such as Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) class and syllabus, health screening to schools, universities and companies for much greater exposure.


What causes heart disease?

Cardiovascular disease occurs when a substance called plaque builds up inside the coronary arteries that supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle.

The condition is called atherosclerosis, which will narrow the arteries that will

make it difficult for the blood to flow through. The blood flow can stop if a clot is form that can cause heart attack or stroke.

In a survey done by The National Health and Morbidity in 2011, heart disease is the number one killer in our country and about 70 percent of Malaysians suffer from hypertension, diabetes, obesity and high cholesterol, according to the Heart Foundation of Malaysia (YJM).

That’s not all; there are some other risks such as stress, high blood pressure, blood vessel inflammation and alcohol consumption that contribute to cardiovascular disease.

The National Heart Association of Malaysia said other contributory factors to heart disease are factors such as tobacco use, lack of physical exercise other than unhealthy eating habits.

They emphasized that society often ‘blames’ the individual that have heart disease for smoking, eating and drinking too much that they do not do any exercise but cited that the environment also contributed to the risk of heart disease such as lack of green spaces, unhealthy school canteen meals, the overwhelming exposure of tobacco and fast food.



Know the warning signs and symptoms

Common symptoms of heart disease are the person will have chest pain or scientifically called angina that occurs in the area of the heart muscle.

Commonly, you may feel like something is squeezing your chest like a piece of paper being crumpled in your heart. Some patients may feel the pressure in shoulders, arms, neck, jaw or the back of the body.

Aside from that, you will have shortness of breath, where there isn’t enough of blood for your body’s need, making it harder to breathe normally.

An irregular heartbeat symptom called arrhythmia also one of the biggest symptoms that not many people are aware of. It happens when the rate of rhythm of the heartbeat is skipping or beating fast.

This feeling is often described as a trembling feeling called palpitations (tremor or shiver). A sudden cardiac arrest happens when the heart suddenly stops beating and can be fatal if it is not treated within minutes.



Save your heart: Prevention is best

A lot of things can to be done in order to reduce the risk of heart disease. Most people don’t realize that just small changes could lead to a better and healthier lifestyle. Just small changes to one’s level of daily physical activity and eating choices can have a big impact on your overall health in the long term.

In order to go to the root of the problem, the World Heat Foundation, which is an association formed by international cardiology groups and supported by UNESCO and WHO, believes in promoting healthy diets and physical activity among children and youth.

Initiatives like ‘Kids on the Move’, ‘Eat for Goals and ‘Hearts of Children’ are efforts to reverse the trend of unhealthy lifestyles that is affecting millions of the younger generation around the world, by targeting the most vulnerable group so that prevention of heart disease can begin in childhood.

Education and awareness on heart disease is important and perhaps the only way in saving unnecessary lives lost to the disease.

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