By Edeline Anne Goh
Globally, 17.5 million people succumb to heart diseases annually. Back home, 1 in 4 Malaysians have some form of heart disease but many remain unaware of it.
The United Nations has recognised that preventing cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) is crucial for the public, after releasing a new guideline, which indicates that about 80 to 90 percent of all CVDs are preventable.
In line with this, Institut Jantung Negara (IJN) and Yayasan Jantung Malaysia (YJM) initiated The Heart Exhibition 2013. Held on 28 and 29 September 2013, The Heart Exhibition is back once again to create public awareness of risk factors for heart diseases and stroke as well as to promote preventive measures to decrease the alarming increase of CVDs in Malaysia.
The exhibition welcomed stakeholders around the nation — involved in the country’s heart health industry — to interact with the public during this fun, interactive and educational two-day event. One of the biggest highlights of the event was an enormous 3D heart structure. This giant “heart” is the only of its kind in Malaysia. It allows you to imagine that you’re a microorganism, which then travels through the heart. Once inside, you’ll be able to see what your heart looks like if you have a medical condition such as atherosclerosis.
Malaysia’s Deputy Minister of Health, Dato’ Seri Dr. Hilmi Bin Haji Yahya together with Datuk Dr. J. S. Sambhi, Chairman and Founder of Yayasan Jantung Malaysia, Tan Sri Dato’ Dr. Robaayah Zambahari, Chief Executive Officer of Institut Jantung Negara, Jeffrey Mun, Senior Manager of Sin Chew Daily and Aiveen Wong, Chief Executive Officer of Urban Health Sdn. Bhd. graced the event on the first day of The Heart Exhibition.
In his speech during the official launch, the Deputy Health Minister emphasised the need for Malaysians to wake up and to realise that CVD is a serious matter, which must be tackled. He said, “We Malaysians have been asleep for far too long. The Heart Exhibition marks an urgent and significant wake-up call to my fellow Malaysians to take heart disease seriously and straight to the heart.”
Adding to that, Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Dr. Robaayah Zambahari said that CVD is the main cause of death worldwide. “Prevention needs to be done at various levels. Firstly, primary prevention for those not yet afflicted should be about adopting a healthy lifestyle including cessation of smoking and maintaining a healthy weight. The next level is detection and management of risk factors and consuming medications, if needed. The following level is detection and management of the disease and its consequences. Once again, a healthy lifestyle is the mainstay of treatment and if necessary, medications and intervention such as surgery might be needed.”
Datuk Dr. J. S. Sambhi also stressed on prevention in his speech. He said that Yayasan Jantung Malaysia was formed out of necessity as CVD emerged as the number one killer in the 1970s. He also said that YJM’s initial strategy was to focus on the treatment of CVD but has now shifted to focus on prevention instead. “Cardiovascular diseases are preventable with simple lifestyle changes which include diet control, stress reduction and annual medical check-ups,” he said.
The theme of World Heart Day 2013 on 29 September, was ‘take the road to a healthy heart’. The theme focused on a life-course approach to the prevention and control of CVD, especially among children and women.
Urban Health was one of the media partners for The Heart Exhibition 2013 in support of preventing cardiovascular diseases — the world’s number one killer. Special thanks goes out to Gintell who sponsored 3 eye massagers for Urban Health’s “What is your sleeping position?” contest which took place during the event.