It had been around 2 years of living with COVID-19, so we have been through many lifestyle changes. Our health focus was more on COVID-19 as we learnt to comply with SOPs to prevent and control the disease. COVID-19 could kill; similarly, so can non-communicable diseases too. Something to reflect on, have we done enough to prevent and control non-communicable diseases as we did to stay protected from COVID-19?
In conjunction with the World Health Day on 7th April 2022, let’s draw our attention to non-communicable diseases, which have contributed to about 71% of deaths globally.1 Unlike COVID-19, non-communicable diseases are often long duration and slow-progressing.2 Of many non-communicable diseases, cardiovascular disease and stroke, are amongst the main leading causes of death in Malaysia in the year 2021. The global disease burden data in Malaysia also showed that high blood pressure is the main contributing factor to most disability and death in Malaysia. 3
Stay healthier by choice to keep our blood pressure in control:
1. Take more fruits, vegetables, wholegrain foods, legumes and low-fat dairy foods.
2. Reduce sodium, sweets, sweetened drinks, and processed food.
3. Limit food with high saturated fat, cholesterol, and trans fats.
4. Exercise in moderate activities for at least 150 minutes a week.
5. Keep in healthy weight within Body Mass Index (BMI) of 18.5 to 24.9 kg/m2.
6. Quit smoking.
7. Limit alcohol intake and avoid it if possible.
8. Manage stress using relaxation techniques (ie: deep breathing techniques).
9. Get psychosocial support to keep motivated from friends and family.
10. To approach the nearby Ministry of Health Wellness Hub for expert guidance and support in cultivating a healthy lifestyle.
11. Regular health screening at least once a year. Seek medical attention immediately as soon as there is any symptom of non-communicable diseases.
Changing lifestyle into healthier ones require a lot of willpower and perseverance. Hence, a supportive environment and community are important in fostering a healthier lifestyle in society. Beginning with ourselves, we could start working on ourselves to live healthier and be role models for others to eventually build a healthier social norm. So, walk closely towards the healthier choices and move away from the unhealthy lifestyle.
Choose to live healthier today and stay protected from non-communicable diseases.
This article was written by Dr Yoong Lee Yeen and Professor Dr Moy Foong Ming from the Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya. Published in The Star, Code Blue, and My Sin Chew.
1. World Health Organization. 2021. Noncommunicable Diseases Fact Sheet.
2. Department of Statistics Malaysia. 2021. Statistics on Causes of Death, Malaysia, 2021.
3. Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME). 2020. Malaysia Global Burden Data.
*All illustrations are collected from freepik for educational purposes only.