As the COVID-19 outbreak is shifting from pandemic to endemic, we are also moving towards a new normal of living with COVID-19 and its SOPs. Throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, we have learnt that prevention and control of a disease requires a joint multi-sectorial effort at all levels. We, as individuals play a very important role. We have learnt the SOPs to live with COVID-19, do we do enough to live a healthy life which prevents non-communicable diseases (NCDs)?
NCDs remain the leading causes of death in Malaysia and hypertension (high blood pressure) contributes to most of the disabilities and deaths.1 Hypertension is a silent killer that may cause serious illnesses like heart diseases and stroke without showing any symptoms. The National Morbidity and Health Survey (NHMS) in 2019 reported that nearly half of those who had high blood pressure were not diagnosed.2 How often do we actually check our blood pressure and screen NCDs, in comparison with COVID-19 screening we did whenever feeling unwell?
The World Hypertension Day 2022’s theme “Measure Your Blood Pressure Accurately, Control It, Live Longer” highlights the significance of good blood pressure control. A meta-analysis showed that blood pressure reduction significantly reduced risks of major heart disease events, heart failure, stroke, and subsequent reduction in all-cause mortality in the population.3 We should do our part by practising a healthier lifestyle, beginning with ourselves. Here are ten tips to live a healthier lifestyle:
- Prepare mentally and plan a feasible healthier lifestyle.
- Do regular health screening and seek treatment early if needed.
- Measure our blood pressure accurately and control it below 140/90 mmHg.
- Take less than 5g of salt a day and choose the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) Diet which is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy foods.
- Get physically active for at least 150 minutes a week.
- Maintain Body Mass Index (BMI) within 18.5kg/m2 to 24.9 kg/m2.
- Quit smoking and limit alcohol intake.
- Manage stress with coping skills and relaxation therapies.
- Get adequate (7 to 9 hours) and good quality sleep.
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle and stay persevered.
A change to a healthier lifestyle is certainly not easy. A supportive environment within the community is essential to push the efforts to a higher level. Ministry of Health has set up Wellness Hub in assisting the ready ones towards a healthier one with professional advice as well as a community support group. Explore more from the nearest Wellness Hub in building a healthier nation.
Do your parts now by choosing to live a healthier life.
This article was written by Dr Yoong Lee Yeen (DrPH candidate), Professor Dr Moy Foong Ming, and Professor Dr Sanjay Rampal, Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Universiti Malaya.
1. Institute for Public Health (IPH), National Institutes of Health, Ministry of Health Malaysia. (2020). National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS) 2019: Vol. I: NCDs – Non-Communicable Diseases: Risk Factors and other Health Problems.
2. Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME). 2020. Malaysia Global Burden Data. 3. Ettehad, D. et al. (2016). Blood pressure-lowering for prevention of cardiovascular disease and death: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Lancet (London, England), 387(10022), 957–967.