'Women becoming more prone to heart disease'

PHOTO: 'Women becoming more prone to heart disease'

KUALA LUMPUR - Heart disease is fast becoming the number one killer rather than breast cancer among women.

Heart Foundation Malaysia medical doctor Datin Dr Liew Yin Mei said one in three women died of heart disease while breast cancer only struck one in eight women.

"Most women fear being a victim of breast cancer but little do they know that more of them die of heart diseases especially after menopause when the oestrogen level in their body changes," she told the New Straits Times.

"As age catches up, the risk of contracting heart disease is definitely higher but the latest trend shows that those below the age of 40 have also fallen victim to heart disease."

Dr Liew said this was due to their unhealthy eating habits, smoking and alcohol consumption.

She said the other correctable risk factors were high cholesterol level, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and stress.

"Unhealthy lifestyle and bad eating habits are the main cause of heart disease," she said.

Dr Liew said that with the rate of obesity rising, the number of people with non-communicable diseases such as heart disease would increase.

She said the high cholesterol risk factor could be reduced by consuming low cholesterol food items (red meat), avoiding food high in animal fat such as dairy products, egg white, cheese, coconut milk and seafood except fish.

Other risk factors such as high blood pressure and obesity can be reduced by cutting down on salt, sugar, and food high in oil.

Dr Liew said heart disease was among the non-communicable diseases besides diabetes, cancer and pneumonia.

"Heart disease is the major cause of death in government hospitals accounting for about 25 per cent of all deaths which is an alarming rate."

Dr Liew advised the public especially young adults to adopt a healthy lifestyle by avoiding alcohol consumption and smoking, watch what they eat through a balanced diet, spare at least 30 minutes to exercise or go for a brisk walk daily and learn how to handle stress.

"There is no other way to keep the disease away and reduce the number of deaths due to heart attack and it's never too late to start."