‘High cholesterol impacts your heart’
KUALA LUMPUR: Nestlé Omega Plus collaborated with IJN Foundation, the charity arm of Institut Jantung Negara ( IJN), to host a briefi ng to raise public awareness of the prevalence of high cholesterol among Malaysians, last Wednesday.
The session highlighting the importance of managing cholesterol and prioritising heart health to enhance quality of life was led by medical practitioners from IJN and a nutritionist from Nestlé who shared on how high cholesterol impacts the heart, and ways to mitigate its levels for a healthier life.
IJN’s Cardiology Department deputy head Dr Shaiful Azmi provided an overview of cholesterol and how it is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
He explained the gradual nature of cholesterol build-up as a result of the accumulation of lipids which clog the walls of arteries, preventing blood and oxygen from flowing through which leads to chest pain, heart attack or stroke.
“High cholesterol does not discriminate as it can strike anyone regardless of age, gender, or body size. Women are equally at risk as men; people who are not overweight are just as susceptible; and young people are similarly at risk.
“High cholesterol has no signs or symptoms and most of the time the cause is discovered during an emergency,” he said.
Several IJN patients shared about their experiences with high cholesterol levels.
At 36 years old with an active lifestyle, Muhammad Shahril Hamdan discovered he had arteriosclerosis where two of his arteries were clogged.
Work stress which led to poor eating habits caused him to experience shoulder pains which he had not taken seriously.
Jeyaessuary Veemathurdi, 52, wasshockedtosuddenlyexperience chest pains only to be diagnosed with three blocked arteries - the result of high cholesterol, aggravated by her diabetes and high blood pressure.
“My heart’s condition came as a shock to me because I always presumed this only affects people with poor dietary habits who lack exercise. This experience makes me realise how important it is to take care of my heart. I encourage others to check their cholesterol levels and not ignore any warning signs your body gives,” shared Shahril.
“It should be noted that not all cholesterol is bad,” explained Dr Emily Tan, a consultant cardiologist at IJN.
“There is cholesterol that is naturally produced by the body which forms cell membranes, hormones and vitamin D. And there is additional cholesterol ingested through eating where trans- fat and saturated fats are the main culprits that contribute to bad cholesterol entering the body.”
Heart disease is the number one killer in Malaysia but most people are unaware of how certain risk factors can affect their heart health.
A shocking one in two adult Malaysians suffer from high cholesterol, with about half of them under the age of 40. The number reflects the fast-paced lifestyles many Malaysians have, along with the country’s food culture.
Prevention is always better than cure so Malaysians need to be proactive about their heart health by going for cholesterol checks as a fi rst step in the right direction.