SEMENYIH: You’re never too young – or too old – to take care of your heart.
According to National Heart Institute (IJN) chief executive officer Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Azhari Yakub, Malaysians can and should begin heart disease prevention early in life – but it is also never too late to start.
Although some risk factors such as family history and aging cannot be changed, the risk of heart disease can certainly be reduced with key preventative steps.
Pointing out that there are risk factors which people can treat or control, Dr Mohd Azhari said that heart problems can be avoided by adopting a healthy lifestyle.
“At IJN, we aim to reach out to more Malaysians to educate them about the alarming rise of high cholesterol and heart disease in the country, and urge citizens to take charge of their heart health.
“Although it is commonly recommended that people over 40 should work more closely with their doctor to address the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, a heart attack can occur at any age.
“Smoking, cholesterol level, high blood pressure, physical inactivity and obesity – these are modifiable risk factors which can be treated or controlled through medications or lifestyle changes,” he told the New Straits Times during the inaugural “IJN Ride 4 Your Heart 2017″ cycling event here on Sunday.
The senior consultant cardiac surgeon said cycling is a very good cardio fitness exercise, second only to swimming, as it raises the heart rate and allows it to function at an optimal level.
He added that cycling is a sport known to promote good health and protects one from not just heart disease but also stroke, arthritis and obesity, among others.
Regular cycling halves the chance of getting cardiovascular diseases like stroke, which is the fourth largest killer in Malaysia,” Dr Mohd Azhari said during the event which began and finished at the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus here.
Apart from promoting a healthy lifestyle, the event also aimed at forging new friendships among cyclists.
“We received an overwhelming response from the public, with 1,700 participants including cyclists from 18 countries such as the United Kingdom, Brunei, Singapore, Indonesia, Argentina and Australia,” said Dr Mohd Azahari, a cycling enthusiast himself who started riding his bike in his late 50s, about five years ago.
There were two categories for the cycling event – the 28km ‘Fun Ride’ and the 115km – for different age groups and fitness levels, from professionals to amateurs and leisure cyclists.
This year’s event was also held in conjunction with IJN’s 25th anniversary as a health care provider and centre of cardiac excellence and research.
Built in 1992 at a cost of RM151.5 million, IJN has developed into a leading regional heart centre offering the best-trained hands and most advanced facilities where sophisticated organ transplants and coronary surgeries are conducted.
As Malaysia’s leading heart institution, the corporatised body owned by the Finance Ministry also offers comprehensive wellness programmes.
Most notably, fees for IJN patients are subsidised by the government.