Though Covid-19 has been dominating the news since last year, that doesn’t mean we should neglect other fatal diseases.
With bad dietary habits and poor lifestyle choices, cardiovascular disease has remained as the leading cause of death in Malaysia for the 14th consecutive year.
Coronary heart disease (CHD), sometimes referred to as coronary artery disease (CAD), are general names for heart attack.
Viewing this matter seriously, Blackmores Malaysia along with Watsons is encouraging Malaysians to start taking control of your life and lead a healthy one today.
When a heart attack occurs, the blood supply to part of the heart muscle itself is severely reduced or stopped. This happens when one of the coronary arteries (the arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle) is blocked by an obstruction, such as a blood clot that has formed on plaque due to atherosclerosis.
Atherosclerosis is an accumulation of fatty deposits on artery walls, making the arteries narrower and stiffer.
High levels of LDL-cholesterol (‘bad’ cholesterol) are a key factor in the development of heart attacks because they can lead to the blockages of arteries. Low levels of HDL-cholesterol (‘good’ cholesterol) may also be involved.
Cholesterol levels in the blood depend on both dietary factors and the amount of cholesterol manufactured by the body. High consumption of saturated fat, trans-fat and cholesterol in foods may make your total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels rise.
Do take note that genetics also play a role in some people with high cholesterol. Your genes will partly determine how much cholesterol you naturally produce. Those with higher risk factors include family history with heart attack, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, stress, lack of exercise and tobacco use.
New findings have revealed that regular use of fish oil supplements which contain Omega-3 fatty acids are associated with a lower risk of all-cause death, CHD events, and CHD death among the general population.
Omega-3 fatty acids has beneficial effects on blood pressure, triglycerides, and heart rate, all of which would exert a protective effect against the development of cardiovascular disease.
Omega-3 fatty acids also increases HDLs (‘good’ cholesterol) which picks up excess cholesterol in the body and transport it to the liver where it is readied for excretion.
Although most fish oil supplements usually contain 1000mg of fish oil, it is the DHA and EPA omega-3 that contributes to its therapeutic health benefits which has a usual dose of 180mg EPA and 120mg DHA but it can be doubled or tripled, depending on the process.
Fish oils which are extracted from 100% wild-caught fish contain more natural goodness compared to fishes which are reared. Fish oil supplements from small fishes like sardines and anchovies are generally safer due to their lower levels of contaminants compared to larger fishes.
Therefore, it is important to choose fish oil supplements from reputable companies that place importance in producing fish oil products with high quality, purity and safety.
Another popular supplement for heart health is CoQ10, also known as Coenzyme Q10, which is a vitamin-like substance that is found in every cell in the body. CoQ10 is produced by our body as it is an essential part of the mitochondria, the energy-producing unit of the cells of our body. Its highest concentrations are found in the hardest working tissues such as the heart.
CoQ10’s main role is in energy production and its ability to act as an antioxidant. Food sources include meat and fish products, broccoli, cauliflower, nuts, spinach and soy.
However, a Danish study conducted in 2012 found that the average dietary intake of Coenzyme Q10 is only 3 to 5mg per day. As we get older, supplementing with CoQ10 may be recommended as our bodies production of it starts to decline.
CoQ10 supplementation has been found to benefit those with high blood pressure, irregular heart rate, and heart failure. Studies have shown that patients undergoing heart surgery find taking CoQ10 supplements before and after surgery beneficial with faster recovery of the heart muscles.
As an antioxidant, CoQ10 can also prevent cholesterol from hardening in the arteries. Those taking cholesterol lowering medications (statins) may also benefit from taking CoQ10 supplements as statins may lower CoQ10 production in the body.
That said, taking health supplements alone is not enough. To reduce the risk of heart disease, you should also quit smoking, lower your alcohol consumption and exercise every day for at least 30 minutes, depending on the ability and condition of each individual.
Any form of physical exercise, even the light one is better than none. Eat less carbohydrates and consume more fibre like fruits and vegetables as it may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke. Limiting your salt intake by one teaspoon daily especially those with hypertension also helps.
It is advisable for consumers to refer to healthcare professionals before taking new health supplements, especially those with underlying medical conditions.
- Department of Statistics Malaysia, 2019
- Yayasan Jantung Malaysia website
- Zhi-Hao Li, Wen-Fang Zhong, Simin Liu, et al. Associations of habitual fish oil supplementation with cardiovascular outcomes and all-cause mortality: evidence from a large population based cohort study
- Academy of Medicines Malaysia
- World Health Organisation
- National Library of Medicine (NIH)