KUALA LUMPUR: Concerned about the increasing rate of high blood cholesterol among Malaysians, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad has issued a national call for every Malaysian to go for blood cholesterol screening.
He revealed that according to the 2015 National Health Morbidity Survey, the overall prevalence of high blood cholesterol among adults aged 18 and above was 47.7% or 9.6mil Malaysians.
This was a 15.1% increase in prevalence compared to 2011 statistics.
“In other words, almost one in two adult Malaysians suffer from high blood cholesterol,” Dr Dzulkefly said in a press conference at his office here Wednesday (March 27).
However, for every single diagnosed case of high blood cholesterol, there are four cases of unknown or undiagnosed cases, signalling low levels of awareness and testing uptake among Malaysians, he added.
“This is why high blood cholesterol is known as the silent killer,” he said, adding that these non-communicable diseases including cardiovascular diseases and diabetes are issues of grave concern to the Ministry.
According to the Kuala Selangor MP, the five high risk factors that cause cardiovascular diseases are hypertension, smoking, high sugar levels or diabetes, high cholesterol, and obesity or lack of exercise.
“These create the perfect chemistry to get strokes, which are shortening the lifespan of Malaysians,” he warned.
Quoting statistics from the Malaysian Health Systems Research, Dr Dzulkefly said the average lifespan for Malaysians was only 75 - 73 for males and 78 for females.
“The lifespan of Malaysians is plateauing compared to our regional peers whose average lifespans are increasing,” he said.
“Non-communicable diseases are taking a toll on our health and quality of life,” he added.
He said that strokes are also happening at a younger age, attributing it to poor diet, a sedentary lifestyle, smoking, and weight gain.
He said Malaysians are getting strokes at the average age of 58, adding that this is much younger than Thailand’s average age of 68 years old, Singapore (61), China (63), US (66), and Canada (68).
Dr Dzulkelfy urged Malaysians to go for screening for high blood cholesterol and start leading a healthy lifestyle.
“You must take ownership of your health,” he said.
He also encouraged Malaysians in the B40 category to check their qualification for the Peduli Kesihatan or PeKa B40 health scheme and take advantage of the health screenings.