Some hikers may be aware that they have diabetes or hypertension but overlook the fact that they have high cholesterol, says Kepala Batas Hospital emergency unit head Dr Suhaida Hanis Johani.
“Most Malaysians do not go for annual health checks and usually when they suffer cardiac arrest and come into the emergency room, they claim they do not have any medical issues.
“It is just that they do not know of the health complications they have, as they do not go for full health check-ups,” she said.
As an avid hiker herself, Dr Suhaida advises people to exercise.
“It is great to exercise and I encourage it, but do not push yourself, as you may look healthy but have undiagnosed ailments.
“Our food intake in Malaysia, with 24-hour outlets and fast food joints readily available, is not healthy.
“Many opt for over-the-counter medication without visiting doctors.
“This leads to a lack of awareness when it comes to personal health.
“We always have patients coming to the hospital saying they have no health issues but they usually just do not know,” she said.
High cholesterol could lead to complications if hikers push themselves, she added.
Meanwhile, veteran hikers advise those who attempt to push themselves a little further not to do it.
Wong Ken, 71, who has been climbing the Bukit Jambul hiking trail for over 30 years, said one should not accelerate on the way up.
“If you’ve reached your limit, don’t push yourself. Sometimes that is all it takes to trigger a heart attack.
“I hike up almost every day and there are days when my pace and energy level are not the same as the previous day or week,” he said.
“Know when to stop and rest. A healthy diet does contribute to one’s health as well.
“Always have breakfast before you hike as you do not know when you will start to lose stamina,” said Wong, who used to work in sales.
Retired firefighter Mat Zamil Ramlee, 60, has heard of many having fatal heart attacks while hiking.
“We tend to think we can do it and then push ourselves a little further each time.
“This is not a competition, go at your own pace. It is not right to push yourself as one wrong move could be fatal,” he said.
“I know my limits and always keep track of them. The moment I realise I’m tired, I rest and make my way down.
“After retirement, I used to hike up multiple times a day. Then I realised I was pushing myself.
“Now I hike up every morning at 7am. Sometimes the hike takes me 15 minutes, sometimes half an hour. Then I’m done for the day,” he said.
A retired customs officer who only wished to be known as Shamsuddin, 68, said he hikes up three times a week and takes it easy as age is catching up and he is not as fit as he used to be.
“I enjoy my hike and pick up trash along the way.
“Some days I hike up fast, sometimes I take a slow walk. That is how it should be to avoid any unwanted health complications.
“Always have your breakfast before a climb. That’s a must as your sugar level could drop,” he said.
In recent months, there has been an increasing number of incidents of hikers collapsing or dying in the course of hiking.
On Sept 17, a 51-year-old hiker from Bayan Lepas died while trekking on Penang Hill.
The man was pronounced dead by a team of paramedics when they arrived at Middle Station, roughly halfway up the hill.
Another middle-aged man, a regular hiker, also died after collapsing at Middle Station on Sept 7. He was pronounced dead at hospital.
An elderly man died while trekking up to Cherok Tokun Hill in Bukit Mertajam on June 20, while a 49-year-old man died at Penang Hospital on June 8 after suffering cardiac arrest while hiking at Penang City Park.
A 56-year-old man collapsed while hiking at the Ayer Itam dam here on June 5.
On Nov 21 last year, a Penang Water Supply Corporation employee collapsed and died while on duty at the Heritage Trail on Penang Hill.
L. Krishnan, 40, was pronounced dead at the scene.
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