Over half a million Malaysians live with non-communicable diseases, according to survey

PETALING JAYA: Over half a million or 2.5% of adults in Malaysia live with four major non-communicable diseases (NCDs) namely diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol and obesity—which are collectively dubbed as the three plus one diseases.

The National Health and Morbidity Survey 2023 released on Thursday (May 16) said these conditions put those living with it at major risk of heart disease or stroke.

Almost 2.3 million adults in the country live with three NCDs.

About 5.1% had diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol; 1.2% had diabetes, hypertension and obesity;0.4% had diabetes, high cholesterol and obesity, while 2.9% had hypertension, high cholesterol and obesity.

Diabetes was identified as one of the major killer diseases in Malaysia.

Almost 3.6 million or one in six adults ( 15.6% ) were diabetic. Meanwhile, two in five did not know whether they had the disease.

“84% of adults aged 18-29 years with diabetes did not know that they have diabetes,” the report said while noting that young adults were affected as well.

As for diabetic patients, two in five said they had a glucometer at home to check their blood sugar levels, while 56% did not have good blood sugar control.

Meanwhile, one in three adults were living with hypertension. This makes up for 6.7million people or 29.2% of the population.

About 17.3% knew they had the condition while 11.9% did not know that they had hypertension.

“The biggest proportion of those who do not know they had hypertension were those within the age range of 18-39 years old,” it said.

About 91% of the respondents are on blood pressure medication, 48% have their blood pressure under control, 44% have their own blood sugar measuring device at home and 89% use the device at least once a day.

About 7.5 million adults or 33.3% of the population had high cholesterol. One in two who had the condition were unaware that they had it.

High cholesterol usually shows no symptoms but increases the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Meanwhile, 1.4million adults were asthmatic while almost half a million children aged between six to 17 had asthma.

Overall, one in seven people rated their health as not being in a good condition, while one in five said they fell sick in the last two weeks.

About 30% felt their health affected their daily activities.

Insufficient sleep, which refers to sleeping for less than seven hours within 24 hours, has also been linked to conditions such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, depression and even accidents.

The report also found that two in five or 38% of adults were not getting enough sleep.

This was more prevalent in urban areas where 39% said they could not get enough sleep compared to 32% in rural areas.

“Inadequate sleep is a pervasive public health issue in Malaysia,” the report said.

The NHMS 2023: Non-Communicable Disease and Healthcare Demand, follows the 2019 edition of the NHMS: Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs), healthcare demand and health literacy report.

The NHMS 2023 survey involved 13,616 respondents with an overall response rate of 83.2%. Data for the report were collected between July and Sept 2023.

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