NCD tidal wave has hit the nation


Tough situation: The NHMS 2023 found that 12.9% of Malaysians did not seek medical treatment due to financial factors over the past year. — ART CHEN/The Star

PETALING JAYA: Nearly three million Malaysian adults are afflicted with at least three of the four major non-communicable diseases (NCDs): diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol and obesity.

Malaysians living with these conditions are at major risk of a heart disease or stroke, as stated in the National Health and Morbidity Survey 2023 released yesterday.

The survey found that over half a million of adults in the country were suffering from diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol and obesity, which are collectively known as the “three plus one” diseases.

Another 2.3 million adults had three NCDs. For instance, about 5% of them had diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol; while 2.9% had hypertension, high cholesterol and obesity.

Diabetes has been identified as one of the major killer diseases in Malaysia. There has been an upward trend in this disease between 2011 and 2023. Almost 3.6 million or one in six adults (15.6%) are diabetic.

And unfortunately, two in five people did not know they have the disease. Young adults were affected as well.

“About 84% of adults aged 18-29 years with diabetes did not know that they have diabetes,” the report said.

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

Also, 6.7 million people or 29.2% of the population had hypertension.

About 17.3% knew they have the condition while 11.9% were unaware of it.

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About 91% of the respondents are on blood pressure medication, while 48% have their blood pressure under control.

As for high cholesterol, an estimated 7.5 million adults or 33.3% of the population have the condition.

But one in two people who have the condition were unaware that they have it.

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

Aside from that, three in 10 adults (or 6.7million people) were living with metabolic dysfunction-associated fatty liver disease, which can lead to serious liver damage.

The survey also found that 1.4 million adults were asthmatic while almost half a million children aged between six and 17 had asthma.

“Three out of 10 asthmatics have not been diagnosed,” it said.

Overall, one in seven people rated their health as not being in good condition.

Among them, 30% felt their health issues affected their daily activities.

A majority of those who were sick sought medical attention (70.8%), 20.7% took medicines without consulting a healthcare practitioner, 15% sought advice from the media, while 11% turned to friends and family for advice.

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

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