ONE in five adults or about 3.9 million people over the age of 18 in Malaysia have been diagnosed with diabetes . It is well-recognised that diabetes in Malaysia is a concern, especially when the number of people being diagnosed continues to rise.
According to the National Health and Morbidity Survey 2019, the prevalence of diabetes among adults aged 18 and above had increased to 18.3 per cent in 2019, compared to 13.4 per cent in 2015.
This increasing trend is a cause for concern, despite many studies establishing that type 2 diabetes can be prevented. Amongst the many contributing factors for this increase is that more Malaysian adults are either overweight or obese.
Unhealthy lifestyle behaviours such as a poor diet, being physically inactive, and lack of preventive action are some of the major causes of patients developing diabetes.
Furthermore, diabetes can lead to a host of critical complications that can impair a person’s quality of life. These include, stroke, blindness, kidney failure, lower limb amputations, and cardiovascular diseases.
“A person who is suffering from diabetes is more likely to develop cardiovascular disease early if not managed well. It is important for the patient to seek help as statistics show that cardiovascular diseases are responsible for up to 80 er cent of deaths among Malaysian patients. This is becoming a serious issue as we are now seeing more young patients being diagnosed with diabetes and cardiovascular disease,” says National Heart Institute consultant cardiologist, Datuk Seri Dr Azhari Rosman.
If a patient does not manage their condition, their elevated blood sugar levels can cause plaque build-ups that will block and damage the vessels carrying blood to and from the heart.
This causes the heart to be starved of oxygen and nutrients, eventually causing heart attacks and death.
Prevention is a key aspect to reducing the disease burden, and the good news is that diabetes-related complications can be prevented with proper management by improving glucose, blood pressure and lipid control; by living a healthier lifestyle, exercising regularly, monitoring blood glucose levels and taking prescribed medication where appropriate.
“Diabetes management has progressed to meet the rising burden of the disease. The treatment of diabetes has also continued to evolve, ranging from multiple-daily to once-weekly medications,” adds Subang Jaya Medical Centre consultant endocrinologist, Dr Chan Siew Pheng.
There are also newer treatment innovations available in the market that are not only able to reduce blood glucose levels, but also help manage other diabetes-related complications like cardiovascular disease and obesity.
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