KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 17 — People with diabetes are twice as likely to die from a heart attack or stroke, a cardiologist said, even as diabetes affects almost two out of 10 Malaysian adults.
Dr Chee Kok Han, senior consultant cardiologist at Universiti Malaya Medical Centre and a professor at Universiti Malaya, said even though kidney, eye and nerve problems were common complications, diabetic patients were dying from heart disease.
“Diabetes is a very high risk factor for getting heart disease,” Dr Chee said at a recent “For Your Sweetheart” campaign organised by Malaysian Endocrine and Metabolic Society (MEMS) and Malaysian Diabetes Educators Society (MDES), supported by Boehringer Ingelheim, about diabetes-related heart disease.
He said people with diabetes had a 25 per cent bigger risk of dying in hospital and a 36 per cent higher likelihood of dying at home within 30 days.
Diabetes, according to Dr Chee, can cut six years from one’s life, while diabetes coupled with a heart attack can take 12 years off.
“When you think of diabetics, think of heart disease.”
MEMS president Dr Zanariah Hussein, who is also consultant endocrinologist at Hospital Putrajaya, said about half of deaths in people with diabetes were caused by diabetes-related heart disease.
Most diabetic patients are managed in public primary care.
“In ICU, we see diabetics with heart attacks in their 30s and 40s,” she said. “Young people are dying with heart attack from diabetes.”
MDES president Siah Guan Jian, who is also principal diabetes educator at the National Heart Institute (IJN), said some diabetic patients mistakenly believed that they just needed to stop consuming sugar, forgetting about other foods with sugar like rice or noodles.
She urged people with diabetes to change their lifestyle by eating a healthy diet, taking their medicine, being active, monitoring their sugar level, and coping with their disease in a healthy way.
“Through ‘For Your Sweetheart’ Campaign, we encourage everyone with diabetes to speak to DEs to not just learn more about how they can control their condition better, but also protect their heart at the same time,” Siah said.