Cardiovascular Disease Costs Malaysia RM60Bil Annual Economic Loss

Unhealthy diet is a major risk factor for cardiovascular diseases, followed by tobacco consumption.

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 2 — Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) have the highest disease burden and is the main cause of loss of productivity due to premature deaths in Malaysia, a report showed.

The disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) showed that the disease burden from CVDs accounted for nearly three-fifths of overall disease burden in the country at 59.4 per cent, accounting for a total loss of RM59.85 billion annually. One DALY represents the loss of one year that one lives in full health.

The report on the impact of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and their risk factors on Malaysia’s gross domestic product (GDP), based on data from 2017, was released last month by the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the World Health Organization (WHO) .

It showed that disease burden due to CVDs is the highest, as compared to diabetes at 10.1 per cent and cancer at 30.5 per cent.

The greatest proportion of the burden of this disease is seen between the ages of 50 and 80 years.

The report stated that the highest proportion of the disease is attributable to ischemic heart disease, accounting to a total loss of RM32.48 billion, followed by stroke, accounting to RM 18.29 billion, both under the group of CVDs.

A larger proportion of the disease burden due to ischaemic heart disease was seen in men (59.2 per cent), whereas stroke was largely seen in women (36.6 per cent) as compared to males.

In the MOH-WHO report, it was found that for loss of productivity from the premature deaths of people of working age, CVDs contributed to the larger percentage of this factor, 62.92 per cent which accounted for RM87.84 million.

Upon studying the risk factors related to CVDs, MOH and WHO proved that two-thirds (68.9 per cent) of the cost of productivity loss from premature deaths from CVDs was due to unhealthy diet, followed by tobacco use that contributed to more than one-third of deaths (36.9 per cent).

Low physical activity was not seen as a prominent risk factor, while alcohol use was a minor contributor to productivity losses due to premature deaths from CVD.

According to Dr Feisul Mustapha, who is the deputy director of MOH’s disease control division, NCD risk factors have yet to decline to targeted levels.

“For tobacco use, for raised blood pressure, for raised blood sugar, for obesity, we are basically off our target, that’s the data shown in Malaysia. The only thing that is exceeding the target is the harmful use of alcohol,” the public health consultant said during a webinar on the impact of NCDs and their risk factors on Malaysia’s GDP.

Dr Jomo Kwame Sundaram from the Khazanah Research Institute, who was one of the panelists of the webinar, also said that many of these risk factors are self-inflicted and are avoidable.

He cited a study by the McKinsey Global Institute that estimated the second and third largest sources of economic cost in the world today are due to smoking and obesity.

“That gives you a hint of how serious the economic cost of NCDs are,” the professor said.

The report also highlighted how CVDs also accounted for 44.1 per cent (RM1.15 billion) of productivity loss due absenteeism.

The average annual days of absenteeism per individual due to stroke was the highest at 17.94 days, followed by heart disease at 7.89 days, and hypertension at 6.39 days. This means, in a year, an individual with a stroke has an average of 17.94 days of being absent from work.

CVDs accounted for 26.57 per cent (RM1.6 billion) of presenteeism loss — the loss of productivity resulting from people who are still present at work but not working at their full capacity, second after diabetes which accounted for an estimated amount of RM6.2 billion.

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