KUALA LUMPUR, May 3 — The National Heart Association of Malaysia (NHAM) has collaborated with AstraZeneca Malaysia to launch a public educational website, ‘Spotlight on Heart Failure’, to increase awareness of heart failure.
As its name implies, this website is designed to shine a light on heart failure, a critical health condition which affect approximately 64 million people worldwide.
Based on a 2020 multinational prospective study, ASIAN-HF (Asian Sudden Cardiac Death in Heart Failure) registry, Southeast Asia (Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore) has the highest burden of comorbidities, particularly diabetes mellitus and chronic kidney disease, despite being younger than Northeast Asian participants.
One-year, all-cause mortality was significantly higher in Southeast Asian patients at 13 per cent, compared with other Asian nations.
These worrying statistics are highlighted in the website to illustrate the growing burden of this condition and create a sense of urgency.
The website aspires to empower Malaysians to take better care of their heart health so that we can collectively improve the state of our nation’s physical and economic health.
Designed with the needs of at-risk and diagnosed patients in mind, the website offers easy-to-understand information about the condition and useful tools to help them manage their condition better.
These tools include the Symptoms Recognition Quiz, Symptoms Checker, and the Risk Checker – all available in downloadable PDFs that the patients can bring to their next medical appointment.
Malaysia’s Enduring Burden
Heart failure is a condition that occurs when the heart does not pump enough blood as well as it should to meet the requirements of the tissues or can do so only at high pressures.
As a result, the body may not get enough oxygen to support other organs in the body.
Locally, it is very common that heart failure patients live with other comorbidities too.
“Heart failure has been a huge problem in our country for many years even though there has been limited published data on this issue. From our preliminary analysis of the upcoming Malaysian Heart Failure (MyHF) Registry, we found that a substantial group in heart failure patients also have hypertension (71 per cent), diabetes (59 per cent), ischaemic heart diseases (55 per cent) and chronic kidney disease (30 per cent),” said Professor Dr Wan Azman Wan Ahmad, senior consultant cardiologist at University Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC) and President of the National Heart Association of Malaysia (NHAM).
The MyHF registry, which is expected to be published by NHAM later this year, also found that hospitalisation rates, especially cases of readmission for heart failure were high.
13 per cent of patients were readmitted for heart failure within 30 days, while 45 per cent were readmitted within one year.
These also increase the five-year mortality rate to be as severe as some of the more common cancers.
Simply put, heart failure can be deadly and should not be taken for granted.
There are many reasons for this. Unhealthy eating habits, a sedentary lifestyle, a family history of heart complications, coupled with low awareness or empowerment to take charge of one’s own health, all contribute to the steady growth of such health problems over the years.
Taking The First Step For Malaysia’s Heart Health
The collaboration between NHAM and AstraZeneca is rooted in the desire to make a real impact in the way Malaysians think of their heart health.
Education is important in reshaping the state of the nation’s heart health, but it is only the beginning of a long and continuous commitment – one that requires collective effort from various stakeholders.
“As a global health care company, enhancing patient education and shaping health policies on disease awareness is central to what we do. We engage and collaborate with the government, medical associations and health care practitioners on patient-centric initiatives to improve outcomes for society,” said Dr Sanjeev Panchal, Country President, AstraZeneca Malaysia.
“From the MyHF, it shows that we need to shine a spotlight on the reality of heart failure. Our partnership with NHAM on the educational website will meaningfully support the efforts to elevate heart failure as a priority, enhance prevention and improve patient management.”
There are many things about heart failure which may be overlooked without proper public education.
For instance, heart failure symptoms are rather common and non-specific, such as breathlessness, rapid or irregular heartbeat, fatigue or swelling in the ankles or feet.
Patients experiencing these symptoms may not think twice about it, leaving the condition untreated and allowing it to fester until their condition worsens.
“It is very common for patients to be diagnosed at advanced stages of heart failure. They could have had the symptoms for a very long time, but were unaware that these were signs of a bigger problem. It is rather disheartening because so many cases could have been prevented or identified at the onset if Malaysians were just better informed. I hope that through educational websites such as ‘Spotlight on Heart Failure’, we can drive more public awareness and education on this disease and save lives along the way,” said Dr Azmee Mohd Ghazi, Deputy Head, Department of Cardiology and Clinical Director for Heart Failure and Heart Transplant of Institut Jantung Negara (IJN).
Managing Heart Failure Is Possible
As with other health conditions, early detection of heart failure can make a huge difference.
Heart failure may be irreversible, but it can be treated and managed to slow down its progression.
In fact, with the right treatment and management, it is possible for heart failure patients to enjoy quality of life.
“There are well established and effective treatments available for heart failure in Malaysia that can improve outcomes for heart failure patients and improve their quality of life. Medications are prescribed, combined and adjusted based on the recommendations in the 2019 Malaysian Guidelines on Management of Heart Failure,” said Dr David Chew Soon Ping, Clinical Cardiologist of Cardiac Vascular Sentral Kuala Lumpur (CVSKL).
“For patients with more severe cases, we may even recommend implantable devices such as pacemakers or defibrillators. Meanwhile, surgery like valve replacement or bypass surgery are done in rare instances. No matter what the condition is, please see a doctor immediately if you experience anything unusual. It could just be a minor ailment, but it could also be something serious like heart failure which would benefit from early detection and timely treatment.”
To learn more, visit www.spotlightonheartfailure.my and read the available resources on the website.