Over Two Million Adults In Malaysia Live With Three NCDs: NHMS 2023

Nearly 2.3 million adults in Malaysia live with three NCDs: diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol. Over half a million are living with four NCDs, including obesity. About 16% of adults have diabetes, 29% have hypertension, 33% have high cholesterol.

KUALA LUMPUR, May 28 — More than two million people in Malaysia are living with three types of non-communicable diseases (NCDs): diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol, according to the National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS) 2023.

More than half a million adults, or 2.5 per cent of the Malaysian adult population, are living with four NCDs, including obesity. These conditions significantly increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.

The survey by the Institute for Public Health under the Ministry of Health found that 5.1 per cent of adults had diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol; 1.2 per cent had diabetes, hypertension, and obesity; 0.4 per cent had diabetes, high cholesterol, and obesity; and 2.9 per cent had hypertension, high cholesterol, and obesity.

Diabetes was identified as one of the leading causes of death in Malaysia.

About 3.6 million adults, or 15.6 per cent, have diabetes. Alarmingly, two in five adults are unaware of their diabetic status. Among those who are aware, two in five have a glucometer at home, and 56 per cent do not have good blood sugar control.

The report highlighted that diabetes prevalence increases with age, yet many remain undiagnosed. Among young adults aged 18 to 29, a whopping 84 per cent are unaware they have diabetes.

“According to the NHMS 2023, a significant portion of those with undiagnosed diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol are younger adults. This is particularly concerning as undiagnosed NCDs in younger age groups can lead to earlier health complications,” Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad said in a statement on May 16.

Approximately 6.7 million adults (29.2 per cent) or one in three adults in Malaysia, have hypertension, defined as a persistent blood pressure reading of 140/90 mmHg and above. Among them, 17.3 per cent know they have hypertension, while 11.9 per cent are unaware of their condition. The largest proportion of those unaware are aged 18 to 39 years.

Among those who are aware of their hypertension, 91 per cent are on blood pressure medications, 48 per cent have their blood pressure under control (below 140/90 mmHg), 44 per cent have their own blood pressure measuring device at home, and among those with the device, 89 per cent use it at least once a day.

Meanwhile, nearly 7.5 million adults, or 33.3 per cent of the population, have high cholesterol, yet half (one in two adults) don’t know they have it. High cholesterol typically shows no symptoms, but increases the risk of cardiovascular disease.

The NHMS 2023 also found that two in five adults aged 18 and above did not undergo any health screening in the past 12 months for diabetes, hypertension, or high cholesterol. The top three reasons cited for not screening were 90 per cent felt healthy, 84 per cent had no symptoms, and 39 per cent attributed it to time constraints.

For cancer screening, the fourth leading cause of death in Malaysia, the report found that 46 per cent of women aged 18 and above did not perform breast self-examinations in the past 12 months, 71 per cent of women aged 40 and above have never had a mammogram, and 65 per cent of women aged 20 and above did not have a pap smear in the past three years.

Additionally, about 88 per cent of adults aged 50 and above have never had a faecal occult blood test to detect blood in their stool.

The NHMS NCDs Survey 2023 was conducted between July and September last year with a study sample of 13,616 respondents and an overall response rate of 83.2 per cent.

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