Heart Disease in Young Adults
“Deaths from the heart disease increase every year, and it is the leading cause of “sudden death” in Malaysia,” according to Deputy Health Minister Dr. Lee Boon Chye. Malaysians are developing heart disease at a younger age, and heart disease has remained the leading cause of deaths among Malaysians since 2005.
There are many misconceptions associated with heart disease. Many believe that heart disease will only affect the elder adults, and young adults or children do not have to worry about getting it. Unfortunately, this is untrue as heart issues or even heart attacks can occur at any age. Many young adults are not aware that they may be at risk and may fail to prevent developing heart diseases.
Educating everyone about the risk factors may help to prevent death and problems associated with heart disease. One of the risk factors is obesity. Malaysia is ranked number 1 in South East Asia as the fattest country. Nearly half of Malaysian’s population is overweight or obese and childhood obesity is currently a growing crisis.
Heart disease in the young is often unexpected, so most of the signs are not easily recognized. The warning signs include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
Overweight and obesity are highly associated with high blood cholesterol. Cholesterol is a waxy, fatty substance that can be found in the blood. It may exist in two forms, one called high-density lipoprotein (HDL) aka the “Good Cholesterol” and the other called low-density lipoprotein (LDL) aka the “Bad Cholesterol”. HDL helps to transport fat out of the body and lowering the risk of heart disease, while LDL carries cholesterol to tissues and may cause fat deposits and obstruction of blood vessels. Poor diet, high sugar intake, unhealthy lifestyle, smoking, and physical inactivity can cause the rise of LDL level, and thus increasing the risk of heart diseases.
Here are also some foods to eat to maintain healthy LDL cholesterol levels, especially foods that are high in good fat:
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Green Leafy Vegetables
- Beans and Legumes
- Whole Grains (buckwheat, quinoa, brown rice)
Most importantly, practicing a healthy lifestyle, eat a balanced diet and foods high in good fat, be physically active, get enough rest and drink enough water. Also, going for annual medical check-ups can help in detecting heart disease at an early stage for better treatment.
Written by: Jasmine Lim
(Love Earth Nutritionist)
[Bachelor of Science Degree in Dietics (major) &
Food Science (minor) lowa State University, USA]