Lifestyle

Bringing New Meaning to “Sweetheart” – The Diabetic Link to Heart Disease

Bringing New Meaning to "Sweetheart" - The Diabetic Link to Heart Disease

Sweetheart is a common phrase we use to describe someone dear to us; someone we cherish and probably can’t live without. The word also illustrates intimate link which diabetes and heart disease share. When we think about diabetic complications, we commonly think about gangrene, kidney disease and nerve and even eye disease. However, unknown to most people, more than 68% of diabetics 65 years and older are at risk of dying from diabetes. This number is representative of the increased risk of heart disease among diabetics. In fact, they have up to four times the risk of developing heart disease compared to normal adults.

In Malaysia alone, the number of diabetics is at a staggering 3.5 million people; close to 10% of the total population of the country. This number is expected to increase to 7 million by the year 2025. This is the highest rate in the continent. Worldwide, these statistics are even more dire; an estimated 31% of global deaths are attributed to heart disease.

“In Malaysia, about half of heart patients are also living with diabetes and they are nearly twice as likely to die from heart disease or stroke. It is important for people with diabetes to manage
their blood glucose, as well as their blood pressure and cholesterol. With the advancement in the medical industry and newer treatment options, it is possible to control their blood glucose
levels and reduce the risk of cardiovascular death,”

Professor Dr Chee Kok Han
Senior Consultant Cardiologist at University Malaya Medical Centre and Professor at University of Malaya

“For Your Sweetheart” – A Campaign Addressing the Deadly Link in Malaysia

Now, with all those scary facts out of the way, why are we talking about heart disease and diabetes? Well, World Heart Day just passed and health professionals the world over are working to increase the awareness of this potentially fatal combo of diseases. In Malaysia, a new campaign is being kicked off by the Malaysian Endocrine and Metabolic Society (MEMS) and Malaysian Diabetes Educators Society (MDES) to raise public awareness about the potentially fatal link between these diseases.

From left: Prof. Dr Chee Kok Han, Senior Consultant Cardiologist at University Malaya
Medical Centre (UMMC); Siah Guan Jian, President of Malaysian Diabetes Educators Society (MDES) and Principal Diabetes Educator at Institut Jantung Negara (IJN); Dr Zanariah Hussein, President of Malaysian Endocrine and Metabolic Society (MEMS) and Consultant Endocrinologist at Hospital Putrajaya; Ung Liew Ean, General Manager of Boehringer Ingelheim Malaysia & Singapore at the launch of For Your Sweetheart campaign.

The campaign’s primary component is it’s website (foryoursweetheart.my) where information will be made available to the public in English and Bahasa Malaysia. The information on the website is easy to understand and contains all the pertinent information about the diseases. Visitors can also test their understanding about the two diseases through a simple, interactive quiz on the homepage.

“There is a gap in understanding the link between diabetes and heart disease. This is where Diabetes Educators (DEs) come in. Our role in diabetes control and management is to educate those living with diabetes about their increased risks of developing heart disease and empower them with knowledge that can help them protect their heart from further damage. 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,”

Ms Siah Guan Jian, President of MDES and Principal DE at Institut Jantung
Negara (IJN).

The cornerstone of the campaign is a series of videos of a social experiment carried out by MEMS and MDES. These videos highlight key information about diabetes and its connection to heart disease. In addition, the videos also explain and outline steps patients should take to live a full, healthy life with diabetes.

In addition to this, the campaign will also see posters and brochures made available in clinics and hospitals in Malaysia. To find out more, visit foryoursweetheart.my.

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